Saturday, September 5, 2009

Where does evil come from and does everyone have some in them?

Working in the medical department in a correctional facility for over 8 years, I have come in contact with people who have committed terrible crimes. When I worked at the state prison, it was a moderate/minimal security facility. The crimes committed by those at that facility didn't usually include murder.

When I was offered the job working at our local jail I realized I would be working with people with very serious crimes including first degree murder. They would be housed in our jail waiting for trial and those trials can take many years to adjudicate.

Not always but most of the time, I am aware of what the inmate I am treating is in jail for. I feel I need to know. It is a valuable part of my total assessment of my patient. I do recognize that until they are convicted, they are innocent until proven guilty. Even then their innocence/guilt may be only as valid as the competence of their attorney. Having that information, I do not let it influence how I treat the inmate. I treat them as a fellow human being and give the best of what I have to offer.

Some of the crimes alleged of some of the inmates I treat are very gruesome. What is interesting is that I don't usually see the evil that must have been present at the time the crime was committed. Most seem just like you or me. I may see a little evil here and again but it is not usually in those who have been charged with horrible crimes.

It all makes me wonder if maybe all of us have some evil in us but most of us can keep it in check. Desperation, drugs or mental illness may be what opens the door. My job in corrections gives me lots to ponder about. I have thought of so many research projects that need to be done. Some I wish I could even participate in but I already have my hands full.


jwayland said...

Carol, I have wondered many times about some of the things you bring up. I believe we all have potential for good and evil. I believe that our early childhood experiences greatly influence the way good or evil are expressed when we are children and adults. And yet, I realize that either good or evil can be expressed despite our early experiences. I have not had any experience in a correctional facility where there are many who have comitted violent crimes, but I was married years years ago to a violent and abusive man. He was different than any person I had ever known, or have known since. At some point in our marriage I believed he had killed his first wife. One characteristic I realized after we had been married about 6 months was that I could not depend on him to tell the truth in any situation. I agree with you that we each have the capability to murder in certain circumstances. Once during our marriage, he held a gun on me all night.I had 2 little boys. The next day, I hid the gun, but made a decision that if he ever did anything to one of my children, I would shoot him.

jwayland said...

It is interesting that when I look at the post I just did, it says 5:41 am PDT. It is 6:51 here now. I don't understand the time situation, because Louisiana time would be 7:41 when I posted at 6:41. Carol, You are up early. I woke up at 4 am (my time). My son is riding a motorcycle back to Albuquerque from Kansas City. He has never ridden (or rode, or whatever) a bike that distance before in one day. He picked it up in Michigan Thurs nite. I am worried and did not sleep well. He is 48 years old. When does a mother stop doing that???

Carol said...

When you do recognize the evil in someone and that door opens around you, it is time to get the hell out of Dodge, do not pass go and do not collect two hundred dollars. Run for the hills.

What I have seen frequently is that tranquillers, like Xanax, that is so often abused, does seem to open people's door. What you would think would greatly sedate a person just ends up lowering the energy that people have to keep their evil in check especially when taken in high doses.

Carol said...

Jan, it is PDT. West coast time. It wouldn't let me change that. Mary was wondering what I was doing up at 2:30 the other morning.

Also because of your time, when you settle down to join our party, we are often all heading for bed.

Carol said...

I'm not a mother as you know Jan but I would assume that a mother never stops worrying about her kids.

Hell, that is probably why I didn't get any kids. I would have worried myself to death over them. You were always pretty cool about your kids. I remember that I worried about them more than you did back when.

I wanted them to sit in a huddle with a mattress wrapped around them to protect them from danger.

Gloria, my older sister, was the same way. She didn't get upset when her kids did things. I went with her and her daughter, April, to Mexico for April's graduation trip. April wanted to go out on the town when we didn't and Gloria let her. I couldn't stand it so I tagged along just to make sure she would be OK. We did really bond on that trip. Gloria became the spare.

Do you remember the pair and the spare theory. When there are three friends on a trip there is always a pair and a spare. It happened on our trip to Colorado to go skiing. The one with you, Gloria and me. We all took turns being the spare and none of us liked it one bit.

Getting back in touch has brought back so many memories.

Ivy Green said...

Jan, thank you for sharing your powerful - incredibly powerful - story. To come through what you've had, and be able to tell about it shows tremendous strength. I hope your life is much better these days. It sounds like it must be since you seem to be seeing it now from a "having come through it" perspective.

solarcrete said...


