Throughout the ages, humankind has been deeply troubled by the existence of evil. We have often wondered: what is evil? Simply stated, evil is the infliction of pain upon sentient beings. Evil, however, is much more complicated than that definition suggests. It is a complex synthesis of moral, natural, and metaphysical evils (Russell 1986, 18) that varies in its interpretation across time and cultures. The countless atrocities of the twentieth century have stirred a renewed interest in the concept of evil along with a belief that evil is an inherent part of human nature and even the cosmos -- we all realize that evil things do not only happen to us but are universally present. Before evil can be understood on a cosmic level, it must first be understood on the level of an individual. A poignant description of evil against an individual is found in Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov: .
Imagine a trembling mother with her baby in her arms, a circle of invading Turks around her. They've planned a diversion; they pet the baby, laugh to make it laugh. They succeed, the baby laughs. At that moment a Turk points a pistol four inches from the baby's face. The baby laughs with glee, holds out its little hands to the pistol, and he pulls the trigger in the baby's face and blows out its brains. Artistic, wasn't it?. I think that if the Devil doesn't exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness. (Dostoevsky 1936, 283).
This type of evil directed against an innocent being forces people to confront the reality that evil lies within them. Carl Gustav Jung argued that a person is born with both good and evil personalities that are gradually differentiated from one another as he/she develops. Usually a person will unconsciously repress the evil side, creating a negative "shadow" in the unconscious mind. If the repression mechanisms overpower an individual, the shadow can explode without warning leading to destructive, evil acts.