Daimonion. A multi-disciplinary perspective on aggressive evil and its interconnection with individual psychology and criminal behavior

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Title: Daimonion. A multi-disciplinary perspective on aggressive evil and its interconnection with individual psychology and criminal behavior
Author: Bontas, Marilena
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Research
Thesis level: master's thesis
Abstract: The present paper explores the phenomenon of aggressive evil debated through different, disciplinary perspectives and its understanding by connection to the inner psychology of the person and criminal behavior. The main theoretical sources of the present thesis come from the studies of P. Zimbardo on the good nature versus the evil nature of people, S. Milgram’s work on obedience to authority, H. Arendt’s report on the ‘banality of evil’, T. Bran’s case of a lethal exorcism at Tanacu in Romania and the essay on the social psychology of evil comprised by A. Miller. The idea that initiated an interest to study the criminal nature of ordinary people and the delimitations of aggressive evil between a causal, emotional rupture in the psychology of the person and a contextual explanation was triggered by the beautiful work of Philip Zimbardo, ‘The Lucifer effect’ where he recounts the conditions, processes and results of his Stanford Prison Experiment in 1971. Hannah Arendt’s ‘banality of evil’ is also debated thoroughly in the paper because it contains solid evidence to explaining extreme evil acts, as seen in the conduct of Eichmann, Mengele or Himmler during the Holocaust. The analytical method utilized in order to make the connection between aggressive evil, the psychology of the individual and crime is Content Analysis. This method was used in order to analyze five interviews conducted in Romania that involved participants in different professions: a prison psychologist, a psychiatrist, a legal doctor and two priests. The results confirm partly the hypothesis, however, due to the relativity of the term, certain limitations have been also drawn. This study offers a different view on aggressive evil, trying to focus mostly on the extreme acts, thus, avoiding confusion or biased opinions that a simple take on ‘evil’ would entail. However, there is still room for further improvement, and, as the results shown, the study could be extended and applied to future research on the psychology of evil, a discipline that is, unfortunately non-existent in the academic world.
URI: URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201703272015
Date: 2012
Discipline: Social Psychology

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