Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Mental Illness and Violence (Part II)

Parents / Family – Mental disease is like any disorder such as substance abuse. In most instances, there is a denial that there is a problem. If parents do not intervene and admit the child has a problem nothing is going to be done even if the school does its job. The same can be said for young adults, if they fail to admit they have a problem then nothing will be done until they hit rock bottom. And we have seen the consequences of what can happen when a person hits rock bottom – they commit selfish acts of violence. Many studies indicate there is high correlation between mental disorders and environmental conditions. Hence, children are not necessarily born with a mental disorder, but they develop the illness based on their experiences. Kids whose parents are non-existent and therefore raised by daycare or other people are more likely to develop mental disorders. Kids who have bad diets are more likely to develop mental disorders because they lack essential nutrients and vitamins to function properly (and no I am not advocating government intervention over family diets). Kids who spend more time watching TV and playing video games than doing other healthy activities such as reading, studying, or physical activity are more likely to develop mental diseases. I do not know if there is correlation between watching violence on TV and playing violent video games with a person becoming violent. But there is correlation to kids living in unhealthy family environments and violence. It is hard to remove children from unhealthy environments. And those that are removed from their homes are usually placed into another unhealthy situation as a foster child.

Doctors – Many doctors like to treat symptoms with medication and fail to identify and enforce lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise to overcome mental illnesses.

Personal Responsibility – People must be accountable for themselves and their disorder. A bipolar person is like a reformed alcoholic, if they quit taking their medication because they think they are healed, their lives will start to spiral out of control. An alcoholic does the same thing, they can be alcohol free for 10 years and all the sudden they think they can drink one beer. One beer leads to 2 beers the following week until they are back to being full time alcoholics. Only 10% of substance abuse sufferers stay reformed. Meaning only one in 10 people who quit drinking or doing drugs never do it again for the rest of their lives. Some stay clean for 20 years before having a relapse. I think the same is true for people with mental illnesses, at some point they feel they are cured and will stop taking their medicine.

Narcissism – This is the biggest issue today and is getting worse. It is obvious that mass murderers have no compassion or feelings for others. They only care about themselves. Today, our culture is fostering narcissism. Social media, the everyone receives an award mentality, helicopter parenting, and so forth are all things fostering narcissism. Kids playing video games who are isolated from social interaction will become narcissists and this is one major symptom for people who conduct mass killings.

Channeling Anger - My personal experience is that I was both physically and mentally abused. This coupled with a learning disability did not bode well for me. As a youngster and young adult I regularly got in fights and got in trouble. I abused alcohol and regularly had thoughts of “getting revenge” and “vindication”. Fortunately, I had feelings towards others and was able to realize my thoughts were not reasonable and channeled my rage to prove people wrong. For instance, I worked hard and received an electrical engineering degree to prove to my mother I was not the “dumb idiot” she thought. Everyone needs to find a way to channel their anger. When I was diagnosed with Benign Fasciculation Syndrome, it brought back many bad childhood memories as I contemplated what could have triggered this disorder. This angered me, but fortunately I channeled this anger to try to find answers about the disorder. My point is that there must be a resourceful way for people to channel their anger, without this people with mental disorders may act irrationally.


  1. I sympathize with the families of mentally ill people because most of the public hasn’t dealt with the issue close up and they don’t understand.

    My brother is a schizophrenic. As long as he takes his meds he’s fine. He’s a very gentle person who doesn’t bother anyone and wouldn’t hurt a fly. He’d give a stranger his last dollar if they were hungry. But without the medication he’s a mess. He believes everyone around him is conspiring to kill him. To others he appears very irrational, but to him he’s terrified and he’s just doing what he thinks he needs to do to protect himself. The possibility of him going off his meds is always there. In the past he sometimes did it intentionally believing, as you said, that he was better. He’s older now and seems to know better but even so if something happens and he doesn’t get to the “center” before a holiday, for instance, to get his meds (they have to be distributed by medical personnel), sometimes just a few days off can trigger a psychotic episode. Sometimes episodes are triggered by something as simple as a change in medication.

    BTW, my brother takes 15 different medications, some of which are to combat the side effects of the stronger medications. He has trouble sleeping or sleeps too much, he shakes like he has Parkinson’s disease (the effect of taking the meds for so many years), he has difficulty remembering things and organizing his thoughts. When you observe the difficulties people like him encounter as a result of continuous drugs they have to take, it’s understandable that they are sometimes tempted to see if they can just get off the meds. And when I went to the “center” once with him to get his meds and I remarked on how many he was taking, the nurse said they had other patients who were taking twice that number.

    I do think narcissism and anger are factors in these murderous rampages but I also think people who target defenseless strangers are expressing frustration over a sense of feeling powerless in the world. I have no idea how we resolve that, but I think on balance it’s a good idea for more people to be armed.

  2. CW, I remember you talking about your brother. You probably know more about this subject than myself.

    It must be very trying to deal with that situation and see how medication is breaking down your brother. I am sorry you go through this.

  3. Well it's far worse for him than it is for me. I don't think he's had any real happiness in his entire adult life.

    I'm not sure why I went into this except to say to all out there trying to find an answer that it isn't a simple thing. Until it happens no one really knows who is going to go "postal" one day.