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Do Bad People Exist?

Jambalaya

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Today my therapist said that she didn't believe that anyone was themselves bad, but only that people's behavior is bad. She said she had worked with men in prisons who were convinced they were bad people, but she said they were not bad people at all - they had just done bad things.

I actually felt as if I'd slipped into a parallel universe for a moment where everything looked the same but was subtly different. I absolutely believe that bad people exist, and I thought - well, I wasn't aware that the jury was out on that.

Can you really make such a sharp distinction between people's behavior and their characters? While I certainly believe that sometimes good people do bad things, I think our actions are driven by who we are. Didn't someone say, "We are what we repeatedly do?"

Anyway, the idea that no one is bad is a wild, out-there idea, for me. Maybe my therapist has been lucky enough to be surrounded by mainly gently, loving folk in her life.

What do you think? Are there no bad people...at all?
 

Gypsy

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Yes, I do believe bad people exist. People who are intrinsically evil.

Now maybe you can make arguments for WHY they are that way. This happened or that did or whatever. But it doesn't matter for the purposes of this discussion. There are people who are evil and cannot (or will not, it doesn't matter at all) be rehabilitated.

But there are sociopaths that NEVER do anything evil. Even though they are, arguably, predisposed to it given that they lack empathy.

And then you see "regular" people who have had every advantage do evil things after evil thing just because they can and it gives them JOY to cause pain and suffering. They have empathy. They just chose to ignore it.
 

Tacori E-ring

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As a fellow therapist, I can *usually* separate the person with their poor behavior. However, I think there are a subgroup of the population that are total in darkness. It reminds me of the J.K. Rowling quote, "We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are." Unfortunately I have heard things that I can never forget. Things that a person who chooses to act in the light would never do. We call them sociopaths.
 

Jambalaya

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I agree with both of you, and I was surprised that my therapist would be so absolute about it. Even setting aside truly bad people, there is clearly (to me) a wide range of character in the everyday sense - people who are so much kinder and more empathetic than other people who are superior, rude, uncaring, etc.

I really wanted to start this topic but I must apologize, I have to go to bed as I'm shattered and I have a full day and evening tomorrow - not really fun, just hard work at a place where I can't look at PS and I don't have a smartphone - so it'll be at least Saturday before I can check in again. Just explaining my absence in starting an interesting thread and then disappearing!
 

Calliecake

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Bad people do exist!

Jambalaya, Could you hear the circus music going on in her head?
 

marcy

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Yes. I believe bad people exist.
 

kenny

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jordyonbass

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Yes but I'd say people who are usually labeled as bad are not a bad person but have committed bad acts. We can all universally agree that Hitler or Charles Manson were bad people - but when I get labeled as a bad person because I love heavy music and wear band shirts, I can't help but disagree with being lumped into the same category.
 

Sphene

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I would be getting myself another therapist - there are truly evil people in this world some manage to keep the thoughts in their heads and others allow the evil to run free and act on their inclinations to the devastation of the ones who have to live with their acts
 

missy

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Absolutely. There are evil people in this world. There are also good people who do bad things but I 100% know there are people who exist who are evil through and through. Those without consciences, those who have no empathy and then choose to do bad. So yes there have to be a number of factors at play to be an evil person but that is the combo that makes one so. And Hitler and Stalin qualify.
 

rainydaze

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Absolutely.

As a therapist, I'm sure the majority - if not all - of the "bad" people she sees are good people who have made bad decisions and done bad things. The fact that they have sought therapist is a testament to this - they are seeking to better themselves and figure out how to let the light win. The truly evil people aren't likely to seek therapy, they're perfectly happy being and doing evil.
 

packrat

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jordyonbass|1457077117|3999539 said:
Yes but I'd say people who are usually labeled as bad are not a bad person but have committed bad acts. We can all universally agree that Hitler or Charles Manson were bad people - but when I get labeled as a bad person because I love heavy music and wear band shirts, I can't help but disagree with being lumped into the same category.
I am lumped into that category as well, and I continue about my merry, smiley, cheery way and do what I can to change people's perceptions of people like me. Tra la la, that's me.

But..I feel like, "bad" as a descriptive term is different. Like, oh, bad dog peed on the carpet is what that makes me think of. My kid wrote on the wall with crayon and that's naughty. Everyone is "bad" at some point--I was bad and drove 6 mph over the speed limit today and didn't come to a complete stop at the stop sign.

People like Hitler..they're not "bad". They're evil. They have no moral compass and they have no little voice telling them to feel wrong or to feel guilty. They personify hate and evil. They're different than the rest of us.
 

House Cat

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Yes.

