Wishing Someone's Death: Ever Morally Acceptable?

– Wall of text about an extremely instrospective, theoretical, philosophical, and, quite frankly, dark topic that could initially not make sense ahead –

Had I been asked this question until a little while ago, my answer would have instantly been a ‘no,’ without a second thought. One of the conclusions I came to during the last 2 years, period in which I grew up and matured a lot, is that there is no point in hating anyone. People that hurt you, exploited you, lied to you. I realized I hated none of them, and I felt sorry for anyone that felt hatred for someone else. I had found inner peace in the sense that I really couldn’t bring myself to want someone else to suffer. To the same tune, I thought that wishing someone’s death was pointless, despicable, and did no good to anyone.

I have had to come to gripes with the fact that recently I’ve been developing this feeling that I in fact deprecate for someone. This thread aims to be a discussion of this philosophical question of whether there are ever extreme circumstances in which deeply desiring someone’s death can be understandable. This of course is limited to one’s internal thoughts and feelings, and in no way is related to the question of actually causing someone’s death.

I hold myself to very high moral standards and I am never okay with doing something that makes me think I’m unethic. I might have my own set of ethics that might not be shared by everyone else, and in fact not agreed with by everyone else, but I always strive to act consistently with what I believe to be right. There is no worse feeling that knowing that you haven’t been true to yourself. This doesn’t mean I am a “peace and love” kinda person, and I can be very selfish, but not immorally so.

I don’t want to turn this into a rant but I’ll have to briefly explain what lead me to hate someone and, in fact, to wish their death. This can’t be effectively summed up in a short paragraph without losing information and details, but I will give you a big picture of the story so you get the idea.

My family on my mother’s part is made up of my mother, my grandma, my cousin, and two aunts.
Those people all went through some really fucked up shit in their life. One of my two aunts (the mother of my cousin, which is the person in question) developed an illness after giving birth that lead her to become bipolar when she was still really young. My grandparents spent their life chasing after their daughter, that eventually became addicted to heroin and did every bad thing you can imagine. This was more than 30 years ago and the situation eventually got better and stable. My cousin was adopted by my grandparents and still lives with my grandma.

My cousin is now 30 years old. He was a little bit of a problematic kid but eventually he seemed to have turned out okay. He had a job, a stable 4-year relationship with a woman, and our family seemed to be doing good.

Then, 2 years ago, my cousin’s breakup lead to a series of events that began with him getting depression and taking xanax which snowballed into him becoming a cocaine addict, mistreating my grandma, stealing her gold, breaking every piece of forniture in their house, forcing her to give him money, eventually hitting her, threatening to kill her, getting drunk every day, and much more.

I have just listed what happened over the last two years, but you will have to realize that all these events unfolded little by little. This all started with him becoming obsessed with the woman that left him, then insisting on asking my grandmother for money every day, then insulting her, then yelling at her, so on so forth. A typical night begins with him stressing her out for money, then getting some money, leaving, coming back high and drunk, breaking something, insulting her, threatning her and asking for more money, and this iterates several times. Throughout all of this time all of my family was close to him and tried to help him despite the horrible things he did and said. I was the first one to give up on him, but my mother did everything she could, talking to him numerous times and going with him to psychologists’ appointments and the like.

Every time, I would learn about what he was doing via a call from my mother and many times I drove to my grandma’s to keep the situation under control. I called the police on him several times but they didn’t do anything save for bringing him to the hospital for a psychiatric visit and then letting him free. One time I hit him in the face and started throwing things at him yelling that I was going to kill him. Nothing changed.

The worst two things about this? My grandmother is afraid he will eventually kill her or have her have a heart attack, and my mother is slowly slipping into depression as all she hears about all day is how my cousin is slowly killing my grandma.

What they can do in terms of legal actions is very limited, as Italy is known for having terrible laws on domestic violence and he is very unlikely to be punished even if he were to be reported. My grandma doesn’t want to kick him out of the house (I do realize that this part is their own fault and I have gotten very angry at them at times for not wanting to act against him).

