Psychology of Good & Evil and Power & Authority


Ordinary Men is the true story of Reserve Police Battalion 101 of the German Order Police, which was responsible for mass shootings as well as round-ups of Jewish people for deportation to Nazi death camps in Poland in 1942. Browning argues that most of the men of  RPB 101 were not fanatical Nazis but, rather, ordinary middle-aged, working-class men who committed these atrocities out of a mixture of motives, including the group dynamics of conformity, deference to authority, role adaptation, and the altering of moral norms to justify their actions. Very quickly three groups emerged within the battalion: a core of eager killers, a plurality who carried out their duties reliably but without initiative, and a small minority who evaded participation in the acts of killing without diminishing the murderous efficiency of the battalion whatsoever.

Ordinary Men

by Christopher R. Browning,  1992

The behavior of any human being is, of course, a very complex phenomenon, and the historian who attempts to “explain” it is indulging in a certain arrogance.  When nearly 500 men are involved, to undertake any general explanation of their collective behavior is even more hazardous.  What, then, is one to conclude?  Most of all, one comes away from the story of Reserve Police Battalion 101 with great unease.  This story of ordinary men is not the story of all men.  The reserve policemen faced choices, and most of them committed terrible deeds.  But those who killed cannot be absolved by the notion that anyone in the same situation would have done as they did.  For even among them, some refused to kill and others stopped killing.  Human responsibility is ultimately an individual matter.

At the same time, however, the collective behavior of Reserve Police Battalion 101 has deeply disturbing implications. There are many societies afflicted by traditions of racism and caught in the siege mentality of war or threat of war. Everywhere society conditions people to respect and defer to authority, and indeed could scarcely function otherwise. Everywhere people seek career advancement. In every modern society, the complexity of life and the resulting bureaucratization and specialization attenuate the sense of personal responsibility of those implementing official policy. Within virtually every social collective, the peer group exerts tremendous pressures on behavior and sets moral norms. If the men of Reserve Police Battalion 101 could become killers under such circumstances, what group of men cannot?


John Ray was an English naturalist widely regarded as one of the earliest of the English parson-naturalists.  He published important works on botany, zoology, and natural theology. His classification of plants in his Historia Plantarum, was an important step towards modern taxonomy. He was among the first to attempt a biological definition for the concept of species.

A compleat collection of English proverbs

John Ray, 1768

What the heart thinketh the tongue speaketh.  Who spits against heaven it falls in his face.  Hell is full of good meanings and wishes.  The highway is never about.  Look high and fall into a cow-turd.  Every man is best known to himself.  Better my hog dirty home than no hog at all.  Dry bread at home is better than roast-meat abroad.  He is wise that is honest.

Good & Evil

Carl Jung was an early 20th-century psychotherapist and psychiatrist who created the field of analytical psychology. He is widely considered one of the most important figures in the history of psychology.  His contributions to the field of analytical psychology include anima and animus, archetypes, the collective unconscious, complexes, extraversion and introversion, individuation, the Self, the shadow and synchronicity.

Psychology and Religion Volume 11: West and East

Carl G. Jung, 1958

If one discounts the “statistical criminal,” there still remains the vast domain of inferior qualities and primitive tendencies which belong to the psychic structure of the man who is less ideal and more primitive than we should like to be.  We have certain ideas as to how a civilized or educated or moral being should live, and we occasionally do our best to fulfil these ambitious expectations. But since nature has not bestowed the same blessings upon each of her children, some are more and others less gifted. Thus there are people who can just afford to live properly and respectably; that is to say, no manifest flaw is discoverable. They either commit minor sins, if they sin at all, or their sins are concealed from them by a thick layer of unconsciousness. One is rather inclined to be lenient with sinners who are unconscious of their sins. But nature is not at all lenient with unconscious sinners. She punishes them just as severely as if they had committed a conscious offence. Thus we find, as the pious Henry Drummond once observed, that it is highly moral people, unaware of their other side, who develop particularly hellish moods which make them insupportable to their relatives. The odour of sanctity may be far-reaching, but to live with a saint might well cause an inferiority complex or even a wild outburst of immorality in individuals less morally gifted. Morality seems to be a gift like intelligence. You cannot pump it into a system to which it is not indigenous.

