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Evil

I forgot also, they said of course at best someone can accompany or support, but it's up to us. And that trauma has a ripple effect of negative consequences on others. They also stressed, it's the fact (now) that it can be severely impacting or limiting the present.

Far as naming goes, I think of the saying the mind is a meaning-making machine. I remember a woman who finally could accept she couldn't prevent her child's death (on her lap) with a vehicular collision simulator (she went in it). Another psychologist (wish I could find it again) from Ireland helped a Vet go back to a road and he saw for his own eyes what he had been telling himself he failed to do (and ended in his friend's death) would have been impossible, so he could rewrite the story he had been telling himself for years with additional facts he could believe in his heart.

That saying of what is simplest is most difficult to grasp resonates with me. Perhaps the difficulty of just stating a simple fact without self-blame as the explanation why it occurred, or minimizing it entirely, is just a way to avoid? (It is for me). Yet equally, I can never know someone's motivation. I don't have to though to acknowledge something was harmful. I mean, by her definition a car accident was evil/ not good; so would be a tornado or natural disaster . Still potentially horrific and terrifying and kills people, yet not even personal. Yet despite the differences between traumas they can hare some similar responses. But, for example, I remember this couple they studied who both got ptsd from a 100+ car pile up in fog, that her symptoms were different than his (bodies ejected and thrown were bouncing off their windshield and no one could get out of the line up/ rear-ender, and no one could see the highway warnings because of the fog and so kept coming and hitting the next vehicle). Not necessarily due they thought to gender, but because she was the passenger and he was the driver. So they presupposed not only their roles (as a man he was less likely to express himself, not that some women don't do the same), but because he was responsible for driving. On her part she said she felt really helpless as on top of it all she wasn't the driver and could only helplessly watch (she ended up suicidal). He felt responsible for not being able to get them out of it and had tremendous guilt and rage.
 
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Good stuff!
by her definition a car accident was evil/ not good; so would be a tornado or natural disaster . Still potentially horrific and terrifying and kills people, yet not even personal. Yet despite the differences between traumas they can hare some similar responses.
This makes a lot of sense to me. And it reminds me of how prior to the religious idea that there is a cosmic war between good and evil the idea was that there was a battle between chaos and order. With support and intervention from God/gods humans created order and a big source of chaos was nature/wilderness. Humans came up against chaos/evil because they were not properly or sufficiently worshipping and supplication had failed.

When I lived close to Navajo people I learned that they regularly prayed for their cars the way you would for your family members. Isn’t a main reason for prayer to deliver us from evil? There still is a a strong connection, I think, between evil and chaos, as lack of money, health, safety, etc can lead to that fear of the worst possible outcome and prayer helps to develop order in the mind, as other possibilities are imagined.
He felt responsible for not being able to get them out of it and had tremendous guilt and rage.
This makes me think of the stages of grief. Feeling responsible is inevitable. I wonder if PTSD is the mind related to getting stuck in a loop at one of the stages, and therapists help clients complete the steps toward accepting and integrating.
what is simplest is most difficult to grasp
I never heard this before but it does resonate with me. When I’m in a depression cycle and listening to the lies in my head I sometimes want my T or someone on here to tell me in very simple language what happened to me and why I have symptoms sometimes. My T helped me whittle down my truth to “Bad/Danger” with respect to my main abusers which my younger parts are still confused about and want relationships with sometimes.

I guess “bad/danger” is the ideal response when running up against evil. Which sounds too obvious! But can be surprisingly difficult at times, especially when symptomatic or when highly vulnerable due to lack/need.
 
I can never know someone's motivation. I don't have to though to acknowledge something was harmful
Thinking of this too. I have a friend who is trying to untangle her psyche and her life from her ex-boyfriend who keeps manipulating her and one of the traps I see her falling into is trying to find a reason for every bit of his behavior. Because then she justifies it and tries to understand his perspective and gives him the benefit of the doubt and his control continues. And I told her, you don’t need to know why he does something in order to say no.

When I was with her last night I realize how impatient I am with her and it makes me appreciate therapist’s skills even more. It’s not easy to stay present watching and listening to someone’s cognitive distortions especially when they are ones I have been working on overcoming! I get activated when she’s activated and it would be better if I stayed calm in order to help her co-regulate but I don’t need to be perfect and critical events (her ex and her had just had a huge yelling fight right before I arrived) are difficult to navigate no matter what.

Anyway, that was a digression to process something.

Back to the topic I’m still struggling to grasp evil person versus evil behavior. It seems the modern idea is evil behavior but I think that believing everyone is capable of good/salvation might be a useful idea for evil ones to spread.
 