The point is that every day I fear talking to my mom because I hate to see her crying over how my cousin is effectively destroying what’s left of my family. I realize that there is little I can do, and in fact that anyone can do, save for him doing something really bad and irreversible.

I can’t help but keep thinking, though, that it would be so much easier if he became victim of his own destiny that he’s chosen for himself. What if he OD’d on his shitty drug and was found dead? Wouldn’t the rest of my family be lifted off a heavy weight and resume living with the peace they deserve?
Another option I have hoped for is him going to jail, but the way laws work here it’s extremely unlikely as well.

So yeah, here I am hating someone and wishing their death with passion. I am very instrospective and I want to understand whether it’s “okay” to feel this way or if I should work on changing my mindset and start hoping that things will take a different (albeit unlikely) turn.

Have you ever found yourselves in a similar situation? What are your thoughts on this? Is hating someone always wrong or is there a point at which it becomes a natural reaction?

I don’t think it’s ever morally wrong to feel a feeling, and hatred is a feeling. It tends to be the acting on these feelings that cause issue.

And wishing is not enough of a significant action to get worked up about. It has a very low success rate.

I don’t see an issue.


Doesn’t sound like hate to me, sounds like it could even help him get better in the long run

Doesn’t sound like hate to me either, tho a little closer

I disagree with this pretty strongly since I believe that people(s) feel(s) are in accord to how they think and who they are

But I agree that you can’t change that overnight through sheer willpower

I don’t think it’s morally wrong to think a thought either.

Or to be a being.

I don’t feel one can exist immorally.

I think it can be

I agree with this

I don’t like the black and white of this, so my attempt at countering is that I think one can choose to exist more morally or less morally

That’s ok: just means we disagree.

I once read somewhere, “we are not what we think, we are what we do.” It stuck with me and in many occasions I found that to be true and easily observable.

But to the core of it, aren’t feelings just a contraption that nature used (forgive me for this personification of nature, I found no better way of expressing this thought) to push us in the direction that leads to something useful for our survival and thriving?

Much like loving someone pushes you to pursue time spent with that person, which in turn leads to creating a bond, mating, and guaranteeing the survival of the species. Or like the pleasure eating food gives you is what pushes you to want to eat, which is necessary for survival, or the same way fear keeps us away from dangerous situations.

So even if we don’t act on certain feelings, doesn’t the very fact of feeling them make them part of us in some way? I can factually argue that a person that is full of hatred (I’m using an extreme example here) but doesn’t do anyone harm is a good person (“a harmless man is not a good man. A very dangerous man that has it under voluntary control is a good man”), but how does them being full of hatred inside factor in in this? Does it not count at all?

I hope I’m making sense with this question here.

Yes, similar, but the person hated is not as dangerous as you’ve spoken about. I will likely elaborate later.

Your feeling is perfectly reasonable. Do you think the death penalty is not a society’s Ultimate expression of a wish for someone’s death?

No. Why do you think nature even gave you such an emotion? I have found myself in such a debacle because like you, I really try to be a decent guy. And I don’t mean I’m inherently bad but trying to act decent. What I mean is I don’t have an inclination to mistreat or hate people generally and have a conflict when I feel a negative emotion towards someone.

With that said, and I’ve expressed to those close to me, there are four people I actually hate! Only four out of the hundreds I’ve met, worked with, am related to (yes, one is a relative), befriended, or socialized with. So considering I don’t hate many people, and have been described by many who have spent much time around me as friendly, there is indeed behavior that caused my hate.

For one of them I have a laundry list of transgressions that would likely drive many sane men to hate and even physical harm, rightfully so, in my opinion. He truly is someone that I’d be inclined to swing on, and I don’t say this in some silly tough-guy manner Considering I think he likely can hurt me if we fought. In a calm mood, I actually asked myself once, “Do you actually hate this man considering you were once friends and he was in some ways generous to you?” I contemplated my own question, and I couldn’t bring myself to say no.