Unfortunately, there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a Russian novelist, philosopher, historian, short story writer and political prisoner. Solzhenitsyn was an outspoken critic of the Soviet Union and Communism and helped to raise global awareness of the Soviet Gulag forced-labor camp system. After serving in the Red Army during World War II, he was sentenced to spend eight years in a labor camp and then internal exile for criticizing Josef Stalin in a private letter. He was allowed to publish only one work in the Soviet Union, the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962). Although the reforms brought by Khrushchev freed him from exile in 1956, the publication of Cancer Ward (1968), August 1914 (1971), and The Gulag Archipelago (1973) angered the Soviet Union authorities, and Solzhenitsyn lost his Soviet citizenship in 1974.  He was awarded the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature “for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature”. His The Gulag Archipelago was a highly influential work that “amounted to a head-on challenge to the Soviet state” and sold tens of millions of copies.

The Gulag Archipelago

by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 1973

As the act of an evildoer? What sort of behavior is it? Do such people really exist? We would prefer to say that such people cannot exist, that there aren’t any. It is permissible to portray evildoers in a story for children, so as to keep the picture simple. But when the great world literature of the past–Shakespeare, Schiller, Dickens-inflates and inflates images of evildoers of the blackest shades, it seems somewhat farcical and clumsy to our contemporary perception. The trouble lies in the way these classic evildoers are pictured. They recognize themselves as evildoers, and they know their souls are black. And they reason: “I cannot live unless I do evil. So I’ll set my father against my brother! I’ll drink the victim’s sufferings until I’m drunk with them!” Iago very precisely identifies his purposes and his motives as being black and born of hate. But no; that’s not the way it is! To do evil a human being must, first of all, believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions. Macbeth’s self-justifications were feeble-and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even Iago was a little lamb too. The imagination and the spiritual strength of Shakespeare’s evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they. had no ideology. Ideology-that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others’ eyes, so that he won’t hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors.

Solzhenitsyn as a prisoner in Kazakhstan, 1953

The Gulag Archipelago

by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 1973

How was I to answer them? I was forbidden to utter a single word, and I would have had to explain my entire life to each and everyone of them. What could I do to make them understand that I was not a spy, a saboteur? That I was their friend? That it was because of them that I was here? I smiled. Looking up at them, I smiled at them from a column of prisoners under escort! But my bared teeth seemed to them the worst kind of mockery, and they shook their fists and bellowed insults at me even more violently than before. I smiled in pride that I had been arrested not for stealing, nor treason, nor desertion, but because I had discovered through my power of reasoning the evil secrets of Stalin. I smiled at the thought that I wanted, and might still be able, to effect some small remedies and changes in our Russian way of life.

But all that time my suitcase was being carried by others. And I didn’t even feel remorseful about it! And if my neighbor, whose sunken cheeks were already covered with a soft two-week growth of beard and whose eyes were filled to overflowing with suffering and knowledge, had then and there reproached me in the clearest of clear Russian words for having disgraced the honor of a prisoner by appealing to the convoy for help and had accused me of haughtiness, of setting myself above the rest of them, I would not have understood him! I simply would not have understood what he was talking about.

I was an officer! And if seven of us had to die on the way, and the eighth could have been saved by the convoy, what was to keep me from crying out: “Sergeant! Save me. I am an officer!” And that’s what an officer is even when his shoulder boards aren’t blue! And if they are blue? If he has been indoctrinated to believe that even among other officers he is the salt of the earth? And that he knows more than others and is entrusted with more responsibility than others and that, consequently, it is his duty to force a prisoner’s head between his legs, and then to shove him like that into a pipe … Why shouldn’t he? I credited myself with unselfish dedication. But meanwhile I had been thoroughly prepared to be an executioner~ And if I had gotten into an NKVD school under Yezhov, maybe I would have matured just in time for Beria.

So let the reader who expects this book to be a political expose slam its covers shut right now.

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

Psychological Personality Disorders

Allen Dulles (left) shaking hands with his brother John Foster Dulles (right)

Psychopathy: An Important Forensic Concept for the 21st Century

by Paul Babiak, M.S., Ph.D.; Jorge Folino, M.D., Ph.D.; Jeffrey Hancock, Ph.D.; Robert D. Hare, Ph.D.; Matthew Logan, Ph.D., M.Ed.; Elizabeth Leon Mayer, Ph.D.; J. Reid Meloy, Ph.D.; Helinä Häkkänen-Nyholm, Ph.D.; Mary Ellen O’Toole, Ph.D.; Anthony Pinizzotto, Ph.D.; Stephen Porter, Ph.D.; Sharon Smith, Ph.D.; and Michael Woodworth, Ph.D.

