Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic

The Psychological Genesis of Violence, Evil, and Creativity

By Stephen A. Diamond

Subjects: Psychology
Series: SUNY series in the Philosophy of Psychology
Paperback : 9780791430767, 428 pages, February 1999
Hardcover : 9780791430750, 428 pages, November 1996

Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword by Rollo May
1. The Angry American: An Epidemic of Rage and Violence
Existential Roots of Anger, Rage, and Violence
2. Sex Wars: The Animosity Between Women and Men
Fear, Anger, and Intergender Hostility
Sexual Demonization
Gender, Rage, and Violence
3. The Psychology of Evil: Devils, Demons, and the Daimonic
The Daimonic
The Devil
Mephistopheles in America
The Demoic vs. the Daimonic
4. Myths of the Unconscious: The Id, the Shadow, and the Daimonic Models, Myths, and Symbols
The Unconscious
The Id
The Shadow
The Daimonic vs. the Shadow
5. The Possession Syndrome: Demoic or Daimonic?
Obsession and Possession
Types of Possession
Genuine Possession, Pseudo-Possession, and Psychosis
Neurosis and Romance as Possession
Voluntary vs. Involuntary Possession
6. Madness, Mental Disorders, and the Daimonic: The Central Role of Anger and Rage in Psychotherapy
The Daimonic and Depth Psychology: Discovering Repressed Rage
Hostility, Anxiety, and the Daimonic
Narcissistic Rage
Depression and Anger
Drugs and the Daimonic
The Biological Basis of the Daimonic
Anger, Rage, and Madness
Psychosomatic Disorders
The Anatomy of Passion
7. Redeeming Our Devils and Demons: Dealing with Anger and Rage in Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy's Current Identity Crisis
Catharsis and the Daimonic
Exorcism and Psychotherapy
Clinical Approaches to Anger and Rage in Psychosis
Exorcism vs. Psychotherapy
Toward an Existential Depth Psychology
Discerning the Daimonic
Consecrating the Daimonic in Psychotherapy
8. Creativity, Genius, and the Daimonic
What Is Creativity?
The Meaning of Genius
Dysdaimonia and Eudaimonia
Herman Melville's Mad Captain Ahab
Jack Henry Abbott: In the Belly of Behemoth
Vincent van Gogh: Dysdaimonic Genius
Jackson Pollock: "Pissed-Off" Expressionist
Richard Wright's Daimonic Wrath
Ludwig van Beethoven: Belligerence and Beauty
Ingmar Bergman: Residing with Demons
9. Conclusion: Some Final Reflections on Anger, Rage, Guilt, and Responsibility
The Paradox of Personal Responsibility

Explores the links between anger, rage, violence, evil, and creativity and describes a dynamic therapeutic approach that can help channel anger and violent impulses into constructive and creative activity.


Though the causes of violence in our society are complex, the troublesome human emotions of anger and rage play a central role in the genesis of violent behavior and psychopathology in general. In this provocative book, clinical and forensic psychologist Stephen A. Diamond determines where rage and anger originate and explores whether these powerful passions are—as most people resume—purely negative, pathological, and evil or can be meaningfully redeemed and redirected into constructive activity. Using clinical and biographical case studies, as well as striking visual images, he traces anger, rage, and violence through their most destructive expressions to their creative and transcendent functions in art, psychotherapy, and spirituality.

Stephen A. Diamond is a licensed clinical and forensic psychologist practicing in Los Angeles, California. He has taught at Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, John F. Kennedy University, Argosy University, Ryokan College, and the C. G. Jung Institute, Zurich. Dr. Diamond writes regularly for Psychology Today.


