Chris Burris’s First Book "Evil in Mind" Featured at World’s Largest Book Fair
St. Jerome’s University (SJU) congratulates Professor of Psychology Christopher Burris, PhD, for the publication of his first book, Evil in Mind: The Psychology of Harming Others. The book has been selected by its publisher, Oxford University Press, to be featured at the world’s largest fair for publishing—the Frankfurt Book Fair. The 73rd edition of the Frankfurter Buchmesse will take place from October 20-24, 2021, and will exhibit 1,500 organizations from over 70 countries. Canada is this year’s guest of honour.
“One commentator likened the Frankfurt Book Fair to ‘the Paris Fashion Week for books’,” noted Burris. “Stunned and grateful best describes what I’m feeling.”
Evil in Mind offers a systematic, research-based psychological analysis of evil and its many expressions, examining key themes such as when and why people use the word, how labeling someone “evil” is the ultimate form of social rejection, and what people say to themselves and others to avoid the label while still making choices that cause suffering. The book then shows how these core ideas can help people make better sense of phenomena such as hate, sadism, serial murder, and genocide.
Burris suggests that “evil” can be in anyone’s mind because whether the harm that results from one’s actions is massive or minor, the motives driving these choices and the strategies for deflecting condemnation are not really all that different. Social-scientific in its approach, Evil in Mind was written to be compact, digestible, and transformative. Throughout the book, Burris tries to nudge the reader toward a mindset that is self-reflective rather than ghoulish or complacent.
“Labeling someone ‘evil’ is one of the most consequential human acts. We know that, and so I think most of us are terrified of wearing that label,” says Burris. “Unfortunately, that’s not always enough to keep us from doing reckless, nasty things, because we can be really good at convincing ourselves why the label doesn’t apply to us. Understanding these tendencies, I think, can help us all live more responsibly.”
The book is a culmination of Burris’s experiences that include his early work in correctional settings, his research interests in the social psychology of religion, and ongoing reflection and discoveries linked to the “Psychology of Evil” course that he created and has taught for more than two decades at SJU. Although thousands of students have explored troubling questions about evil in Burris’s SJU course, he hopes that Evil in Mind can reach not only students and scholars, but also anyone outside academia who is interested in the when, why, and how of inflicted suffering.
Evil in Mind: The Psychology of Harming Others is scheduled for release in March 2022.