Life after the Events of Shock, Horror, and Mayhem

When do we as a society say, “We are sorry for neglecting our responsibilities as a whole in protecting and preventing social deviant behaviors in becoming a norm.” Research has shown that the more empathetic people are, the more they experience these worldview-altering effects. Perhaps this is why a lot of caretakers, humanitarian workers, physicians, nurses, and psychologists — people who over time witness others’ suffering — burn out. Vicarious trauma makes us feel connected to events even though they might not personally touch us. It explains why many experience sadness, depression, anxiety, and even fear when these events happen. When we care deeply about others, we tend to become jaded by the erosive properties of such events and begin to see the world as a scary place filled with dangerous people. Self-protection may start to feel more important than human connection, than reaching out and helping others. It’s easy to find one thinking more about “me” than “we.” We’ve seen a lot of this in the last decade, as we’ve seemly become less trusting of one another and more pessimistic as a society.

Post-traumatic growth does not make light of the terrible, life-altering effects of trauma. Trauma leads to suffering, period. There is nothing inherently positive or indispensable about atrocities, violence, disasters, or loss. Nonetheless, with post-traumatic growth, some survivors say they become closer to those they love, experience an increased commitment to the goals they pursue, an increase in personal strength, enriched sense of spirituality, or greater appreciation of life. Even while causing immense suffering, trauma can turn people’s sights toward what they value most in life.

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Who’s Next on the List for Wanting Revenge

Despite a fairly consistent profile, psychologists can’t predict who will kill. Millions of people will feel disaffected and vengeful, and may even lack empathy, but the vast majority would never shoot defenseless children. However, we live in the age where no one is safe from those who have built up so much resentment for life that the only things holding them back are time and GOD. The video games makers push the envelope whey they put out a new game where graphic violence is mainstreamed. They made trillions of dollars by making this type of games overall. Even so, psychologists stress the importance of preventing social massacres before they happen. One step in that direction might be to help the kids who do feel the burden of social isolation and feelings of insignificance, regardless of whether they will ever snap. While such an analysis can provide important insights and is a necessary contribution to reducing such violence, it is at the same time extremely one-sided and unfortunately displays a bias that is typical of mainstream psychology.

I am attacking the theories of psychotherapy. . . . It makes every problem a subjective, inner problem. And that’s not where the problems come from. They come from the environment, the cities, the economy, the racism. They come from architecture, school systems, capitalism, and exploitation. They come from many places that psychotherapy does not address. Psychotherapy theory turns it all on you: you are the one who is wrong. What I’m trying to say is that, if a kid is having trouble or is discouraged, the problem is not just inside the kid; it’s also in the system, the society.

Mass Shootings from Acts of Revenge

“Many mass shootings are motivated by revenge or envy. That’s why many take place at a school or a workplace where shooters felt rejected,” said Tony Farrenkopf, a forensic psychologist in Portland, Ore., who has created psychological profiles of mass shooters.

“There are certainly a lot of people who have a lot of things go wrong, and they’re not committing mass murders,” said Mary Muscari, a forensic nurse at Binghamton University in New York who has researched mass killers.

“Even when you look at mental illness, most people with mental illness are not violent,” Muscari told LiveScience in July after the Aurora, Colo., movie theater killings.

Above are three views on mass shootings or killings. Which one is more accurate than the other? We must take into account that most killers often exhibit risk factors that are generally tied to criminality: a history of abuse or ineffective parenting, a tendency to set fires or hurt animals, a sadistic streak, and self-centeredness and a lack of compassion. Is this the right path to be on when we talk about those who are being bullied? Or are we talking about the bully-mentality itself? If one is the victim of being bullied do they automatically run towards the tendency to do harm to animals or do they run to the animal looking for comfort whereas some adults tend to try to weigh out the circumstances of behaviors.

The Psychology of Revenge (Part 3)

The psychotherapy literature on revenge suggests that fantasized revenge is a familiar cognition in daily life. In the treatment of various stress response syndromes, “clinicians may encounter intrusive and persistent thoughts of vengeance associated with feelings of rage at perpetrators” While the revenge fantasies often have the emotional content of hate and fear, the fear may easily devolve into frank paranoia. Of relevance to the pseudocommando is the research evidence suggesting that strong anger can serve as an attention-focusing emotion, making it difficult to think about other things. Angry thoughts thus generate a vicious cycle; “the more he thinks about them the angrier he gets, and the angrier he gets, the harder it is to think about anything else”. Thus, a pseudocommando’s revenge fantasy may prevent him from “engaging other strategies (e.g., trivialization) that would have allowed [him] to move on and think about something else”.

There are many publications which outline theories for wanting revenge. “Going Postal,” is a common theme when working at a place with high stress or being pushed to ones limit by exteral relationship factors. However, this does not mean that everybody should be thinking of hurting one another. It only means that better overall healthcare should be practiced and adhered to. This also does excuse anyone from taking their fantasies and making them a reality.

The Psychology of Revenge (Part 2)

The desire for revenge is a ubiquitous response to narcissistic injury. It should be of interest that an emotion so intense and pervasive has received little study relative to other emotions. Both psychoanalysis18 and forensic psychiatry have merely skimmed the psychological surface of this destructive cognition. Yet consider how revenge hides in plain sight. For example, Greek mythology is awash in revenge themes. Revenge is the central motive in at least 20 of Shakespeare’s plays and is a main theme in many of today’s Hollywood movies. The success of movies such as the Death Wish series, and more recently the Kill Bill series, speaks to the public’s fascination with, and indeed their delight in, “the sweet taste of payback.” That there is a strong, primal universality of the revenge theme hardly requires in-depth socioanthropological study. Across almost every culture, the taking of revenge, when “justified,” has assumed “the status of a sacred obligation”. In many cultures, since biblical times and before, there has always been the principle of retributive functional symmetry, such as the admonition of an eye for an eye in the Hebrew Bible.

Taken into account the above information we again put ourselves back in the proverbial hallway and we try to look at the many reasons why people fall prey to the idea that it is ok to push someone to the brink of conflict-death. We have those people whose psychological make-up is short-wired to quick depression and quick to release once the pressure is built up enough to cause social damages. Yet, we don’t put a stopper on the emotions and thoughts of self-hatred when they call for help. Are we to blame for Sandy Hook, Columbine, or even the next Educational Shooting Nightmare? I think so. However, better laws need to hold those families who pushed the individual over the edge responsible. Every incident of youth violence is not single-sided.

The Psychology of Revenge (part 1)

Everyday people find it hard to believe that with so many struggles in life that we would give energy and thoughts of wanting revenge for something someone has done to us. Yet, it is true that every day we live and breathe we want it to run smoothly. However, it doesn’t on those moments when you’re younger and the bullies are out there. They come in factors both male and female, young and old, family, friend and strangers. We are causally walking down the proverbial street of life or hallway and then bang someone spots and targets us out of the side of their eyes and then every conflict resolution tactic fails us.

Issues like the shooting at Kent University (1970 ), Columbine (1999), and other happen due to the twisted mind of people who scream that they are tired of others putting them down or pushing them to the brink of self-destruction and public violence. Recently agencies have been developed to try to bring the public’s awareness to social violence. However, we already knew who we the ones causing the problem. Yet, we only think of the awe and shock reactions of those who were pushed over the edge. “Yes, it is their fault, those who flailed out at society that we must blame.” No! We must hold ourselves responsible for the bullies and the victims.