Evil Deeds

A forensic psychologist on anger, madness and destructive behavior.

Messiahs of Evil (Part Three)

imageIn Jungian terms, Osama bin Laden may be a classic case of inflation: a pathological over-identification with the Messiah archetype, the universally innate image of an embodied savior or chosen one. Read More


Ok so we have a better understanding of what makes an evil person tick,and we have means of dealing with this behavior.
But I can't get over the way it leaves me feeling as a human being,that out there somewhere evil lurks.


Response to Rick's comment

Not exactly sure what you mean by feeling "that out there somewhere evil lurks." Are you alluding to some external, objective malevolent force, such as the Devil? The problem of evil is that we do tend to project it outwardly, either onto others or supernatural entities such as demons. This can be a defense against recognizing that evil lurks within as much as without, that we each carry the capacity or potentiality for evil, under the right or wrong circumstances. This is related to what Jung called the "shadow," and what Rollo May referred to as the "daimonic." So it's important to be able to recognize the reality of evil both outwardly and inwardly.


Yes,I was speaking about myself as a human being and how painful it is to think that I could carry the capacity or potentiality for evil.
However I do understand your point and could see how anyone of us would be capable of such action.

Response to Rick

Exactly, Rick. Recognizing our own capacity for evil deeds is always a narcissistic insult to the ego. But denying it only makes us more susceptible to the "dark side," the shadow, the daimonic, both in ourselves and others.


I understand that we may fall under certain archetypes, and a messianic cult leader could be an over-identification of the hero archetype under Jungian terms.

However, my question is how does frustration and "early narcissistic wounding" occur in a messianic type in more concrete terms?

This is because there is a preponderance of messianic types who have led cults that seem to have spawned out of social circumstances like extreme inequity, poverty, etc. and aimed to revolt against Spanish and American colonial forces back in the revolutionary phase of Philippine history. How could this phenomenon be explained? In this case, what is the interaction of personal frustration and the social circumstance?


Belated response to Paolo

The "social circumstances like extreme inequity, poverty, etc." you cite result in narcissistic wounding and extreme frustration in getting one's basic needs met. The "narcissistic wounding" could be starvation, neglect (perhaps due to the parents' inability to support themselves and their family), etc. This frustration in the child leads to anger and rage, a natural reaction to existential frustration. Later, as adults, that rage is directed against society either destructively (as in sociopathy) or constructively (as in overthrowing oppression by a government). The underlying dynamic in both cases is the rage stemming from narcisstic injury and existential frustration.

Hope that clarifies.

thank you for your astute

thank you for your astute observation on the factors like trauma and narcissism and an unmanifested creative energy that can lead to messianic complexes. i'm happy to see a Phd. seriously answering bloggers questions. This is my first seeking of such a site, and i'd like to open a can of worms with another thinking person.

Why do we not perceive Jesus Christ as having a messianic complex? As much as I might appreciate him as an historic figure, it seems obvious to me that he felt unduly persecuted, was on a suicide mission, hallucinated and had severe apocalyptic visions. He was likely crucified for having these grandiose notions where someone today may be "treated." i have to wonder if the psychological framework simply didn't exist then and no one seriously applies it today; and that on the other hand, we are medicating our "prophets" today.

Couldn't have said it

Couldn't have said it better!

Yeah, what about the not evil messeianic complex... Like I, modern times quiet Jesus here :)

Response to Elena

Those are complex, provocative and fascinating questions! Depending on one's point of view, Jesus of Nazareth certainly could be said to have had a Messiah Complex, being convinced that he was the long-awaited Hebrew messiah. Was he delusional? Well, for those who believe he was the Messiah, the Son of God, God's incarnation on earth, of course not. But then one might ask whether they too are delusional. Or was Jesus--and innumerable others before and since--in touch with some divine part of himself with which he overidentified and took too personally? The messianic or God archetype? The collective unconscious, which, from a Jungian perspective, inundates and overwhelms the conscious ego in what we refer today to as psychosis, is the potential source of immense and valuable transpersonal spiritual wisdom. At the same time, the unconscious, the daimonic, is a dangerous and potentially destructive force. How can one tell, for example, whether it is the Devil (evil) or God (good) he or she is hearing or experiencing? So simply pathologizing and drugging those reporting such unusual subjective phemonena may indeed be tantamount, as you wonder, to medicating our "prophets" today. But this would require a far more detailed discussion than we can have here. For more, see my book, Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic.

Dr Diamond Can we have a

Dr Diamond
Can we have a Messiah complex and not be angry and destructive? Like a super cool Prophet/ Revolutionary with secret powers of Peace?

Asking for a friend

Reaction Formation To Your Article

I have a reaction formation to your article. I take offense to being called "delusional." I'm a Martian born on the wrong planet. From my point of view, Earthlings are far more delusional than I ever thought of being.

"Neurotypicals" would call me an "idot savant." How nice of them. That's a clever double-bind. I've had more than my fair share of those. I prefer to be called Jesus! That's sarcasm by the way...barely.

Would you like to know what made me autistic? It just happened. It just is. It's one of the natural laws of nature when nurture FAILS. Maybe you can take psychiatry out of the stone age. I don't want to hear back from you. This is a one-sided conversation. I won't be bully fodder. I've had more than my fair share of that. Earthlings hate Martians so Martians naturally hate Earthlings.

On the Kiersey Type Indicator, I'm a Promethean NT Rationalist - an INTJ Mastermind, Systems Builder, Rationalist. Prometheus was caught between a rock and a hard place! An eagle ate at his liver only to have it grow back the next day. I suffer as Prometheus suffers. It's the burden of a double-bound brain virus (always looking for the third way out.) You will find your autistics and later schizophrenics from my personality type - the mad genius.

I withdrew from the world at the age of four and descended into Hell. I took Carl Jung's night sea journey. Would you like to see what Hell looks like? View Henri Fusseli's painting "Thor battering the Midgaard Serpent." In that painting, the Midgaard Serpent pulled Thor (my father) from the boat and Hymir felt helpless, powerless, abandoned, afraid, and felt guilty as Hell! That's also known as the Oedipus Complex. That event precipated the formation of my Superego, Ego and Id. My autistic anxiety started the day after that dream. I've had 36 years of being too afraid to live and too afraid to die. That's a rock and a hard place.


I have an autistic genius brain fueled by anxiety. Thanks to it and my detailed episodic memory, I brought those patterns to you. What you do is up to you. I don't care. I did my part for "King and Country." I redeemed my Oedipus Complex guilt a million times over thanks to my OCD. Unlike Jesus, I'm not willing to be crucified for it. (I'm smarter than he was.) As for me, it took a narcissitic rage to set me free. I call it: "answering the call of the Daimonic", taking the "Hero's Journey", and going psychotic. Take your pick out of the 3 choices.

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Stephen Diamond, Ph.D., is a clinical and forensic psychologist in LA and the author of Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic: The Psychological Genesis of Violence, Evil, and Creativity.


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