Here's a thought provoking post from our pal Pete of Full Permission Living on the recent murders on the campus of Illinois State University.
Here we go again! Ugh!
A few years ago, I was invited to be a guest on a national radio program because I had written about the school shootings in Jonesboro and Columbine in 1998 and 1999. I was thought to have an "unusual" perception of these tragic events because I stated that the murderous perpetrators were not normal kids suddenly gone bad, as the media was portraying them, but rather, I said, these were very disturbed individuals that could have been identified easily by a trained mental health professional who was really looking. (You can find a letter I wrote to the NY Times at the time at: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9803EED8173BF934A15750C0A96E958260)
Here - Look at some of the ridiculous being things written about the current related tragedy, the killings and suicide at Northern Illinois University this past week:
"Steve Kazmierczak, the man who walked silently into a classroom here on Thursday and opened fire, was not seen as struggling in college. He was not an outcast. And until recently, at least, he was not brooding."
"Mr. Kazmierczak, 27, was described Friday as a successful student — 'revered,' the authorities said, by his professors — who had served as a teaching assistant and received a dean’s award as an undergraduate here at Northern Illinois University, where he returned Thursday, killing himself and five students and wounding 16 others."
"He was personable, easy to talk to, an excellent student, said his professors."
(See the article today in the NY Times at: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/16/us/16gunman.html?hp)
How can anybody say those things with a straight face? When's the last time anyone of you reading this blog was in a really bad mood and randomly went out and killed a bunch of people? And more importantly, why are we so invested in the idea that an otherwise healthy, successful, friendly young person can suddenly go off and decide to mow down a couple of dozen human beings? Here's why: we don't want to take responsibility for our society's mental health, especially our children's, and ultimately for our own. We would rather believe that mental illness is genetic, hormonal, chemical, a product of aging or otherwise mysteriously caused. Anything other than the result of our own neglect and abuse of ourselves, our kids and each other. All we really want to hear in these situations was that we had nothing to do with it. "It's life." "It's nature gone bad." "It's God's will." "It's Murphy's Law." "Something." "Anything." "Please, don't make me look at myself. Just give me a drug. There's got to be a drug for this!" Oh, yeah, this is from the same Times article today: "Family members told the authorities that Mr. Kazmierczak had stopped taking his medication. Law enforcement authorities would not say what the medication was for, but said Mr. Kazmierczak had grown erratic, according to his family, in the days after he quit taking the drugs."
Oops! Now why would a "personable, easy to talk to, revered" young person be on prescription drugs for a mental probem, first of all? And why would stopping those drugs make him SHOOT TWENTY-ONE PEOPLE?!!?
Anyway, on a related subject, and as a follow-up to my comments yesterday about the drugging of our kids, I'd like to relate two stories. One took place at a GAP store, where I got to talking to a young man working there. When he found out that I was a psychotherapist, he told me that he'd seen shrinks as a kid and that he took ritalin while in elementary school. He wanted to know what I thought about that. When I told him that I was very outspoken back in my social worker days against ritalin for kids, he started to cry. He told me that he felt like he didn't have a childhood, that he "felt like a zombie" all throughout the years of taking the drug. He thanked me for being against the heinous, irresponsible and greedy acting out of our doctors and Big Pharma.
The second story involves my own step-son, who saw a "learning specialist" when he was 8 years old. At some point, when said specialist gave us his evaluation of our boy, he brought up medication as a possible aid to help the child focus better. When we indicated that we didn't approve of medicating children, he told us an anecdote - that was supposed to encourage us - about another 8 year old he knew , a girl. He said that the girl, similar to our boy, had a tendency to daydream and drift off, etc., when in school or when approaching homework. But she began taking a drug for her attention problem, and voila! You ready? These are the learning specialist's exact words, and he delivered them proudly: "She lost a little of her spark, but she got a lot done!"
We fired him.