Cruelty to Others



Deliberate, gratuitous cruelty to others causes enormous suffering. We constantly hear of such cruelty in the form of torture, tyranny, imprisonment, bombings, and similar behavior, not to mention interpersonal acts of cruelty such as belittling others, teasing, bullying, racial prejudice, betrayal, and the like. This webinar will discuss some of the psychological, biological, and social sources of cruelty.

We will continue with an attempt to understand the psychology of sadism, genocidal behavior, and cruelty to animals. Dr. Corbett will then discuss the nature of torture, its psychological and political roots, and its effects on its victims and perpetrators.  Finally a discussion of cruelty to oneself, including forms of self-torture such as masochism, self-mutilation, and the issue of self-induced pain found in some ascetic religious practices, religious martyrdom, and the controversial issue of stigmata.


Lionel Corbett, M.D., trained in medicine and psychiatry in England and as a Jungian analyst at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago. Dr. Corbett is a core faculty member at Pacifica Graduate Institute teaching depth psychology. He is the author of The Religious Function of the Psyche and Psyche and the Sacred: Spirituality Beyond Religion. He is co-editor, with Dennis Patrick Slattery, of Depth Psychology: Meditations in the Field and Psychology at the Threshold: Selected Papers.

Learning Objectives:

  1. List the characteristics of sadistic individuals.
  2. Explain how people are able to torture others without guilt.
  3. Analyze situations where otherwise good people allow or participate in acts of cruelty.


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