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Speaking with the Devil: A Dialogue with Evil
     

Speaking with the Devil: A Dialogue with Evil

by Carl Goldberg
 
GOldberg's thorough examination of the genesis of evil raises questions confronted in Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, Fromm's The Heart of Man, and Becker's Escape from Evil. In this text, he elaborates on arguments in those classics and draws on revealing case studies from his 25 years of clinical practice.

Overview

GOldberg's thorough examination of the genesis of evil raises questions confronted in Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, Fromm's The Heart of Man, and Becker's Escape from Evil. In this text, he elaborates on arguments in those classics and draws on revealing case studies from his 25 years of clinical practice.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Psychoanalyst Goldberg (social science, New York Univ.) draws on case studies from his practice in this discussion of the nature of evil. He elucidates how the malevolent personality can develop when an individual makes the wrong choices in life, and he goes on to describe the six phases a person goes throughranging from shame through justification to magical thinkingthat allows him or her to commit harmful acts. Extremely helpful is a brief section at the end of the book that talks about the healing of shame and how society needs to return to previous person-centered values in our collective effort to combat evil. Anyone interested in a psychological understanding of the nature of evil will find this book informative and easy to comprehend. For most collections.Marguerite Mroz, Baltimore Cty. P.L., Towson, Md.
Steve Schroeder
Goldberg writes in the best tradition of psychoanalytically informed clinical narrative. He is at his best when he is engaged in interpretive storytelling that draws on his own substantial clinical experience, as much a literary as a scientific endeavor. He modifies and enriches Freudian theory with careful attention to Carl Jung, Erik Erikson, and George Kelly; but he also draws on psychodrama and the work of Erich Fromm, as well as a wide range of literary sources. Goldberg's reflection on the sources of malevolence are compelling, his proposals for dealing with it are suggestive, and his writing is engaging. Whether readers agree with his conclusions or not, they will find the book an accessible treatment of a fascinating topic.
Kirkus Reviews
An original and invigorating contribution to our thinking on why certain people become cruel and violent.

Psychoanalyst Goldberg's main achievement is to offer a convincing psychological account of what he terms "malevolence" while avoiding the trap of determinism, whether psychological, sociological, or historical. He insists that abusive and violent acts, however much influenced by early suffering and despair, are freely chosen by their perpetrators, who remain morally accountable for their actions. A series of choices made throughout life, he claims, from small acts of violation (such as crossing a lawn with a keep off the grass sign) to increasingly greater ones, determine one's character and eventually do destroy one's ability to choose good. At the root of malevolence Goldberg puts the secret feeling of shame. Using case histories from his own practice, the author (a former professor of psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine) illustrates how a sensitive child who is shamed learns to shift his contempt for himself onto others, who are then seen as deserving the abuse he heaps on them, while he himself, by means of magical thinking, becomes a superior being, free to do as he pleases. But despite his case study of a young Serb who took part in a village massacre and his analysis of the dark symbiosis between Jim Jones and his cult followers, Goldberg fails to support his claim that his theory of shame can explain the violence we have seen in Bosnia and Nazi Germany.

Nevertheless, this is an innovative contribution to the needed recuperation of the notion of individual responsibility, yet also a reminder that our common humanity requires that we attempt to understand evildoers—only then can we help them and try to prevent others from going down the same path.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670855575
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/29/2000
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.27(w) x 9.33(h) x 1.11(d)

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