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School Shootings - not just a U.S. problem
November 8, 2007 11:25 AM   Subscribe

At least eight people are dead in a shooting at a school in Finland. Apparently some are blaming Youtube, as the killer posted some videos of himself shortly before the attack. How to get inside the mind of kids who do these terrible things? Are they just "bad seeds" or are these killers created? Clearly marginalization and alienation play a role. Many would-be -killers seem to share these fantasies of grandiose mass spectacles , many psychologists think are inspired by their immersion in violent video games and movies. There's still controversy over the idea that watching violent TV/video games/etc can make kids more aggressive, and if that translates to violent behavior. I'm curious how often nationalist and racist rhetoric is also often deployed by these kids and wonder why that is: The Finland shooter, Auvinen called himself a "social Darwinist" who would "eliminate all who I see unfit".
posted by canine epigram (70 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Apparently some are blaming Youtube, as the killer posted some videos of himself shortly before the attack.

If causation must be assigned to these two events, wouldn't it go the other way? The cause of this kid posting to YouTube is that he's about to shoot up a school....or am I being logical again?
posted by DU at 11:31 AM on November 8, 2007


I blame the shooter. I also blame the media for trying to offer easy and or sexy answers to unanswerable questions.
posted by psmealey at 11:31 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth: He also left aa internet media package behind with his writings, photos and video, also included are the youtube videos as flv files. It really isn't that interesting, just the writings of a troubled person. He does directly say that videogames and action movies are not to blame.
posted by Authorized User at 11:33 AM on November 8, 2007


Stupid twitchy fingers. An article from a peer-reviewed journal about the typology of school shootings.
posted by canine epigram at 11:33 AM on November 8, 2007


At least now there's a specific site the media and the panicked can blame in cases of this type, instead of "the internet".
posted by yhbc at 11:34 AM on November 8, 2007


From the "many psychologists" link:

Testimony presented at the House Judiciary Committee Oversight Hearing to Examine Youth Culture and Violence on May 13, 1999 [emphasis mine].

It would be good to hear if this is still (or has ever been) "what many psychologists think". A lot has changed in eight yrs, esp. on the video game side, but also in cinema - torture is the rule in the erstwhile horror genre, as it is in foreign policy. Have school shootings spiked? Is there any other reason that kids are shooting each other other than video games? Are school shootings more common in places where there are lots and lots of guns?

OK that last one was editorializing, but you get my point.
posted by Mister_A at 11:35 AM on November 8, 2007


I'm too tired to argue about the many stupidities the media will commit during the course of their coverage. I just give my sympathies to those affected and hope that, collectively, the Finns are able to respond sanely to this act of insanity.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:35 AM on November 8, 2007


I blame Lego.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:37 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


I love "Auvinen called himself a 'social Darwinist' who would 'eliminate all who I see unfit'" followed by "the gunman shot himself in the head and later died from his wounds in hospital, officials said."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:38 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey that new link is pretty good dog. Thanks. And FWIW, I think that the guarantee of heavy media coverage is a motivator in a lot of these shootings. You know, go out in a blaze of glory, show the world what you're made of, etc.
posted by Mister_A at 11:38 AM on November 8, 2007


Optimus Chyme - as ever one can only wish he'd started there.
posted by Artw at 11:40 AM on November 8, 2007


My total off-the-cuff recollection (without googling) of what I've read is that many acknowledge that a certain amount of violent movies/whatever leads to aggression - but it's not at all clear to me that it's the same as violence. As in, it riles them up, but I haven't seen anything that indicates it drives them to go out and shoot things up. The gist of several of the articles points to some common elements of being ostracized, and not having the social skills to cope.

I'm curious to see what others can bring to the thread.
posted by canine epigram at 11:41 AM on November 8, 2007


Apparently some are blaming Youtube ...

Obviously that's absurd. CNN and other 24/7 media outlets craft sensational headlines in 5 words or less, which ends up reading "YouTube Linked to School Shootings", which in turn gets people talking about the role YouTube played in the killings. Ugh, I hate CNN etal.
posted by itchylick at 11:42 AM on November 8, 2007


oh, wow, Amazing you posted about social Darwinism, when I just posted about Haeckel, whose writings and lectures were later used to provide scientific justifications for racism, nationalism, and social Darwinism.

