Evildoers Always Think the Worst of Others

Evildoers Always Think the Worst of Others
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Written and verified by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Last update: 28 July, 2022

Nobody is more loyal and faithful than a jealous person. One can be unfaithful in desire alone, without actually going through with it with deeds. But the truth is, in their mind, the idea of infidelity simply does not fit.

That’s why they question their significant other even when there’s no reason or motive to do so. Because of actions and thinking patterns like this, people say that “evildoers always think the worst of others.”

It goes beyond jealousy, too. Evildoers judge everyone else, but actually they’re projecting something about themselves or their self-image, at least. In other words, they see others as if they were looking into a mirror. They notice things in other people that are actually in themselves. They attribute their strengths or weaknesses to others.

“The way we treat ourselves is also the way in which we treat everyone else.”
-Miguel Ruiz-

When we say that evildoers always think the worst of others, we’re really talking about a subconscious defense mechanism. The mechanism is called “projection”. It consists of seeing in others precisely what we don’t want to admit about ourselves.

A boat has a giant face as a sail.

Defense mechanisms

Defense mechanisms are mostly subconscious strategies. Their purpose is to protect the conscience from thoughts or emotions deemed unpleasant or unbearable. It’s as if people had a button that is automatically pushed. The button covers over anything we don’t want to see. Thus, we stop looking at it altogether, even though it’s still there.

Each one of us has defense mechanisms. Some are formed at a very early age, while others form much later on. They help us maintain a certain balance and are not good or bad, per se. Some people are more aware of the defense mechanisms they use, while others find it very hard to acknowledge them.

Projection is one defense mechanism. Projection protects us from that feeling of unease produced by having to accept and take responsibility for things about ourselves that we consciously reject. Involuntarily, we throw these things out. Then, we assign them to other people. That’s how evildoers think the worst of others.

A woman with a bird as part of her face.

How do “evildoers” judge?

One way or another, we are all constantly projecting something. We see the world in our own way. We all read reality our own particular way, no matter how objective we try to be. Unfortunately, we see some aspects but are blind to others. We emphasize some details over others. When we talk about the world, we’re talking about ourselves, to a great extent.

This mechanism of projection operates in different ways. Here are some examples:

  • Affective projection. We say that someone hates us, even though we’re actually the ones who hate them. The same thing happens with love and any other feeling.
  • Emotional projection. We say that the moon is “romantic” or that the sea is “silent and calm.” Actually, the moon is an object in the solar system that does not feel. The same thing applies to the ocean. It is us who see it that way, and give it one connotation or another.
  • The projection of a necessity. This one is a bit more difficult to detect. It happens when, for example, a person gives everyone they know unsolicited advice. However, they’re probably looking for someone to guide them.
  • The projection of personal traits. This occurs when we recriminate things other people do — but that we do ourselves, too. It’s like when a father who smokes thinks his children are “bad” when he sees them smoking. It’s a classic case of an evildoer thinking the worst of others.

In addition, we don’t just see projection in isolated examples. Oftentimes, we also construct actual theories that only take into account certain perspectives. That’s what happened when egocentric humanity couldn’t accept that the Earth orbited around the Sun, not the other way around.

Evildoers: a woman has a bird nest as hair with a castle in it.

Becoming aware of your projections 

If you manage to become aware of your projections, you will know yourself better than most. If you want that, the most effective thing to do is to get some distance and try to observe yourself candidly. The idea is to capture what you are truly feeling.

When you spontaneously judge someone, try to pause for a moment. Examine what the content of that judgment is and what you feel about it. Evaluate the reasons you have for judging them that way. Try to decipher what negative feelings are joined to your reasoning.

It’s very possible this little exercise will show you how you project. You’ll start to understand the saying, “evildoers always think the worst of others”. You’ll find within yourself the traits you find so insufferable in others. 

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Bailey, R., & Pico, J. (2022). Defense mechanisms. StatPearls. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559106/
  • Ramachandran, V. S., & Jalal, B. (2017). The evolutionary psychology of envy and jealousy. Frontiers in psychology8, 1619.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.