View Single Post
Old 12-15-2012, 11:06 PM   #25
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: northeast us
Posts: 887
Originally Posted by Saya View Post
But why do you see those outliers way more in America than you do in other countries? Its not necessarily better access to mental health care; its pretty hard to get it for free in Canada, for example. We do have guns, not machine guns, but there's still remarkably lower gun violence and violence in general. In many cultures with very low in-group violence, they simply do not have the values of dominance and competition that we do, at least not inside the groups.
That is a hell of a question, isn't it? We know this kind of thing is not only an American phenomenon - for example the 2011 Norway attacks.

I do agree that access to health care is not the whole story - people can fall through or slip through the cracks. The best health care in the world is useless if it isn't taken advantage of, but it is extremely difficult to utilize something that isn't widely available.

Assuming the boy didn't have any help (his parents, again, were extremely wealthy, and its actually hard to get a proper diagnosis to begin with, so if the reports are true, he has had healthcare, very possibly great healthcare), there is absolutely nothing about gun control that could have stopped this, unless to own a gun you want an entire household and every houseguest they'll ever have do a psychological screening test before they can buy a gun. The boy's mother bought the gun, not himself. He didn't "own" the gun, and there's very little you can do without getting pretty invasive about who has access to who's guns.
Exactly - even if we had the most stringent psychological screening it would have been useless in the case of this specific incident. That doesn't necessarily make it a bad idea though. We all know that there is a staggering range of things that fall under the category of "mental health", and it can range widely in terms of how people are able to function. I think we can do a better job of making sure firearms are available to people who will be responsible owners without needlessly alienating people. We already have a very loose kind of psychological screening, question 11f. Self reporting is a bit of a joke, but I don't think that taking a serious look at possibly expanding on that is a terrible idea to be discarded out of hand.

I don't think it would help the stigma. My sister is a bartender and was telling me her regulars were trying to argue that autistic people should all be registered and forced into getting some kind of help. Its not helping stigma if its turning into scapegoating and witch hunts.
You're probably right, and that's too bad. If people need help they should get it, but forcing things on people seems wrong. Where exactly that line falls between allowing people to make their own decisions or stepping in when it becomes a clear health / safety issue is hard to distinguish.

I'm aware of this, actually in World War 1 only 15% of soldiers would shoot, World War II wasn't much better. Training was basically "this is how you use a gun!" There's one machine gunner on the German side who was responsible for half the deaths on the landing of Normandy. There's a lot of factors that go into it, that gunner actually survived and talked about how it was fairly easy when they're far away, it was only that when others got close that he started to feel bad. In Hearts And Minds, one Vietnam vet who flew planes talked about how he found it very easy to drop bombs, because it was so mechanical and he never saw the bodies. I think this is probably why so many people don't have a problem with drone strikes, its only the other side that is getting hurt at all and none on our side has to deal with it.
Exactly. One of the ways that make it "easier" for people that have that natural aversion to killing is to create distance. It could be physical distance, like artillery strikes where you push a button and the blip on a screen goes away, or psychological distance (othering!) ethnic/racial distance, religious or political.

Now a big problem with that is not necessarily all veterans were so filled with love for all of God's creatures that they couldn't shoot; I'm not too too familiar with the American Civil War, but in WWI you have to understand that the fatality rate was huge. To shoot was to give away your position and very likely get shot. Self preservation has a lot to do with it as well.

Not only that, but I don't think soldiers are the only ones getting trained in times of war. Didn't we condone it? Didn't we send them off to kill for us, and changed our tune when it turned out we were wrong and we weren't helping? Romney never served in the army, but he was far more violent than lets say John Kerry, who was a combat veteran and a member of Vietnam Veterans Against The War, Romney was arrogant enough to get out of the draft and yet push and protest to send others to die in his place. A civilian warmongerer is worse than a soldier who's plenty capable of knowing what's going on.
Right. In addition to the reluctance to kill another human being, is a built in sense of guilt/shame/horror at the action. That's a big part of the "traumatic" in PTSD. That's how healthy people react to horrible things. The "My god what have I done" factor. When people are able to repeatedly commit atrocities without experiencing that, something is very wrong. Whether it is a permanent or temporary natural state that doesn't allow them to experience it, or it is somehow conditioned out of them, in either case it indicates that there is a breakdown.

Versus could talk more about this, but I don't want to ask him to, so he is more than welcome to tell me I'm wrong, but soldiers just aren't turned into mindless sadistic killers. Some become more violent that "good" soldiers are supposed to be, but we should be very aware and we've known a very long time that exposure to combat causes some degree of psychological harm.

There's also the fact that you don't have to go through training to be one of most! people who are willing to cause harm because an authority figure told you to.
Of course. There's been a ton of research on how to get the desired results. There's a whole range of what people respond to. There's the deference to authority you mentioned, the group identification, individual conditioning... However to really commit atrocity is a whole other level.

"In Milgram's first set of experiments, 65 percent (26 of 40) of experiment participants administered the experiment's final massive 450-volt shock, though many were very uncomfortable doing so; at some point, every participant paused and questioned the experiment; some said they would refund the money they were paid for participating in the experiment. Throughout the experiment, subjects displayed varying degrees of tension and stress. Subjects were sweating, trembling, stuttering, biting their lips, groaning, digging their fingernails into their skin, and some were even having nervous laughing fits or seizures."

'Normal' people can be encouraged/pushed to do awful things, but there are definite mental and physiological consequences.
Jonathan is offline   Reply With Quote