Psychological Self-Help

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Kelley, 1981). On the other hand, sex therapists report that some loving couples
have their best sex after being angry. In fact, Bry (1976), a female sex therapist,
recommends that married couples try to make love to erase their anger. It may work
for some but I’d suggest some other approach.
I hope you are seeing that understanding and coping with anger (yours and others’)
may require you to become familiar with many other emotions and lots of behavior
change methods. The last five “methods” chapters in this book spell out in detail
many ways of modifying behaviors, emotions, skills, thoughts, and insight, all of
which can help you. This chapter is designed to be your guide
Are some people just “evil”? If not, how do they learn to
be so awful?
Occasionally you hear of a horrendous crime—an 80-year-old woman is brutally
assaulted, being raped, stabbed many times, and perhaps the head or body parts cut
off and buried. No one can understand why a total stranger would do this. In one’s
mind one paints a picture of intense, uncontrolled rage. The act is so extremely
abhorrent that one can’t imagine oneself doing such a violent, revolting and
senseless thing. Most people might say “the person who did that is an evil person.”
That is about as far as one’s explanation can go. For most people that may be all the
explanation of behavior they need. In some peculiar way “evil” explains what has
happened. But the term isn’t an adequate explanation. “Evil” says the acts are bad
but it doesn’t clarify the reasons or the means by which “evil” forces caused this
atrocity.
“Evil” is one of the oldest explanations of terribly bad behavior. It is a religious
concept, coming from the ancient notion of opposing good and evil forces—God and
the Devil--fighting for control over people’s lives and worldly events. At other times
in less serious and bizarre circumstances it is said almost as a joke, “The Devil made
me do it.” That may be a subtle request that the listener not undertake a deeper
analysis of the speaker’s motives. “The Devil did it” may also be said more seriously
to help explain some shamefully inconsiderate, immoral, or selfish behavior or to
escape some responsibility for what one has done. It is like saying “it was not
entirely my fault” or “I don’t know why I did it.”
There are many abominable acts committed for unfathomable reasons. I don’t refer
just to mass murder of unknown people (the World Trade Center Towers, the
Washington, D.C snipers) but also to leaders who plan genocide (Hitler, Malosovich,
and Sudan or Uganda leaders) or start or prolong unnecessary wars, businesses that
deceive or cheat lots of people, and so on, as well as spouse and child abusers,
rapists, sexual abusers, petty criminals or ordinary cons, and people who are cruel to
animals. One can see why the most horrible and least understood acts of these
people might be called “evil” because the term reflects our fear of and disdain for
immoral acts. But when “evil” replaces explanatory scientific terms and methods, it
blocks our getting knowledge about the true causes of terrible violent and weird
behaviors. Let’s think about that a little bit.
There certainly are uncaring, self-centered people in the world; they are in powerful
political and economic positions, in prisons, in business, in families and virtually
everywhere. In our society, we don’t approve of greed but we certainly understand
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