The most recent shooting at Ft. Hood, Texas has me wondering about a lot of things. I understand all the pain caused by what Ivan Lopez did and I am by no means trying to sidestep all the pain that will affect the families. But I am wondering about the immediate rush to label Lopez’s shooting rampage as the product of post traumatic stress disorder or some other type of mental illness.
What we are learning more and more is that Lopez took a series of steps, including buying a gun and plenty of ammunition before he opened fire on his fellow soldiers. We are now hearing that some type of dispute over delayed leave papers may have triggered Lozep’s anger that led to him shooting people at random, a total of 19, 3 of whom he killed—not including himself. So my question is this, why does mental illness lead to violence? I grew up around a woman whom everyone labeled, “a little off” but she spent her time picking up paper and trash alongside the road. You always knew when this lady was having a bad day because everything was clean. Her mental illness was, not to diminish her illness, very productive. So why do so many people use mental illness as an excuse to “get a gun” and kill or otherwise cause a lot of destructive mayhem?
Some of the television talking head doctors have made statements to the effect that some of the medications prescribed to Lopez caused a range of mental disturbances including violent fits of outrage. But I still wonder whether some of the folks who go on these killing sprees are not just plain angry, or mad. Ever head the expression, “I’m so mad I can’t see straight?” Have you ever seen people who get angry and knock holes in walls, throw things, punch things, and other people, or engage in an assortment of other violent conduct? Are these people “mental” or are they mad and for whatever reason, cannot or will not get in control of their own anger issues. And what is it that “mad” people want to do first—get even.
This past week a 20/20 Dateline segment focused on a 17-year old boy who beat both his parents to death with a hammer because he didn’t like their method of disciplining him. In fact weeks before he killed his parents he even told his best friend that he was going to kill them. The best friend shrugged it off. The day before the killing the boy sent a text message telling all his friends that he was having a party and to “hmu” (hit me up.” The party went as planned as some 60 kids converged on the house drinking and partying. One of the partygoers even said, “it smells like dead bodies around here.” The dead bodies of both his parents were in a nearby room covered with everything the kid could stack on top of them. But he partied hard, including sending a text message that he was having another party the next day and again to “hmu.”
At the trial of course a psychiatrist got on the stand and said that the boy had mental issues. He was sentenced to life without parole even as his grandmother asked the judge to give his parole because he was worth saving. So how could mental illness lead to murder when the boy planned to get his parents out the way to avoid any further “restrictions on his life?”
I’m wondering if the rush to be kinder and gentler to the mentally ill has not gone too far allowing them to plan and plot the most heinous crimes and them seek refuse behind, “I was too crazy to know what I was doing.” If Lopez was indeed mental, why did he have such “good sense” when it came to buying a guy, lots of ammunition, storing the ammunition, going on base with a loaded gun, and then walking around shooting people? We’ve seen this same scenario over and over with folks who buy assault rifles, and hundreds of rounds of ammunitions, who then take deliberate “good sense” steps to carry out their killings, but who are then psychoanalyzed ad nausea for being mentally ill. Why not drop the mentally ill label and just call these folks what they are– “mad” and out to get even.
Copyright 2014 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.