Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (2007)

philip-zimbardi-the-lucifer-effect-understanding-how-good-people-turn-evil-2007From Chapter One:
“Lucifer’s sin is what thinkers in the Middle Ages called ‘cupiditas.’ For Dante, the sins that spring from that root are the most extreme ‘sins of the wolf,’ the spiritual condition of having an inner black hole so deep within oneself that no amount of power or money can ever fill it. For those suffering the mortal malady called cupiditas, whatever exists outside of one’s self has worth only as it can be exploited by, or taken into one’s self. In Dante’s Hell those guilty of that sin are in the ninth circle, frozen in the Lake of Ice. Having cared for nothing but self in life, they are encased in icy Self for eternity. By making people focus only on oneself in this way, Satan and his followers turn their eyes away from the harmony of love that unites all living creatures.
The sins of the wolf cause a human being to turn away from grace and to make self his only good–and also his prison. In the ninth circle of the Inferno, the sinners, possessed of the spirit of the insatiable wolf, are frozen in a self-imposed prison where prisoner and guard are fused in an egocentric reality.”    –Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect (2007)

Contributed by Aisha Woodward (Bowdoin, ’08)