"An excellent book … I have always felt that Dr. Diamond's emphasis on the daimonic was extremely timely and important in our day. The myth of the daimonic covers vital, archetypal human experiences, as this work clearly illustrates. I find it very readable, and done like the true scholar." — from the Foreword by Rollo May

"In this remarkable book, Stephen Diamond follows the work of his mentor, Rollo May (1969), in focusing on the ancient Greek idea of the 'daimonic' which he distinguishes from the 'demonic' … Diamond stresses the dual nature of the daimonic and the failure of modern society to distinguish it from the wholly evil demonic as a factor in two, for Diamond, linked problems … first, the rampant outbursts of violence … and second, the failures of contemporary cost-effective psychotherapies to address those forces in the human being that evoke antisocial behavior and at the same time have the capacity to free up the same individual's deepest creative energy." — Contemporary Psychology

"Drawing on an impressive study of existential and depth psychologists as well as his strong grounding in the practicalities of clinical work, the author analyzes the psychology of evil and the central role of anger and rage in psychotherapy." — CHOICE

"…revolutionary … The daimonic today is … the pursuing shadow of the human potential movement … Diamond's book is a key to our understanding of … how to deal constructively with daimonic anger and rage in psychotherapy and most importantly, how to transform them creatively." — San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal

"Diamond redeems anger in much the same way that Rollo May redeemed anxiety … few books are a more important read. Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic is an excellent introduction to the breadth and depth of existential theory." — Louis Hoffman, Saybrook University

"…[a] powerful book … Diamond's reach is ambitious: to consider the 'meaning' of human violence and evil … He asks what produces serial killers, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Bobbitt castration case, the O. J. Simpson murder trial, and explores more generally the male response to the rise of feminist anger … enjoyable, extremely readable and accessible … a sincere, thought-provoking contribution to an important subject." — Journal of Analytical Psychology

"Evocative, very thorough and succinct, Stephen Diamond's superb book will remain the seminal work on this shadowy subject for a long time to come." — Jeremiah Abrams, author of Meeting the Shadow and The Shadow in America

"…a brilliant and indispensable resource for students of human personality." — Ernest Becker Foundation Newsletter

"An impressive, prodigious work; so comprehensive, so rich, and very creative. This excellent book is unique in making sense of the 'senseless violence' that permeates American society today. When we understand the root causes of the human need for violence, we will be able to make an ally of the energy it liberates." — June Singer, author of Boundaries of the Soul

"Diamond shows how existential depth psychology can help us understand the anger and violence so rampant in American society. He explains how we are both subject to and responsible for powerful psychic forces active within us, forces which, depending on how we respond to them, can press toward either creative or destructive expressions. Diamond's book is elegantly written, well researched, and clinically well informed. It is an important contribution." — Michael Washburn, author of The Ego and the Dynamic Ground and Transpersonal Psychology in Psychoanalytic Perspective

"Written with great vigor, clarity, and conviction, this book is fast paced and a pleasure to read." — George B. Hogenson, author of Jung's Struggle with Freud

"I hasten to endorse this remarkable book. The author covers every aspect of both evil and its curious connection with the creative daimonic. This study is balanced, objective and exhaustive. In a world that cannot forget Hitler and our modern atrocities, it is very timely. I recommend it without qualification—from one who has written on and studied this subject for fifty years." — Morton T. Kelsey, University of Notre Dame

"This is as clinically sophisticated a discussion of Rollo May's conception of the 'daimonic' as we are likely to see. Diamond lucidly exposes the passion at the core of our being human, does not flinch from examining the destructive pathologies that arise there, and identifies the telos of this strongly self-assertive energy, so glibly dismissed as narcissism. He discloses the daimonic as the self's essential capacity to claim and defend its own right to being itself." — John Beebe, author of Integrity in Depth

"A fine book, well written, succinct, psychologically sound, and socially relevant. Clearly the author has reflected on the subject creatively." — John A. Sanford, author of Evil: The Shadow Side of Reality

"A valuable work. Diamond's reach and his relevance are great." — E. James Lieberman, author of Acts of Will: The Life and Work of Otto Rank

"I like the timeliness of the work and how the author ties his concerns into social and clinical realities we all know boldly exist in our daily lives. I like the comprehensive scan of the cultural field around the phenomena of the daimonic and the author's practical concerns as a clinician to find more adequate ways of accepting, recognizing, and responding to the daimonic so that it does not become the destructive and demonic." — David J. Dalrymple, Vice President, National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis