The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth.

~Chinese Proverb~

Connecticut Shooting: Mental Illness Is Not the Answer, So What Is?

Violence is the willful act of inflicting harm on others. The perpetrator may or may not have a diagnosable mental health problem. Research does not uphold the idea that dangerousness should be associated with mental illness. With rare exceptions, violence is not committed because someone has a psychiatric diagnosis. 

Considering all types of murder-suicides, they are predominately committed by males who have access to firearms. Access to guns makes it possible for people to act quickly (or plan-fully) on their rage, jealousy, or despair. That is not an opinion. In the first half of 2011 there were 313 incidents of murder-suicide in the U.S. and 89.5% involved firearms. 

In the phenomenon of mass school shootings, the perpetrators are also male and have access to firearms. What everyone wants to understand though is why they use them to kill innocent people. 

Several studies have been done that do not support a link between aggression and violent video games, movies, or TV. What seems more indicative of youth violence is an antisocial personality, a sense of injustice, and a sense of entitlement.  

In the school shootings at Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Northern Illinois University, all the shooters lived in rural or suburban settings, were male, and evidenced self-justification concerning their behavior. They also appeared to have an attitude of entitlement about using violence to inflict their pain on others.  

“It wasn’t enough to have been harmed; they also had to believe that they were justified, that their murderous rampage was legitimate. Once they did, they followed the time honored script of the American western: the lone gunman (or gang) retaliates far beyond the initial provocation and destroys others to restore the self.” (Kalish, Kimmel) 

We can follow threads of a shooter’s history and discover the injustices they experienced. It’s more difficult to locate the roots of entitlement; maybe we look too closely.

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