Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gun Violence: Where We Ought To Intervene

It's taken me over a month to get to this post. Scared, I guess.

Donella Meadows said that every model is a simplification, but the shooter-weapon model is too simplified to give us enough leverage to reduce the carnage of mass shootings.

On the other hand, if I'm going to broaden the model to the point where we can make a difference,

* Somebody's going to think I'm nuts;

* I'm going to talk about an area in which my understanding is shallow;

* What it will take might be harder than rounding up all the ARs and forty-round clips in the US.

I just wrote a profile of Heinrich Himmler for Zenith City (semi-) Weekly, because Himmler, the 3rd Reich's top cop, was the all-time world-champ mass shooter. And he was raised according to an idiotic pedagogy in which, for the sake of his soul, "the child should be permeated by the impossibility of locking something in his heart."

They gave children enemas before bed, and ice baths, both to keep them from masturbating. They tied them to their beds for the same reason, and to keep them from curling up and getting comfortable.

There were other insanities, and when little Heinrich and his contemporaries grew up, they thought it was okay to murder millions.

For contrast I included information about James W. Prescott's 1975 Body Pleasure and the Origin of Violence. Prescott did a cross cultural survey of pre-literate societies. Societies which were physically affectionate with their children were usually peaceful. If a society was neglectful, they could still avoid violence by being sexually permissive. Cuddle babies, and let teenagers cuddle each other, and everybody got along. Prescott said that violence and pleasure are inversely related. If you had one, you didn't have the other.

Put that in your peace pipe and smoke it.

There's another couple or three things I want to throw into the mix.

* The shooters are usually young and aggrieved; they're seeking some warped version of justice.

* Researchers believe that schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, autism, ADHD, and major depression are genetically linked.

* Autism, schizophrenia, and depression seem to be common among mass shooters.

* Gregory Bateson's double-bind theory of schizophrenia says that what's happening with schizophrenics is that they got paradoxical communication ("Come here and give me some sugar, why are you always so clingy?") from somebody important when they were little. Consequently, they tend to mistake direct statements for metaphor, and vice versa. Their own conversation can be bizarrely metaphorical. In my sample of one schizophrenic acquaintance, this has been true. It's also true that this friend will perceive himself as attacked or slighted by surprising things, and acts out in what he calls "street theater" -- usually over environmental issues -- but which can look like the threat or beginning of violence.

Maybe what happens is that a baby's genetic tendency is shaped into one form of confusion or another by a welcome to the world that's contrary to what this individual organism -- who is smarter than we are, albeit entirely ignorant -- needs.

Bottom line: cuddle your kids, and don't jerk their chains. Make sure they understand about sexually transmitted diseases and contraception, and let them go.