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Sociopathy, bullies, guns, media, ignorance - Not mental illness

  1. Apr 20, 2007 #1
    The bullies at his Centerville high school were not "mentally ill." The gun shop owner who sold the pistols was not "mentally ill." The university officials whose judgment lapsed were not "mentally ill." The media trying to divert attention from poor reporting were not "mentally ill." The wounded public seeking an easy answer will blame the "mentally ill." The gunman's supposed social personality disorder (sociopathy) did not medically categorize him as "mentally ill." Of the families losing their loved ones, an average of six may have a close member with the experience of a serious mental illness, an experience one or two of the dead most likely had also.

    The rate of violence upon those with mental illness exceeds significantly that by those with mental illness. Psychosis (which is not sociopathy) is a relatively infrequent event over the spectrum of mental illness. I think it fairly accurate to say that student athletes are more prone to violence than those with mental illness, and that they often intitiate tragedies attributed to those they bully.

    Should those with a criminal (including juvenile) history of violent behavior - the bullies, the bullied, victims of child abuse, sociopaths, substance abusers, those actively psychotic and those publically humiliated (all of these possible precursors to violence) - be considered for an appropriate registry, like that for sex offenders? Should inner city youth, recreational drug users or those once molested be forced to reveal their "history" to the campus at large (roommates, students, teachers, administrators, clinicians) as a possible indicator (greater than that of mental illness) for violence? Would such a registry discourage students and staff from seeking critical medical help and counseling?

    This debate distills down to what privacy rights people with medical records have versus what access the public may have to them for legitimate concerns of safety. Recall a stereotype once held against you, and whether it could be misused - like that no doubt once felt by the VPI math professor who survived the Holocaust, only to die protecting his students.
     
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  3. Apr 20, 2007 #2
    The more things like this happen the more people will become afraid. This will only make those who have similar conditions not seek help for fear of how they will be viewed by society. By concealing their illness this will only allow their problems to worsen. It's a viscious circle.

    I think it only becomes apparent when individuals act out in some extraordinary public manner. Perhaps those athlete bullies are also victims of child abuse, and their abusers are victims of something else. My question is where did the circle begin? That information would be useful in finding a way to change social perspective of mental illness.
     
  4. Apr 20, 2007 #3

    ShawnD

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    I'll agree that bullies are probably the cause of many of these school shootings, but I don't think a bully registry would fix any of these problems, nor do I think things like sex offender lists do anything productive. If somebody does something bad, bullying or sexual, why not punish them at that time? It makes absolutely no sense that bullying a kid at the age of 10 puts you on some life-long list of potential unemployability. Is anybody going to hire you if they find out you had a history of violence... 30 years ago? That's the way it is with sex offender lists, isn't it? You urinate in public and suddenly you can't live within a mile of a school or get a job that works with kids (pretty much any retail job). That sex offender list is an obvious failure, so why would we try to repeat that with a violent offender list?
     
  5. Apr 20, 2007 #4

    Astronuc

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    The OP makes some very good points and asks some critical questions with regard to any society and its members. How does a society (its constituents) effectively address violence and aggressive behavior, while maintaining individual freedoms? How does a society effectively ensure the security and safety of its members without infringing on individual liberties?

    It would certainly be unfair to target all mentally ill when only a very few (isolated cases) strike out in the way Cho did.
     
  6. Apr 20, 2007 #5
    We don't want our government or law enforcement services to keep registries of everything, track everyone's past and act on these lists. Where is the line? Do we keep lists of cheaters to keep them from becoming CEO at Enron and ruining innocent investors? Do we keep lists of idiots and liars to keep them out of politics? There must be real and serious reasons to start classifying and tracking people (no-fly lists are inconvenient, we just hope they are somehow effective). For every employee busily keeping a list there is one less law officer on the street. We need a cost/profit analysis before starting to register various behaviors in terms of safety and privacy as well as monetary cost and effectiveness.
     
  7. Apr 20, 2007 #6

    chroot

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    I get the feeling that Loren is hinting at some kind of "mentally ill bill of rights," in that the public should not learn to associate mental illness with unspeakable violence.

    And I agree.

