The Lunatic is in My Head (piece on Tuscon, Arizona shootings)

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ashvinp's picture
ashvinp
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The Lunatic is in My Head (piece on Tuscon, Arizona shootings)

A piece offering my perspective on the Arizona mass shooting, and specifically how instiutionally-defined "mental disorder" is used by power structures to conceal the broader socioeconomic context in which these tragic events occur.

Quote:

"The possibility of madness is therefore implicit in the very phenomenon of passion."
- Michel Foucault (Madness and Civilisation)

The mass shooting in Tuscon, Arizona was a sad and unpleasant event, but it was fully expected by those of us who stay informed. We couldn't predict exactly where such an event would occur, when it would occur or how it would occur, but we knew that it was only a matter of time before people began lashing out against "the system" in violent ways. In early 2010, a man lashed out by flying a plane into an IRS building in Texas, but this time the violence directly targeted a federal politician, who is currently hospitalized in critical condition.

The shooter was Jared Loughner, a 22-year old who was "studying" in an Arizona Community College. Since the event, many people have obviously started digging through every single detail of this man's history, from the "incoherent" and "inappropriate" things he said in class, to his "disturbing" postings on the Internet and his drug-related criminal record. There were all kinds of different "warning signs" available to foreshadow the shooting and potentially prevent it, if only those who had observed him had been more vigilant and took some action.

Perhaps it is true that Loughner's parents, friends or classmates could have deciphered his murderous plans and prevented the shooting. But does that mean this rampage was an isolated incident, specific to a hopelessly deranged individual who had inexplicably fallen from the good graces of "normal" society? Frankly, the whole post-event routine reminds me of CNBC pundits attempting to explain a large market sell-off by referencing a mish-mash of "unexpected" economic events and "temporarily" negative data.

Full piece - http://peakcomplexity.blogspot.com/2011/01/lunatic-is-in-my-head.html

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MarkM
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Re: The Lunatic is in My Head (piece on Tuscon, Arizona ...

As long as treating the symptoms rather than the disease is easier or more profitable or more likely to maintain the status quo for those in power, that is the course that will be taken.

I often wonder why "The Race for the Cure" is not "The Race for the Cause".

I fully expect acts of this nature, with the concommitant reactions you write about, to continue and increase as the things we have come to expect do not materialize. The realization that much of what we have been conditioned to believe is pure fiction is a powerful awakening.

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xraymike79
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Re: The Lunatic is in My Head (piece on Tuscon, Arizona ...

Thanks for that blog link - fascinating piece.

    Does anyone here, watching mainstream media, not feel like they are living in a parallel universe where, in "their world," infinite growth is possible in everything from the money supply to human population, fossil fuels can never-endingly be extracted from the Earth to fuel industrial civilization, and that mass-produced food will always be available at your local grocery store. Is it not the mainstream culture that is mad? Or is it us for questioning such things?

    When you have things called astroturfing which create false fronts of public opinion to deceive the man on the street, or government doublespeak like "American interests" (i.e. 1. Corporate interests; keeping share prices up. 2. For the benefit of the rich.), or Wallstreet speculators continuing to promote a boom-bust bubble economy after having looted the treasury with “bailouts,”  or civil liberties being stifled and basic services privatized for profit, is it any wonder that in a world such as this that those on the edge would be more in danger of "losing it?"

    THE CRAZIER THIS CIRCUS GETS, THE MORE DIFFICULT IT BECOMES TO HOLD IT ALL TOGETHER.

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Re: The Lunatic is in My Head (piece on Tuscon, Arizona ...

MarkM wrote:

As long as treating the symptoms rather than the disease is easier or more profitable or more likely to maintain the status quo for those in power, that is the course that will be taken.

MarkM

That is a very powerful insight, and very well stated.  Thanks.

Travlin 

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Travlin
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Re: The Lunatic is in My Head (piece on Tuscon, Arizona ...

Quoted by ashvinp wrote:

Quote:

... but we knew that it was only a matter of time before people began lashing out against "the system" in violent ways. In early 2010, a man lashed out by flying a plane into an IRS building in Texas, but this time the violence directly targeted a federal politician, who is currently hospitalized in critical condition.

Reminds me of a quote from Clair Wolfe in 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution. 

"America is at that awkward stage; it's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." 

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Re: The Lunatic is in My Head (piece on Tuscon, Arizona ...

Well done.  Thanks for writing and sharing this.  Sadly, I think this and attacks like the Florida school board shooting and the Texas IRS incident are going to be more common as people struggle with our situation.

Tim

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Re: The Lunatic is in My Head (piece on Tuscon, Arizona ...