“Many psychopaths exhibit a profound lack of remorse for their aggressive actions, both violent and nonviolent, along with a corresponding lack of empathy for their victims. This central psychopathic concept enables them to act in a cold-blooded manner, using those around them as pawns to achieve goals and satisfy needs and desires, whether sexual, financial, physical, or emotional. Most psychopaths are grandiose, selfish sensation seekers who lack a moral compass—a conscience—and go through life taking what they want. They do not accept responsibility for their actions and find a way to shift the blame to someone or something else.”

Brain Response to Empathy-Eliciting Scenarios Involving Pain in Incarcerated Individuals With Psychopathy

by Jean Decety, PhD; Laurie R. Skelly, PhD; Kent A. Kiehl, PhD, June 2013

“…In response to pain and distress cues expressed by others, individuals with psychopathy exhibit deficits in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and orbitofrontal cortex regardless of stimulus type and display selective impairment in processing facial cues of distress in regions associated with cognitive mentalizing. A better understanding of the neural responses to empathy-eliciting stimuli in psychopathy is necessary to inform intervention programs.

Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by affective and interpersonal deficits as well as social deviance and poor behavioral control. As measured by the Hare Psychopathy Checklist–Revised (PCL-R),psychopathy comprises interpersonal, affective (factor 1), and lifestyle and antisocial (factor 2) features. The interpersonal/affective component of psychopathy is largely defined by a lack of empathy and attachment, as well as a callous lack of regard for others. Empathy, the natural capacity to share and understand the affective states of others, is at the heart of the first of the disorder’s 2 core components…”

Photo of suspected psychopaths Henry Kissinger & Robert Maxwell, 1989

Robert D. Hare is a Canadian psychologist, known for his research in the field of criminal psychology. He is a professor emeritus of the University of British Columbia, where his studies center on psychopathology and psychophysiology. Hare developed the Hare Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-Revised), used to assess cases of psychopathy. He advises the FBI’s Child Abduction and Serial Murder Investigative Resources Center (CASMIRC) and consults for various British and North American prison services.

Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work

by Paul Babiak Ph.D. and Robert D. Hare Ph.D., 2006

“This book evolved out of our growing realization that lack of specific knowledge about what constitutes pyschopathic manipulation and deceit among businesspeople was the corporate con’s key to success.  The scientific literature on the behavior of criminal pyschopaths is extensive but geared to the foreensic scientist and clinician….The premise of this book is that psychopaths do work in modern organizations; they often are successful by most standard measures of career success; and their destructive personality characteristics are invisible to most of the people with whom they interact.  They are able to circumvent and sometimes hijack succession planning and performance management systems in order to give legitimacy to their behaviors.  They take advantage of communication weaknesses, organizational systems and processes, interpersonal conflicts, and general stressors that plague all companies.  They abuse coworkers and, by lowering morale and stirring up conflict, the company itself.  Some may even steal and defraud.”

Science of Power & Authority

Milgram Experiment(s)Obedience to Authority – An Experimental View

The Milgram experiment(s) on obedience to authority figures was a series of social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram. They measured the willingness of study participants, men from a diverse range of occupations with varying levels of education, to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts conflicting with their personal conscience. Participants were led to believe that they were assisting an unrelated experiment, in which they had to administer electric shocks to a “learner.” These fake electric shocks gradually increased to levels that would have been fatal had they been real.  The experiment found, unexpectedly, that a very high proportion of subjects would fully obey the instructions, albeit reluctantly.

The experiments began in July 1961, in the basement of Linsly-Chittenden Hall at Yale University, three months after the start of the trial of German Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Milgram devised his psychological study to explain the psychology of genocide and answer the popular contemporary question: “Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?” The experiment was repeated many times around the globe, with fairly consistent results.

