Friday, November 26, 2004

What is the psychological source of violence?

Violence comes from a desire to hurt someone, which comes from hatred we have toward that person. Why does hatred result in the desire to hurt or kill someone? How does that connection happen? Why do we want people we hate to suffer? Why do we think that will satisfy our hate? To see someone we hate suffer is somehow comforting to us, and that is why we are violent, because it is ultimately comforting to see our enemy suffer.

Is this because what is underlying hate is fear, and violence is an automatic self defense reaction to fear? This might be, but self defense still doesn’t explain everything, because the goal of self defense is to drive the danger away or eliminate it, but our hatred is different than fear because hatred does not necessarily require the driving away or elimination of the threat, but violence is often applied that does not have as its goal to drive away or eliminate anything, but only causes suffering.

Violence is applied possibly to deter the threat, e.g., so the offender won’t hurt us or threaten us again. But when we see someone we hate suffer from causes unrelated to ourselves, it still makes us happy to see them suffer, even though we did not make them suffer, it seems to be a substitute for the suffering that we did not apply on them. We feel that an enemy that is suffering is a bizarre sense of justice, carma, just deserts.

Our desire for violence might have something to do with revenge. Revenge should never be a reason to apply volence, or any kind of punishment, because it is impossible to determine how much punishment is required to satisfy our revenge. Sometimes nothing will satisfy a person’s desire for revenge. That is why there is no limit to man’s inhumanity to man.