Like a lot of other people, the researched proved illuminating, explaining certain dynamics like nothing else ever had, offering reassurance & validation.
It felt nice not to feel so off-balance with these emotionally unhealthy people.
And I wasn't the only one suffering these observations & feelings around personality disordered people.
But the secular world went down the fork it usually does, engaging in flawed solutions (offered with bluster & overconfidence), plus splitting the categories into an unending spiral of personality disorder niches: narcissist, covert narcissist, borderline, masochist, passive-aggressive, passive-aggressive masochist, oppositional defiance, avoidant, and so on.
It didn't take long to realize that, rather than a variety of personality disorders, it was the same old inflated sense of importance combined with a lack of empathy—exhibited in various ways according to personality.
Meaning, introverts tend to be covert narcissists while extroverts tend to be regular narcissists.
Borderline reflects the negative aspects of the female personality taken to an extreme while narcissist personality disorder often reflects the negative aspects of the male personality taken to an extreme (which is why women tend to be diagnosed as borderline & men tend to be diagnosed as narcissist—but the root cause is the same).
Naturally bold personalities will manifest as oppositional defiance disorder while more intimidated personalities will manifest as passive-aggressive.
All personality disordered people will at different times display traits of masochism, passive-aggression, narcissism, borderline, and so on.
This is why you see even successful people senselessly shoot themselves in the foot. That bewildering self-destruction is an aspect of personality disorder. However, they often maintain their success...because they lack integrity. In such situations, another person takes the fall or the scoundrel somehow manages to manipulate his or her way out of the mess. (Life is easier without scruples.)
Having said all that, it still occurs at some point that their string of bad decisions finally wreak their vengeance.
It doesn't always happen in their lifetime, but it often happens.
It may be a quiet vengeance, but it's there.
They lose money, family, friends, health, career, power, support...
Anyway, someone sent me the conclusion of a study from the Mayo Clinic stating that narcissists are incapable of truly loving others—even their own children.
And it got me thinking about this whole subject again...
...but with a new insight.
Personality Disorder...or a Sodomite Soul?
And the theories make sense.
However, many people endured a horrible upbringing only to turn out pretty well.
Free choice exists regardless of innate nature or upbringing.
Furthermore, personality disorders seem to develop amid a backdrop of behaviors that don't seem so awful and are even encouraged by modern child-rearing methods, like overindulging a child, overvaluing a child, and offering a child extreme praise & admiration.
In other situations, the roots of personality disorder appear to develop from emotional abuse. (Emotional abuse is notorious for being very hard to spot from the outside, but it wreaks terrible inner havoc on its victim.)
In still other situations, extreme criticism plays a part in the development of a personality disorder.
The light bulb switched on after I couldn't stop thinking about something Rav Itamar Schwartz mentions a few times:
Just before Mashiach, Chazal predicted that the generations of the Flood, the Tower of Babel, and Sodom will be reincarnated.
"Just before Mashiach" is NOW.
It's a weird scenario because Chazal said that the souls of these generations have no portion in the World to Come.
Meaning, when they die, they cease to exist even in the Afterlife.
Perhaps this also sheds light on why Hashem will destroy so much of humanity at the End of Days—most of humanity do not possess souls meant to enjoy the World to Come.
In the ultimate end, we're left with the souls that AREN'T reincarnations of those 3 extremely dysfunctional generations.
I don't know this for sure. It just makes sense to me. But maybe I'm wrong.
Anyway, a lot of what we're seeing now (whether personality disorders or depravity) is merely the replay of old transgressions & dysfunction.
The Generation of the Flood
For example, in the Generation of the Flood, Noach publicized the upcoming Flood for years & years.
During that time, the great tzaddik Metushelach was still alive, known & loved by all.
Hashem sent that generation all sorts of natural disasters & obvious hints.
They weren't so far removed from the earlier generations who believed in One God.
Yet even until the moment the water covered their heads, they remained attached to their ugliness: abortion, all sorts of depravity committed with people of the same gender and even animals, wanton liaisons, rampant theft, corrupt courts, an inflated sense of their own importance (superiority complex) & the certainty that they were so smart & so privileged that nothing could harm them.
Like today, they enjoyed a quick transition from tough times to easy times, which imbued them with a false sense of superiority.
In our modern times, people went from kerosene lamps, outhouses, washtubs, wagons, coal or woodstoves, and homespun clothing to electricity, indoor plumbing, washing machines, cars, electric/gas stoves & ovens, and clothing stores—all within one generation.
The progress didn't effect every single person at the same time, and pockets of primitive living still exist in America, but in general, the progress occurred.
In fact, technological progress advanced so quickly that the same man who traveled the Oregon Trail on a horse-drawn wagon as a boy later flew the same journey in an airplane in his older years.
Such progress within one lifespan!
The journey from a horse-drawn wagon to cars to trucks & construction vehicles to airplanes to—for an elite minority—space shuttles all occurred with unprecedented speed.
(Germany produced the world's first car in 1886; the USA put a man on the moon in 1969—mind-boggling advancement within less than 100 years.)
Similar progress occurred among the ancient pre-Flood generations.
Initially, Hashem cursed the world: Animals were untrainable, fields sown with fruits or vegetables produced thorns, and cemeteries suffered distressing flooding.
People were born with their fingers melded together, making it impossible to invent tools to make life easier—such craftsmanship necessitates separated fingers.
Noach was the first baby born with separated fingers.
With Noach's birth, the curse relented.
Later, Noach invented the plowing tools, making life much easier.
With the new convenience of obedient donkeys, cows, and horses, fruitful fields & easy harvesting, a wealth of clean-water wells, a comfortably temperate climate, improved hands & new inventions to make life easier, the Generation of the Flood used their life of ease & pleasure to sink into depravity—rather than thank Hashem for the gifts.