CrimeLibrary on children with criminal behavior/personality disorder issues. The scary thought about sociopaths/psychopaths is that they are basically formed by age 6 and onset of the illness by age 15. They are, so far, not healable. Worse still, their capacity to manipulate is increased when given talk therapy and can be dangerous to the therapists attempting to treat them. Clockwork Orange was Anthony Burgess' brilliant, dystopian view of this issue.

The only constructive thing I can think of, when dealing with childhood sociopathic traits is possible treatment with neurofeedback, such as that innovated by EEG Spectrum, to help change certain brain patterns.
posted by nickyskye at 11:49 AM on November 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


Your child is more likely to be struck by lightening then to be a victim of a school shooting.

But please. Let's carry on paying lots of attention to scary, tragic things that rarely happen to anybody. Bonus points if we can introduce legislation to stop people from having harmless fun with movies and videogames and things like that.

Anything to avoid thinking about the war and other real problems.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:50 AM on November 8, 2007


Obviously that's absurd. CNN and other 24/7 media outlets craft sensational headlines in 5 words or less, which ends up reading "YouTube Linked to School Shootings"

And I'm not entirely sure that's accidental.

Old media, meet new media. I'm sure you'll get on fine.
posted by tkolar at 11:52 AM on November 8, 2007


I grow so tired of people blaming music/ movies/ video games/ whatever for the actions of mentally ill people who go on killing sprees.

Did these things probably have an impact? Yes. But then, so did all the other mundane things that happened in the killer's everyday life that eventually led them to their terrible actions. Every book, every jostle on the bus, all of it.

Just because it's easy to point to something that you personally disapprove of as a cause, doesn't make it so. Any more than me saying he did it because he was a Christian or because he was left handed.

He did it because he was damaged, not because he listened to gangster rap or ranted on youtube.
posted by quin at 12:00 PM on November 8, 2007


The last time this sort of thing happened (VA Tech) the shooter got his gun-pointing mug all over the front page of pretty much every paper in America. Now this dude releases a multimedia package so the media will have similar pictures to post on the front page. Which they then go ahead and do.

Yes, I blame whoever the media says is to blame.
posted by bondcliff at 12:00 PM on November 8, 2007


And I'm not entirely sure that's accidental.

Oh I agree. When I say "craft", what I really mean is "crafty".
posted by itchylick at 12:00 PM on November 8, 2007


Although, having said that, youtube's comments have driven me to want to kill more than once, so YMMV.
posted by quin at 12:01 PM on November 8, 2007


I like this. Mainly because it makes absolutely no fucking sense.

Youtubing for Columbine.
posted by thanatogenous at 12:02 PM on November 8, 2007


canine epigram: "Apparently some are blaming Youtube, as the killer posted some videos of himself shortly before the attack."

Are they also blaming water, air, representative democracy, and verbal communication? Those things also were in the general vicinity of the killer.
posted by Plutor at 12:06 PM on November 8, 2007


While Pekka-Eric Auvinen's video was pulled from YouTube [Sturmgeist89 at YouTube]. -- you can view it here [01:18].

Other videos attributed to Auvinen: 1, 2.
posted by ericb at 12:11 PM on November 8, 2007


For what it's worth: He also left aa internet media package behind with his writings, photos and video, also included are the youtube videos as flv files.

I can't help but think of the Virginia Tech shooting, and Cho's documents.

I have this really nasty little speculative-fiction vision of a future where these post-spree dossiers are handled by professional marketing firms. Infinite Jest's camera phone hijinx, but bloodier.
posted by cortex at 12:14 PM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Auvinen admired killers at Virginia Tech and Columbine.
posted by ericb at 12:16 PM on November 8, 2007



Are they also blaming water, air, representative democracy, and verbal communication?


If you read his "Manifesto," he himself blames representative democracy. In fact, the whole thing is a very poignant statement about individual alienation in mass society. These cries for help will become increasingly common over the next few decades, I think.
posted by nasreddin at 12:18 PM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


It really isn't that interesting, just the writings of a troubled person.

Here's his Natural Selector’s Manifesto.
posted by ericb at 12:20 PM on November 8, 2007


Mental illness - not just a U.S. problem.

