Violence is the plague of our civilization. Its many tentacles – domestic violence, criminal violence, sexual abuse, terrorism, state violence, revolution, war and genocide tentacles – threaten us.
The new discipline of traumatology amply describes the consequences of violence. But there is as yet no corresponding discipline of violentology to explain why violence occurs in the first place. Inexorably, Paul Valent was drawn professionally to take the leap from healing the minds of victims to trying to understand the minds of perpetrators.
Valent unpicks the minds of perpetrators in each field of violence. He develops a lens for illuminating violence, whether individual or international, primitive or spiritual. We come to understand how aggressions that helped our species to survive now threaten it with extinction.
Valent explains his thesis by recounting many stories. One story interwoven throughout is his own. A child who survived the Holocaust, he examines the minds of his perpetrators in his quest to prevent future violence.
Violence, for Valent, is not an isolated feature of the human condition. Surprisingly close to violence are struggles for love. Readers also learn about that aspect of humanity.