Kakos' 6th Hour

Reactions and comments from my sixth hour Honors American Literature class.

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My favorite place in the world to be is underwater. My second favorite place is the front of a classroom.

Friday, September 29, 2006

A Dark Scenario

One defining characteristic of a psychopath is that he/she cannot tell right from wrong. Most people, for example, have increased brain activity when they hear alarming words such as "rape" or "homicide." Psychopaths, however, do not show this change in brain response; "rape" would produce the same response as "tree" or "chair." There are many factors involved in diagnosing psychopathy, but this lack of conscience is central.

If a psychopath goes on a killing spree and murders a family, can this person be considered evil? How do you define "evil"?

26 Comments:

Blogger Hannah S said...

I think that this person could be considering evil because "evil" really depends on what society believes it is. So, because most of society believes that killing is evil, this person would be considered evil, no matter his state of being.

12:42 PM  
Blogger corey c said...

I don't think that anyone is born with evil in them, it has to come through other people who influence the thoughts that a phycopath cannot control. A phycopath who kills others unknowingly should not be in trouble, instead he should be restricted from being in situations where this could be possible. I think that when it comes to phycopath's killing others I find our society is completely to blame, we focus hours a day on reporting horrible crimes without realizing the affect it could have on someone like a phycopath. This makes phycopaths have an uncontolable desire to do things they would not normally do if they had been encouraged and exposed to good things. We tend to treat people who are different in a negative manner, which adds to a dislike and malice towards everything.

12:44 PM  
Blogger brian k said...

Killing is evil, it's as simple as that. Evil is basically anything you are doing that is wrong, even if you dont know it is wrong. The person should be held responsible for his/her actions no matter what the reason the deed was comitted may be.

12:44 PM  
Blogger AaronW said...

Yes, the person is evil because if they kill a family and feel no remorse, that is evil. Also, the act itself is evil, not just the not being able to tell right/wrong of it.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Alexandra H said...

Psychopathy is something in your brain and therefore is hard to just say that the person is evil for something that happens to them. The fact that they are psychopathic may not be their fault. Evil can be defined as immorraly wrong and although this person IS wrong, they don't really know it. However, they still would seem evil to the people in society.

12:45 PM  
Blogger LindsayS said...

I think that the person cannot be considered evil but they are held accountable for their actions. They still understand illegal from legal and just because they do not respond as much as someone else does not mean they do not understand what rape and homicide are. Evil is a hard thing to define in specific terms but I believe that if you do have the characteristic of a psychopath where you do not respond as extreme as other people to rape and homicide it doesn't make you evil becuase you have a mental disorder that makes you behave differently.

12:45 PM  
Blogger allison n said...

This is really hard to answer. We want to hate the people who kill and rape like there’s no tomorrow, but what if they really can't help it? I guess being evil is doing something horrible and knowing that what you are doing is bad, but not caring. If someone doesn't realize that what they are doing is morally unjust, than I guess they're not really evil, but it does depend. It shouldn't be used as an excuse, or an easy way out of punishment.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Pieter O said...

I think that the psychopath's ability to think of right and wrong is partly society's and their family life's influence on his/her life. If they grow up somewhere where someone is murdered everyday, it doesn't give them an excuse, but they certainly don't have the value of life that some children in the "suburban bubble" have.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Hannah S said...

I agree with Corey. People are not born evil, it is pushed upon them throughout their lifetimes. Who or what they surround themselves with affects who they become.

12:46 PM  
Blogger KristinC said...

An evil person is a person who does something the know is wrong. Therefore by definition everyone is an evil person. There is not one person on the planet that has not done something wrong. Every person is an evil person wrapped in a good shell. Some people's shell is thicker than others and other people are better at containing themselves. It is human impulse to disobey which is why our parents, when we are young, must teach us right from wrong.

12:46 PM  
Blogger christineT said...

I think that the act itself can be considered evil, because it is murder and my beliefs say that that is wrong. But because the psychopath is not truly aware of what they are doing then they both can and can not be considered evil. I think that on some level, they are aware of it, and that part is evil, but for the most part, they can not control it, so you can not really call them "evil." The dictionary defines the word "evil" as something morally wrong or bad. I would say that if something is evil, then it's intention is to do morally wrong or bad things. Some bad things can just happen by accident, and those are not evil.

12:47 PM  
Blogger ryanp said...

I think that this person can be considered evil because my definition of evil is someone or something that harms others for unjustified reasons. With this definition, someone who goes on a killing spree and murders a family would definitely be considered evil because the life of a family was destroyed for unjust and most likely personal reasons.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Ryan S said...

There is a possibilty if a physchopath is totally crazy that they are not necessarily evil people. Murder is murder and if you kill someone you are a most likely to what is going on when you kill someone. Although they might not know what is going, they need to be isolated and put in prison because they will continue to kill or commit sexual based offenses. They need to be taken off the streets and be given treatment even if they are not terrible people.

12:47 PM  
Blogger katie_r said...

I do believe that would still be considered evil. Although I don't believe that it is the fault of the person, for they cannot help the way their own brain works, something is evil no matter who does it, and whether they know what they are doing or not. I believe evil is something that happens, or is thought/said, that does or is intended to hurt someone, or a group of people.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Logan J said...

A psychopath that murders a family is just as evil as a healthy individual that murders a family.

Intentions don't alone define evil. Even if someone has completely pure intentions, they can still do evil, and be evil.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Michelle S said...

One of the problems with diagnosing psychopathy is that there are so many variables that influence the ways someone responds to situations. The brain is an endlessly complicated organism and things such as environment and experience influence the way someone views things. For example, if someone nearly drowned as a child, "water" may show more brain activity than other people hearing the same word.

