First and foremost, this article is not pro right or pro left it’s pro America!
In light of yet another horrific and unfortunate mass shooting, this time not in my home town of Orlando, but in Las Vegas, the media scrambles to make sense of why these things continue to happen and continue to process the carnage. The problem with the question of why this occurrs is that many times the motives for the mentally disturbed individual(s) carrying out these shootings are confused with the real underlying problem that gets lost in these conversations. I have a hypothesis that can point to a semblance of an answer to that elusive question of…why?
To me it is simply boils down to sickness (pathology) in mental health. That is it! We know that an individual willing to carry out a crime of this or any magnitude has a mental health problem period. We can forensically break down or profile the individual, but that does not do anything to prevent future crimes because as we know hindsight has 20/20 vision. We need to do more to prevent these problems by promoting mental health care before the act, not after the fact. I am here to say that it really makes me angry when we do not talk about the broken mental health care system here in the United States of America, which in my opinion is a major reason for the continued stigma associated with seeking out mental health care, and a huge reason why these things keep happening. What we are seeing is the poisoned fruit of the tree that is borne out of this neglect.
The problem with the system is on many fronts, but we do not do enough to subsidize and provide monies to promote mental health awareness and in seeking and finding appropriate mental health care for everyone, yes everyone can benefit from mental health care at any given point in life. We live in a society with many comforts and technological advancements, yet we are as sick and unhappy as ever, that not conjecture there are numbers to prove it. Such as these charts: click this link
We also have the problem with a managed care system that severely limits therapy delivery and due to bureaucratic red tape and strangle holds on monies for treatment, it is leading to more and more and more regulations severely impeding, and undercutting the psycho-therapeutic process. When the hell did it all get like this? More importantly, how bad does it have to get for us to start coming together for some viable pragmatic solutions? Well I’m tired of seeing how this societal problem keeps playing out. I empathize and understand that change and asking for help can be difficult, but we are failing as a community to address and speak out where exactly the system is failing. It’s time to start having honest conversations on the symptoms that are a result of this broken system.
A part of watching this media coverage that perpetuates the problem in my opinion
is when the left and right politicize social events. Each wants to point the finger at the other and begin the blame and hate game-where the repetitive cycle that does not get results ensues. The left begins with the onslaught for more gun restrictions and then the right steadfastly retorts with not wanting to give up their guns and we end up with the same repetitive crap that leads us to miss the point yet again. We are a nation that is more divided that ever and can see it in the symptoms present. As a therapist I diagnose mental health disorders. In order to diagnose a disorder, I have to assess symptoms present to justify a diagnosis. If I were to hypothetically diagnose the nation I can say that some of the symptoms apparent in its pathology are the following: Prejudice, racism, theft, hostile acts of violence, suicide, homicide, rape; to name a few.
We as Americans need to unite and put aside the political views that are hindering progress and solutions and need start looking at each other as people not as bipartisan objects. When I hear the media quote an angry person interviewed saying that people deserve to die due to alleged party affiliation it’s just another symptom of the sickness that is pervading our mental spaces and a very lack of empathy that is no different that of the people perpetuating crimes. As a therapist I see both parties acting like a marriage that is in a pathological relationship at the expense of the people they are sworn to represent and work for and ultimately serve. The common corrosive elements found in couple’s therapy in distress are found when the right and the left attack each other. Those being: Criticism, contempt, stonewalling and defensiveness. The more we keep separating and blaming, the more we’ll continue to see these incidents.
There is a silver lining and the hope is that some people do report more solidarity after these events, but I’m afraid that we are not doing enough in the preventative sector that could serve to lessen situations such as these from reoccurring. Anger is an emotion that signals something is wrong or unacceptable to our standards. Anger can be destructive or inversely be harnessed to move towards constructive change. Getting angry enough to advocate and seek change for constructive purposes not destructive ones are viable uses for this and other emotions. Learning the skill of transforming emotions, such as anger, which is promoted in mental health care, can do a lot for individuals who are: isolated, hurt and suffering and want others to possibly feel the pain they are feeling and seeking to perpetuate those states in senseless acts as seen.
As the saying in therapy goes we need to foster and learn how to explain our emotions and not necessarily express them, this is key! At times we need to get fed up with the status quo in order to change it, which is speaking up when something doesn’t feel right. Arms cause death and destruction, yet the right to bear them is our constitutional privilege, but a far more powerful force is our right to use the written/spoken word that carries with it much more far reaching distances than any bullet(s) ever can. The spoken word can mend/heal a broken psyche and can prevent the pain being spread in our society.
In closing, I propose that we grow up and work together and have the tough, respectful, empathic, open and real conversations needed to change our current pathology and work towards solutions not divisions. We need to learn tolerance and respect towards differences. We are Americans and it is time we start taking care of one another in promoting: health, happiness and peace as opposed to tearing each other down and promoting violence and sickness through attitudes and actions of indifference.
May you all be healthy, happy and find your peace. And may your constitutional rights to life, liberty and your pursuit of happiness be what you strive for.