I’m still struggling to grasp evil person versus evil behavior.
To me, there's a point where it doesn't really matter. Like, at some point, motivation doesn't matter. Personally, I think there are a few people out there who deliberately chose to support what I see as "the side of evil". But, even if that's not the case, the people, like the more malignant narcissists, who really have nothing positive to offer, I guess I don't care whether or not they're evil people, their behavior is so consistently evil there's no good way to deal with them. (At least not a way that's legal in most places.)
 
it is challenging to know why some pedophiles act out and others don’t
I am starting to construct a world view where I consider the ones who act out as evil.

I know there are holes in this world view. I have seen the documentary Pervert Park about a halfway community for child sex offenders. I am aware that some offenders were badly abused as children which led to a structural anomaly in the brain, as @Weemie put it. I am aware that some people have to genuinely work hard to cope with their sexual preference that they were likely just born with.

The “born this way” theory of pedophilia does have data to support it but it is also problematic in my world view. Because if it is a random genetic variation nurtured by certain environmental conditions then according to evolutionary theory it’s a heritable (or spontaneous) trait—whether it is considered adaptive or maladaptive is another story. I know the theory of sexual selection; I know that in general male animals are genetically primed to search for fertile females. I also know that that concept has been adopted by the so-called Sexual Market Place culture and the alpha-beta male crap—it’s hard to believe that my beloved Jane Goodall’s observations on chimp behavior and the elegant theory of natural selection have been co-opted by red pilled pick-up artists.

Anyway, my point is that if sexual selection favors finding the most fertile females then it seems obvious to me that some men would have behavioral traits which overshoot the mark in searching for the ones who are “ready to mate”. (This would be the case more for so-called hebephiles versus those violent offenders who choose children and babies.). I am also aware that sexual selection could work on males choosing females who are best able to nurture and support babies and that young naive females would be less likely to have the skills and nutrients to raise healthy offspring, so I’m not saying that male humans are “naturally driven” to seek out younger and younger females. Sexual selection, and all selection for that matter, is not unipolar or unidirectional.

I guess thinking about evolutionary (and psychiatric) perspectives of behavior makes it hard to think about evil. Maybe part of the reason why the church is against evolution.
 
Or maybe it's good vs evil based in how people make choices.

Example....I come from a long line of severe alcoholics and abusers. My mom was the first to break that cycle and she told me from a young age that there could be a genetic link that predisposed those on our family line to those behaviors. She also beat into my head that a predisposing does not mean it had to happen. It meant I had to not let it happen.

Because of that I knew that drinking might lead to bad decisions- and I chose to pay attention to how I acted. Don't get me wrong - there were some pretty tough life lesson experiences along the way, but it always in the back of my mind that it was my choice to continue to behave like my relatives or not.

I chose not to.
People make choices with what they are give
Some people just have to work harder than others to make good choices

Wanting to rape children might be biological
Doing it is a choice.
 
Not all genetic variation is adaptive. Like albinism? I can't think of a case where that's useful. Or the tendency towards some types of cancer? Or a lot of other vaguely hereditary diseases?

Basically, I'm with @Freida on the "they have a choice" thing. I'll grant, though, that people vary in what they bring to the decision when they make that choice. In a family where there is a genetic tendency towards alcoholism, some parents warn against it, some parents pretend it doesn't exist, some parents are too busy drinking to really raise their kids at all. My personal suspicion is that a lot of people who engage in pedophilia are stuck on the idea of what THEY want and are totally out of touch with what anyone else (the victim for example) might want. I think, to handle the cognitive dissonance, they come up with a lot of stories to make what they're doing to their victim seem ok, in a lot of cases. But, maybe they just don't care, IDK. All of the uncertainties are why I think of it as "they are serving evil" rather than they ARE evil, most of the time. People are complicated and very few of us are either all good or all bad. But I'm totally comfortable believing that the actions of a pedophile increase the net evil in the world.
Maybe part of the reason why the church is against evolution.
Maybe. I don't know that the religions that oppose the idea of evolution spend that much time thinking about their reasons. They use a totally literal interpretation of scripture and are afraid to go beyond that. Personally, I really believe fear plays a part in that. There are plenty of places where scripture clearly IS using stories, so, unless it says to take it literally, why would you? Another topic completely and a big one! 🙃
 
Scout, you are helping me with the nuances, I appreciate your engagement in the discussion.
My personal suspicion is that a lot of people who engage in pedophilia are stuck on the idea of what THEY want and are totally out of touch with what anyone else (the victim for example) might want.
This aligns with the idea that my dad had strong tendencies toward narcissistic personality disorder. Anyone stuck in the idea of what they want and do not consider (or don’t care about) the victim would be labeled similarly.
to handle the cognitive dissonance, they come up with a lot of stories to make what they're doing to their victim seem ok, in a lot of cases. But, maybe they just don't care,
Helpful to think of their rationalizations as cognitive dissonance. I think his cognitive dissonance is one of the things I deeply enmeshed with and why I have this part that wants to hold onto the lies. Because he had to believe his own stories to live with himself, and my ego was enmeshed with his.