(He didn’t get me, and I’m eating donuts, sir! Donuts!)
posted by Smedleyman at 12:29 PM on November 8, 2007


nickyskye, I was hoping you'd show up here!

quin: To be clear, I'm not personally putting forth the view that video games or movies are responsible. It's clear that many of these kids are damaged from an early age, but it's fascinating (and depressing) that particular motifs - the spectacle, the social darwinism/racism/nationalism, the outcast and alienation, and the inability to deal with it except through rage, seem to recurr again and again.

Plutor, I think the youtube thing is pretty stupid myself, but there it is.

I appreciate all the other links people are bringing to the thread.
posted by canine epigram at 12:39 PM on November 8, 2007


Actually, I bet anything dreams of fame and, well fame are what drive these kids.

The scary thought about sociopaths/psychopaths is that they are basically formed by age 6 and onset of the illness by age 15.

Oh gawd. That whole sociopath/psychopath crap is quackery of the highest order. Basically some criminals don't seem "remorseful" or "emotional" about what they did, therefore they are a sociopath or whatever. But that's so subjective, and how do we know it just isn't that these people simply don't express emotions very well? Think of the main Character in The Shawshank Redemption who was convicted because he didn't seem "emotional" at his wifes murder trial. The sociopath theory just adds a scientific patina to that sort of biased thinking
posted by delmoi at 12:41 PM on November 8, 2007


He does directly say that videogames and action movies are not to blame.

And we know we can't trust the word of a murderer. Therefore, videogames and action movies are to blame. QED.
posted by BaxterG4 at 12:42 PM on November 8, 2007


Oh and evilution.
posted by BaxterG4 at 12:42 PM on November 8, 2007


I'm reading this the translated manifesto. I'm surprised he hasn't name dropped Ayn Rand. I'm sure he'd love her.
posted by delmoi at 12:48 PM on November 8, 2007


Finnish papers are reporting that the shooter had just stopped taking SSRIs and had been rejected by an unrequited love interest.
posted by Authorized User at 12:51 PM on November 8, 2007


canine epigram : To be clear, I'm not personally putting forth the view that video games or movies are responsible.

No worries, my rant wasn't at all directed at you. Sorry if you took it that way.

I was more addressing the frustrating inevitability that whenever something like this happens, the news agencies almost instantly vilify something that really shouldn't be blamed.
posted by quin at 1:02 PM on November 8, 2007


In rebuttal to delmoi's well reasoned critique of sociopath theory: if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.
posted by ogre at 1:03 PM on November 8, 2007


Finnish papers are reporting that the shooter had just stopped taking SSRIs and had been rejected by an unrequited love interest.

I see your YouTube, and raise you psychiatry and hormones.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:04 PM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


In rebuttal to delmoi's well reasoned critique of sociopath theory: if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.

The problem is that 'sociopath' isn't anything as well defined as an animal species like ducks. It simply involves putting everyone who creeps you out into a category and then publishing a bunch of papers about it.
posted by delmoi at 1:15 PM on November 8, 2007


My six-year old daughter kicked me in the balls when I beat her at Madden 2006. Clearly I have a potential mass murderer on my hands.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:15 PM on November 8, 2007


If guns were available in the UK you'd see this a fair amount too. I myself would have probably been a school shooter if I'd have had access to a firearm back in my earlier years, that's why I initially went to join the army. I wanted, even needed, to hurt or kill something because I had a rage inside of me that I couldn't express any other way.

I consider myself lucky that in the years since then I have at least gained some semblance of control over this hatred for virtually everyone on this planet and that my misguided misanthropic urges were never acted upon. I would be surprised if there isn't an awful lot of crowing from the religious crowd about this - Richard Dawkins will probably be blamed at some point I'd wager.

I don't think any country is immune to this sort of thing but it bears repeating, yet again, that if kids can't get hold of rapid firing weapons they can't do this shit. Also, I recommend Warren Ellis' unpublished Hellblazer comic "Shoot" for an interesting, if not entirely realistic, view on why this keeps happening. (Page 19 onwards for Warren's wee rant...)
posted by longbaugh at 1:22 PM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Amok is a Malay word for the homicidal sprees occasionally undertaken by lonely, Indochinese men who have suffered a loss of love, a loss of money, or a loss of face. The syndrome has been described in a culture even more remote from the West: the stone-age foragers of Papua New Guinea.

