Friday, April 20, 2007


The Shrink Rappers have been quiet for a few days. It's hard to know what to say. I've called Clink, told her she has to post, I'm sure she'll have some thoughts soon. My oldest is thinking about colleges, here stands a reminder that safety, both ours and our children's, is a just an illusion. For everyone, my heart wraps around the unthinkable grief and sadness-- mostly it's too painful to even watch for more than a few minutes.

The New York Times ran a piece today about mass murders and mental illness, it didn't say much of substance. Cho was angry, maybe he had a personality disorder-- they speculate on which one, avoidant, paranoid, perhaps he was depressed or psychotic. Certainly, he was angry, and the article starts by saying he had a hole in his soul. I don't know what that means, but it sounds like as good a way to explain the inexplicable as any.

Sometimes, people tell us things about their mental life that suggests a diagnosis, at least an explanation. The depressed person who commits suicide out of guilt, pain, and hopelessness. The person who kills someone because voices tell them the victim is going to kill them, as distorted as it is, we get that in this person's mind, it is self-defense.

I watched a few minutes of the video. Cho Seung-Hui was filled with rage, he felt victimized, in the little I've seen, he didn't say why. Somehow, he believed his actions made him a martyr and he deemed this an act done for his children (---?). Somehow, in his mind, it made sense. He'd been hospitalized once briefly a few years ago, perhaps he had a diagnosis, as somehow we'd all like something-- an explanation, someway of grabbing on to this and believing we might catch and prevent acts that linger between severe untreated mental illness and pure evil.

Whatever it means, Cho Seung-Hui most certainly had a hole in his soul.


Anonymous said...

I am just sharing this information, because it was thought provoking - especially considering the source.

Below is a quote (after the lapse of some time, I’m sure) by a father who lost two of his children when they were murdered by an intruder. Thankfully, two survived.

“Somewhere there’s a Mom and Dad feeling sorrowful like I am,” he said, referring to the killer’s parents. “I’d rather be on my end. Can you imagine having a son like that?”

I feel that it is likely that the interviewer asked a question like, “Did you know his (the killer’s) parents? What would you say to them? How do you feel about them?”

Regardless the provocation, it was interesting to me.

Gerbil said...

What makes me especially sad is that so many "explanations" have been grasped at, as though there were some way that this tragedy (or any other tragedy) could have been prevented.

And really, this isn't about mental illness, or immigration, or gun control, or a campus-wide alert system, or anything else. It's about the illusion of control.

NeoNurseChic said...

The whole thing is unspeakably sad...yes. I have thought a lot about it - it flashes back memories of watching Columbine live on tv when I was a senior in high school. It reminds me of times at Penn State (not so much nursing school since that's an upper level university in Philadelphia - doesn't have the "college" atmosphere at all), and it saddens me to even try to think about the events that happened... I am so sorry and sad for the victims and their families and friends. My heart breaks for them.

What scares me now is the connections being so strongly made in the media between this killer and mental illness. Several sources that I've seen have said things about how we need to get help for the mentally ill ASAP so that things like this don't happen. There are a lot of things being said that, while they probably dont' mean it that way, make it sound like any sad soul with depression could turn into this person. I read an email from my university today (the same one I went to nursing school at - that doesn't really have a college atmosphere), and it said some things about how our university is handling the events that happened, how they are going to look at policies and procedures at our own university, and also how any student who demonstrates unacceptable behavior, speaks or writes about "disturbed" things, or has behaviors that imply they may harm themselves needs to be provided help as soon as possible. While I don't disagree, and this isn't the exact wording of the email, I just worry about the implications here.

This killer may very well have been mentally ill. As Dinah said, he was certainly angry. Maybe he had some sort of antisocial personality disorder. I don't know. But what I do know is that not every person with a mental illness has the capacity or desire to shoot a bunch of innocent victims, and I just hope that this tragic event does not lead to more stigma. Even the president himself was talking about the ways we "handle" the "mentally ill".

My thoughts and prayers remain with the victims. One of our nurse practitioner's daughters is very good friends with a boy who was shot several times, including in the face - and is still in critical condition in the hospital from this horrible tragedy. I'm praying that he gets through this somehow.... physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Take care and excellent post,