" School Violence"
AFFECT AND ADOLESENCE
ON THE TRAGEDY IN
and other shootings. LITTLETON
I am a family doc and I am supposed to know everything and so if someone asks me about the school shooting is
or other shootings I am supposed to have an answer. Several years ago I would not have had a very good one. I do now. I wrote this originally sometime near the time of the Columbine shooting and am still working on a much longer work concerning school shootings. Littleton, Colorado
So the piece is based on the simplest of concepts. It is not gun control, it is not more security, it is not mostly everything that is being said over and over again. It is about not hurting people. But we must start at the right place. It is about not hurting our children so they do not hurt others. A man I can now count as a friend and mentor, Donald Nathanson, M.D devised what we can here can call "a compass of hurt." When we are hurt we either withdraw, attack others , attack ourselves or try and avoid the situation, these four ways, in the main, only cover up the hurt, they do not address the hurt.
There is a fifth way and that is to examine the hurt. To come and appreciated it and its roots. To deal with it, to take the hit and then ask the question why did this or that hurt me so much that I would attack another or berate myself or use drugs? The hurt we feel can come from an idea, a thought, a memory. The hurt comes because we are interested in life and things get in our way. We are interested in having loving parents, but don't. We are interested in having loving siblings but don't. We are interested in having loving classmates but don’t. The teenage years are some of the most vulnerable to feeling hurt. It is that time of great definition in our life. What is important is, I firmly believe, not the influence of radio, TV or movies but the influence of those people that we have great interest in. If we are attentive parents, teachers and friends we will not produce people that will take murderers as our example.
To be sure this is not a simple journey and I wish not to hurt the parents of these two boys. I know little or nothing of them. I do not accuse, as we, who expound this theory, also believe that unfortunately life can be and is quite capricious. Single instances of intense emotion seem to be able to dramatically effect ones actions and outlook on life. Thus we know that a child can be very easily damaged. The trick is not to point the finger at the parents but at all of us; parents, teachers, doctors, friends and neighbors need to care about each other’s hurt. We must ask and make it clear that it is OK to show emotion. It seems, in the main, that the "trench coat Mafia," was seen simply as esoteric. That group that the two boys that did the shootings where a part. We do not want to expunge individuality but we believe that it is imperative to become sensitive to such isolation at this age, or truly at any age, and ask ourselves are they withdrawing due to hurt and might that withdrawal revert, at anytime, to attack? To quote Dr. Donald Nathanson, attack comes when " if there is nothing we can do by our own hand or mind to raise our self esteem, we tend to reduce the self-esteem of anybody available." Or are they withdrawing due to an intense interest in something constructive?
If you listen to many of the comments of the students we hear that these kids where outcasts, we hear them referred to as "geeks" and such. We cannot simply brush such comments off as "that is the way kids are." No, kids do not have to be this way. What happened, in part, in
was that a viscous cycle of alienation was set up. Those on the outside ended up more and more on the outside and the burden became too great. This is the way we are, the way we have always been and the way we will always be unless we understand that reason is no match for hurt and hurt no match for love and interest in others and so much easier if love and interest start early and are consistent. Littleton
Brian Lynch Please see School Violence:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzxHrZvUeZo (maybe I can get James Earl Jones to do the narration some day.)
Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness NY: SPringer Publishing Company, 1963.
Shame and Pride : Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self by Donald L. Nathanson Paperback (March 1994)
W.W. Norton & Company; ISBN: 0393311090