I highly doubt that Oswalt has ever heard of the term ponerology. But his response, more than many others, especially from celebrities, actually comes close to placing the event in a ponerologic context.
So first I want to point out the particular statements that reflect a somewhat-ponerologic perspective in his writing. (more…)
Last summer, while searching the web for ponerology-related information and people, I came across a website discussing a movie called I Am Fishead – or, cleverly, I Am <Fishead(.
It said the film is about corporate corruption and the role that psychopathy may have played in it.
The title, supposedly, refers to a Chinese saying that a “fish stinks from the head,” implying that this movie might be an exploration of how the dysfunction of our hierarchical society originates from those at the top of the pyramid.
Well, of course, I was very intrigued as I have not only dedicated a great deal of time and energy to learning about this topic, but specifically to advocating for more – and more forms of – education of the public about it.
My interest grew even stronger since I related to the background of co-director/co-producer of the film, Misha Votruba, a former psychiatrist who moved on from that career to more creative endeavors, eventually circling back to focus on a psychiatric topic – psychopathy – from a more activist perspective as a filmmaker.
The other co-director/co-producer of I Am Fishead is Vaclav Dejcmar, an economist and businessman with a lot of experience in investing and the financial markets. This background makes him an ideal complement to Misha Votruba in making this film that includes a focus on the overlap of psychiatry and our economic systems.
I finally got around to watching the film and I have quite a bit to say about it. This piece is going to get quite into depth about the film so if you’d prefer to see it first before knowing too much about what happens, you might want to watch it (I’ve embedded it below) and then continue reading this afterwards. If you don’t plan to watch it or don’t mind going into it knowing a lot of what happens, then feel free to read on.
The titles of Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 in the sections immediately below are those from the actual film, but names given to other segments in this synopsis/review are my own. (more…)
Last week, The Huffington Postfeatured someone whose name should always be in the mix when discussing ponerology: Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., a man who has spent much of his life investigating the science of what makes people act in ways we might deem “good” vs. “evil.”
In our recent piece about Dr. James Fallon, we discussed the three ingredients that Fallon believes are required for the creation of a psychopathic killer.
Certain structural and functional characteristics of the brain
Certain variants of particular genes
An environment that triggers the expression of these biological predispositions
While psychopathic killers can cause great harm to a certain number of people, they are relatively rare. The greater danger, from the perspective of society at large, is the emergence of “evil” on a broader scale within systems. And, as Andrew M. Lobaczewski makes clear in Political Ponerology, for that to happen, not only must people with disorders other than psychopathy be drawn into harmful activities, but so must some percentage of biologically healthy, normal people.
Zimbardo’s work has primarily focused on investigating how this latter event occurs – how everyday, average people can end up participating in destructive events.
Zimbardo has been a psychology professor at Stanford University for over forty years. He is best known for leading the team that conducted what has come to be known as the Stanford prison experiment back in 1971. (more…)