How Power Corrupts: Power Buffers the Emotional, Cognitive, and Physiological Stress of Lying


Power can lead to corrupt acts such as lying, but how? We propose that power may promote lying through a stress-buffering mechanism whereby power decreases the emotional, cognitive, and physiological costs of deceptive behavior. In an experiment in which people were assigned to high (versus low) power, the powerful deceived with greater ease – emotionally, cognitively, and physiologically – and showed fewer nonverbal cues of deception. These findings provide the first empirical support for the stress-buffering effects of power during lie-telling and suggest that power may lead to corruption, in part, by lowering the emotional, cognitive, and physiological costs of engaging in corrupt behavior.

Power, Distress, and Compassion: Turning a Blind Eye to the Suffering of Others


We hypothesized that elevated social power is associated with diminished reciprocal emotional responses to another’s suffering (feeling distress at another’s distress), and with diminished complementary emotion (e.g., compassion.). In face-to-face conversations, participants disclosed experiences that had caused them suffering. As predicted, participants with a higher sense of power experienced less distress, less compassion, and exhibited greater autonomic emotion regulation when confronted with another’s suffering compared to those with a lower sense of power. Additional analyses revealed that these findings could not be attributed to power-related differences in baseline emotion or decoding accuracy, but were likely shaped by power-related differences in the motivation to affiliate.

Illegitimacy Moderates the Effects of Power on Approach


A wealth of research has found that power leads to behavioral approach and action. Four experiments demonstrate that this link between power and approach is broken when the power relationship is illegitimate. When power was primed to be legitimate or when power positions were assigned legitimately, the powerful demonstrated more approach than the powerless. However, when power was experienced as illegitimate, the powerless displayed as much approach as, or even more approach than, the powerful. This moderating effect of legitimacy occurred regardless of whether power and legitimacy were manipulated through experiential primes, semantic primes, or role manipulations. It held true for behavioral approach (Experiment 1) and two effects associated with it: the propensity to negotiate (Experiment 2) and risk preferences (Experiments 3 and 4). These findings demonstrate that how power is conceptualized, acquired, and wielded determines its psychological consequences and add insight into not only when but also why power leads to approach.

Mass Murder…

Nyamata Memorial Site, skulls. Nyamata, Rwanda.

10 Stages of Genocide

by Gregory H. Stanton, 2016


All cultures have categories to distinguish people into “us and them” by ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality: German and Jew, Hutu and Tutsi. Bipolar societies that lack mixed categories, such as Rwanda and Burundi, are the most likely to have genocide.



We give names or other symbols to the classifications. We name people “Jews” or “Gypsies,” or distinguish them by colors or dress; and apply the symbols to members of groups. Classification and symbolization are universally human and do not necessarily result in genocide unless they lead to dehumanization. When combined with hatred, symbols may be forced upon unwilling members of pariah groups: the yellow star for Jews under Nazi rule, the blue scarf for people from the Eastern Zone in Khmer Rouge Cambodia.



A dominant group uses law, custom, and political power to deny the rights of other groups. The powerless group may not be accorded full civil rights, voting rights, or even citizenship. The dominant group is driven by an exclusionary ideology that would deprive less powerful groups of their rights. The ideology advocates monopolization or expansion of power by the dominant group. It legitimizes the victimization of weaker groups. Advocates of exclusionary ideologies are often charismatic, expressing resentments of their followers, attracting support from the masses. Examples include the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 in Nazi Germany, which stripped Jews of their German citizenship, and prohibited their employment by the government and by universities. Denial of citizenship to the Rohingya Muslim minority in Burma is a current example.



One group denies the humanity of the other group. Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects or diseases. Dehumanization overcomes the normal human revulsion against murder. At this stage, hate propaganda in print and on hate radios is used to vilify the victim group. The majority group is taught to regard the other group as less than human, and even alien to their society. They are indoctrinated to believe that “We are better off without them.” The powerless group can become so depersonalized that they are actually given numbers rather than names, as Jews were in the death camps. They are equated with filth, impurity, and immorality. Hate speech fills the propaganda of official radio, newspapers, and speeches.



Genocide is always organized, usually by the state, often using militias to provide deniability of state responsibility. (An example is the Sudanese government’s support and arming of the Janjaweed in Darfur.) Sometimes organization is informal (Hindu mobs led by local RSS militants during Indian partition) or decentralized (jihadist terrorist groups.) Special army units or militias are often trained and armed. Arms are purchased by states and militias, often in violation of UN Arms Embargos, to facilitate acts of genocide. States organize secret police to spy on, arrest, torture, and murder people suspected of opposition to political leaders. Special training is given to murderous militias and special army killing units.



