What about evil?

I am listening with interest to the response to the tragic loss of life over the weekend.  It’s tragic.  It is horrible.  It is becoming obscenely commonplace.

The question is always asked:  What could we have done to prevent this?  Get rid of all guns (except for the police).  Of course, in this case, 3 of his 6 victims were stabbed to death with a knife.  That kind of takes guns and the ability to get them off the table.

So, we are left with speculating about this kid’s mental illness.  I have read what he wrote, and I have seen his video.  I am left scratching my head.  I see mentally ill people every day and they don’t write like that or make videos that are cogent.  Can we just call someone mentally ill because he has done something horrible?  What about evil?

I don’t like the way mental illness is being stigmatized.  It is making treatment seem like less and less of an option for those who really need it.  Being treated for it is now almost criminal.

This kid was treated since he was 8 years old.  This is pure speculation on my part, but I would imagine he was diagnosed with ADHD.  Maybe Conduct Disorder.  And then some personality disorder when he got older.  Borderline?  Anti-social?  I could name a list of potentials.  His video certainly displays narcissism and grandiosity.  These things cannot be treated with medications.

In our effort to “understand” everyone, maybe we are creating monsters in our midst.

There is mental illness, it is real.  Sometimes mentally ill people do terrible things.  But I believe this is rare.

I happen to believe that this guy in California on Friday night was acting out of anger and hatred.  He felt that he “deserved” to have a girl to date, and have sex with.  He wanted to inflict punishment on all the popular people who had not accepted him.   This is disgusting, but it has its own logic.

Mentally ill people may rarely kill someone. They usually do so because the voices told them to.  They believe they are killing a devil or alien, or some other reasoning that is not reality based.  This is psychosis at work.

It isn’t a fairly good looking guy in his BMW whining about not having sex and going out to get retribution on the world.

What would we do if we called this “evil” instead of “illness?”  If we are going to call it “illness,” could we please call it something other than “mental illness.”  There are millions with mental illness who are having a hard enough time without being categorized with every murderous bastard on this earth.

Just my opinion….


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8 Responses to What about evil?

  1. Annette says:

    Oh wow Mary, So well said. I was just commenting on an old friends post about this situation and I said he was mentally ill and a couple of the women (who I don’t know, but are friends of the friend) said that he was a sociopath and that is not an illness. It really gave me a lot to think about. I just have always assumed if your brain isn’t working right, if your neurotransmitters are misfiring (which I assumed anyone who would brutally kill anyone’s are) then you are sick. Ha! This is a simpleton’s way of thinking it through. I think I have always hated the thought of evil or people just being evil….to me that feels like there is no hope for change. But maybe there really are just evil people in this world who do terrible things and I don’t need to understand why or hope for them. Maybe I just need to accept that it is so.

  2. Patricia says:

    Great post Mary. I have been struggling with the news coverage of this and you helped me think more about why. I too don’t like the mental illness label. The spectrum on mental illness is too broad and I agree most who are mentally ill do not harm in this conscious manner. My
    guess is he was a sociopath, as Annette’s friends commented. Sociopaths are grandiose and narcissistic but, most importantly, lack remorse or shame. I don’t usually think of evil as a label but it does fit a sociopath because they lack the right or wrong button most of us have. If you can not frame an action as wrong, maybe you are evil . . . Ted Bundy, Adolph Hitler.

    Yes, I guess I am coming to believe there are evil people!!! Thanks for the topic. Patricia

  3. atomicmomma says:

    Agree with everything you have written here Mary!!!! Thanks so much for posting and it has so much legitimacy coming from you since you work in the profession. I think also he was spoiled by divorced parents who felt guilty and who made excuses for him and indulged his every whim.
    Great point about knives but nobody is barking about taking knives from people.

  4. Kelly H says:

    Mary- may I please share this on my twitter and facebook? I would love for my friends that do not have an understanding of mental illness outside of the stigma that is perpetuated by the media and other sources to see a different point of view.

    I believe you are spot on. This man was ravaged with jealousy. It is a sin to covet thy neighbor’s wife, and he was coveting many. He was also full of hate, too.

    Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing how you, and many people feel about this whole thing. Suffering from depression is completely different from hating others and wishing them pain and suffering because they didn’t give you what they want.

    Please let me know if I can share this. I only have 40 or so followers on both sites, so it won’t go all over the web. If you’d rather I not, that is okay, too. Perhaps I can just quote you? Let me know. Thank you 🙂

    • Kelly, I’m glad you liked the post. I would feel better if you quoted me without referring to my blog or reposting. You could just say “my friend Mary Christine.” Would that work?

  5. Kelly H says:

    That would be perfect! Thank you 🙂

  6. Lois says:

    Mary, there’s something about your blog…I could read it forever. I’ve been reading for a few years. Thank you for sharing your journey, the hills and the valleys and the plain in-betweens.

  7. Syd says:

    I believe that fear and anger are isolating people from each other more and more. Road rage is common and general rage at other people who don’t do as one wants. Sociopathic behavior seems to be all too common. I don’t know if it is “evil”. I see it as a messed up brain. Whatever it is, it seems to be increasing in our society.

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