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Though true that feelings are the catalyst of action for many species, what makes humans different from the majority of the animal kingdom is the ability to feel feelings and NOT act on those feelings. We can feel lust for a person and not assault them with it. We can feel hunger and delay eating. We can feel rage and not murder someone. Etc etc.

Attempting to shame people over their thoughts and feelings has been the tool of religions, cults and demagogues for millennia. You teach people it’s shameful to think and feel certain ways, and compel them to instead think and feel the way that they “should” feel. But this is fundamentally denying your humanity, and “life denying philosophy”.

You feel how you feel. Experience that feeling, then do the moral thing with it.


In some ways, yes, and in others, no. If one feels hungry, they he shouldn’t eat. If one simply likes some food, he shouldn’t overeat it. There’s a difference.

Here are peeves of mine that I know better not to react to despite the feelings they give me. For example, when people excessively stare I feel like “jumping out of my skin”. But I’d be a fool to confront some stranger and say in a hostile tone, “What the f— you looking at?!” Which I’ve actually felt like saying many times. I’d also be a fool to act on another pet peeve: intrusiveness. There are plenty of people who’ve eavesdropped on my conversations, particularly at work, and I’d be a fool to ask, ”Do you have a f—- problem?”

Thought crime isn’t a thing or we’d all be fucked. Part of morals is maybe having those thoughts and rejecting them.

Depending on your own morals wishing someone’s death or even killing someone could always be wrong. Doesn’t mean it isn’t sometimes justified. Whether or not justified means morally checks Out is up to you. e.g. using lethal force against someone who is actively trying to harm you.

I agree this can be a danger, and I’m not advocating that people be punished for “thought crimes”

There should be balance

Still a catalyst tho, even if not “the” catalyst.

The idea that any and all sets of thoughts and feelings in any situation are completely morally equivalent … That’s not balance and there’s dangers with that too

I will quit following you around and pestering you about our disagreement, no disrespect intended

I do not feel I have written anything that disagrees with this thought.

I didn’t either

Didn’t mean to imply that

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I died of old age before finishing your post. Thanks OP!

Anytime buddy!

I’ll give you a protip here. Next time, start reading from the beginning so you see that disclaimer I put there :joy:

I took it as a challenge.

But to answer your question, I don’t think wishing someone were dead automatically makes someone a bad person. I do think wanting someone to die because you hate them is a different matter.

And since you are in Italy, you should know there are ways to get rid of someone without anyone knowing what really happened.

I agree with this. I am a straight male for reference. One of the things that is not exactly the topic of this thread, but related to thought is pedophilia. I think some people do have attraction to children, but realize a child can not consent, and never act upon it. IMO, they are moral for never acting on their sexual desires.

Man, I must be one evil fuck because just some of the thoughts that have crossed my mind:

  • Various bosses, subordinates and colleagues I have imagined extreme torture upon
  • I thought about burning down the house of someone who shafted me and cost me a bunch of money
  • I have seen women and have had the thought to walk over and start banging them
  • I was in a road incident and all I could think was back my car up and run these fucks over
  • At various points, it has crossed my mind to punch out my kids, my parents, my partner

These are just the things I’m willing to post and any of these would be considered extremely heinous if carried out. I understand I have seen and heard a bunch of shit in my life and my brain materialises these ideas when it is stressed/emotional and looking for a short circuit out of it. It also does it when it is bored and just sprouts some fucked up shit. Stupid brain.

Funnily enough, denying these thoughts, telling yourself not to think that way or shaming yourself? I find that is a great way to have that shit continuously pop into your brain. Let the thought come, let it float away and it tends not to reoccur as often

(I assume having a freak out at the ‘setting that cat on fire’ thought gets a bit of a dopamine hit so your brain repeats the thoughts where as if you let it pass without giving it much credence makes it a non event for your brain and it doesn’t do it again)

Now, the people who write these thoughts down, they’re the ones who we need to focus on punishing.

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