    At the same time, no one who is mentally healthy would commit an act of mass murder. Therefore, mental illness is necessary, but not sufficient, to provoke an act of mass murder. In other words, 100% of mass murderers are mentally ill, but 99.999% of mentally ill people never commit mass murders. Mental illness cannot be used (solely) as a way of determining who will or will not commit mass murder.

    I don't agree that bullying is worthy of too much long-term concern, though. After all, it seems that Cho Seung-Hui's problems were more contemporary than people beating him up on the playground ten years prior. He seemed much more concerned with the division of wealth in the modern world, and about whether or not girls would talk to him.

    - Warren
     
  8. Apr 20, 2007 #7
    i'm going to tell you a story don't laugh, when i was 13 my mother decided to go out with the wrong guy, she already had some issues and thing were spiraling downward then it got made it worse for everyone else with some wrong decisions that ended up with me getting into a knife fight with a 30 year old man who sliced my face, then when i tried to called the cops they blew me off. so to me when the people in positions of power only f you over and the people who see first hand are fragmented and their voices drowned out by everyone else it's bound to get out of control. to this day my mother caused the family to fragment won't admit to doing anything wrong because it might mean she has or had some mental issues, instead the blame gets put on everyone else and gets expressed in messed up ways by each family member, so i can definitely see how someone can have frustration when constantly losing.

    if you're are wondering what this has to do with anything, well when was asking for help when i was young instead of the RIGHT help all that was given was punishment, still i see this and it just reinforces notions that most people just don't care.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2007
  9. Apr 20, 2007 #8

    Astronuc

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    Definitely. I think there is already various legal rights.

    Bullying may have been a factor in the evolution of Cho mental disposition, especially if it was persistent, and if it lead to the development of feelings of persecution or alienation.

    Even if Cho had concerns about the disparity of wealth in the world, certainly there were more productive ways to address it, e.g. writing essays.

    It would seem however, that Cho got into a downward spiral, in which feelings of alienation progressed.
     
  10. Apr 20, 2007 #9
    Cho got the guns legally, that tells you that either the process of getting a gun is not regulated or someone did something illegal. Then the consequences are the loss of 32 students that didn't deserve what they got. Well, there is not a single place to blame everything, but if there is a mentally not sound individuals easily having access to weapons, there is something wrong. There are many people in this world that should be under supervision and should be under restriction for the safety of society.
     
  11. Apr 20, 2007 #10

    russ_watters

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    The OP doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. It equates things that don't appear to me to be equal. In this case, the shooter's displays of aggression were far more pervasive yet specific than, say, a school bully's.

    It was my understanding that the shooter here had been before a judge before and had been labeled as a danger to others based on his behavior. It seems to me that he was a ticking time-bomb and everyone around him knew it. Far more likely than, say, someone who was once bullied to be a mass murderer.

    Perhaps you are just using the VT incident as a jumping-off point for a larger discussion, but it doesn't make a good jumping-off point because it directly contradicts your thesis. I think it may be because you are looking at the problem backwards. Statistically, it may be true that more crimes are committed by abused people, but more highly disturbed (for lack of a better term) people will commit crimes than abused people.
     
  12. Apr 20, 2007 #11

    chroot

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    Is there any reason at all why he shouldn't have been able to legally get a gun? He had no history of felony or violent crime.

    He was not diagnosed with any mental illness at the time he bought the weapons, nor was he on any kind of medication or treatment program. (Correct me if I'm wrong.)

    Who do you suppose should be doing the supervision? Who is going to fund the supervision? Who is going to supervise the supervisors?

    - Warren
     
  13. Apr 20, 2007 #12

    chroot

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    Exactly. I think it's fair to say that external influences shaped Cho's view of the world. I also think it's fair to say that the progression from being merely disgruntled to committing mass murder is something that happens solely within one person's head, and cannot be reasonably attributed to the actions of other people (bullies, rich kids, girls down the hall, etc.).

