According to Oakley and her colleagues, excessive kindness and empathy can generate “a slew of (results), including genocide, suicide bombing, self-righteous political partisanship and ineffective philanthropic and social programs.”
“It is almost heretical to suggest kindness and empathy can cause harm,” they explained. “But helpful behaviour taken to extremes blinds us to its harms.”
Misguided altruism can, indeed, result in genocide, war and political upheaval, but also to heroism and sainthood, Haidt reported. Its practitioners feel physically and psychologically “elevated.”
“But, altruism can bleed into misplaced, self-righteous and self-serving pathologies,” cautioned Paul Zak at Claremont Graduate University.
According to Elkhonon Goldberg at New York University, excessive kindness toward others can take the form of “self-sacrifice in the name of some delusional cause.”
Scott Atran at the University of Michigan concludes excessive humanitarianism can cause a schism in society by sacrificing “in-group solidarity in favour of concerns for out-groups.”

via When doing good is bad – Winnipeg Free Press.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center