Much reflection by many disparate thinkers has been devoted to the complex issue of evil in the world, and psychologists have devised different theories to explain the destructiveness of man. But rarely has anyone dissected the causes with such rigorousness as Arno Gruen. He demonstrates how violence and inhumanity originate in the depths of man’s very soul and how the fabric of society is structured in such a way that the all-pervasive madness of acts that are patently alien to life itself wear the cloak of righteous behaviour.
In his successful book “The Betrayal of the Self” he showed the ways in which man has surrendered his innermost understanding of his deepest feelings and needs and exchanged these for dependence and submission. He established that human destructiveness is not merely a capacity for evil, but rather a consequence of a genuine need which is not recognized for what it is: our capacity to perceive our own feelings has been lost and replaced by self-hatred, so the capacity for real sympathy and compassion, too, is lost.
In “The Insanity of Normality” he lays bare the roots of destructiveness, which are hidden all too often behind apparently philanthropic deeds or mere “common sense”. Arno Gruen presents us compelling proof through the multitude of examples he offers, including the seemingly incomprehensible horrors of the Third Reich or the Vietnam War, and provides an astoundingly convincing body of evidence that where inner and outer worlds are not properly integrated, moral action and true humanity will inevitably fail to materialise.