Philip Zimbardo did groundbreaking research on what he terms Lucifer Effect, the quick arching effect of good people turning bad under an influence of a negative social environment. It can happen anywhere at any time, given certain factors and conditions. The famous examples are Nazi Germany, prison situations, crowd situations, witchcraft mass hysteria murders, war, genocide, etc. The fact is behavior is contagious, and when you get some people behaving bad, determined to influence the crowd, the psychological conditions that lay dormant or latent within people are just waiting an opportunity for expression. People want their shadow parts of people to be justified, regardless of how unjust. He claims situations make people act in ways they normally would not. However, I see how situations bring out the parts of people that they have acted out in hidden contexts, or periodic moments in time, but now find it as an opportunity to become public with their behavior. The fact is, I see always, the majority of people with every shade of trauma or narcissism will support, justify and align with a violator, and retraumatize, blame, and shame the victim. The victim’s experience is always dismissed and denied, with people unable to look at what is happening, and likewise with the behavior of the violator. Dynamics are set, and anyone willing to challenge will be the new target of victimhood. There are few everyday heroes, and those who exist are often unable to rise up or take a public stand. Lucifer effect is constant, chronic, and regular on small scales to keep the systems of violators in power. They are everywhere and being ignored.
Although it is true, situations can influence a person to become worse, I argue the same people have been influenced at other times in their life and do not go outside a certain range of fluctuation with their behavior. A person might not have the opportunity to announce their bias and prejudice publicly, but with a new bar set for levels of acceptable harm to others they are allowed to act out what was priorly private, conforming to new norms of group harm to innocent victims. Likewise, not only do people of lesser mental health conditions become more greatly disordered by the influences of extremist instigators, but the opposite is the more disturbing phenomena. The “extremist instigators” must find a community or group of individuals “of opportunity,” meaning they are ignorant enough in experiences, weak enough from trauma, or unhealthy enough in narcissistic mindset to be able to execute a sweeping change, ushering in the acute situations of Lucifer Effect. Not everyone will join in, and hopefully at least some will be strong enough and wise enough to stand against it.
Healthy people are put to the test in every social environment by the spectrum of mentally disordered characters of the community. If a person is living a life of crime, they will target the natural leaders and either try to gain power and control over them, or immediately begin eliminating their existence by attacking directly or indirectly depending on what is a better strategy for the violator. The shades of personality disorders and the varieties of mental illness are always abundant in a community, yet hidden from the common view until a conflict arises in public between a violator and their victim. Victims are commonly unseen or blamed for their position because they have to go against the masses of society if they are to become emancipated. Not only does a victim have to expose the violator to become free from they abusive dynamics, but they must answer to the complex relations within the society that allow the violator the unethical right to use and abuse others. Lucifer Effect is always at play, usually passive aggressively and quietly. Communities are full of people acting out small betrayals here and there by instigators suffering with shades the of personality disorders. If an instigator becomes challenged with accountability, in a matter of months the dramas become more transparent and begins reshaping the contours of the community with people dividing into groups based on behaviors and attitudes.
Either the personality disorders have a hold and control on the determined leaders of the community and the majority, or if it is a rare group of more healthy individuals, they are able to identify the problem players, and hold them accountable, able to put them in check to be kind and respectful of those who have integrity in their holistic mindful and heartful efforts in living life. The key points that allow Lucifer Effect to happen is the psychological health of the leaders, the amount of healthy individuals, how often betrayals occur, visibility of problems and acknowledgment of visible problems, special proximity of people to violators versus the victims, and shared values of support. People with power playing social agendas and egotistical trauma and entanglements with abusers will all tend to stand with the violators rather than victims, making the peripheral people key to allowing the Lucifer Effect to be sustained.
At times however, under certain situations, Lucifer Effect sets in quickly and sweeps through the whole community in a short amount of time. There is always an antisocial personality disorder leader, and for them to have convincing power, they need at least one partner, being a team of two projecting a façade of loveliness and verifying each other, when the integrity of the disordered psychologies are to wreak havoc by using and confusing the group to gain power, control, relationship or assets. In small groups, you only need one. In a larger operation for extreme behavior to be publicly demonstrated, you need two antisocial personality disordered people working together, justifying and validating each other to give a normalizing effect as the common minds get trapped in the illusions created in dishonest personal agendas in delivering power to their false persona.
