Fantasizing about killing your boss is healthy, psychologist says
Books, movies and TV shows often feature terrible bosses, from Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol to Mr. Burns on The Simpsons to Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. While those characters are fictional, they provoke strong reactions because they reflect part of the human experience. At some point, we've all had an insufferable boss, their behavior making us laugh, cry or rage.
If you've ever fantasized about killing your supervisor, don't feel bad. More than half of people have imagined killing a person they know, according to Dr. Julia Shaw, a criminal psychologist and honorary research associate at University College London.
In fact, she claims murder fantasies are actually a positive thing, because those thoughts make employees feel empathy for their bosses.
"Popular targets are your boss, ex-partners - the list goes on, you can picture where your fantasies might go," Dr. Shaw said at the Cheltenham Science Festival, per The Independent. "Now, of course most of us don’t engage in murder ever, luckily."
She went on to describe how the process of imagining a detailed, violent scenario can be mentally healthy:
"You think things through, you imagine what the consequences would be like, you imagine what it might be like to actually go through with it and guess what your decision generally is? 'I don’t want to do that, because those are not the consequences I would like.'
"Fantasies and empathy exercises are critical to making good decisions, particularly in situations where you don't have much time. While things are pretty good - that's the time to do empathy exercises. Now is the time to wrestle with your morality and do a health check, because you don't know what the future brings and you don't know what kind of quick decisions you might make later."
Dr. Shaw added that we shouldn't think of murderers as totally evil, because many people kill because of a loss of control. "It’s a cop-out, it’s lazy," the expert explained. "Calling someone evil is saying, 'I’m done with this conversation, this person is subjectively bad, I don’t need to empathize with them, I don’t need to understand them I don’t need to figure out why I might be similar to them in any way'."
So, go ahead and lean back, and imagine killing your boss in the most gruesome manner possible. It's totally normal!