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After reading @Aprilshowers I also feel compelled to add that during the course of my therapy - once from 14-16 including residential treatment and a recent therapist I just trialed before K. His name was Bryan, and he had been to Rwanda during the genocide. When Putin committed his crime of aggression (the invasion of Ukraine), he kind of lost it a little and started talking about how he believes in Satan, and that Lucifer and the Devil are out there causing evil and destruction.

So I told him my views (above) on evil, and he couldn't understand how I don't believe in it. He personally called my abusers "pure evil, inhabited by Satan." It was interesting to me to hear this. It was, obviously, incredibly unprofessional and unethical, but I wasn't harmed by it because I am extremely competent at the "therapeutic process."

So I just let us switch roles and I spoke with him about his time in Rwanda, what he saw, and how Putin starting the war in Ukraine was bringing back a lot of those memories. Especially because on social media there was a huge, hugely significant call to arms from foreign volunteers. I actually considered, myself, whether I could physically assist (because I was ahem not in my right mind and that was in March when I went inpatient) I spent quite a few hours on video chats with Ukrainian kids that were chatting into the warmline I volunteer at. I broke their rules and gave them my social media so we could talk openly.

Anyway all that to say I had a pretty decent understanding of the conflict, but it was everywhere. Ubiquitous, "all foreign volunteers will be inducted no problem! All you need is a passport!" was those vibes and of course so many people wanted to go. So I asked him how it felt for him to see these constant calls to war and violence and aggression, especially knowing the level of atrocity that the Russian soldiers were committing on Ukrainian civilians.

There was one kid, when the evacuation corridors were becoming a thing, I told him as much as I could and as loud as I could, that he SHOULD NOT GO THERE. It would be JUST like Putin to create "humanitarian corridors" and then f*cking blow it up. And wouldn't you know, that's exactly what happened. That kind of shit had f*cked me up, same with the little kid who I taught how to use his dad's old ass gun with his mom in the room thanking me in broken English.

Engaging with this stuff sent me to the hospital so I had to stop doing it, but it did give me some insight into my therapist and what was happening for him. He couldn't maintain his composure because he was triggered, from his prior experiences. If anyone can relate, it's me. But as he got more and more activated, the ""devil/lucifer/satan"" stuff became more prominent. I suppose if you have certain religious beliefs, the concept of "evil" makes a lot more sense.

For me, it never has. In my religion, our biggest tenet is teshuvah and even those who are kareth (such as myself, regrettably) can approach situations through the lens of restorative justice rather than retributive justice (which to me, is what evil is based on - they are evil, they must be punished, etc).
I believe evil does exist, as a concept. But I would assign it to specific acts, generally done out of choice.
I’m not religious so I see it only from an ethical point of view.

I don’t think anyone is all ‘good’ or all ‘evil’. I think everyone is capable of being both. Evil to me is assigned to specific acts/behaviours/choices that are so morally wrong it can’t be linguistically expressed any other way. I think ‘good’ people have gone along with ‘evil’, or looked the other way and allowed it to happen, or simply just blindly followed into it. I find it hard to say that one person is absolutely all evil and that’s all they’ve ever been or will be, I don’t think I can do that.

Absolutely there are some acts which are unforgivably evil, but there’s also circumstances in which the evil wasn’t really committed under free choice/will and therefore I’d probably not think of it as such.

Basically, in all my rambling, evil is the most morally reprehensible acts done out of free choice, total free will.
This is such an interesting topic and one I don't often speak about with anyone. I've always thought of evil as being a disease of the soul. I've encountered people who were evil and I don't think there is anything that would make them anything else than what they are.
I think there are times that regular people can commit evil acts because they don't know what they're really doing - more due to mental illness which is a disease of the mind, but the people who take pleasure and joy from harming those who are vulnerable or can't defend themselves are evil inside because their souls are diseased with hatred.
My thoughts come purely from my own experiences and thoughts on the subject. There are so many different interpretations of evil or what constitutes acts of evil and so many different ways that it can be perpetrated against humanity.
Someone once told me that one third of the human population is evil and the only thing that keeps them from destroying everything is the fact that two thirds of humanity is not. It's given me some food for thought, but if that number is anywhere close to correct, it scares me.
@Aprilshowers and others thank you, very interesting. I found out that the old religions, including that recorded in the Old Testament, viewed the cosmic struggle not between good and evil but rather between chaos and order. So God’s creation was order out of chaos mirroring the cosmic battle, and the focus on language and laws also mirrors this battle.

I think this is relevant but only a little because evil can be very creative and often chaotic wilderness is equated with good these days. I just found it interesting. I have heard some materialist views on negative feelings being described as something like the body recognizing an increase in entropy. I suppose evil (whether as a behavior/performance or as a quality/personality) is increasing entropy for other people, in that even if it is creative and organized the end result is greater chaos for the people on the receiving end (don’t have to think too hard to come up with examples.) So maybe the chaos/order thing is still relevant.
I'm in Marzulli's camp. It seemed kind of weird at the time (and still does, really) but "Good & Evil was one of the first serious topics I talked about with my T. He brought it up. He suggested I read "People of the Lie" which I did. Good book, IMO. I'm not totally sure that "Good" exists as some kind of independent entity or that "Evil" does. but I find the concepts useful. The way I see the world, those 2 forces exist and, as we move through life, our actions can serve one side or the other. Sometimes we make a conscious choice which side we serve, sometimes we don't. But conscious or not, our actions serve one side or the other. I don't think evil actions make a person evil. I think a conscious decision to serve Evil makes a person Evil. But that's on a different level than just doing bad things.

