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Analysis Of The Article The Frivolity Of Evil By Theodore Dalrymple

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Does lack of self-accountability and responsibility among human beings lead to the various kinds of social evils witnessed in the society? Theodore Dalrymple through his article ‘The Frivolity of Evil’ argues that a lot of miseries that face men usually arise from our own understanding of the kind of consequences we are bringing on ourselves. The author points out at the increased rate of social evils in Britain, though of less magnitude to that witnessed in other countries, as being the main cause of a life of misery that most citizens are subjected to. Dalrymple views are echoed on the fact that he had first-hand interaction with a number of perpetrators or victims of various social crimes due to his nature of work in being a psychiatrist at a local hospital and prison as well. This paper therefore looks at Dalrymple’s major argument as to how lack of self-responsibility leads to misery in the society by taking a glance into the evidences he provided in his article. Evaluation of his argument alongside the evidences will thus provide the basis for my evaluation of his suggestions. Likewise, different elements revolving around psychology will be highlighted and reviewed on how they relate to the issue of societal misery.

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As mentioned, Dalrymple’s major argument is that a lot of misery which faces people occur as a result of human beings engaging in activities which they perfectly know will lead to future suffering. People with accurate knowledge of the kind of negative consequences that will arise, still go ahead to undertake such actions which in turn directly affects them by leading them to a life of misery or indirectly by transferring the suffering to other people who were not part of their decision making scheme. In simple terms, social misery arises due the kind of decisions a person makes. Every person has the right to make his own decision while bearing in my mind the kind of repercussions it has. It is for this reason that people either choose to make decisions that will bring a positive impact to the society or make a choice of engaging in activities that will harm the society.

The lead causes of the actions constituting to misery have been categorized into three major themes which are repetitive throughout the text. They are egocentric nature of individuals, lack of moral ethics and acceptance by the society for such actions. To support his argument to the above claims, the author issues a number of evidences which are based on his personal interaction with parties involved in misery. Likewise, he resorts to the use of pointing out observable events that transpire around Great Britain and indicate how they actually lead to increase in social evils. For instance, he provides an example of one of his female client who is exposed to a lot of suffering and depression. The woman has three children but they are all from different fathers. She tells the author that she had to run from her first marriage as the husband turned out to be violent. She then went on to her second marriage with a man who she perfectly knew was a criminal. Unfortunately, the man later died while driving a stolen car. Her third marriage was with a man who had five children with different women.

As for the woman herself, she was forced into the life of hardships when her mother chased her out in preference for her new boyfriend. Her own biological father left her mother during her birth and she has never seen him. The author thus refers to this scenario as a perfect case of people lacking moral ethics as well as being individualistic. He points out that the woman knowingly agreed to marry such men despite knowing that they were not responsible people. This in turn led to her own suffering as well as that of the children. Egocentrism is depicted by the man who chased her from her third marriage without any reason as he wished to live a good life without considering that of the women he had left along with his children. Likewise, the woman’s mother self-centeredness attribute is portrayed when she decides to chase away her young daughter and instead live with another man. It is as a result of the above actions that misery has struck the society by affecting the woman and her children.

Another evidence is depicted by the author’s male client who visits him to remove a pack of cocaine which got stuck in his body as he tried to evade the police. When the author asks him about his family, he admits that he has four children with different women. Likewise, he does not hide from the author that fact that he does not live with any of the women and does not in any way look after the welfare of his children. The need for this man to pursue his own personal desires has thus led to a number of women and children suffering. Consequently, the author states that the current form of governance has equipped people with the right to do whatever they wish to without any reprimand. It is as a result of people being free to make a lot of decisions without any legal restrictions, that the number of social evils such as divorce has increased.

From my own point of view, I am in agreement with the author’s argument regarding misery being a consequence of the decisions people make. It is a common fact that every decision that we partake has an outcome which might turn out to be positive or negative. People who thus choose to undertake negative decisions such as leaving their family as depicted in the article, clearly know that their spouse or the children will be greatly affected. Likewise, if a person decides to commit murder, he knows that the family of the victim will emotionally or economically suffer especially if the victim was the breadwinner. Likewise, from the article, one can get a glimpse of psychological issues such as mentality of people as to whether human beings are naturally evil or there are other factors that make people commit social evils. Depression has also been associated with the sense of giving up on life. Greater knowledge of how the human mind works while perpetrating crime and how social crimes lead to depression will thus enable psychologist to get a good understanding of the human mind.

15 July 2020

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