Extremists drive the groups apart. Hate groups broadcast polarizing propaganda. Motivations for targeting a group are indoctrinated through mass media. Laws may forbid intermarriage or social interaction. Extremist terrorism targets moderates, intimidating and silencing the center. Moderates from the perpetrators’ own group are most able to stop genocide, so are the first to be arrested and killed. Leaders in targeted groups are the next to be arrested and murdered. The dominant group passes emergency laws or decrees that grants them total power over the targeted group. The laws erode fundamental civil rights and liberties. Targeted groups are disarmed to make them incapable of self-defense, and to ensure that the dominant group has total control.



Plans are made for genocidal killings. National or perpetrator group leaders plan the “Final Solution” to the Jewish, Armenian, Tutsi or other targeted group “question.” They often use euphemisms to cloak their intentions, such as referring to their goals as “ethnic cleansing,” “purification,” or “counter-terrorism.” They build armies, buy weapons and train their troops and militias. They indoctrinate the populace with fear of the victim group. Leaders often claim that “if we don’t kill them, they will kill us,” disguising genocide as self-defense. Acts of genocide are disguised as counter-insurgency if there is an ongoing armed conflict or civil war. There is a sudden increase in inflammatory rhetoric and hate propaganda with the objective of creating fear of the other group. Political processes such as peace accords that threaten the total dominance of the genocidal group or upcoming elections that may cost them their grip on total power may actually trigger genocide.



Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity. Death lists are drawn up. In state sponsored genocide, members of victim groups may be forced to wear identifying symbols. Their property is often expropriated. Sometimes they are even segregated into ghettoes, deported into concentration camps, or confined to a famine-struck region and starved. They are deliberately deprived of resources such as water or food in order to slowly destroy them. Programs are implemented to prevent procreation through forced sterilization or abortions. Children are forcibly taken from their parents.  The victim group’s basic human rights become systematically abused through extrajudicial killings, torture and forced displacement.  Genocidal massacres begin. They are acts of genocide because they intentionally destroy part of a group. The perpetrators watch for whether such massacres meet any international reaction. If not, they realize that that the international community will again be bystanders and permit another genocide.



Extermination begins, and quickly becomes the mass killing legally called “genocide.” It is “extermination” to the killers because they do not believe their victims to be fully human. When it is sponsored by the state, the armed forces often work with militias to do the killing. Sometimes the genocide results in revenge killings by groups against each other, creating the downward whirlpool-like cycle of bilateral genocide (as in Burundi). Acts of genocide demonstrate how dehumanized the victims have become. Already dead bodies are dismembered; rape is used as a tool of war to genetically alter and eradicate the other group. Destruction of cultural and religious property is employed to annihilate the group’s existence from history. The era of “total war” began in World War II. Firebombing did not differentiate civilians from non-combatants. The civil wars that broke out after the end of the Cold War have also not differentiated civilians and combatants. They result in widespread war crimes. Mass rapes of women and girls have become a characteristic of all modern genocides. All men of fighting age are murdered in some genocides. In total genocides all the members of the targeted group are exterminated.



Denial is the final stage that lasts throughout and always follows genocide. It is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres. The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses. They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims. They block investigations of the crimes, and continue to govern until driven from power by force, when they flee into exile. There they remain with impunity, like Pol Pot or Idi Amin, unless they are captured and a tribunal is established to try them.

End Note

Psychology and Religion Volume 11: West and East

Carl G. Jung, 1958

“People forget that even doctors have moral scruples, and that certain patient’s confessions are hard even for a doctor to swallow. Yet the patient does not feel himself accepted unless the very worst of him is accepted too. No one can bring this about by mere words. It comes only through reflection and through the doctor’s attitude towards himself and his own dark side. If the doctor wants to guide another or even accompany him a step of the way, he must feel with that person’s psyche. He never feels it when he passes judgment. Whether he puts his judgments into words or keeps them to himself, makes not the slightest difference. To take the opposite position and to agree with the patient offhand is also of no use but estranges him as much as condemnation.

