Now, a writer, Barbara Oakley, writes anecdotally about something similar in her book, Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend.
In the Chicago Tribune, she describes the phenomenon ... and reminds me a little of M. Scott Peck's People of the Lie, another book on the why some people are ... well, evil.
Anyway, here's some interesting items from Oakley's Tribune essay:
No, it appears the real problem is not a religion like Islam, or an ideology like communism. It is, instead, the successfully sinister who roam among us, driven by their amorality to do whatever it takes to gain and maintain control. Social structures, ideologies and religions with little by way of transparency, checks and balances can provide a fast track to the top for such individuals. Even Democratic processes can be subverted if a successfully sinister individual rises to the top and gains the freedom to rewrite the rules. Witness Hitler's election to the presidency that presaged his role as dictator, and Hugo Chavez's similar attempts to reshape his role as the president of Venezuela.
Most of us are imperfect followers of a religion or ideology, and most of us have blind spots. But science is telling us that there are an amoral few among us who are far more imperfect than others. The sizzle of bacon provides the key: We can sometimes be blind to the real nature of human nature.
Read the whole thing.
I know that I have this blind spot — too often I think (and even insist) you can deal with people rationally, and often can get very frustrated when people refuse to see reason — especially knowable, obvious, provable reason.
I also wonder sometimes about Dante's curious choice to put people living at his time in his hell. That is, Dante said that living people's souls could already have died and gone to hell ... what's left -- a machine, an incarnate demon? Anyway, Dante is not official Catholic teaching, and I wouldn't want to argue that there are people among who have souls that have already left their bodies and suffer eternally, and what's left is either a meat machine or someone fully possessed by a demon. But it is a curious thought.