Can Evil Minds Be Treated or Are Some Just Born to Be Evil? the Brutal Acts of Anders Breivik and Ian Brady Both Repel and Fascinate in Equal Measure and We Have Widely Labelled Both Men as Being Evil. but, Asks GRAHAM HENRY, What Constitutes Evil? and Does It Actually Exist?

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), August 30, 2012 | Go to article overview

Can Evil Minds Be Treated or Are Some Just Born to Be Evil? the Brutal Acts of Anders Breivik and Ian Brady Both Repel and Fascinate in Equal Measure and We Have Widely Labelled Both Men as Being Evil. but, Asks GRAHAM HENRY, What Constitutes Evil? and Does It Actually Exist?


Byline: GRAHAM HENRY

* HEY straddle the line of being one of the most notorious icons of criminal history - and a compelling subject on the extent of human depravity.

Ian Brady - as notorious a serial killer as you can conceive. A twisted killer and torturer - along with Myra Hindley - of (at least) five children and young people.

A remorseless sadist. A man who glories in stringing out and retaining his ebbing power over victims' families.

So too, Anders Breivik. A mass murderer of 77, mostly teenagers. A bomber, shooter, extremist and remorseless terrorist who shocked the world.

They are loathed by, and fascinate, the public - but is that because they are examples of pure evil? Or did they rape, torture or kill because of insanity, emotional problems or even upbringing? Dr Gareth Norris, a lecturer in psychology and criminology at Aberystwyth University, believes that the concept of evil is a term that is used by the public and media to make sense of a "senseless" crime.

But the subject area is so fascinating that it is one that consumed Ian Brady himself.

"Brady is a very 'interesting' criminal really," Dr Norris said. "He wrote a book [The Gates of Janus] about the psychology and concept of evil - and that is his obsession. That is what has driven him. There are fantasies that many people have about carrying out bad things, but the difference is that only a very small minority of people - Brady included - go on to do things like that.

"He is someone who, in his book, talks about how he has understood this concept of evil, and how he understands what 'evilness' is.

"It is almost like he is taunting people - like they don't understand fully how the mind works, and he knows.

"He talks at length about how most people dream about committing terrible things, how most people want to do the things that he has acted out.

"This taunting behaviour is a symptom of his personality.

"In reality, he is a very insignificant person, very powerless and physically not very imposing, and his whole demeanour is one to express power and control in ways most other people don't," he added.

"Others may race cars, or whatever else, to get their thrills - and this is him showing what he can do."

Whatever the motive, the news that there may have been a letter - written by Brady and allegedly passed to his Welshbased mental health advocate, Jackie Powell - that could contain details of the location of the body of his only missing victim, Keith Bennett, served to cement the idea that he is evil to the core. Keith Bennett was snatched by Brady and Myra Hindley in 1964 as he was making his way to his grandmother's house in Longsight, Manchester.

Despite repeated pleas from Keith's mother Winnie, she died this month having never found her son's body.

Brady and Hindley were found guilty of murdering Lesley Ann Downey, aged 10, and 17-year-old Edward Evans, and Brady of the murder of 12-year-old John Kilbride with Hindley's help.

Brady further confessed in 1986 to the murders of Keith Bennett and Pauline Reade, 16, who disappeared on her way to a disco in 1963.

Brady's continuous refusal to co-operate with the police to locate Keith's body, to grant Keith's mother her dying wish to lay his body to rest, proved he was just bad - in the eyes of the public, the press and in the eyes of Winnie Bennett herself.

"With Keith Bennett, this has always been Brady's trump card," Dr Norris said. "He has kept it back. And while there is always speculation about whether he knows [where the body is] or not, he allows information to sporadically come up - prompting a new search or new investigation.

"He keeps people interested in himself to maintain his own power. …

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Can Evil Minds Be Treated or Are Some Just Born to Be Evil? the Brutal Acts of Anders Breivik and Ian Brady Both Repel and Fascinate in Equal Measure and We Have Widely Labelled Both Men as Being Evil. but, Asks GRAHAM HENRY, What Constitutes Evil? and Does It Actually Exist?
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