In the podcast I keep mentioning, the journalist spoke to a psychiatrist who said that deep down the ringleader knew what he was doing was wrong, and when the journalist confronted the ringleader (in prison) with that information, the ringleader said that if he ever believed that what he did was wrong it would destroy him and he wouldn’t exist anymore.

I think that’s an important part of the puzzle, the cognitive dissonance. And the not caring.
I think of it as "they are serving evil"
This is an interesting perspective. Kind of reminds me of the concept of demon. And how some people used to believe in spirit possession. Which meant something like “the demon made me do it”. And is also a way to proclaim that humans are fundamentally good and want to serve good/God but fail when a nasty spirit takes possession of them.

I’m not saying that’s what you’re saying by the phrase “serving evil” I’m saying that’s what it makes me think of. And now that I mention it, I’m realizing that if someone could be born evil then is it really their fault if they commit evil acts and serve evil? If they are born evil and serve evil then wouldn’t that be like their destiny?

Now we’re getting to the meat of the problem. If no one is all good/all bad and people have free will, then the choice to be evil is much worse than a proverbial demon who springs from the ground serving the devil—that would be the demon’s occupation and duty to be evil.

I’m not locked in on free will or determination, but I’m seeing how essential those concepts are to interpretations of good and evil.
 
I’m not saying that’s what you’re saying by the phrase “serving evil”
And it's not really what I'm trying to say either. Nazi Germany seems like such a handy source for examples. Say you're supposed to turn in Jews and you know your neighbor is Jewish. So, as a good law abiding citizen you turn them in......... People who did that probably often didn't think of it as anything other than obeying the law. Maybe they even trusted that officials knew what they were doing (true enough!) and that their motives were good. It was a choice, and it was a choice in the service of an evil cause, whether they intended it to be or not.

I'm taking the demonic possession thing as more of an idea than a real thing, although I know plenty of people who think it's a real thing. I come down on the side of free will and I would say you probably can't be possessed by a demon without, at some level, consenting. I DO believe in free will. But I have to concede that some people are wired in ways that make "evil" come easier to them. People are wired with more or less empathy. Apparently people are born with tendencies towards narcissism or psychopathy. And yet, the guy who developed the famous "Psychopath Test" scores pretty high on that same test. But is, by all accounts I've read, a pretty decent (if somewhat cold blooded) person. Personally, I think we develop into the people we are because of BOTH nature and nurture. In the end, I don't think it much matters how someone got there. Evil is Evil and the best thing to do is stay away from those people as best you can.
 
If no one is all good/all bad and people have free will, then the choice to be evil is much worse than a proverbial demon who springs from the ground serving the devil—that would be the demon’s occupation and duty to be evil.
pretty much.
It's about what makes people happy.
Pedos are happy when they abuse kids
Sadists are happy when their victims are screaming
Rapists are happy forcing someone to have sex
the list goes on and on.

That's why its worse.
Because these are people who have the ability to make a choice and make the one that will harm someone else.

A friend of mine has a son with a really serious brain injury. He's 40 now, but has the mental brain of a 13 year old. He's stuck there - and will never leave that point. He will never grow up. So like many 13 year olds he makes, lets go with unfortunate, decisions. Including putting his hands where they don't belong. But he is doing it because he has a brain injury and can't remember social "rules". Then he gets corrected, again and again. Then he forgets. It's a whole thing

That's not someone who is evil
That is someone who is incapable of making a different choice

The evil we are talking about here is nothing like that
This evil is evil simply because it is a conscious thought process
They KNOW it is wrong - and they do it anyway. Because harming others makes them happy.
 
Is evil a concept that is important or helpful to you? If it is a relevant concept can you share your views on what it means, either from an ethical or religious perspective or??

Here Are some ideas I have.

Religious:
Absence of, or turning away from God
Cosmic force locked in a battle with Good which will end in something messianic and apocalyptic

Ethical:
That which opposes qualities held in high regard by a cultural society

Religious to me has a kind of deterministic, fatalistic, empirical form (some people are evil)

Ethical has a relativistic, cultural framework, performative form (some people do evil things from a historic-cultural perspective)

For this discussion I would like to start from the premise that evil is a useful concept (so if it’s not useful for you then let’s save that discussion for another thread). How the concept is useful—from your perspective— is what I am curious to explore. I don’t want to limit it’s usefulness to my concepts, those are just a conversation starter.
Yes, evil as a concept has been helpful in understanding what has driven my parents to do what they've done. I strongly believe in the existence of human evil, aside from metaphysical evil which I'm unsure about.

Evil, to me, is about remorselessly hurting others, causing unnecessary destruction, deriving some form of enjoyment from making others go through hell.
 
@Light and warmth thank you for sharing! I think I am similar to you but my beliefs on it are not solid. I feel I can be swayed to be very materialistic about life, or metaphysical depending on the day and who’s talking to me.
 
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