I'm not convince any of this is literally true, I just find it to be a useful way of looking at things. Sometimes I just need a reason to get up in the morning and head out the door. The idea that maybe there's things I can do that might add to the over all Good in the world appeals to me.

I think Chaos and Order are probably still relevant, but how you define stuff is a question. Chaos, just at a gut level, doesn't seem like a good thing to me. Order, on the other hand can range from a clean kitchen to a totalitarian state. I think there's a point there where "Order" might not be such a good thing, depending on how it's defined.
I think evil is very real, and that there are many, many levels to it. Just like there are many levels to kindness, goodness, whatnot. I know that I've seen behind the mask of civility and seen what a truly evil human looks like. And reading around the forum I know I'm not the only one who has encountered that truly malevolent evil. Can a truly evil person also be a good person? Maybe a bad person who does good things? Not for me. I think the "good" truly evil people do is more of a smokescreen than a look at who they might be.

But, it could be someone could be less evil and have some redeeming features perhaps. Someone caught in the good/bad tug of war.

It does make me wonder - are people like that created or born? My guess is that some are just born evil -yep, just that simple. Do they come from god or the devil? Does science explain what happened to their brain that made them this way? File under unanswerable questions I think. What I also find curious is why they seem to be in a position of power so often? Are we rewarding them for the evil they do because it serves some purpose in our lives?
ugh..so many ways to think about it!
Evil is one of those words that is open to interpretation and perception, so I don't trust or use it. I don't believe in inherent evil, and because it has so many religious connotations, I just avoid it altogether.
You will own nothing and like it." - Klaus Schwab
To play devils advocate 😈 (😆) when I read this it reminds me of communal bands of people from the past who would never think about owning land or owning things privately (with few exceptions). To me I would very much like that, I think, but not from like a Rainbow Gathering perspective of trying to carve that out of a capitalist society, rather from the perspective that that makes the most sense because it works best for the people living in that time and place. Not in a forced communist dystopia way.
What I also find curious is why they seem to be in a position of power so often? Are we rewarding them for the evil they do because it serves some purpose in our lives?
Interesting thought! I remember hearing about this concept called The Dark Triad personality, where it was people with a mix of narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. And such people often are more likely to take on leadership positions at work and also have high interpersonal influence.

Only very recently have people tried to qualify the Light Triad—qualities of empathy, compassion, and humanism. So not as much studies on how people with the light triad influence others or take on leadership positions.
I heard (quite accidentally, it was a prompt for something in my inbox) a counsellor, psychologist I think (who was excellent IMHO) say that ptsd arises, whether by a single event or repetitive ones, when the person comes up against an evil that shows them how helpless and powerless they were but did not realize they were (as she said, for example a car accident is evil/ i.e. not an experience of good). Safety becomes the most important. Then it becomes an experience of the unknown, including how one will react (protect others) or avoid what might be the hint of a trigger (protect self). and things no one would think would be reason for avoidance are. And because it can't be shared, and seems beyond the realm of what others could understand or stomach, and along with attempting to get safety, avoidance increases. It cuts one's self off from themself, and others, and the community. And there is a sense of being totally alone. And that the trauma can only be revisited from a distance, with a trusted guide, in order to identify what was evil and name it, and also what was good. And therefore name the real story and change the self dialogue. And whatever helps develop or give a sense of safety is critical.

Maybe that's how the concept intertwines? Something about coming up to, or realizing you were in, something feeling so beyond one's control or agency, to protect or be protected from within the moment(s)?

Idk I can't really do it justice to say what she said without a transcript and I only started with how to deal with anxiety. (Although I did learn anxiety is fearing and viscerally experiencing the worst case scenarios often with corresponding OCD thoughts about them, and depression often follows, which is a belief they have as good as already occurred.)

Not sure if that makes sense. It totally resonated with me but I heard their words, they were not mine.
Wow that’s a great explanation! These parts especially jumped out at me.
can only be revisited from a distance, with a trusted guide, in order to identify what was evil and name it, and also what was good.
Really powerful the naming. I had no Words for what happened to me for nearly four decades. Partly because most of it happened while language was developing in my brain and partly because my brain didn’t understand the meaning of the events.

In another thread people were talking about recovered memories. I had recovered memories. But it wasn’t all like just popping out of nowhere. It was like these fragments of confusion that crystallized finally and the meaning was revealed, which allowed the opportunity for naming. Been thinking about starting a discussion about recovered memories but am not sure.

And it is related to the evil concept in a way because it’s very normal for the brain to repress and hide memories from events where a person, like you said, comes up against evil which makes them aware of how powerless they are but didn’t realize they were. But what’s strange and amazing is that sometimes the person doesn’t realize that they were up against evil until much later, as a survival tactic or because of obfuscation on the part of the evil human(s).
anxiety is fearing and viscerally experiencing the worst case scenarios often with corresponding OCD thoughts about them, and depression often follows
Well said. I think this is why my T would say things like, “What if it goes well? What if nothing bad happens? Have you allowed for that possibility?” Because fearing the worst case scenario is limiting use of one’s powerful ally, the imagination.

Thanks for sharing that!