Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Forensic psychiatrist warns that young men need "resilience" in the face of hardship even when caused by others

Monday night, forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner, MD, appeared on Anderson Cooper’s AC360 to talk about what motivates young men into particular kinds of violence such as school or public space shootings or terror.   Welner runs a “Depravity Scale” website and is not inclined to use mental illness as a reason not to punish destructive or criminal behavior.

Welner made a comment about the recent perpetrators, particularly for the Dec. 13, 2013 incident in Colorado.  He said that these young men actually have “high self-esteem” but do not have the “resilience” necessary to bounce back from adversity or challenge.  Welner said specifically that some of the need for resilience derives from bad luck caused by the wrongful actions of others.  People should not use the fact that others can stiff them or cause them harm as an excuse for turning to nihilism, which seems to be a pattern in terrorism.  Welmer extended this comment also with respect to the elder Tsarnaev brother, although other factors (and possibly schizophrenia, as reported in the media Tuesday) may have contributed to his “radicalization”.  The Boston Marathon incident seems like the school or theater incidents in that individuals were attacked directly, rather than “decadent western society”, as in 9/11 or with scenarios involving WMD use.   So the personal motives really do vary quite a bit.   
     
The comment on resilience in the face of adversity seems to link, logically, to my discussion of aloofness and insularity Sunday. When I lived in Dallas in the 1980s, I "dated" a forensic clinical psychologist, who always said one could be guilty and crazy at the same time. (when speaking about John Hinckley).   

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