The amok man is patently out of his mind, an automaton oblivious to his surroundings and unreachable by appeals or threats. But his rampage is preceded by lengthy brooding over failure, and is carefully planned as a means of deliverance from an unbearable situation. The amok state is chillingly cognitive. It is triggered not by a stimulus, not by a tumor, not by a random spurt of brain chemicals, but by an idea. The idea is so standard that the following summary of the amok mind-set, composed in 1968 by a psychiatrist who had interviewed seven hospitalized amoks in Papua New Guinea, is an apt description of the the thoughts of mass murderers continents and decades away:

"I am not an important man... I possess only my personal sense of dignity. My life has been reduced to nothing by an intolerable insult. Therefore, I have nothing to lose except my life, which is nothing, so I trade my life for yours, as your life is favoured. The exchange is in my favour, so I shall not only kill you, but I shall kill many of you, and at the same time rehabilitate myself in the eyes of the group of which I am a member, even though I might be killed in the process."
The amok syndrome is an extreme instance of the puzzle of human emotions. Exotic at first glance, upon scrutiny they turn out to be universal; quintessentially irrational, they are tightly interwoven with abstract thought and have a cold logic of their own.

from SP's HTMW
posted by AceRock at 1:26 PM on November 8, 2007 [14 favorites]



There are definitely stable qualities that you can measure that produce a reliable psychopath/sociopath personality-- but I don't believe you can reliably say they are fixed by age 6 and onset by 16 since there are kids who look this way and *do* grow out of it and kids that from 3 or so exhibit clear signs.

That said, it's definitely not simply lack of emotionality. These are people who will say things like "Why are you crying? I'm the one who is going to jail," to the parents of the people they raped and killed at their sentencing.

Lots of people can't express their emotions-- but few people, thankfully, are so callous that they simply don't care about what other people feel, only their own interests.
posted by Maias at 1:26 PM on November 8, 2007


I see your YouTube, and raise you psychiatry and hormones.
...Harris had taken Zoloft for two months, but soon became "obsessional." Harris became obsessed with homicidal and suicidal thoughts "within weeks" after he began taking Zoloft, according to Dr. Tracy. Due to his obsession with killing, Harris was switched to Luvox, which was in his system at the time of the shooting, according to his autopsy. The change from Zoloft to Luvox is like switching from Pepsi to Coke, Dr. Tracy said.
Incredibly irresponsible blanket SSRI prescriptions, a brain that's not even close to fully developed, male adolescent angst, lack of vocational training or drive for a future career, access to firearms and a relatively unsupervised life at home. Yeah, couldn't be the problem. Nope.
posted by prostyle at 1:30 PM on November 8, 2007


I see very little that's racist and/or nationalist in this guy's manifesto. He's a "social Darwinist", sure, but he seems to be angry about what he perceives to be near-universal stupidity and weakness, not about race or nationality.

At any rate, like nasreddin says above, I think we can expect more of this sort of thing in the future. This kind of alienation seems to be a feature of modern democracy; some among those of us who feel it can find socially-compatible outlets for the constant frustration, and some can't.

"As wolves among sheep we have wandered / Victory lies beyond their spite and scorn..."
posted by vorfeed at 1:31 PM on November 8, 2007


From the Manifesto: Human race has been devolving very long time for now.

/waits for the media to blame Devo.
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:32 PM on November 8, 2007


The amok syndrome is an extreme instance of the puzzle of human emotions. Exotic at first glance, upon scrutiny they turn out to be universal; quintessentially irrational, they are tightly interwoven with abstract thought and have a cold logic of their own.

In what way is it irrational? When they've been separated from the superorganism and usually hated by it too, what reason do they have to place any value on the individuals within it? The only remaining way to leave one's mark is to put a large dent in it. Further this isn't an inherently bad thing, for if they were truly wronged, the society that has universally cast them out as useless gets a great big reminder of why that's wrong to do. Unfortunately some cast out of society are done so rightfully, though we put forth attempts to guard against those outwardly displaying all the patterns.
posted by kigpig at 1:57 PM on November 8, 2007


Greetings from Helsinki.

News here are not so much blaming anything yet. The tabloids refered the shooter as a 'bullied student' on their front pages, but that's about it. Grief is the main emotion. The flags were in half mast all over the city, there seemed to be lots more of them than in common flag days. Tv is showing nature program instead of Dexter. Evening news could only give comfort with 'there will be a new day tomorrow.'