(Note: Much of the above is sourced in Rashi on Beresheit & Midrash Beresheit Rabbah. The following mention Noach as the first born with separated fingers: the Rosh & Baalei Tosafot, Yaarot Devash, and Binayahu on Gemara Sanhedrin.)
The Generation of the Dispersion
Seeking to create a communist utopia, the Generation of Dispersion included men of science with heady ambitions. (They also wanted to put men on the moon.)
They, too, suffered from an inflated sense of their own superiority.
They gathered together for reasons of power, glory, and material & scientific accomplishment—not for true peace.
They cherished their material & scientific goals far more than they valued their fellow human beings, mourning over a fallen brick rather than over a fallen friend (much like the construction of the Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai).
The Yeshivah of Shem & Ever existed in their time, as did Avraham Avinu and a pocket of like-minded people.
So it's not as if the Generation of Dispersion lacked the means to know the truth.
They simply didn't want to.
But cruelly corrupted courts, socially acceptable sadism, and the desire for toeva plagued Sodom.
Like today, much of Sodom's sadism & cruelty were viewed as "funny" or "clever."
And they've all come back.
(This does NOT mean Rav Kanievsky. This DOES mean fake rabbis & political leaders of all stripes.)
A lot has been written about the Erev Rav. It's a fascinating subject.
But how to deal with them practically?
A lot has been written about that too, both in the secular world regarding personality disorders & in the frum world regarding Erev Rav.
Pop psychology recommends going either low-contact or no-contact with personality disordered people.
And that's good advice.
In fact, according to Judaism, we are supposed to separate from all bad influences (including "friends"), we are supposed to live as a nation alone amid the nations of the world (while being courteous & respectful, of course), and we are supposed to also separate from the Erev Rav.
Easier said than done.
Sometimes, you simply cannot leave a job with a personality disordered boss or co-worker.
Divorce isn't always an option when married to a personality disordered spouse. And even when one gets divorce, it doesn't always bring relief. For example, once you have children together, you almost never manage to get your nemesis completely out of your life.
And what about parents & siblings?
Sometimes cutting all contact with them is worse than maintaining low-contact.
But particularly with personality disordered parents, even the low contact ends up being very painful.
For most people, when the personality disordered person is close family, it's a no-win situation.
Tachlis: What Can We Do?
(No quick or easy results, however—this is a whole rectification process.)
The Komarna Rebbe explains that when you pray for Erev Rav, it elevates the Erev Rav sparks, which nullify the Erev Rav aspects of a person.
Rav Itamar Schwartz notes that every Jew has some Erev Rav sparks (HERE). Some people possess a handful of these undesirable sparks while others possess so many of these sparks, they are mostly or all Erev Rav (and therefore, the least rectifiable).
Rav Itamar Schwartz recommends separating from Erev Rav, but knowing that it's a massive challenge to determine who is really Erev Rav, he recommends clarifying/sifting through who's Erev Rav via the following (HERE):
- learning Torah (clarifying each sugya)
- mesirut nefesh (self-sacrifice)
It sounds weird because it doesn't directly address the issue of who is & who isn't, but apparently you will either figure it out or elevate sparks by doing the above.
Now, the highest level of mesirut nefesh is dying al kiddush Hashem.
But there are lower levels of mesirut nefesh, like breaking your middot and giving up taavot you might really like but shouldn't indulge, and so on.
The book Shomer Emunim states that because, theoretically, we could all be Erev Rav (or minimally, possess Erev Rav sparks), we must work voraciously on our emunah—that's the remedy.
The Lubavitcher Tanya explains that when Mashiach comes, the Erev Rav will be like how we are now, with a yetzer hara & a yetzer hatov. It's interesting to think that for them, elevation is being like how we are now.
Right now, the Erev Rav don't seem to battle their yetzer hara and don't seem to have much of a yetzer tov, if at all.
Erev Rav is a tremendous subject. If you'd like to know more, please check out Rav Itamar Schwartz's booklet on it HERE.
Why Does Any of This Matter?
And perhaps this is why we're seeing so much unrelenting, seemingly incurable dysfunction.
Many dysfunctional immoral people around the world are simply souls with no hope & no future.
Since time immemorial, they always proved themselves incapable of doing teshuvah, no matter how hard the obvious stared them in the face.
A major reason why I find this knowledge helpful is because no matter how compassionately they present their immorality (like how abortion is an act of "compassion," and how euthanasia equals "compassion," and how treating criminals with kid gloves is "compassion," and how encouraging same-gender liaisons & marriages is "compassionate," etc.), it's most likely coming from Sodomite souls or souls from the other 2 generations.
In other words, it's not compassion! It all emanates from the inclinations of a depraved, condemned soul.
And I think knowing their roots can help in rejecting their ideas & manipulations.
As far as Erev Rav goes...some are obvious. But many aren't.
So dealing with Erev Rav calls for:
- working on our own emunah
- mesirut nefesh
- Torah learning (really learning Torah & striving to understand it on the TORAH's terms, and not using it for our own ego or power)
- davening for the people who hurt us to do teshuvah
- avoiding these dysfunctional types when we can
Note: Rav Itamar Schwartz defines Erev Rav by those who act on certain Erev Rav traits (like fomenting controversy or being a mosser/slandering traitor) regularly—as if it's their very nature to do so.
A person doing such things once or twice signifies bad middot, not a hopelessly Erev Rav personality.
Anyway, I think that's what's going on and why we're seeing so much incorrigible dysfunction combined with the promotion of so many harmful, immoral ideas.
And may Hashem protect us all from such influences so we can be our spiritual best.