Psychology: Syndrome that may explain evil

Jeremy Laurance
Friday 19 December 1997 00:02 GMT

A start to understanding the nature of evil is proposed by a neurosurgeon who has coined a new term - Syndrome E - to describe outbreaks of extreme violence.

Professor Itzhak Fried, of the University of California, says in the Lancet that events such as those in Rwanda, Nazi Germany, and Cambodia have certain features in common. These include repetitive violence, obsessive ideas, and group contagion. He believes the symptoms are due to a "cognitive fracture" between different parts of the brain, and that the syndrome warrants further study.

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