Friday, January 14, 2011

Crazy Killing

OK, I have a problem with the media coverage of this Arizona shooter. Allegedly he is mentally ill.

Let me ask you this?  When was the last time you heard of a mad man with a gun shooting people?  It's been a while right?  Mostly, the people who shoot other people are "sane."  Or to be more exact, they don't suffer from any known mental illness.

However why is it that when one man is mentally ill and makes a commotion by killing all these people, now there are articles all over the place about how to detect if someone is mentally ill?

I think it's a lot more important to detect if someone is violent rather than if they are mentally ill.  Perfectly sane people beat their wives, beat their children, get into bar fights, and then we are shocked when they shoot someone with a gun.

The percentage of people who are mentally ill who will actually harm another person are probably the same as the percentage of people who are sane that will harm another individual.  In fact I can bet you that most crimes are committed by perfectly sane people.

So how do you detect whether someone is gonna pull out a gun and kill you?  You can't really.

I mean if we are talking about people you don't know, complete strangers killing you, there is no real way to tell.  But if it is someone you know, there are always signs.  I don't know what those signs are, I don't hang out with violent people, but I assume that they have something very eerie about them that suggests that they may turn on you any second.

You know that guy that killed John Lennon and the guy that tried to kill Reagan were both obsessed with the book Catcher in the Rye.  Perhaps we should ban this book now, because it is narcissistic and shows a main characters who only cares about himself.

The thing is, that would be an absurd thing to do.  We cannot psychoanalyze killers with our pop-psychology.

Killers are all crazy.  It is crazy to kill.

Whether or not they have a "mental illness"  is irrelevant.  The act of killing itself is an insane act.

Just because every now and then a mentally ill person kills, does not mean that all mentally ill people are killers.

I may have a partial viewpoint about this because I have a mental illness. But I guarantee you that most of the people that I have met who suffer from mental illnesses are much more likely to hurt themselves rather than hurt anyone else.

The thing is that people like to either romanticize or demonize mental illness.  Either he's so crazy he's a genius or he's so crazy he's dangerous. But mostly, mentally ill people are oddly normal.  We are your waitresses, your teachers, and even doctors.  We are your autistic children, and even your presidents have suffered from mental illness.

Don't write us off just yet, we are your friends.



  1. Well said.

    Some people are just bad. That seems so hard for our society to accept. Like if you are bad, there MUST be a reason - thus the demonization of mental illness, whether or not that actually played into the person's choices.

    But, like you said, so many people have mental illnesses and the vast majority are good, non-violent, just-trying-to-do-the-right-thing people like everyone else. They require treatment and care - just like a physical illness. But it's wrong to define people by their circumstances. Instead, I think they should be defined by how they handle those circumstances.

    I'm glad you're blogging again. I enjoy your perspective!

  2. Very well said bhenji. It truly has been sad to see the way media is portraying the events. I was sitting with someone I am personally close to that has a mental illness. We were in a public place and this news coverage is going on, and I just felt so pissed off. I could see that this media coverage was making them feel like crap.

    Another angle that really annoyed me was that the shooter gets called "mentally ill" but nothing is mentioned of the person being a terrorist. So I suppose the terrorists who are not white and not from America are all "psychotically wanting to kill Americans" while those in America just have issues and we should help them out? Great moral, American media. Bravo.

  3. Thank you both for your comments, I don't why the world has gone so crazy over one mad man, when the real mad men are running this country.

    Thanks again.

  4. Agreed Nina. There is a difference between evil, and Mental Ill. :-) Mentally Ill are viewed as not being able to adhere to society. Murderers are evil.

  5. A thoughtful and poignant post.