Personally, my first reaction was 'oh, so that thing has finally arrived to Finland.', when the first reports about one or two dead come out, but after I read his manifest it turned to disgust that hasn't gone away. There isn't anything mentally ill or any sentiments I couldn't understand where they came from, the manifest was just so fucking badly thought out and unoriginal: these words do not form an ideology, there is anything here so deep that it should be acted on. These are just first attempts of a young man to find his own voice, so in love with his tone that he misses his glaring contradictions and mistakes. Not so far from what I could have written or thought as a teenager, except his lack of self-criticism and constant guilt.

My work is related to research on web-based learning environments and for that, I'm quite deep in internet culture, but usually it is something that I can look from a distance, in hah-hah Daily Show-style. Now I felt that I've been accomplice in bringing this disease here. We have tried to support critical thinking, thinking for yourself, finding your own thing and respect your individualism and this is what we got. He had opinions and a great pride for his opinions, but I feel like we have forgotten that we're encouraging teenage boys to think for themselves. Of course the result will be self-justification, grandeur, aggression and pride, dividing the world between me and 'them'. How could we keep young so humble and self-critical that they won't start acting out their first own ideology?

Before effective meme-spreading technology, you couldn't achieve much anything by acting out your violent teenage fantasy (ok, World War I), and anyway there wasn't so clear model of what to do and how. You we're supposed to do great things in the future, not now -- who does great things in high school? And when this future arrived, your opinions were softened. Now we have this school shooting. It is a meme, much like suicide bombing. Once it is done somewhere, it becomes a viable option. There exists an imagery of uncertain, clumsy youth turning into stone-cold envoy of death, and you can be one too. All too easy, and because of youthful ignorance you can copy that model and still think yourself as a paragon of individuality. I want 'undo' for last two days, I want this guy out of my head. Out of my country, you unoriginal twat.
posted by Free word order! at 2:03 PM on November 8, 2007 [11 favorites]


Hi, Jukka. Nice to have a local perspective on this; welcome aboard.
posted by cortex at 2:21 PM on November 8, 2007


Yeah, welcome Fwo! Sorry it has to be under such shitty circumstances.

But thanks for the local insight.
posted by quin at 2:40 PM on November 8, 2007


longbaugh,

thanks for the link and the comment about the importance of firearms in such incidents.

Guns don't kill people, rappers do, etc.
posted by lerrup at 3:17 PM on November 8, 2007


Well said, Free word order. What a stark contrast your post is, when compared with the tortured creature who committed this heinous act.

That humans react to technologies is very different ways is aptly shown in this case. Your post reveals the far greater potential of this new technology for public good. Never before have humans had this amazing ability to so quickly bridge cultural and physical gaps in order to foster further understanding of each other.

Hope you'll stick around under less grievous circumstances.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:30 PM on November 8, 2007


“The amok syndrome is an extreme instance of the puzzle of human emotions.”

Vulcans too.

“Finnish papers are reporting that the shooter had just stopped taking SSRIs and had been rejected by an unrequited love interest.”
posted by Authorized User

Yeah, I keep thinking about the pagan temples of prostitution and all the adolescent grab-ass that went on in Ancient Greece (literally and figuratively) and Rome (and many other cultures) to basically allow teenagers to vent those volatile emotions and get laid without much drama.
The ritual rites of passage, the initiation into the secrets of your gender, all those milestones acted as checks so you could see the next one coming. I mean seriously does anyone think a 13/12 year old Jew or a 15 year old Mexican girl is an actual ‘man’ or ‘woman’ at their respective gender celebrations (Bar/Bat Mitzvah, quince años)?
But those are (rightfully) linked to puberty and when you stop being a child and start taking on more of a gender role that needs to be socially recognized. And we really just don’t do that anymore.
I suppose the closest modern ritual we have (in the U.S.) is prom.
But there is no social support to help you get a date or meet someone you might like. Certainly not for the kids who aren’t the enthusiastic extroverts we apparently build school functions around.

