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The inspiration for this article was the Dr. Phil show. Yesterday, I was watching as he discussed the possible murder by a mother of a three year old girl. My first though was why isn’t a mental health professional talking about the mental health issues related to such behaviors. The answer is that the Dr. Phil show is a talk show hosted by a person who at one time worked in the mental health industry.
Regardless, I think it is important the we as a people use what we know about mental health science in order to prevent as much violence as possible. We have learned a lot about imbalance in neurotransmitters, learning of violent behaviors, and abuse and their effects on the individual psyche. However, as a society at large we prefer to stick our head in the sand as we repeat “the sky is not falling”.
Okay, here is my simple analysis of why this mother may of killed her daughter. She suffers from many of the mental health illness that involved anxiety and low impulse control, her brain- as an organ- is diminished, she is suffering from influences of severe stress. She may have postpartum depression. What mental health professional call “normal” people do not one day wake up and commit violence. People with a biologically deficient brain, who have learned violence, and are under extreme stress do commit violent acts. Therefore, when trying to understand why people would commit such harsh acts it is essential to understand there are legitimate reasons for the behaviors that transcend our simple understanding or morality and personal control.
I do not say any of this to excuse anyone from their behavior. I believe regardless of mental health status the biological organism that commits the crime is the organism that should be punished. Therefore, I am not a proponent of “insanity defense”.
My goal, however, is to educate and promote the idea of a more mature attitude towards mental health. The majority of people with ideas of harming themselves or others are not going to seek help for fear of persecution and ridicule. As a society we make people feel self-conscious and feel bad because they have mental health problems.
However, there is a great benefit to society to encourage people to talk about their mental health challenges. Acceptance of one’s self reduces stress and makes it more unlikely violent behavior will be exercised. When a person declares their problem they can seek help and we can know what help to offer, which again reduces stress and the likelihood of violence. Knowing the problem is 50% of the solution.
Therefore, we have to ask our selves in the question of violence what is our goal. I believe we all want to prevent as much victimization by violence as possible. Condemning and persecuting is not going to protect as many children from violence as a healthy attitude and credible mental health resources.
I am surprised we do not use early childhood education to teach a healthy and positive attitude about mental health and stress management. It is vehicle of education. We all need to learn life management in order to cope with life. Teaching these values reduces violence, which is good for all of us. The schools are already there. Therefore, there is no need to build new institutions.
Okay, my assessment of the human society is that we are at the downward spiral of human morality and the “quality” of a person. Every day more stories of violence and aggression, corruption, and irresponsible behavior are on the news. We are miserable as a species.
This, however, does not mean we are to give up. Life has not been cancelled on the count of rain. We are still alive and are obligated to keep living.
This means life maintenance. Just cause society is falling apart does not mean we have to join the mayhem. Every single one of us knows how live a good life. We just have to practice the tactics and techniques of acquiring a good life.
It is sad that a young girl had to die in such a horrible manner. I am sure she suffered a lot. Natural human auto-reaction of anger and need for punishment for the perpetrator is understandable. However, we are a rather wise species and very capable of using our wisdom to help people struggling. Doing so will reduce violence.
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