Our country’s gun laws are ridiculous. That, for example, civilians can rather easily get access to war weapons is unconscionable, even if it is covered under the 2nd Amendment (a dubious assertion; one that seems to miss the point: even if something is within your “rights” to do, are there not other, higher, standards by which to evaluate whether or not you should do it?).
But targeting people with so-called “mental illness” is absolutely not the way to fix them. I’ll be putting the phrase “mental illness” in quotes for the duration of the post, not because I question the suffering of those who experience mental and emotional distress but because the entire field of “mental illness” is an utter mess. Continue reading Gun Control
2016, the year I was warned would be the hardest year of my life, is half gone today.
Should I think of it as the top of this gnarly crag and it’s all downhill from here? It’s been harder for me to hike down a mountain than up it; I’m not only shaky-tired from the climb up, but my jello joints can’t withstand gravity’s suck nearly as easily as they brace for my muscles’ pull against it. Continue reading Sad Lady and the Halfway Point
Bessel van der Kolk is a Dutch psychiatrist with 30 years of experience and infinitely more compassion. Reading his work felt like a hug, firm against my railing and flailing but not constricting or threatening. I have a friend who met him, and that’s apparently how talking to him “in the face” (a concatenation of “in person” and “face to face” I made when I was young) feels, too. I’m tempted to simply repost all the quotes I’d put up on Facebook, in an effort to be seen and known, while I was reading this book, right here because they really are the best reasons to read this book. You don’t have to be a therapist or doctor to benefit from this book; its technical precision and ‘shop’ language don’t obscure the message for the lay reader and his gentle yet urgent tone belies his deep concern for those who suffer, both at the hands of those who are supposed to care for them and under the care of the system that is supposed to help them heal. Continue reading The Body Keeps the Score, A Review
We’re at a point, culturally, where this is going to sound either priggish or puerile, but it’s worth saying straight up: It is well past time for love because, in the words of Maya Angelou, “Hate has caused a lot of problems in the world but it hasn’t solved one yet.” And that’s going to require us to get pretty uncomfortable – that is, if we want anything like the security our politicians promise will only come about by souping up our military and arming ourselves to the toenails.Continue reading Comfortableness, Part 2
The New York Times asks its readers this question. They only give room for 250 words but this, written with the assumption and knowledge that others will mention sensible gun legislation, was my response:
1) Address the “lone wolf” syndrome* that many of the recent (white, ring-wing ideologists) shooters feel. The most effective way I see for doing that is to rebuild a sense of community. We must temper this overweening emphasis on individualism (which is not the same thing as individuality) with a sense that we are needed in community and we need community. We should champion – rather than shame – people for asking for help, sharing life and material possessions. American life is making people crazy – from the authoritarian education/medical/mental-health care fields to the dismal job market to the equating visibility with value, we are crushing people into believing that the only way they have any value is if they do something big and noticeable.
2) Actively speak out against scapegoating those with mental illness – these folks are more likely to be VICTIMS of violence than perpetrators. Report the real causes of violence – poverty, isolation, history of violence (see above).
3) Take away incentive: stop making shooters famous in media coverage. If you must cover a shooting nationally, name the victims, not the perpetrators. Stop promoting despair and helplessness when it comes to shootings – these viral “how to survive a shooting” videos, marketing bullet-proof blankets, etc., are admissions of defeat (not to mention the videos are terribly inaccurate and contradictory).
Disclaimer: to make it clear from the beginning, I am not a gun nut, I have never fired a gun in my life and don’t ever intend to. I am for sensible gun laws. I am not obsessed with the 2nd Amendment. My main concern here is with how we are talking about gun control.
I cannot join the bandwagon clapping their hands at Pres. Obama’s speech regarding the massacre in Oregon on Thursday. And I’m pretty disappointed that The New Yorker called it powerful – no wonder we’re “numb” if that’s what we think “powerful” is – but I guess you can’t really expect much different from mainstream media anymore. Mostly what struck me about the president’s speech is how hard it was for me to distinguish his talk about those with mental illness from Donald Trump when he talks about Latinos, Syrian refugees, women, the poor, etc.: Pres. Obama continues to demonize and stigmatized those suffering with mental illness even though there is a TON of research that deeply problematizes the categorical link the president reinforced between mental illness itself and violence like this. There are, however, plenty of studies (that are, of course, being suppressed) that conclusively show a statistically significant link between psychiatric MEDICATIONS and acts of violence. This is not the only factor here, but I’m from Columbine town: after that iconic massacre, drug companies were required to put black-box labels on their drugs. That’s it. Yet we bicker and fight about gun control as if it’s this solve-all god. I’m sorry, but if your medication causes the same side effects as the “illness” you’re trying to treat (homicidal and suicidal thoughts being the relevant ones here), you are doing it wrong and we’re the ones left holding the (body) bag(s). Continue reading Another Shooting