Really like this thread: I will talk to you about it later on. Im going to leave early today; so I can go to a Peter Pan B.D. party....I had something semi ready to post for a thread, but U might have just changed my mind...with this one...but evil(degrees of it, in us all,some more than others) is part of our evolution, imo....


I answered your e-mail...

Carol said...

Jan, I just found your doggie story back on my first post of the Magster. That was neat. You need to let us know if you comment on old blog posts so we can read it. It was by accident that I caught that one.

I noticed we had a visitor last night, Abagale. Hi, Abagale. We would like to offer you some down home southern hospitality. Feel free to jump right in the water. It's nice and warm and we'll keep those pesky alligators away.

Carol said...

Hey Chloe, you can post away. Don't let my post run you off or I will just stop posting.

Carol said...

Sorry that was Solar who was going to post. I get so confused sometimes. Solar, post away son. We're waiting.

solarcrete said...

If any more pinks join up I will start feeling a little surrounded, get some biceps in this here joint will ya...I wouldn't have said that a few years back...:-)))

Ivy Green said...

I see "evil" as a matter of illness, probably a brain disease. The book, "People of the Lie" by M. Scott Peck does a good job of helping to comprehend the incomprehensible.

solarcrete said...


It is a part of the brain, a disease, maybe, but, since feeling evolved from emotions, and the we the 'organism' made-formed, our brain, that has also evolved, the feelings of evil is part of it all. It might have taken a different route in the need of preservation....later

solarcrete said...

self preservation, that later.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that evil is something we're born with. Of course, even our interpretation of the definition of evil probably varies greatly among us. For instance, I would never call defending oneself in a violent way as evil. So motivation factors into it too.

I think most evil people were treated in evil ways when they were children. that it's learned. It goes way beyond an emotion, because emotions can be controlled. If it was part of evolution, then we'd have to believe in the 'bad seed' theory, and to me, that discounts the importance of 'free will', which I believe in wholeheartedly. Without free will, there would be no need to take responsibility for our actions, we could just say something like ' the devil made me do it'. Once you take away the need for responsibility and accountability, then people will do 'bad things'. Because, responsibility and accountability are part of what gives us our conscience.

Having a concience, feeling bad about our mistakes, feeling empathy for others, and so on, is what really makes us human. True evil is less than human, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Carol, You do the most thought provoking posts. Don't ever stop.

Anonymous said...

Ivy, I left you a little message on the last thread telling you how much I enjoyed your little 'husband, wife' script you shared with us last night, regarding your spider web. Great fun reading that, getting to peak in on what you share with us. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Solar, That 'Bitch' song is not about being bitchy. It's about women being a little bit of everything.

"I hate the world today
Your so good to me, I know
But I cant change
Tried to tell you but you looked at me like maybe Im an angel underneath
Innocent and sweet

Yesterday I cried
You must have been relieved to see the softer side
I can understand how youd be so confused
I dont envy you
Im a little bit of everything
All rolled into one

Im a bitch
Im a lover
Im a child
Im a mother

Im a sinner
Im a saint
I do not feel ashamed
Im your hell
Im you dream
Im nothing in between
You know you wouldnt want it any other way

So take me as I am
This may mean youll have to be a stronger man
Rest assured that when I start to make you nervous
And Im going to extremes
Tomorrow I will change
And today wont mean a thing

Just when you think you got me figured out
The seasons already changin
I think its cool you do whatcha do
And dont try to save me"

Carol said...

I took off for a little fishing break with my river rat nurse friend down the road. It was just starting to pick when he had to go take care of business. With the full moon, the fish are eating all night and they don't get hungry again until around noon but we had to go....

Carol said...

Interesting posts since I left.

Carol said...

And you never really know who is capable of serious evil. I'm sure it was a big surprise to Lacy Peterson. I don't think she would have married a man capable of what he did to her.

It is really surprising how many women are killed by their husbands or boyfriends. A man who she made love to and shared so many intimate moments with. That is hard for me to imagine.

And the people, both men and women, even nice looking, clean cut people who come in for abusing their children. Drug are usually the culprit.

What may also surprise you, as it did me, is the number of middle aged or older men who are arrested for computer solicitation of minor sole, or their own children or grandchildren. Most of them are white men. It is so common in the while older male inmates who are arrested that I can pretty much guess that is what they are in for when I see them in my office.

Some of those guys are senile but some do not seem to be. Almost all are also being treated for hypertension or cardiovascular disease. Is it some frontal lobe deterioration that is occuring that leads to impaired judgement, could it be a side effect of their medication?

