Today online I read about a man in the UK who snapped. He got in his car and drove around stopping now and then, getting out of his car, and shooting people. Dead. Twelve human beings. More injured.
Between the Age online and Yahoos account, the man was described as quiet, keeping to himself, perhaps lived alone, or perhaps lived with a mother with cancer. We also find he was constantly teased by his work colleagues for being the person he was.
In the next weeks we will again hear the experts; the analysis, probably a diagnosis, of how a human being, in our affluent countries, could do such a thing.
And if history repeats itself yet again I believe the underlying issue will be ignored.
It is true that some folks have, what I personally found the most disturbing psychiatric disorder around, and that is the Anti-Social Personality Disorder. What was previously referred to as the ‘psychopath’. Fortunately though this is a rare disorder. And significantly it is becoming less and less applicable to these folks, more commonly in America it seems, who lose the plot and go out and shoots randomly.
What I note just from the responses to this particular event of folk in that town, is that nobody actually knew him. Indicating no one was actually his friend? And his work ‘mates’ were cruel to him.
When I found my client hanging in her garage I had to ring the authorities. Soon the front of the house was surrounded by the police car, the ambulance and the coroners van. Distressed already, I turned to see the neighbours gathering in little clusters trying to figure out what was going on. My lord how I wanted to scream at them. Where were they for the past year as this woman had sat alone in her home? Why couldn’t they have come out from behind their walls then?
A dramatic example I know. But I also know just how many lonely people there are out there and how absolutely devastating that loneliness can be.
And I ponder, whether self-harm and the harm of others, are simply different responses to the same explosion of psychic despair.
Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), a respected American psychologist and Father of Humanistic Psychology, is most known for his conceptualization of the Hierarchy of Human Needs. Five major headings, essential to the human being achieving the most out of their life. At number three is our need for Belonging, for acceptance, for love.
Maslow placed these five in a pyramid starting with our physiological needs and ending achieving our highest potential or ‘self-actualization’. From survival needs to self-actualisation each builds upon the other hence each is interconnected and carries the same weight of importance if one wants a truly fulfilling life.
Recently I engaged in a community forum discussing issues around suicide, mental illness and such. These people, some with personal experience and some professional experience all obviously cared.
But the conversation left me frustrated. It bounded between academic explanation, indigenous explanations, pondering regarding societal conditioning definitions of reality, of sanity and so on.
Perhaps loneliness should become a Psychiatric Disorder then maybe more folk will take it seriously. Now I’m not saying that this particular man was definitely suffering loneliness, though all the quotes so far about him certainly point this way. Neither am I saying that anything ‘justifies’ this reaction.
But I am saying that when a human being feels lonely, feels disconnected, feels therefore abandoned…and then people are cruel to them…they can explode, so deep their emotional pain. Be it outward or inward.