Human Evil and Societal Trauma


This presentation will discuss the psychodynamics and cognitive processes of the psychopath. What interpersonal processes they use to seduce and manipulate others in the service of self-interest and personal gain. Psychopaths who gain access to power are particularly dangerous and have been responsible for mass genocide. The relatively new concept of “successful” or “corporate” psychopaths will be presented and discussed. We will discuss the dangerousness of psychopaths not only in the destruction they cause but, their ability to tap into and intermesh with peoples’ dissociated need, greed, and fears. The sadistic and often inhuman behavior psychopaths engage in expresses a severe dissociation of attachment needs and their envy of the emotional bonding others are able to achieve. This can drive them to destroy it in others. Because psychopathy is found among highly functional and successful individuals there is also the danger of it becoming a cultural ego ideal. 

American chattel slavery has had profound, transgenerational traumatic impact on the descendants of slaves. But slavery as an institution has also had negative effects on the descendants of the slave holders as well. We will discuss how American chattel slavery has shaped the lives of those whose ancestors were slave owners and overseers. Young children particularly from marginalized populations are increasingly becoming victims of childhood sexual abuse. We will discuss the emergence of dissociated, trauma-bearing, self-states emerging in treatment and the value this information offers in helping to create psychological profiles of perpetrators of such crimes.

This session was originally presented as a live conference session in October 2020.

Target Audience


Learning Objectives


At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the psychodynamics of psychopathy and the concepts of the "successful" and "corporate" psychopath
  • Discuss the role of dissociation in psychopathy particularly as it pertains to the dissociation of attachment needs and their attempts to destroy relatedness in others
  • Describe the effect of American chattel slavery on the descendants of the slave owners and overseers
  • Describe the nature of the abusive behaviors of highly sadistic offenders against children in order to be able to provide a therapeutic container to allow victims to process such trauma
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 3.00 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 3.00 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
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Presenter:  Sheldon Itzkowitz, PhD
Presenter Bio:  Dr. Shelly Itzkowitz is an adjunct clinical associate professor of psychology and clinical consultant at the NYU Postdoctoral Program, Guest Faculty, the Eating Disorders, Compulsions, and Addictions Program, the William Alanson White Institute. He is on the teaching and supervisory faculty of the National Institute for the Psychotherapies, and the Trauma Studies Program of the Manhattan Institute for Psychoanalysis, he is an honorary member of the William Alanson White Society, a Fellow and a member of the Board of Directors of the International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation (ISSTD). Dr. Itzkowitz has presented his work on dissociation and dissociative identity disorder both nationally and internationally. He, and Elizabeth Howell are co-editors of their recently published book, “Psychoanalysts, Psychologists and Psychiatrists Discuss Psychopathy & Human Evil.” They have also co-edited, “The Dissociative Mind in Psychoanalysis: Understanding and Working with Trauma” which received the 2016 Media Award-Written by ISSTD and was nominated for the 2017 Gradiva Award. And his chapter, “The Interpersonal-Relational Field, Countertrauma, and Counterresilience: The Impact of Treating Trauma and Dissociation.” Appears in Richard Gartner’s edited volume, Trauma and Countertrauma, Resilience and Counterresilience: Insights from Psychoanalysts and Trauma Experts. Dr. Itzkowitz is in full time private practice in Manhattan working with both individuals and couples and provides clinical consultation individually and in groups.

Presenter:  Heather Hall, MD
Presenter Bio:  Dr. Hall is a board-certified adult psychiatrist. She has over thirty years of experience. She combines her expertise in psychopharmacology and psychotherapy in developing a treatment plan tailored to the needs of each individual. Before establishing her private practice, Dr. Hall was an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at UCSF and then UC Davis. She is currently on the board of directors of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation and specializes in the treatment of complex trauma. Dr. Hall is a graduate of Smith College in Northampton MA. She completed her medical training at Drexel University in Philadelphia PA and her psychiatric training at The Institute of Pennsylvania hospital, also in Philadelphia. She lives is the Sacramento area with her husband of twenty-five years and enjoys playing classical piano.

Presenter:  Ellen Lacter, PhD
Presenter Bio:  Ellen P. Lacter, Ph.D., is a California licensed Clinical Psychologist in private practice and Academic Coordinator of the Play Therapy Certificate program at University of California- San Diego, Division of Extended Studies. She has expertise in the treatment of dissociative disorders and severe trauma, particularly ritualistic abuse, mind control, and victims of the production of child abuse materials, has many publications on these subjects, and is an activist on the behalf of victims based in her website:

Available Credit

  • 3.00 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 3.00 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.


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  • ISSTD defines a student as those enrolled in a program of study leading to a degree or certification in the mental health field and who have an interest in trauma and dissociation. 
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