The Power Of Evil Essay

1637 words - 7 pages

The mind is the most complex but fascinating feature of human beings. Although our minds are the primary source of love, care, and goodness, our minds are also capable of perpetuating hate, abuse, and evil towards others. Abu Ghraib, a city in the Baghdad Governorate of Iraq, is notoriously known for the horrific incidents of torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers in 2004. Although the events happened 10 years ago, the events continue to ponder our minds as we question, "How were they capable of doing those things?" There are many theories in regards to the cause of the Abu Ghraib incident. After analyzing the arguments, theories, and explanations of Robert Tolmach Lakoff, Dianne Benscoter, Tara Mcklevy, and Phillip Zimbardo, I have aligned myself with a combination of factors offering an explanation of how "good" soldiers became "evil."
The vulnerable environment of soldiers in war allows their minds to conform to the acts of hostility towards the "enemy." When one decides to become a soldier, they do not only accept the duties of a soldier, but, they accept the fact of being away from everyone and everything they once knew. Their normal environment of family, friends, a day-to-day job, and other people and activities which compose a comfortable setting is suddenly gone as they are greeted by a cold, harsh, and lonely surrounding upon entering the war zone. As their means of comfort is stripped away from them, they are left in a vulnerable state of mind, seeking any type of comfort in the present environment and being more likely to succumb to the dominance of others. Dianne Benscoter illustrates this "foundation" of one being susceptible to control with her own personal experiences in her lecture, “How cults rewire the brain.” “In 1974, I was young, I was naïve, and I was pretty lost in the world. I was really idealistic. These easy ideas to complex questions are very appealing when you are emotionally vulnerable.” At 17 years old, Dianne Benscoter was brainwashed into joining a religious cult due to a “meme” that “infected” her brain. A “meme” is an information pattern that duplicates by infecting thoughts and behaviors of the human mind. Benscoter compares a “meme” to that of a virus. “The way a virus works – it can infect and do the most damage to someone who has a compromised immune system.” When one is deserted in a psychologically vulnerable place and feels lonely, lost, and depressed, among other feelings, their ability to be controlled is extremely high. In Abu Ghraib, The soldiers didn’t understand the Iraqi, felt lost in the very different world, and were under constant assaults from Iraqi mortars outside the prison walls. When presented with an opportunity to escape the loneliness, stress, and depression by abusing, degrading, and humiliating the Iraqi inmates, the “viral meme” “infected” their brain as they just wanted to be befriended.

Tara Mckelevy’s interview with Lynddie England, the woman who was the...

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