In the case of good and evil, I think someone who is aware and understands the consequences of a terrible act is more evil than someone who cannot comprehend morality. However, that does not justify the act, it simply makes it more tragic.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Tori S said...

I don't think that you can consider this person evil if they truly don't know what they are doing. Being psychopathic is just like a mental disability and that is nothing you have control over what so ever. If you know that you are affected and you don't do anything about it then yes they could be considered evil. It all depends on personal decisions and attitudes.

12:48 PM  
Blogger nicci c said...

Whether or not a person is a psycopath, if they go on a killing spree they should be seen as an evil person. This is because they should still be aware that they are destroying another's life even if they they don't register that it is a bad thing. An evil person is someone who does bad things and doesn't regret doing them or possibly even enjoys doing them.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Alexaaaaa said...

A psychopath shouldn't be called evil if they commit crimes if there is something different about his or her brain. This would be a step backward from everything our society has achieved in the field of mental illnesses. It is tempting to call psychopaths evil because they are so smart that we think they should be able to tell for themselves what is inherently bad, which I'm sure some of them can, but this is not fair to those of them that cannot understand the difference. Being intellectually capable is not the same as morality. They might immitate or play with morality of others, but they don't really comprehend what it is they're doing. There are exceptions, however, and these are the ones who are twisted enough to be defined as monsters.

12:49 PM  
Blogger anam said...

I think that a person who goes on a killing spree and murders a family can be considered evil, but who is to know whether or not a person is intentionally evil or is mentally ill? A doctor could examine the serial killer and come to the conclusion that the person has mental health issues, which than means that it is not based on evil that they have killed these people. I am very perplexed with this scenario because when ever I see a case where someone claims they are insane and they basically get off scot-free I become angry because no matter what their condition is they still took the life of another person. Then again, if the serial killer was born with an illness that handicaps their emotions, is it really their fault that they do not know what is right from wrong?

12:49 PM  
Blogger Olivia C. said...

It is hard to make a judgment call for this particular question as psychopaths and their level of diagnosis can differ. I believe that if a psychopath’s condition is very severe, it would be difficult to consider that individual evil after they have murdered a family. When the individual’s situation involves lack of comprehension, such a case is not to be thought of as evil. However, when an individual’s case allows for the capacity to comprehend one’s actions, then it would be plausible to consider them as “evil”.

Personally, I would define evil much as how Albert Einstein defined evil, that being “the lack of God”. I recognize this will really lengthen my response but if you have a free second read this story on evil….
This has a thought provoking message no matter how you believe. Does evil exist?

The university professor challenged his students with this question. Did God create everything that exists?
A student bravely replied yes, he did!"
"God created everything?" The professor asked.
"Yes, sir," the student replied.
The professor answered, "If God created everything, then God created evil since evil exists, and according to the principal that our works define who we are then God is evil."
The student became quiet before such an answer.
The professor was quite pleased with himself and boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.
Another student raised his hand and said, "Can I ask you a question professor?" "Of course", replied the professor. The student stood up and asked, "Professor, does cold exist?"
"What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?" The students snickered at the young man's question.
The young man replied, "In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Everybody and every object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (- 460 degrees F) is the total absence of heat; all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have too little heat.
The student continued. "Professor, does darkness exist?"
The professor responded, "Of course it does".
The student replied, "Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton's prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn't this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present."
Finally the young man asked the professor. "Sir, does evil exist?"
Now uncertain, the professor responded, "Of course as I have already said. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. "These manifestations are nothing else but evil."
To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is not like faith, or love, that exist just as does light and heat. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light."
The professor sat down.
The young mans name --- Albert Einstein

12:49 PM  
Blogger LindsayS said...

I think Kristin made a really good point about how everyone is evil just wrapped up in different thinkness of "good shell". This holds true because everyone has done something wrong and most of the time they do it knowing that they shouldn't.

12:50 PM  
Blogger matt l said...

I believe that anyone should be held accountable for their actions, regardless of problems they may have. Psychopathy, or other disabilties for that matter, cannot be used as an excuse for something such as murder. The definition of evil cannot change from person to person. There is no difference between me killing someone and a psychopath killing someone. We would both be guilty of murder, and the punishment should be the same. If a psychopath was allowed to get away with murder, then I could simply say I had a disability and ask to be pardoned. Evil is the absence of good, and it is not something that can be changed to suit the wrongdoings of others.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Thomas_N said...

I think that the person should still be help reponsible for what they did. Just because the person has problems and might not be able to tell right from wrong they should not be allowed to get off free of punishment. I don't know if this person can be considered evil because only they know that if what they did was what they thought was right or wrong.

12:51 PM  
Blogger A_Nielsen said...

If a psychopath goes on a killing spree and murders a family I would consider this person evil. I think when most people think of the word evil, they think of a villan in a movie or long-time feud of good verses evil.

Psychopaths are considered mentally disturbed. We don't know exactly what is going on in their minds when they harm or kill someone. Do they have any knowledge of what their doing?

Personally, If someone I knew had been killed I would obviously be beyond angry and upset. Who knows what makes someone harm someone and why would they want to harm someone? Evil can be described as so many things but when a human kills another human, there is no excuse, unless you work in mental illness. But, I believe if you took someone's life, you should give yours. (Didn't finish)

12:53 PM  
Blogger Amy O. said...

I think that this act would indeed be considered evil. The consequences for the actions of a psychopath are a more difficult issue. I think the act of murder or rape from anyone is evil because it shouldn't (and rightly so) be something acceptable in any community. It is an awful crime, and no matter whether the criminal is aware of it or not, it is evil.

9:07 PM  

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