Saturday, July 22, 2006

I kill, therefore I am?

Question: How do we justify feeling compassion for a person who is "trapped" by sadness (i.e. depression, etc.) and not for a person who is "trapped" by violence (e.g. Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, the guy in Florida who killed Jessica Lunsford, etc)? Yes, of course, as a practical matter, I know that the end results are different, that depressed people don't usually hurt others (at least not directly). But that's not the point. If the argument here is that much of this is biochemical in origin (or at least in predisposition, as science increasingly suggests), then might not the mechanisms be much the same in both cases? Some folks find it necessary to cry. Some folks find it necessary to kill.*

Understand, I'm not saying I buy into this--at least for the purposes of this post. I'm just making an observation. Seems to me you can't have it both ways. If you're going to argue that people with clear behavioral histories like Manson's have a choice about being violent (i.e. an "obligation to control their aggression"), then don't depressed people also have a choice about being depressed, and shouldn't they therefore be expected to "control their melancholy"? On the other hand, if you're going to make every effort to help people who are depressed, why aren't you showing similar understanding to our pal Charlie?

Enlighten me, please....

* Taking things a step further, researchers even think they may have found an "infidelity gene" that causes promiscuity in women.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow. This one's a little out there, Steve. Where do I begin? But to make comparisons between depressed people and homicidal maniacs. And your point is?

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Steve Salerno said...

Well, Snake, I'll admit that I'm not quite sure what this is supposed to mean--whether the whole thing is tongue-in-cheek, or there's some deeper message. But here ya go...

Rodger Johnson said...

This post garnered a couple of interesting, and smart-ass, comments.

I thought you made you point quite clear.

Just remember that if you didn't, it's not your fault. :)

Sooner or later, scientists will find that's it's a genetic or biochemical thing.

As for snake hunter ... ah! what's your point?

Cosmic Connie said...

It could be that homicide is simply one of the last frontiers in SHAMbhala. Maybe the urge to kill could be studied in depth by that Dr. Kessler who is going around telling everyone who will listen that people who explode have a disorder. (Hmmm...now I am thinking about Dave Barry and exploding cows...Focus, Connie, focus!).

I am sure that if a big pharmaceutical company were to get behind such a study, in short order we would have a new disease called Intermittent Compulsory Homicidal Disorder, or ICHD -- as well as a new drug to treat it, and a slew of therapists to write books and appear on talk shows discussing the disorder.

Oh, I know, I know... we already have defense attorneys who can pull paid "experts" out of the woodwork to help defend their homicidal clients when need be, but they've often had credibility problems with their various forms of the Twinkie defense, and even with that old standby, temporary insanity. ICHD would give them a powerful new weapon in the courtroom.

Just imagine the possibilities...

Steve Salerno said...

ICHD, eh? I like it. [Hell, I may even HAVE it.... ;) ]

You know, I have some thoughts on all of this that may surprise you, CosCon, as well as a lot of folks who (think they) know me and/or have read SHAM. Now's not the time or place to go into it...but someday perhaps we should have a mini-conference--The Shambloggers' Ball?--and talk this out.