Evil is defined as the destructive, inhuman behaviour of some individuals towards others. It seems increasingly present in our everyday lives. This book explores evil from historical, cultural and religious perspectives, drawing insight from the author's experience of "evil" individuals drawn from his work with seriously disturbed patients. Dr Goldberg identifies the specific psychological conditions that gradually prepare a person for acts of atrocity and analyzes the cruelty and abuse in our society.
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An original and invigorating contribution to our thinking on why certain people become cruel and violent. Psychoanalyst Goldberg's main achievement is to offer a convincing psychological account of what he terms ``malevolence'' while avoiding the trap of determinism, whether psychological, sociological, or historical. He insists that abusive and violent acts, however much influenced by early suffering and despair, are freely chosen by their perpetrators, who remain morally accountable for their actions. A series of choices made throughout life, he claims, from small acts of violation (such as crossing a lawn with a keep off the grass sign) to increasingly greater ones, determine one's character and eventually do destroy one's ability to choose good. At the root of malevolence Goldberg puts the secret feeling of shame. Using case histories from his own practice, the author (a former professor of psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine) illustrates how a sensitive child who is shamed learns to shift his contempt for himself onto others, who are then seen as deserving the abuse he heaps on them, while he himself, by means of magical thinking, becomes a superior being, free to do as he pleases. But despite his case study of a young Serb who took part in a village massacre and his analysis of the dark symbiosis between Jim Jones and his cult followers, Goldberg fails to support his claim that his theory of shame can explain the violence we have seen in Bosnia and Nazi Germany. Nevertheless, this is an innovative contribution to the needed recuperation of the notion of individual responsibility, yet also a reminder that our common humanity requires that we attempt to understand evildoers--only then can we help them and try to prevent others from going down the same path. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Library Journal:
Psychoanalyst Goldberg (social science, New York Univ.) draws on case studies from his practice in this discussion of the nature of evil. He elucidates how the malevolent personality can develop when an individual makes the wrong choices in life, and he goes on to describe the six phases a person goes through?ranging from shame through justification to magical thinking?that allows him or her to commit harmful acts. Extremely helpful is a brief section at the end of the book that talks about the healing of shame and how society needs to return to previous person-centered values in our collective effort to combat evil. Anyone interested in a psychological understanding of the nature of evil will find this book informative and easy to comprehend. For most collections.?Marguerite Mroz, Baltimore Cty. P.L., Towson, Md.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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