Journaling About “Evil Genes”

This is not a topic I would normally write about, but last week I went to a talk given by Dr. Barbara Oakley and it was based on her recent book called, Evil Genes. Ms. Oakley is an engineer who was compelled by the bizarre things her family members did, like her sister who stole her mother’s boyfriend when she found out the man was going to take her mother to Paris, a place she always wanted to go!

At the same time, Oakley began questioning why we hear about some of the crazy things that those in high power positions do, such as Hitler, Mao, Milosevic and Stalin. For example, when Milosevic was asked why he killed all those people in the Balkan Islands he said that people die in war, but when he was asked why were their eyes cut out, he said, “What? I can’t hear you, the speaker is not working.” For him there was no explanation, no right, no wrong. He just did what he did without remorse, a classical sign of a psychopathic personality. She brought the scenario closer to home by asking us, “Did you ever wonder why somebody did something they did?” There were nods throughout the room. Surely, we all know someone who repeatedly does bizarre things and Dr. Oakley’s mission, through research, has been to understand why.

She mentioned the two disorders (psychopathy and borderline personality disorder). You can Google these to get all the detailed descriptions and symptoms. The fun part will after reading the descriptions to write about the disorder and to study which people you know who fit the bill. Surely there will be someone in your memory bank who brings you their craziness to mind. And by the way, Oakley’s book is fabulous and I understand she’s in the midst of writing some others. Definitely someone to check out, particularly if you are a writer, since we are always fascinated by people’s actions and motivations!                                                 



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Quote of the Week

"A writer uses a journal to try out the new step in front of the mirror."

~Mary Gordon

About Me

I am a memoirist, essayist, poet and teacher whose passion is keeping a notebook. My notebook is my muse and my alter ego. It contains personal snippets of my life and observations from the world around me. Diarist Anaïs Nin has been a great source of inspiration for me. My hobbies include writing, writing and more writing, but when I have extra time, I enjoy reading, walking, hiking, yoga, working out, cooking and hanging out with my family and Maltese Poodle, Spunky. In order not to become ensconced by the glare of my computer screen, I also teach in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and in various conferences and festivals around the country. My pleasure comes from sharing my joy of journaling with professional writers and anyone interested in writing.

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