Evil: a mental illness or choice?

 

Are we capable of choosing to be evil or is it a mental illness? The National Alliance on Mental Illness defines mental illness as a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, or mood.  Evil is defined  as profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity. That implies that evil is a choice. I would consider serial killers, child molesters, and  rapists extreme examples of and all to be both mentally ill and evil. They have unnatural impulses caused by a chemical imbalance in their brains . Mental illness takes control of your emotions and causes intense feelings of anger, rage,sadness, or even happiness for no apparent reason.  That is what you can’t control. It’s completely okay to have those intense feelings even if they are inappropriate for the situation. Your brain is just wired differently or has imbalanced chemicals.  What is not okay is to act upon those intense emotions in a way that is harmful to yourself or others.  Mental illness is not an excuse for abusing people, especially your loved ones. You have free will and a choice to respond externally to what’s happening internally. As a society, we choose labels, then assign blame to them. I know someone who blames “having an Irish temper” for their verbal and physical abuse to everyone around them. You can be Irish, you can have a temper, you can feel intense anger, but you can’t throw a hammer at the mailman because he is late with your delivery. That’s you choosing to act upon your emotion. You can’t help being bipolar and feeling rage, but you can make a conscious decision not to choke someone, or kick the cat because it was in your path. Feeling like you want to hurt the cat and actually physically doing it are two separate things. Your actions are choices and speak volumes as to who you are. You have to take responsibility for your actions. Evil does seem to me to be a clear choice.

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