Psychology of State-Sponsored Violence

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Psychology of State-Sponsored Violence
State-sponsored violence has led to some of the most horrendous human right crimes such as genocide and torture. These crimes are often under the constant fire of debate as scholars try to reason as to why they occur. However, the debates of genocide and torture are not exclusively attributed to the fact that they occur, but also, as to why people participate in these acts to begin with. Contrary to popular belief the majority of participants in state-sponsored violence are often not radical extremists, but rather, ordinary people. In instances, such as the genocide in Rwanda, participants were average everyday people, often neighbors of the victims, who carried out many of the killings. Also, in
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The thought of someone administering electrical shocks to an individual who clearly is in pain reinforces the idea that ordinary people can be developed into participators of violence. The transformation of ordinary people into agents of destruction can be attributed to the fact that when an authority figure makes an order the responsibility shifts from the individual to the higher authority. Essentially, giving the sense of impunity to the actor and making them believe that they will not be held responsible for their actions and removing the thought that there will be consequences. The removal of consequences and responsibility can further develop a person’s inclination to perform acts that are violent. This is due to the fact that no consequences for bad behavior can be detrimental in people’s understanding of what a crime is and what a crime is not. One of the justifications for punishment is embellished in the idea that only by implementing consequences for negative actions will people be inclined to not commit a crime. This is because with the consequences of a crime there is an infliction such as loss of liberty, harsh treatment, social condemnation, and frustration of desires. However, when there is no consequences for crime a person will be more inclined to participate in actions, such as torture or genocide. In Fujii’s writing, Killing Neighbors, she mentions that

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