The Roots of Genocide and Human Cruelty
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Originally published in 1972, this fully revised edition was published in 1991 and provides a classic study of humanity’s capacity for evil.
The human species is capable of the most appalling cruelty. Why is this and where does our capacity for such destructiveness come from? In Human Destructiveness, Anthony Storr explores these important questions.
In seeking to shed light on such brutal phenomena as genocide, racial conflict and other large-scale manifestations of violence, he cautions against easy extrapolations from individual behaviour to the behaviour of groups and nations, though he offers illuminating discussions of aggressive personality disorders, sadomasochism and the mechanisms of paranoid delusion. Most provocatively, he locates the propensity for mass outbreaks of cruelty in the imagination: ‘to be able to see fellow human beings as wholly evil requires an imaginative capacity not found in other species.’
Combining wide scholarship, humane intelligence and a graceful style, Human Destructiveness provides an illuminating study of some of the darkest corners of the human psyche.