A Terry Pratchett quote for you that sums it up, "There are hardly any excesses of the most crazed psychopath that cannot easily be duplicated by a normal, kindly family man who just comes in to work every day and has a job to do.
You can find it on Punch-Clock Villain
. Desensitisation and dehumanisation: it's frighteningly easy to trigger. I'll bring up the Stanford prison experiment
, again. Also, the other classic: the Milgram experiment
. If you want something more modern: compare and contrast with what occurred in Abu Ghraib
. Most of the perpetrators there? Family guys, very normal outside the job. And, normal doing it... if you don't take full notice what the job actually entailed. After all, torture is a task that can be broken down into steps you have to do between coffee breaks.
There is always a cost, though. <_< Eventually, putting walls up like that takes a toll: but, you don't have to be "insane" to do horrible things that, in time, tip you into having diagnosable mental problems. The stress of doing that? Is what'll do it. But, it takes time. And, some people get used to it for very long periods before the price lands on the mat. Worse, others never get the bill, if they've managed to rationalise it sufficiently.
There is no clear line between "sane" and "insane". And, you can find insanity in sanity... and sanity in insanity. Sorry, mate. But, that's just the way it is.
edited 8th Feb '14 10:20:22 AM by Euodiachloris