Discovering the darkest corners of the human being, the shadow zones of our souls is a curiosity that has always fascinated and frightened us at the same time. It is not just that morbid attraction when we see a fatal accident passing by on the highway: behind this side of us there is much more. The need to comprehend how one would get to perform actions that normally, in our natural mental state, would never become part of our real intentions. There is a need to confirm to ourselves, in part to reassure us and in part to get those thoughts out of our minds, that an authentic bad individual is made of a totally different nature than ours. After all, it is the answer to a question that every day many of us ask ourselves: am I a good person? Even better: am I a person that can always remain within the framework of human kindness?
The real answer is actually not reassuring, hence the question arises constantly in our mind. The truth is that there are no people born with an evil nature different from ours. There are people who behave in a bad way (sometimes in an extreme, aberrant, inhuman way) because the circle of experiences they lived and their worldview seen through unnatural lenses made them believe they have needs, urges, peculiarities necessary to carry on. Individuals led to see other individuals as threats, as enemies, after a life almost always lived in pain, with the unavoidable feeling that no one will ever give them what they deserve unless they get it by themselves, through those means learnt from that life.
It is a bitter and disheartening picture. Because while it is true that there are natural exceptions, represented by evil people “by predisposition” or “by nature” – and of course there are also exceptions in the opposite sense, people raised in the sign of violence but growing up without developing evil behaviors – it is also true that if we exclude the exceptions, we conclude that any of us could be a malicious person, in the exact sense we reserve for those who frighten us. And since our vision is ipso facto subjective, this leads to an even scarier deduction: we could be the bad guys. Here. Now.
With this insistent voice speaking from that little abyss inside of us, delving into the stories of extremely evil men, capable of killing, torturing our fellow men by annihilating their human nature, resembles a cathartic practice. In the end, the effect could be beneficial and convince us that no, we would never be able to go that far. By the law of large numbers this is actually the case. But statistics, as we know, is the science that confirms that everything has a probability of taking place. No matter how low, the possibility that one day life will force you to cross the threshold of moral acceptability and become ruthless individuals is not zero. And the voice that keeps asking for confirmations, in the end could be our best defense, because it keeps us vigilant and aware of what might happen. Because it has already happened to others.
Alessio Pizzichi recount us all this without trying to reassure us. His style is dry, clinical. You will notice it already in the way he presents the results of his research in the author’s introduction, and you will have confirmation of it in each of the stories you will read in this book. None of them will make you feel safe. Alessio presents them to us as paths he has undertaken thanks to his instinct, his passion for the dark dimension, as a necessary observer in defense of our mental health, in a world that becomes more complex and difficult to keep normal every day.
And if at the end of the reading you are left with a strange bittersweet taste in your throat, remember this: that annoying taste could be your best chance to stay normal. Savor it and swallow.