It’s La edad de las Ilusiones, they’re old enough to fantasize about adult life but too young to have to accept its realities.
And that, we keep failing to realize, is really damned dangerous. As is (as FWO points out) the meme - I think the gun meme - the one that makes firearams synonymous with male power, picked up by someone at that age is made all the more potent by the fact they have no guidance other than the media.
Which is what irks me about that facet of the gun control argument. People scream “evil guns” when something like this happens. Well, on one level, there’s a debate to be had. But what is so often ignored - and it’s the same failing by the nuts who blame video games or the internet or music *cough*tippergore*cough* is that there are no social institutions of support to engage young people at that age. Teachers teach, maybe they have some time but they have 60-odd other kids or more, families are typically working too hard to really get together, the church? maybe in some people’s lives, but they really don’t get into real moral discipline or getting people laid anymore, just that sort of middle of the road lukewarm “be nice to people” schtick - if they’re not sodomizing you or using you politicially.
Meanwhile you have people asserting the negative in taking yet more things away from the kids - guns, video games, the net, whatever, by the government of course.
Why not give them something? Something they can use, an environment they can experiment with? Civic organizations, clubs, whatever, something with some kind of support so they’re not isolated in their budding sexuality.
But of course, we can’t talk about that, kids that age having sex? God no! Well, bottle up that frustration and yeah, you have this.
Now I grew up with the idea that a gun is a tool and it never would have occurred to me to associate it with my masculinity, but certainly there’s that vibe out there.
While that vibe is a problem (and IMHO the object itself isn’t) the answer isn’t bringing kids that age to the gun range to learn or taking guns away from everyone else.
The answer is developing an environment for kids that age to explore their sexuality.
How to do that so close on the heels of the Victorians (and in the U.S. the Puritains) I don’t know.
I mean, I’m not saying give kids a bunch of condoms and sending them on their way - but that is essentially what’s happening on the school end of things.
And that guidance is great, it’s just that introverted kids, those who maybe need some self-esteem, and aren’t all about the school scene need a bit more support without the visible hand of the elders making them feel self-conscious about it.
I know what the pagans did, but damned if I know how to let kids blow that steam off in this era.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:52 PM on November 8, 2007 [7 favorites]


(Schools essentially give kids the tools, tell them all about the how, maybe a little ‘when’ but probably not, and give them no guidance on the why.
Giving a young man a condom isn’t enough. Explaining about how you’re gonads work isn’t going to do it either. Even if they know everything about sex, they don’t know why to have it or how to go about it getting someone they can trust to have it with.
That they get from random sources, parents if they’re lucky, today probably from their friends and the web. Back in the Shakespearian era you’d rely on extended family to hook you up. Hell, used to be you could screw your cousin and get away with it, used to be that way in rural America some places. I’m not saying that’s ok, but it does point up the ongoing lack of social support for -any- values at all. Say what you will about hedonism - it’s an ethos.
Meanwhile we sell sex all day every day while denying it. That racket is worse than prohibition. And probably, albeit less visibly, just as dangerous. Most people don’t even get that it’s supposed to be fun. Don’t know how to trust someone they’re doing it with. I mean, are you kidding me? Zero values. Nada. Zip. In much the same way we teach kids how to drive, but unless they take some economics or something they won’t know how to shop for and buy a car.
But basically, someone laying on a couch with someone cuddly in the afterglow isn’t going to have the psychic angst to go out and shoot someone. How to get them on that couch, that I don’t know. A lot of people way too hung up about sex even in their adult years.)
posted by Smedleyman at 5:11 PM on November 8, 2007


My six-year old daughter kicked me in the balls when I beat her at Madden 2006. Clearly I have a potential mass murderer on my hands.

No. You was just pussy-whipped!
Oh, my. Did I just type that?
posted by ericb at 5:32 PM on November 8, 2007


Amok is a Malay word for the homicidal sprees occasionally undertaken by lonely, Indochinese men who have suffered a loss of love, a loss of money, or a loss of face.

This is why I lurve MetaFilter. You learn something new every day. Thanks -- AceRock.

Hence -- the etymology of the term "Running Amok."
posted by ericb at 5:39 PM on November 8, 2007


Even if they know everything about sex, they don’t know why to have it

um, because you want to and the chick said 'ok?'
posted by jonmc at 5:55 PM on November 8, 2007


At least he included himself among the "unfit"...
posted by ronin21 at 6:42 PM on November 8, 2007


Even if they know everything about sex, they don’t know why to have it

Well it's still fun, either way.
posted by delmoi at 7:27 PM on November 8, 2007


Answer me this then:
12 yr old girl murders her parents and brother....
nickyskye¿
They believe she'll rehab...little used Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision or IRCS program, which involves a spell in a psychiatric hospital, young offenders centre and a group home.


and yeah, right, o those sensational headlines and the quick wrap up, UTooB. Right./
bloody simpletons.

