With so many tragedies being publicized in the news, many peoples’ first instinct is to try to understand, analyze, and explain what happened. When it comes to mass shootings, bombings, and other public tragedies, the public is quick to consider the possibility of mental illness or the structure of our laws, which raises a complex question for doctors: Can evil always be traced back to something learned, are there cases innate evil – and if so, is there a medical root?
Doctors had varied opinions on the topic:
“Evil has become a little like pornography. We know it is there, we don’t know exactly where its boundaries are, but we know it when we see it.” – Endocrinology
“Evil isn’t even an actual thing. Certain actions (lack of morality) are considered evil.
I believe that the main source of evil in this world is via psychopathy. Although most psychopaths are not evil.” – Internal Medicine
“I don’t think I ever met a man or woman who was pure good or pure evil. Both good and evil exist within all of us. Even a most hideous villain loves someone or something. Even it it’s his or her beloved pet dog or cat”. – Internal Medicine
“To suggest that evil (intentions and actions) does not exist is ludicrous to me. History abounds with concrete examples. And of course, many actions and decisions that are rationalized away are in fact evil. Like beauty, it lies in the eyes of the beholder.” – Pediatrics
“The heredity studies with identical and non-identical twins do confirm that conduct/criminal behavior is hereditary to a large degree (specifically those who were not raised by their biological parents). Consequently, I’ve long believed that those who succumb to evil (are evil) really do have some inborn deficit in CNS areas needed for the feelings which would prevent them from doing/being so.” – Psychiatry
“It effectively exists but we give it more blame than it is due. This question is intimately tied to the question of free will”. – Rheumatology
“Good and evil are not inherent qualities of any action. They are qualities defined by the society in which we live.” – Neurology
“Evil is a subjective adjective. It denotes a personal view that the action/individual is immoral or depraved. Therefore, as long as humans are allowed to have opinions, evil will exist. It can be rehabilitated either by changing your opinion or by teaching morality to the offender.” – General Practice
I don’t think we are born that way, many studies show that altruistic behaviour secures the survival of your species, so it is beneficial to develop things like empathy, help for others, compassion and so on. But sure, some human beings are raised differently, or are traumatized or simply neglected and they might turn into someone ‘evil’.” – Internal Medicine
“Evil is an artificial construct. In the absence of mankind, there can be no evil.” – Rheumatology