I don't believe evil people seeking therapy are trying to better themselves. I believe they are looking to be enabled by someone who is an expert on human emotion. This allows them to be even worse. I have seen this with my own two eyes and I have also heard accounts of this from others.


When speaking of evil, I think we must first define evil.

I personally do not care to separate the person from the act because I am not a therapist or in any other profession that requires me to do so. There are evil human beings out there. They do vile, unspeakable things to infants, to children, to animals. There are people who are addicted to killing. There are individuals who can't control themselves from molesting. These people are not "good inside" but just making poor choices for themselves. They are predators who occasionally make good choices in order to mask the darkness that lurks inside of them. I think once people really look at sociopaths for what they really are, then the victim pool might shrink a bit for these evil people.

This is a Through the Wormhole episode entitled Can We Eliminate Evil? It is a really great analysis on the source of evil and whether or not science might have a way to change it. This episode is 42 minutes long, so if you have the time, you might want to watch it. Plus, it's Morgan Freeman, and who doesn't like him?


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rnNWqmCZpnA
 

partgypsy

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I think there are good people, of all walks of life and religions and backgrounds. I think there are people who do bad things but are not bad themselves, maybe misguided, ignorant, immature who may change.
And I also think there are bad people. These are the people who know the difference between good and evil, and choose to do bad.
 

azstonie

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I *know* bad people exist.

Your therapist also believes that life is fair, in good outcomes for everyone, and a world with no random tragedy. Oh, and she probably believes in unicorns.
 

VRBeauty

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I also believe there are people who are at their core evil. I have no idea whether they were born that way or not - but somewhere along the line they decided it was OK to give in to their darker impulses without concern for the people or things they hurt. Here in Northern California we had a pair of mass murderers to who kidnapped, tortured, and killed women and videotaped the whole thing for their viewing pleasure. I believe at least one of them was evil.

One person who has always puzzled me is Timothy McVeigh, perhaps because he justified his action - the bombing of the Oklahoma Federal Building - in his mind as some sort of political retribution (yeah, I know...). Whether he truly believed that rationale or not I have no idea, but the fact that he was able to plan and carry out that mass killing, and apparently had no remorse over it... that ranks as evil in my book. He's the reason Im not opposed to the death penalty, even though I would probably oppose most of the cases in which it's used. I just can't envision any other just punishment for what he did and how he did it... which may well have been tied in to who he was.
 

monarch64

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Yes, bad people exist. I've run across a few sociopaths in my life. Scary, because they tend to assimilate so well into society that you don't know what hit you when their true colors come out.
 

EvangelineG

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I believe the vast majority of people are grey. Even the majority of people who do really bad things are not necessarily bad people- fallible, selfish, shortsighted, fearful, addicted, ill, damaged etc, but not fundamentally evil.

However, I do believe there are bad people. People who are rotten inside, with no desire to be otherwise. I think these people are a rarity, but definitely exist...and once you encounter one of them there is no doubt.

Seems like a very naive view on the part of the therapist.
 

diamondseeker2006

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Umm, I agree with whoever said it might be time to find a new therapist. :-o

Yes, there are evil people. I think your therapist does live in an alternative reality. Tacori expressed it well from a professional viewpoint.
 

redwood66

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Jambalaya your therapist is in a unique position in her dealings with inmates. Believe me, a major percentage are not the people they portray to her when they get back to their cell.

Absolutely there are purely evil people in this world. One of the worst pains in the a$$ I had to deal with had beat an 85 year old woman to death with a shovel.
 

kenny

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Do bad people exist on PS?

Not always.
Sometimes I'm banned. :(
 

Karl_K

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kenny|1457249500|4000442 said:
Do bad people exist on PS?

Not always.
Sometimes I'm banned. :(
you almost owed me a keyboard!!!!!!
I managed to turn my head before the Pepsi came spewing out my nose.
 

House Cat

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I do not agree with the idea that you should find a new therapist. Finding a therapist that you gel with is difficult. Building a lasting relationship of trust is even more difficult.

Maybe your therapist told YOU she didn't believe people are evil because she didn't want you to feel that she would ever judge you in that way. Maybe she wanted you to know that she would never attach any of your behaviors to you. That would be a very wise thing for a therapist to do. My therapist has done this many times in many different ways.

If you are really bothered by what she said, ask her about it. I have found that my therapist is the easiest person in the world for me to practice my new skills of assertiveness.

Either way, this is how I would frame this incident with my therapist. I would also see her as a compassionate individual who is doing good work. As long as that belief of hers isn't getting in the way of any of my healing, things should be good. I definitely wouldn't use this incident as a reason to devalue my therapist in any way.
 

hay joe

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yes
 
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