I've theorized that it may be a combination of serious loneliness and brain damage. They don't even use good judgement when it comes how they perpetrate the crime. I have asked some.. why in the hell did you think that some 13 year old girl would want to have sex with you? Didn't you realize that it was some burly old cop on the other end of that mouse? They respond, "I made a horrible mistake." I would say so. Computers can be dangerous in the hands of some.

I wish they would advertise on TV to guys that young people do not want to have sex with them and if they do these dumb things, their lives will be ruined... forever.

jwayland said...

Carol, thanks for clearing up the time thing. I did not remember that you worried about my boys. I was so busy when I was younger and had young chidren that maybe I did not have time to think about all the things that could happen to them.

jwayland said...

Carol, I agee with Chloe, your posts are so interesting and thought and emotion-provoking. I sometimes go back and read older ones and want to post something. Now I realize that nobody is going to go back and read my posts on older ones - hence the story about my dog. Sorry about that. It is the same for me when having a conversation. I can get lost in something someone said an hour ago and then everyone looks at me strangely when I respond to that comment that was made an hour ago.

jwayland said...

Hi Ivy, yes, that was something that happened to me about 40 years ago. My life is good now. It was an experience that taught me so much. I was very naive and never thought that kind of thing could happen to me. I think that many abusive/violent people pick out someone to be their victim who seems to be naive or helpless in the hope that they won't defend themselves. The one smart thing I did was to get out of the relationship soon after the abuse began.

jwayland said...

Hi Ivy, Scott Peck was one of my favorite authors. I have read his book, The Road Less Traveled, several times in my life and each time found something new. I have, People of the Lie, I may read it again.

Anonymous said...

"I can get lost in something someone said an hour ago and then everyone looks at me strangely when I respond to that comment that was made an hour ago."

We often respond to things that were said a day ago, or on the previous thread, because we're never all here at the same time. That's the beauty of this type of conversation, you can come in at anytime, day or night, whether there's anyone here or not, and talk about whatever you want to talk about.

One easy way to do that is to copy the part of the other post you are referring to, and quote it like I just did from your comment, and bring it over to the newest thread so everyone will see what you have to say. You can highlight, copy and then paste at the top of the comment you're making. Or you can just say, I saw on the last thread, or one a couple of days ago that you said 'so and so', and go from there.

That way we don't miss what you have to say and it sometimes starts a whole new conversation about what you have to say about it.

Ivy Green said...

I agree with that comment, Chloe...the beauty of this pondering place is you can always come back later and pick up an old thread...or start a new one on the same theme.

Thanks for directing me to your comment on my "she said-he said" dialogue last night. I later thought it was a silly thing for me to post, but it was "in real time," and I enjoyed that you enjoyed.

Ivy Green said...

Jan, Scott Peck's last book took the "People of the Lie" to a deeper level where he got into his experience with exorcisms and such. I didn't read it, only read about it. The idea of it frightened me too much to read the book. I agree with you Peck was a great writer. Another one I get a lot of inspiration from is Dr. Wayne Dyer.

Ivy Green said...

Another pondering point to address to Carol (since you have the most direct contact) is whether our correctional facilities do any good at "correcting," or if they are just warehouses, or worse - "factories" - that perpetuate the cycle of evil-begets-evil?

Whew...maybe we need to start a new thread soon with recipes or something?

Carol said...

Well Ivy jails are very much a warehouse for people waiting for trial. There are some programs offered if the inmate meets certain criteria like their crime is not an aggravated offense. I am not familiar with all the programs but they include drug and alcohol programs.

Churchs come in and offer programs. There are more programs available in prison. They have training programs for certain jobs.

Some in jail are allowed to work in or out of the jail. In prison, most, unless they are locked down, have a job. At the prison I worked at, all inmates who were physically capable worked in the garden on the gunline for the first three months.

It is called the gunline because a guard sits on horseback at both ends of the line and holds a gun. The inmate is hoeing in the garden. They hoe one row and then when told to, they step to the next row. The inmates found this quite humiliating. They hated it.

We have a GED program where the inmate can get his high school certificate. I encourage all who need to and can to do that. I read some statistics once that reported that the young black uneducated inmate has almost a 100% recidivism rate.

It is interesting and sad that many young people, especially black men don't even find being in jail a distressing experience. It is almost like it is just a normal part of everyday life.

I see so many of the same people come in over and over. I keep telling them we must have made it too comfortable for them the last time. They laugh.

Carol said...

I have been busy with chores and grocery shopping. Off again for a little while.

Carol said...

Whew, I think I'm finally settled down.