How extreme beliefs, not mental illness, may fuel mass shooters”

This articles and the ideas presented in them are very important. Basically they say that often the mass violence that so often is blamed on mental illness is often not an indication of mental illness but of what the authors call an extremely overvalued belief. A person emotionally identifies so much with a belief that it swallows him up. It becomes his identity and violence a statement in defense of that belief and indeed of who he is.

Not only does the person see violence as justified. He sees no real option to it if he is to remain true to who he is. The articles points out that some mass shooters are psychotic but they are the exception not the rule. In a weird way for many mass shooters their crimes are, for lack of a better word, self expression.

Whether it is a public ideology built on political or religious ideas, or a more personal ideology borne out of personal experience these people are willing to do anything in the service of their beliefs. Not only are they willing to do anything they feel like they “have” to do anything in the service or defense of what they see as obvious fundamental truths.

We have medicalized our entire world. We have scrubbed evil from our world and called it sickness. We have made the calculated destruction of others in the service of some ideal or belief an act of illness, an expression of personal infirmity instead of what it really is…. hatred and simple human evil. Mean people do mean things, not sick or disturbed.

Maybe I am way too old, maybe I am way too old fashioned, but I believe in evil. It is hard for me to see how anyone who can read the front page of a newspaper doesn’t.

People, all other things being equal, tend to do those things which are most often an expression of who they are. Many of the most horrific things we do to each other are done by people who convince themselves that their actions make sense, in fact, are common sense to anyone who has the courage and intelligence to see things as things as they really are.

Read the above articles and pass them on. It is time that our public officials stop chasing ghosts and start dealing with the real realities of violence in our world.


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