Evil Deeds

A forensic psychologist on anger, madness and destructive behavior.

The Trauma of Evil

How do catastrophic phenomena affect the human psyche?
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What are the psychological effects of massive disasters like this week's cyclone in Myanmar (Burma) that may have claimed as many as 100,000 victims? The 2004 Indonesian earthquake and tsunami in which more than 200,000 perished? Hurricane Katrina? The recent mid-west twisters destroying property and killing eleven people? For many of those who barely survive such events, cheating death, the symptoms of acute stress disorder or posttraumatic stress disorder will likely be present, requiring some therapeutic intervention. What are the psychological, theological and philosophical issues victims of such tragedies struggle with? And what about the rest of us who witness such terrible suffering even from afar? Are we immune? How do catastrophic phenomena affect the human psyche? What are the emotional, existential and spiritual consequences of cataclysmic events such as cyclones, floods, famines, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other so-called acts of God?

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Let's first make a distinction between natural evil and human evil: While, as a forensic psychologist, I generally write in this blog about evil deeds--human destructiveness-- now we are speaking about nature's own evil. Evil is an existential reality, an inescapable fact with which we all must reckon. (I discuss the controversial notion of evil in Chapter 3, "The Psychology of Evil," in my book Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic: The Psychological Genesis of Violence, Evil, and Creativity

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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