Monday, September 16, 2013

The shootings

Just to say a few words about the mass shootings in the news.  Experts (psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, forensic professionals, profilers, and next Tuesday the taxidermists will pipe in): Please stop saying the same generic pap each and every time, that these men are mentally ill, angry, loners, disenfranchised, sociopaths.  The great majority of the world has some quality of mental illness by virtue of childhood injury; all healthy people have a capacity for anger, and it’s unhealthy people who have lost it; many feel “alone in a crowd”: different or defective or uncomfortable in social settings.  And empathy and conscience – lacking in sociopaths – are traits somewhat rarer than we would all like to admit, are fragile qualities that can easily be snuffed out in children, even in nice homes.  These qualities have to do with bond, a loving link in the earliest needful moments and years of a child’s life.  It doesn’t require abuse to kill or prevent that bond.  Living in an incubator for six weeks following birth might do it; being born in pain – like the eleven-year-old psychopath I treated who had been born in and lived his first six months screaming in crack cocaine withdrawal – might do it.  Living one’s young life without touch will cause such pain – the skin on fire – that protective calluses form, sink down and cover the heart.  PTSD victims sometimes have tactile anesthesia: A nurse I knew who came out of child sexual abuse and group humiliation couldn’t feel the backs of her hands.

What makes a shooter?  Too much pain.  Anger, loneliness, empathy burial or death, numbness (lack of pain) are just symptoms of it.

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Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.