"It did not make sense to suppose that all these people were sociopaths or sadists."
About this book
How do we understand the violence that seems to have taken our society by storm? Is it mindless and irrational?
After watching the news of the British liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany at the end of WWII, British psychiatrist Storr asks himself how men and women could have been recruited to follow through such a policy which millions of human beings would be subjected to starvation, humiliation, degradation, torture and final extermination and he came up an appalling answer. "It did not make sense to suppose," he concludes, "that all these people were sociopaths or sadists. One had to accept that quite ordinary citizens of what had been one of the most cultured nations on earth could be persuaded, without too much difficulty and on an unprecedented scale, to treat their fellow citizens with barbarous cruelty."
That is where he begins with an examination of the problem of aggression, drawing from studies of animals to understand the biological and social roots of aggressive behaviours in human beings.