Malevolence is continuous ill-will towards another, and it’s chiefly a developed state of malice. Where a malicious intent is not desired once or twice but continuously, the intent would be called malevolent.
Ill-willed hatred towards a person or group can be a sign of a severely disturbed personality or a psychopathic nature. When abusive behaviour has been received and given in the past, it has the tendency to desensitise the emotional conduct of those involved. Because of abusive treatment, people can develop a malevolent psychopathic nature, and if properly treated, they can return to normal.
In the West, judgements of lawful guilt are based on malicious intent. If a person is proven to have been malevolent towards a victim before the incident in question, it’s far harder to prove potential innocence or lack of ill intent. This is due to the malevolent person having been proven to be desirous of inflicting harm onto the other for some time, so making it difficult to prove the victim was not harmed intentionally.
Whether a perception is true or not, perception creates emotion.1 If people believe a perception, they feel the associated emotion. Negative emotions, in their varying degrees, change psychological processing of information towards a perceived problem, and they induce effortful analytical thinking. This has the tendency to make people ruminate on problems that they cannot solve. This is especially true if the perceptions are of an intense nature, for people’s dispositions orientate to the anticipated intensity of an event more so than the probability of the event happening.2 The more intense harm malevolent people wish onto someone, the more their dispositions will be prepared for an intensely negative outcome, and the more their thoughts will ruminate on those issues.
This focus on a negative stream of thought is then reinforced further by negativity bias – a natural bias to focus on a perceived negative event rather than a positive event of equal intensity.3 An animal giving priority of attention to deadly negative events, before positive events, is more likely to survive with offspring. This negativity bias makes sense in an evolutionary perspective. Nevertheless, believing an imagined negative perception can trigger such biasses. This maladaptive responding to perceived events is common to mental illness.4
Malevolence is a mentality addicted to thoughts of wishing harm onto another, so much so that it can change the malevolent person’s disposition to one of extreme negativity. Resentment, envy, jealousy, hatred, contempt and hostility could all be part of a malevolent disposition. Malevolence implicitly stresses psycho-neuro-biological systems which support negatively affected states (see Stress). This chronic stress can seriously compromise people’s ability to function, and this includes their immune system’s ability to fight infection.5 Because it describes a prolonged state of extreme negativity, malevolence is an unhealthy experience that can have long-term health implications.6
Ill thoughts directed towards others, most often, cause anxiety and guilt – from thoughts of the consequences – which may reach extreme levels. Any form of malevolence can quite reasonably be considered a sign of underlying internal personality conflicts. It’s reasonable to suspect some intensely opposing internal feelings that appear as conscious or unconscious anxieties. Malevolent people can consciously and unconsciously perceive their self as going over-the-top, which can create defence-mechanisms with self-sabotaging behaviours.
Sometimes, where malevolent people are too frightened to own their violent impulses, they could suffer from projection. They may erroneously attribute the feelings from those impulses as originating from someone else.
Nevertheless, in many cases, the essence of malevolence is the surfacing of unresolved serious psychological conflicts from the past. A person in the present may resemble an aspect of those past conflicts. The person illuminates the memories, and this triggers the overwhelming negativity. When the person in the present resembles a person in the past who’s deeply resented, unknowingly the feelings of resentment can be reattributed to the unrelated person in the present; a process called transference.
Both of these disturbing conflicted states can work off one another. They can blend into a virtually indecipherable connection that perpetuates negativity.
For example, when Zoe first meets Charles, he reminds her of a domineering person from her past, and she begins to believe Charles is a domineering personality as she’s seen his type before (transference). Zoe then experiences malevolence towards Charles that she cannot own, and she then misinterprets it as originating from him (projection). Zoe believes that Charles is a dominating personality who wants to hurt her. Believing it to contain malicious intent, she reacts aggressively to a question he asks, and Charles in return gets angry with her for attacking him. Zoe determines Charles’s anger to be a validation of his domineeringly malevolent personality.
Unresolved serious mental conflicts breach into present day scenarios is such ways. The issues can be worked through, usually in therapy, by gradually remembering the original perceptions to progressively build a mature narrative for them. Nevertheless, this relies on the malevolent person wanting to resolve the feelings of overwhelming malicious hatred, being literate enough to articulate experience, and being willing to work through traumatic memories. People do not always want to work through such issues. Especially when considering that resentment could be fused into the ill-will, the malevolence may be deemed just, so it could feel like a betrayal of one’s self to abandon it.
The difference between being willing to use physical force to hurt someone if it’s necessary to stop them doing something abusive and simply willing an experience of harm and suffering onto another is important. The critical distinction is that one intention is to STOP someone from doing something wrong whereas the other intention is to cause SUFFERING.
Although a person may experience suffering as people use whatever force is necessary to stop the individual doing something malicious, the aim is not to cause a person to suffer, but to stop the malice.
Malevolence desires harm, illness and suffering.
Latin. Malevolentia = the wishing or the disposition to wish evil or ill-will onto others, ill-will.
1. Of persons their feelings and actions. Desirous of evil to others; entertaining, actuated by, or indicative of ill-will; disposed or addicted to ill-will.