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Karydaki, D. (2019). Everyday evils: a psychoanalytic view of evil and morality by C. Covington. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 100(1):155-157.

(2019). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 100(1):155-157

Everyday evils: a psychoanalytic view of evil and morality by C. Covington

Danae Karydaki

The notion of evil has troubled humans for as long as human activity has been recorded. Historical sources reveal that religion was the first cultural product that proposed a conceptual tool to approach evil; asa rule, people in ancient paganistic cultures tried to explain evil as an act of gods, whereas, in Abrahamic religions, evil was understood as a human choice associated with disobedience to the single God. Philosophy, a systematic method to approach knowledge that emerged in the 6th-century BCE Greek world, devoted one of its fundamental branches, Ethics, to the study of good and evil; some of the world’s greatest philosophers, such as Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Baruch Spinoza, Immanuel Kant and, most recently, Hannah Arendt, worked extensively on these issues. In the early twentieth century, Sigmund Freud pioneered a new theoretical model as well as clinical practice that could, among other things, be employed for a more integrated understanding of evil: psychoanalysis. In her book Everyday Evils: A Psychoanalytic View of Evil and Morality (2017), the psychoanalyst Coline Covington investigates this ever-intriguing but, apparently, under-researched question of evil through a psychoanalytic prism.

The book consists of nine small chapters, an introduction, and a conclusion. “Evil” according to Covington’s apt and articulate definition

is an extreme form of destructiveness that dehumanizes people, reducing them to objects without minds or feelings, to be used by others as means to an end and disregarded as ends in themselves.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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