Psychoanalysis has traditionally had difficulty in accounting for the existence of evil. Freud saw it as a direct expression of unconscious forces, whereas more recent theorists have examined the links between early traumatic experiences and later ‘evil’ behaviour. Humanizing Evil: Psychoanalytic, Philosophical and Clinical Perspectives explores the controversies surrounding definitions of evil, and examines its various forms, from the destructive forces contained within the normal mind to the most horrific expressions observed in contemporary life.
Ronald Naso and Jon Mills bring together an international group of experts to explore how more subtle factors can play a part, such as conformity pressures, or the morally destabilizing effects of anonymity, and show how analysts can understand and work with such factors in clinical practice. Each chapter is unified by the view that evil is intrinsically linked to human freedom, regardless of the gap experienced by perpetrators between their intentions and consequences. While some forms of evil follow seamlessly from psychopathology, others call this relationship into question. Rape, murder, serial killing, and psychopathy show very clear links to psychopathology and character whereas the horrors of war, religious fundamentalism, and political extremism resist such reductionism.
Humanizing Evil is unique in the diversity of perspectives it brings to bear on the problem of evil. It will be essential reading for psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, philosophers, and Jungians. Because it is an integrative depth-psychological effort, it will interest general readers as well as scholars from a variety of disciplines including the humanities, philosophy, religion, mental health, criminal justice, political science, sociology, and interdisciplinary studies.
Ronald Naso, Ph.D., ABPP is psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist in independent practice in Stamford, CT. The author of numerous papers on psychoanalytic topics, he is an associate editor of Contemporary Psychoanalytic Studies, and contributing editor of Division/Review and Journal of Psychology and Clinical Psychiatry. His book, Hypocrisy Unmasked: Dissociation, Shame, and the Ethics of Inauthenticity, was published by Aronson in 2010.
Jon Mills, Psy.D., Ph.D., ABPP is a philosopher, psychoanalyst, and clinical psychologist. He is Professor of Psychology & Psychoanalysis at Adler Graduate Professional School, Toronto. A 2006, 2011, and 2013 Gradiva Award winner, he is Editor of two book series in psychoanalysis, on the Editorial Board for Psychoanalytic Psychology, and is the author and/or editor of thirteen books including his most recent works, Underworlds: Philosophies of the Unconscious from Psychoanalysis to Metaphysics, and Conundrums: A Critique of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, which won the Goethe Award for best book in 2013.
Table of Contents
Introduction and Overview—Ronald C. Naso
- Formulating Evil
- The Essence of Evil—Jon Mills
- The Psychoanalytical Relevance of Jacob Böhme’s Concept of Evil—Sean McGrath
Demonic Consciousness: Jungian Approaches to Understanding Evil—John Beebe
- The Psychology of Perpetration
- Breaking Bad and the Rhetoric of Evil—Ronald Naso
- Predatory Identity—Robert Prince
- The Psychodynamics of Evil: Motives Behind Acts of Extreme Violence in Peacetime—Michael Stone
- Clinical Applications
- Trauma and Evil: Questions of Ethics and Aesthetics for a Profession in Crisis—Oren Gozlan
- Witnessing Evil—Coline Covington
"In a rapidly changing world incredible technological advances constantly expose us to news of man’s inhumanity to man and make us witnesses to the most unpleasant events. It is very important that the causality of such disturbing human behavior is explained by those who study the human mind. With references to various psychoanalytic perspectives and by examining frightening individual and societal cases this book provides significant insights for seemingly unexplainable human stories."-Vamık D. Volkan, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and the author of Enemies on the Couch: A Psychopolitical Journey Through War and Peace
"Ultimately, I felt that the most important insight from this edited collection is that evil is inevitably contrasted to the good; one cannot conceive of evil, without the good. Indeed, confronting evil is surely what makes us truly human." - Henry Abramovitch, Israel Institute of Jungian Psychology for the Journal of Analytical Psychology