It's Not a Mental Health Issue

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4 months ago

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So, every time there's a mass shooting I have a series of thoughts I feel like expressing elsewhere but usually don't. This post isn't meant to be politically charged, although perhaps because of my mix of viewpoints it inherently is. Either, here we go. I don't believe the plague of mass shootings in America (my country) is a mental health issue. I strongly resist the idea that the way to fix what has been escalating for so long is to institute changes in mental health availability or practices. There are several reasons for this, the least of which being that I don't believe it would have any effect. So few people see their regular physicians when they are ill, and mental health has an even lower level of participation. Even for people who are actively worried they are depressed or dysfunctional in some way. That's just how most people are. We resist showing our vulnerability. The second reason is this: I don't believe these mass shooters are "mentally ill." At least not in the way that people want to believe. There's never going to be a "mass shooter" disorder in the DSM. And by and large, across the board, people with diagnosed disorders are not any more violent than other people. They may be doing themselves harm, but the myth of people with, say, schizophrenia or antisocial personality disorder being ticking time bombs and dangerous "psychopaths" just isn't supported by any real data or rationale. Now my next point comes with a caveat of sorts, if that's the right word. I absolutely believe in gun rights. I'm a gun owner, and I believe in the right of American citizens to own firearms, unless they're disallowed legally from doing so (felonies and such). And I don't believe this issue has anything to do with the worship of gun culture. This is a much, much deeper cultural issue, to me anyway...one that is a little more difficult to explain properly. I call it "cultural osmosis." Something in our culture has seeped through and put this level of violence on the table as appropriate. This is a poor analogy, but...it's *almost* similar to the way we learn language. Have you ever spent enough time around someone you really like and found yourself acting like them? Using words, expressions, or even the same body language as them? It *could* be that our constant exposure to mass shootings, via the 24 hour news cycle and our instant access to an unbelievable amount of information via the internet, has led to this "cultural osmosis." Ultimately, of course, it's a lot harder to believe (or stomach) the idea that ordinary people can be capable of incredible acts of violence. So we label them as the *other.* They're labeled as psychopaths and aberrations. Something so far outside the norm thar it's almost no use trying to explain it. And the minute you label it like that is the moment you lose any power over it. We have to own up to this as a culture, as a society. We have to take collective responsibility if we hope to come up with a solution. I know a lot of this was rambling and nonsensical, and obviously I offered no solution. Because I don't have one. And no matter which side of the fence you're on, I'm not here to argue or beat people over the head with my views. If you're aggressively anti-gun, share your thoughts. You might have a point or three. The same goes for people with different views on mental health. Anyway, thanks for reading if you made it this far.


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