    - Warren
     
  14. Apr 20, 2007 #13
    People knew he was mentally unsound, and I've read somewhere that he was indeed admitted to a mental professional. The last question should not be too hard to answer. You want to live in a society where we don't have any supervision? If that is your belief, that is your belief, not mine. Who do you think should supervise the supervisors, what about supervisor's supervisor's supervisors?
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2007
  15. Apr 20, 2007 #14

    chroot

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    That's not what I said. What I said was He was not diagnosed with any mental illness at the time he bought the weapons, nor was he on any kind of medication or treatment program.

    In other words, even if he was diagnosed as mentally ill in the past, he was not currently recognized as mentally ill. There are no laws that prevent people who have been successfully treated for mental illness from buying guns. Maybe there should be (or maybe there shouldn't be) but that's a separate conversation entirely.

    I think it would be a tremendous waste of money to heavily supervise everyone. It would be a tremendous waste of money to supervise even just the mentally ill (or previously mentally ill), since virtually none of them commit mass murder. You're perhaps not thinking about the economic reality here. You're talking about professional supervision of millions of people who essentially never do anything wrong. Do you think everyone's taxes should double just to prevent this from happening again? Furthermore, do you even think it would work? There are loads of psychological evidence that people become desensitized when nothing happens. These supervisors would spend years and years watching people who do nothing at all wrong -- would they really be able to recognize the people who are really on the edge of committing mass murder? It's not likely.

    As much as it pains me to say it, I really don't see that there's anything the government can do to prevent these tragedies.

    - Warren
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2007
  16. Apr 20, 2007 #15

    ShawnD

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    You're onto something here. If we start asking for 24/7 supervision of anybody who has looked for mental help (school therapist for example), maybe we could expand that to people who have a history of some kind of behavior, then expand to people who have bad credit, then maybe expand to anybody related to somebody who has mental problems, criminal past, or bad credit. It's a slippery slope that leads to more big brotherism.
    If we want freedom, we can never truly be safe. That's what the founders of the US thought, and I think they were right.
     
  17. Apr 20, 2007 #16
    I know what economic reality means. My whole point was he got the gun, he was mentally unsound. that is reality.
     
  18. Apr 20, 2007 #17
    I think it is agreed that the vast majority of mentally "unsound" people will not cause problems. But some of them also live in dangerous neighborhoods. Don't they also deserve the right to protect themselves as much as their neighbors? Disarming them leaves already vulnerable individuals at further risk. Once again, there is no simple answer because we cannot know the true nature and extent of someone's so-called "troubles".
     
  19. Apr 20, 2007 #18
    more laws on guns does nothing, the only people who get surprised that you can get one when your not supposed to are the people who don't have any.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2007
  20. Apr 20, 2007 #19

    chroot

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    Again... he was not currently diagnosed as mentally ill, nor was he being treated for any condition by anyone.

    Again, where do you draw the line? What about the millions of people who are mentally ill but remain untreated, because they don't have insurance, don't realize they're ill, etc.? How would you stop them?

    You act as if some omniscient person should be able to specifically label every individual with an indisputable tag that says "safe to own firearms" or "unsafe to own firearms." This is a laughable oversimplification.

    Why don't you try offering solutions to this problem that are even close to being realistic?

    - Warren
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2007
  21. Apr 20, 2007 #20
    But perhaps there's possibilities in preventing the development of such social disorders and decreasing the occurrence of these events. I have always felt that the educational system needs to be revamped, not for the learning process, but for more adequately allowing proper social development.
    Growing up I witnessed so many problems with the way teachers and school officials dealt with social problems it made me sick. Recently I was discussing school with a 8yr old boy who attends the same Wing Chun class that I do and he told me a story about a bully at his school who always picks on him. One day the bully punched him (in the chest) and pushed him into a desk, knocking him over (8 years old!). He went and told the teacher about it and was promptly told that "Its not nice to tattle on your classmates".

    Thats the problem, right there. If at that young our school systems are breeding such distrust in the abilities of authority to resolve situations there is little hope for those who happen to have abnormal problems to be aided in time. They feel they have no one to turn to.
    Children, from the start, need to learn how to trust each other and trust their superiors. Though there will always be problems between groups of people that share common ideas and values, its possible to create social situations where each student learns to respect his peers, and not fear their judgment.
     
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