Evil: A Psychiatric PerspectivewithVernon Neppe

Books Mentioned In This Interview

Vernon Neppe, MD, PhD, FRSSAf, is a neuropsychiatrist and head of the Pacific Neuropsychiatric Institute in Seattle. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and recipient of the Whiting Memorial Award. He is author of an important book Cry the Beloved Mind: A Voyage of Hope and of many other books including Innovative Psychopharmacotherapy, Déjà Vu Revisited, Déjà Vu: A Second Look, Déjà Vu: Glossary and Library. Together with Dr Edward Close, he pioneered the new discipline of what they call “Dimensional Biopsychophysics”. He is author, with physicist and mathematician, Edward Close PhD, PE, of Reality Begins with Consciousness: A Paradigm Shift that Works. His professional publications number over 700. Dr Neppe has amplified many of his concepts in three of the websites linked with his work. On www.Brainvoyage.com, his books are amplified. www.VernonNeppe.org is his gateway and includes more information on the Neppe-Close model of the Triadic Distinction Vortical Paradigm (TDVP) and some of the key publications are on www.pni.org.

Here Dr. Neppe argues that evil is very different from psychiatric illness. Evil occurs far more commonly in the general population, and antisocial/ sociopathic/ psychopathic criminal, or evil behaviors ought not be excused just by applying a label of  ‘psychiatrically ill’. To equate evil with mental illness removes responsibility and is an Insult to the mentally ill, who only rarely commit evil acts. He argues that psychopathy may be an aggravating circumstance in rehabilitation. Moreover, perpetrators of violent crimes should not have their notoriety reinforced:  They should not be named just be numbers like 40632A.  The discipline of psychiatry should furthermore introduce an Axis 6 for Evil  into future manuals, and Axis 6 would mainly include the evil members of the population who had not been regarded as mentally ill.   Prof Neppe suggests that a scale of behavior ranging from very good to very evil could (and should) be applied to all people. He also describes his own experience participating in psychological experiments designed to test how far people will go following the directions of authority figures. He also reflects on epiphanous personal experiences with psychiatric and non-psychiatric patients.

(Recorded on May 1, 2018)

Published on June 28, 2018


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