I frankly don't think this guy was struggling with the world as it exists...he was just very messed up.  I've personally condluded that he likely only wanted his 15 minutes of fame.  (The goofy smiling mug shot is just odd for anyone on a "mission"...his goal was to have his face seen the world over.)  If his intention was to assassinate a federal legislator he had more than enough firepower to accomplish that, but he chose to create as much of a terroristic media event as possible via mass casualties.  I think he will be another Hinckley...institutionalized for decades at least.

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bluestone
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Re: The Lunatic is in My Head (piece on Tuscon, Arizona ...

Agreed that America as a whole is delusional and this is fueled by the delusional and manipulative mainstream media.  i agree that these incidents will increase in frequency as the economy gets worse.   However, there have always been people on the "edge" and it will always be that way.  I remember my grandfather talking about a boy in his high school that took an axe and murdered his whole family. 

6 people died on that tragic day.  But lets also keep things in perspective.  On average, about 100 people die everyday in auto accidents in the US.  Even thought we're at the end of the age of cheap oil, on a daily basis my car and other drivers are the biggest threat to my health.  It still blows me away everyday when I get on the road how recklessly, mindlessly, carelessly, and agressively people drive.  So, just remember to drive safely. 

Just my two cents,

Brian

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leweke1
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Re: The Lunatic is in My Head (piece on Tuscon, Arizona ...

Forgot to mention...I seriously doubt he'll be found competent to stand trial....

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xraymike79
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Re: The Lunatic is in My Head (piece on Tuscon, Arizona ...

...Thus, in a world of profound economic collapse, fewer people can afford mental health services, yet as a result of personal and societal economic meltdown, more need them than perhaps at any time in our history since the Great Depression. Psychotherapy and psychiatric hospitalization as we have known them are becoming increasingly difficult to access and within the next decade may well become non-existent—a gargantuan reality rarely addressed in media discourse about “mental health stigma” and “mental health treatment.”

The Madness of Industrial Civilization

The larger issue unaddressed because it is un-named and willfully unexamined, is the paradigm of industrial civilization itself. Historians note that civilization began with sedentary, agricultural communities which evolved into cities. Cities are by definition, communities that are not self-sufficient and depend on external venues for resources. Increasingly, cities became non-agricultural and dependent on other communities and nations for their survival. Disconnection from the land base facilitated what Thomas Berry calls a “use relationship” with nature and other members of the earth community, including humans. Once relationship devolves from relatedness to using the other, we are well on the road to madness because relatedness means seeing, appreciating, valuing the innate qualities of the other. Use inherently means not seeing the other and its/his/her attributes but objectifying the other and perceiving the other only in terms of how the other can benefit oneself. Such is the essence of dysfunctional relatedness.

Supplanting relatedness, use became the modus operandi of modernity and particularly of growth-obsessed, profit-driven industrial civilization. That which profit could acquire—stuff, possessions, and power replaced relatedness as the essential elements of meaning and purpose. These, it was assumed, would bring unprecedented happiness and fulfillment. Yet myriad studies in the 20th and 21st centuries indicate the opposite. The level of satisfaction and sense of well being in a society does not increase with the level of growth or economic prosperity.

...

In fact, I would argue that as growth-driven civilizations decline, the madness engendered by use relationships and the vapid meaninglessness of acquiring possessions and power are increasingly laid bare. Industrial civilization is inherently crazy-making, and Jared Loughner is merely another poster boy for its paradigm.

Yet in our mental health discourses, we fail to consider what Derrick Jensen beautifully observed, long before the Tucson massacre:

"I’m continually stunned by how many seemingly sane people believe you can have infinite economic growth on a finite planet. Perpetual economic growth and its cousin, limitless technological expansion, are beliefs so deeply held by so many in this culture that they often go entirely unquestioned. Even more disturbing is the fact that these beliefs are somehow seen as the ultimate definition of what it is to be human: perpetual economic growth and limitless technological expansion are what we do...."

When I was a psychotherapist in private practice in the 1990s, I learned that 80% of mental health clinicians who had spent precious years and resources training to become psychotherapists would leave that field within five years of entering it. I have no idea what the statistics are for this phenomenon in 2011, but I do know that given America’s economic meltdown and the inability of states, counties, and cities to fund mental health services and the inability of individuals to pay for it out-of-pocket, the psychotherapy profession is becoming an increasingly thankless one.

As the collapse of industrial civilization exacerbates, I anticipate epidemic levels of depression, suicide, and indiscriminate violence. Human beings blindsided by society’s and their own unraveling will be desperate to be heard, comforted, and reassured that they are not alone....

 

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