The Murderer Next Door: Why Our Minds are Designed to Kill – A Book Review

“We foist evil onto other things, too frightened to admit it is within us.” – C.G. Jung

In this riveting summary of his scientific findings, evolutionary psychologist David M. Buss asserts, quite convincingly, that previous theories on murder “simply don’t hold up.” I’m sure you’ve heard interviews on the news discussing the motive for a murderer’s crime: some claim it’s violent video games, a disconnect with religion, insanity, poor parenting, and so on and so forth. Those who claim murder has its origins in violent television shows, movies, and video games cannot explain why cultures void of such things also have staggering murder rates; those who claim it’s poor parenting and child abuse cannot explain the many thousands of murderers who were healthy, raised in good families, and well-respected; those who claim it’s the product of mental faults cannot explain why over 90% of everyday people admit to fantasizing about murder. As the quote above states, so frightened of admitting the evil inherent in humans are we that we foist it upon anything but ourselves. Continue reading “The Murderer Next Door: Why Our Minds are Designed to Kill – A Book Review”

Orwell’s Shooting An Elephant – A Review

SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS

I’d like to kick off this new essay review series on a strong note. So, without further ado, let’s start with the legend and his legendary piece: George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant.”

TO SET THE STAGE

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Jung on The Therapist’s Dilemma

A couple weeks ago, I finished C.G. Jung’s essay The Undiscovered Self. I found it an impressive but not wholly convincing work–great food for thought but painfully hypothetical (Jung, of course, argues that is precisely how it should be). Still, I find myself revisiting a few ideas that really peaked my interest. One of such is his explanation of what I will call the “therapists dilemma.”

The Therapist’s Dilemma

“On one hand, he is equipped with the statistical truths of his scientific training, and on the other hand, he is faced with the task of treating a sick person who…requires individual understanding. The more schematic the treatment is, the more resistance it–quite rightly–calls up in the patient, and the more the cure is jeporadized.” – C.G. Jung, The Undiscovered Self (p. 7)

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The Undiscovered Self – A Book Review

 

A Brief Warning

The theories posited in Jung’s essay are quite dangerous, dealing with the illusory nature of knowing ourselves, others, and our society. This is the case with much of philosophy–and that is precisely what this is: philosophy. Regardless of Jung’s credentials as a merited psychologist, by no means does this essay explore theories empirically or statistically.  It’s really up to the reader to decide its worth. Jung argues it ought to be that way, claiming statistics and averages only mislead (see below). Continue reading “The Undiscovered Self – A Book Review”

What Life Could Mean to You – A Book Review

Had Alfred Adler’s What Life Could Mean To You taken on the meaning of life, I would call his stance an eloquent and attractive cop-out. However, this book does not question the very fabric our being (like Edward O. Wilson’s impressive The Meaning of Human Existence). Instead, it concerns the meaning individuals assign themselves. Adler’s approach is broad and bold—perhaps at times too bold. Overall, What Life Should Mean to You is unique in its real-life applicability and its perspective on meaning but too simplistic to present convincing arguments. Continue reading “What Life Could Mean to You – A Book Review”

The Meaning of Human Existence – A Book Review

Few have the merit or authority to title a book as boldly as Edward O. Wilson’s The Meaning of Human Existence. I count this man part of that few, and his execution of answering such a question was unique and mostly effective, save for occasional tangents not wholly relevant to its title. In brief, I feel this book is immensely well-written and equally important. Continue reading “The Meaning of Human Existence – A Book Review”