Feeling comes only through unprejudiced objectivity. This sounds almost like a scientific precept. And it could be confused with a purely intellectual abstract attitude of mind. But what I mean is something quite different. It is a human quality: A kind of deep respect for the facts- for the man who suffers from them and for the riddle of such a man’s life. The truly religious person has such an attitude. He knows that God has brought all sort of strange and inconceivable things to pass and seeks in the most curious ways to enter a man’s heart. He therefore senses in everything the unseen presence of the Divine Will. This is what I mean by unprejudiced objectivity. It is a moral achievement on the part of the doctor who ought not to let himself be repelled by sickness and corruption. We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate. It oppresses. And I am the oppressor of the person I condemn- not his friend and fellow sufferer.

I do not in the least mean to say that we must never pass judgment when we desire to help and improve. But, if the doctor wishes to help a human being, he must be able to accept him as he is. And he can do this in reality only when he has already seen and accepted him as he is. Perhaps this sounds very simple, but simple things are always the most difficult. In actual life, it requires the greatest art to be simple. And so, acceptance of oneself is the essence of the moral problem, and the acid test of one’s whole outlook on life. That I feed the beggar, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ. All these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all- the poorest of all beggars- the most impudent of all offenders- yea the very fiend himself- that these are within me? And that I myself stand in need of the arms of my own kindness. That I myself am the enemy that must be loved. What then?

Then, as a rule, the whole truth of Christianity is reversed. There is then no more talk of love and long-suffering. We say to the brother within us: Rocca, and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide him from the world. We deny ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves. And had it been God himself who drew near to us in this despicable form, we should have denied him a thousand times before a single cock had crowed.

Anyone who uses modern psychology to look behind the scene not only of his patients’ lives but more especially of his own life-and the modern psychotherapist must do this if he is not to be merely an unconscious fraud will admit that to accept himself in all his wretchedness is the hardest of tasks, and one which it is almost impossible to fulfill.  The very thought can make us sweat with fear.  We are therefore only too delighted to choose, without a moment’s hesitation, the complicated course of remaining in ignorance about ourselves while busying ourselves with other people and their troubles and sins.  This activity lends us a perceptible air of virtue, by means of which we benevolently deceive ourselves and others.  God be praised, we have escaped from ourselves at last!  There are countless people who can do this with impunity, but not everyone can, and these few break down on the road to their Damascus and succumb to a neurosis.  How can I help these people if I myself am a fugitive and perhaps also suffer from the morbus sacer of a neurosis.  Only he who has fully accepted himself has “unprejudiced objectivity.”  But no one is justified in boasting that he has fully accepted himself.  We can point to Christ, who sacrificed his historical bias to the god within him, and lived his individual life to the bitter end without regard for conventions…”


“In the sphere of social or national relations the state of suffering may be civil war and this state is to be cured by the Christian virtue of forgiveness and love of one’s enemies. That which we recommend with the conviction of good Christians as applicable to external situations we must also apply inwardly in the treatment of neurosis. This is why modern man has heard enough about guilt and sin. He is sorely beset by his own bad conscience. And wants rather to know how he is to reconcile himself with his own nature how he is to love the enemy in his own heart, and call the Wolf his brother.  The modern man does not want to know in what way he can imitate Christ, but in what way he can live his own individual life however meager and uninteresting it may be. It is because every form of imitation seems to him deadening and sterile that he rebels against the force of tradition that would hold him to well-trodden ways.

All such roads for him lead in the wrong direction he may not know it but he behaves as if his own individual life but God’s special will which must be fulfilled at all costs this is the source of his egoism, which is one of the most tangible evils of the neurotic state. But the person who tells him he is too egoistic has already lost his confidence and rightly so for that person has driven him still into his neurosis.

If I wish to effect a cure for my patients, I am forced to acknowledge the deep significance of that egoism. I should be blind indeed if I did not recognise it as a true will of God. I must even help the patient to prevail in his egoism if he succeeds in this heat estranges himself from other people. He drives them away and they come to themselves as they should for they were seeking to rob him of his sacred egoism. This must be left. For it is his strongest unhealthiest power. It is as I have said a true will of God but sometimes drives him into complete isolation. However wretched The state may be it also stands him in good stead. For in this way alone can he get to know himself and learn what an invaluable treasure is the love of his fellow beings…”