Tuesday, 17 November 2015

MicroblogMondays:Seven Symptoms of Evil

So soon after remembering the men and women sacrificed for peace in foreign wars, the visceral horror of conflict was brought home in the scenes from Paris. Ordinary people out to enjoy themselves in a restaurant, concert hall, football stadium, ripped apart in cold blood.

Words of condolence must come as little consolation to families trying to make sense of their loss.

It's hard to get inside the heads of people who want to commit mass murder. Surely they must be evil?

Coincidentally, this week's New Scientist (Nov 14 2015) published an article 'The Seven Symptoms of Evil' that seeks to shed some light on the mindset of IS fighters.

Easy enough to see these traits in others. Perhaps it's pertinent to spend another minute in silence to ponder whether we need to do a bit of work on ourselves.

"Syndrome E: Can Neuroscience Explain The Executioners of ISIS?" (Extract)

Seven symptoms of evil

The idea that evil is a disease is predicated on the observation that mass killers share some common traits:

  • Compulsive repetitive violence
  • Obsessive beliefs
  • Rapid desensitisation to violence
  • Flat emotional state
  • Separation of violence from everyday activities
  • Obedience to an authority
  • Perceiving group members as virtuous

Link to the full article:



  1. The violence has been heartbreaking. It is scary to think 'this could have easily been me'. Getting into the heads of the perpetrators is impossible. I do see the seven traits making sense specially the one about 'separation violence from everyday activities'. They probably would be different people in their everyday lives.

  2. The violence in Paris -- and in so many other places in the world (I hate that every other terrorist incident is being swept under the rug while we only focus on this single one. All families from all those countries need support and care, and we need to talk about how widespread the violence is across the world) -- is heartbreaking. I don't think we can make sense of this loss.