There are a lot of elements to Lucifer effect, but the container becomes shared social beliefs that are false stories and statements to defame or slander either a high profile person of great value, or the heroic leader who has the power and ability to aid victims of regular assault and disadvantage. Scapegoating, deflecting and diverting attention onto innocent others, and getting others to buy dramatic stories that are not true are essential in driving the agenda. In addition, the regular prejudices that are used to justify false blame and shame of innocent victims become the focal point of why the violations and abuses are either deserved or not really happening. If there is a victim, Lucifer Effect is normalized. If someone attempts to vindicate or help the victim, this is when the Lucifer Effect becomes activated and dramatized to maintain its hold on the victims. If the victim is acceptably victimized, the situation is normalized, justified, and remains quiet, yet still there in latent form. It is difficult to banish the regular prejudices that are used to justify the blame and shame of innocent victims. People want to believe that the violations and abuses are either deserved or not really happening. It becomes a disruption to call out the Lucifer Effect that lays embedded throughout the world in its latent and quiet form.
Prevention of Lucifer Effect in the most important, because it becomes a tidal wave almost impossible to stop washing through the all the minds and lives in the community. The destruction of lives, relationships, and people goes past the point of no return, as most do not stand the test of character and superior perspective under the Lucifer Effect. It is always important to have critical thinking, knowing the means of persuasion, not assuming anything about one’s character as the “perfect ones” are often those faking their thoughts and feelings to gain publicity. Visibility in combination with accountability. A watchful eye is good as long as it is observing accurately. When people see bad things happening, and ignore it, or encourage it, things become worse. If things are seen as a negative when they are negative, this visibility restrains the actions of the abuser or violator. Observations influence, so the more observers of things in their actual context automatically strengthens truth and weakens lies.
Critical thing checks include being aware that people can be very different in their capacities of operations so some people are beyond our belief of how people are. Everyone can show a good side. There are some ways to cross-check in critical thinking. When a person is targeted, is it all from one person spreading gossip, repeated by others, or it is from a series of visible actions over time, with personal experiences had by a variety of people. Everything has to be understood in context. Extreme statements are either 1) appropriate in the description of drama played out by another; 2) inappropriate coming from a place of fear, discomfort, disassociation from facts, trauma and disempowerment that joins what they cannot stand against; or 3) inappropriate in manipulations, projections, fraud, used for purposes of domination and control for a selfish social agenda. It is often difficult for us to accept people who are drastically different from what we would like, but turning towards these possibilities and realities will save an entire community.
Third party interventions are the only way to stop Lucifer Effect once it is in effect. People from the outside, people from a higher level of problem solving, or a third power of faith to escape the scene when possible. Usually communities are set in the tone by a few, and either people fit in with this level, or they must find a different level of norms, thoughts, and behaviors to co-exist. For one to stand for a victim, or stand against a violator, they will have to stand against the masses that fear and promote those who command their power and position. Be aware of conformity to group thinking, following the crowd, because it is almost always going in the wrong direction in the service of some individual. Be aware of obedience to authority, because in the end the actor is responsible, not the authority who said so. Be willing to stand against the crowd and continually question people’s position as victims or violators. Often they are appearing as the opposite. Withhold judgement and continue to observe people in their actual lives. All knowledge and personality types can be seen over time through direct observation, and direct experience. Knowing that communities in general hide their toxicity, need to be honest and upfront in confronting bad behavior and holding people accountable, and to keep an open mind when assessing a person’s authenticity and honesty allows for health and community corrections through checks and balances. Being an individual who finds the way of truth in relationships and complex dynamics, Lucifer Effect can be diminished with violators powerless and people are safe from becoming victimized. Authentic leaders can do their job to provide for the community, and although there may be a hierarchy in positions of service, if the people are deserving of their position, they serve and care for everyone allowing for egalitarianism and peace of heart among the community members.
It is hard to find a society that stands against Lucifer Effect, keeping an intention of peace, equanimity, respect, and healthy relations. Everyday heroes are rare to find, and rare to take a position of power. The imbalance is the empathic people needing to stand strong, and the narcissistic people needing to be vulnerable. Appreciation for diversity and desiring cooperation with the community allow for an enjoyable exchange of shared experiences. People are happy when their leaders are caring and inclusive to all sectors of society. With right relations between people, we get synergies of creation, and a blissful experience of shared love, enjoyment, and happiness. We are fulfilled with the joy of each other when we are safe with each other. Even if we feel scared to stand strong with the victims, we can at least do so silently through our body language, act of non-action with violating alliances, and action with the innocent victims. There is a way we can communicate without words our position within the larger picture. When a person smiles and cares for a victim, there is a healing. When you walk the other way away from a violator, there is a healing. We need to vote of good for good people, and bad for bad people, and we can protect each other on the subtle levels that enable health and safety.