Psychoanalysis of Evil

Perspectives on Destructive Behavior

  • Henry Kellerman

Part of the SpringerBriefs in Psychology book series (BRIEFSPSYCHOL)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxi
  2. The Garden

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Henry Kellerman
      Pages 3-13
    3. Henry Kellerman
      Pages 29-39
    4. Henry Kellerman
      Pages 41-50
    5. Henry Kellerman
      Pages 51-67
  3. Individuals and Societies

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 69-69
    2. Henry Kellerman
      Pages 71-108
    3. Henry Kellerman
      Pages 109-116
    4. Henry Kellerman
      Pages 117-121
    5. Henry Kellerman
      Pages 129-139
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 141-153

About this book


For all our knowledge of psychopathology and sociopathology--and despite endless examinations of abuse and torture, mass murder and genocide--we still don't have a real handle on why evil exists, where it derives from, or why it is so ubiquitous.

A compelling synthesis of diverse schools of thought, Psychoanalysis of Evil identifies the mental infrastructure of evil and deciphers its path from vile intent to malignant deeds. Evil is defined as manufactured in the psyche: the acting out of repressed wishes stemming from a toxic mix of harmful early experiences such as abuse and neglect, profound anger, negative personality factors, and mechanisms such as projection. This analysis brings startling clarity to seemingly familiar territory, that is, persons and events widely perceived as evil. Strongly implied in this far-reaching understanding is a call for more accurate forms of intervention and prevention as the author:

  • Reviews representations of evil from theological, philosophical, and psychoanalytic sources.
  • Locates the construction of evil in psychodynamic aspects of the psyche.
  • Translates vague abstractions of evil into recognizable concepts.
  • Exemplifies this theory with the lives and atrocities of Hitler and Stalin.
  • Applies psychoanalytic perspective to the genocides in Turkey, Pakistan, Cambodia, and Rwanda.
  • Revisits Hannah Arendt's concept of "the banality of evil."

Psychoanalysis of Evil holds a unique position in the literature and will gather considerable interest among readers in social psychology, psychoanalysis, sociology, and political anthropology. Historians of mass conflict should find it instructive as well.


20th century genocides God Hitler Martin Luther acting-out anger banality definition of evil infrastructure of evil megalomania paranoia personality of anger philosophical references to evil psyche psychoanalytic references to evil psychodiagnosis psychopathic personality psychopathy serpent-in-paradise the unconscious theological references to evil wishes

Authors and affiliations

  • Henry Kellerman
    • 1
  1. 1.The Postgraduate Psychoanalytic Society, Inc.New YorkUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Behavioral Science
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-07391-0
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-07392-7
  • Series Print ISSN 2192-8363
  • Series Online ISSN 2192-8371
  • About this book