Evil as mental illness- the short version

If you tell someone that they are inherently evil, that because of the way their brain works they will inevitably do evil things, you’ve removed their motivation to try to be good by telling them it’s impossible.

If you tell someone that only people with inherently evil brains can do truly evil things, and that this someone, in contrast, has a normal, healthy brain and is thus good, you’ve removed their motivation to try to be good by telling them it’s unnecessary.

If you frame “doing bad things” as a curable mental illness instead of an inherent one, that’s a lot more plausible, but it still means importing all the stigma and baggage people have about mental illness into every criticism of someone’s actions, which is only going to make it harder for people to admit they’ve done something wrong.

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