Next they'll tell me he hated Mondays.


If he stopped his SSRI meds, that spells trouble, but no one would have known that. He had lost all hope and had nothing to lose, in his mind. Sad, really.
It takes a while to find the right SSRI, he should have been properly monitored, especially at that age. He shouldn't have bern taking them without weekly visits to a psychiatrist.
posted by alicesshoe at 8:24 PM on November 8, 2007


“um, because you want to and the chick said 'ok?'”

Here’s a condom and here’s how you put it on and here’s how the penis works and here’s how the vagina works and here’s what the penis looks like inside the vagina and here’s all about your gonads and every other technical specification you could possibly want to know.

*raises hand* So, how do I get someone to do that with me? Is there somewhere to go to...

I CAN’T TALK ABOUT THAT!
posted by Smedleyman at 9:46 PM on November 8, 2007


I think Smedleyman is on to something, although I think it's an even broader issue than sex (although, sex is kind of a major issue at that age; perhaps the major issue -- I strongly doubt that any of the young people who have gone on shooting sprees lately were getting laid). It is, as he suggests, an issue of having eliminated all the outlets for people in that age group.

We essentially have created a long span of time in which the young person is neither a child (who has little responsibility but also very little consequence as a result of their mistakes) nor an adult. The adolescent gets consequence -- they can fuck their life up quite easily, and are told so, over and over again -- but virtually no real responsibility, and no corresponding social standing. And for someone at the very bottom of the adolescent 'status pit,' where it seems like you're getting a shittier deal than basically everyone else, it's sometimes not even clear how you're supposed to improve yourself.

And so they latch onto the homicidal-martyr motif as a solution, a way out; it buys them status without the interminable waiting that they're faced with otherwise. Admittedly, it's at the cost of their and others' lives, but when you add in a feeling of hopelessness it's not that hard to imagine how the calculus works.

The whole gun aspect is interesting from a sociological standpoint, but they're just weapons of convenience. Most of the people who have gone down the mass-murder/suicide route aren't stupid; there are lots of ways to kill people if they really decided to look for them, in greater numbers than even allowed by firearms. I tend to wonder if it weren't for the availability of guns, if Harris and Kleybold would have put more time and effort into their bombs, just as one example. It's too easy to concentrate on the implements of murder while ignoring the underlying problems. And in an industrialized society, you're always going to have potential instruments of mass murder conveniently at hand for those who want to use them in that way. Reactive security is a dead end.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:36 AM on November 9, 2007


I don't know Kadin2048. I think too many people here are focusing on the 'adolescent' aspect of this. Teenage boys are hardly the only people who go on shooting sprees. Looking for an explanation in narrow choices available to 12-18 year old males is probably barking up the wrong tree.

At the end of the day, there is no one thing you can blame this on except for the shooter himself. Violent video games and movies probably do reinforce this behavior in certain individuals. Obviously news reports and the actions of others influence them (which is why we have copycat events like this). And certainly there is an aspect of abnormal psychology involved (where normal is defined as "doesn't go out and kill a bunch of people"). But society didn't fail him, or drive him to commit this act.

On the contrary, he, just like every other mass murderer in history, failed everyone else.
posted by moonbiter at 2:03 AM on November 9, 2007


I grew up in Finland, did my national service there and left about 5-6 years ago in my early 20's. Like Free word order, my first thought on hearing this was 'oh, it's finally arrived in Finland too'. I had no idea that Finland had the third highest rate of guns per capita, which makes me slightly surprised this hadn't happened earlier, especially combined with the high (teenage) suicide rates.

This newest incident combined with the 2002 Myyrmanni bombing makes me feel like some of the innocence I've always projected on my homecountry has been irrevocably lost.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:32 AM on November 9, 2007


people interested in "amok" should read the stefan zweig story of the same name. it was made into a movie in 1934, but the imdb page for it is just a stub. i have nothing worthwhile to say about the finland shooting, but i am pleased to plug a favorite writer; for longtime chessplayers like myself, zweig's "the royal game" is a must-read.
posted by bruce at 9:26 AM on November 9, 2007


Adding to the etymology fun, re amok. Going berserk.

alicesshoe, wondering what you meant?

Perhaps you were asking my thoughts on "rehab" potential? No, I don't think that child murderer will "rehab".

canine epigram, thanks for the compliment.

There are many children who may do bad things, act out their anger for a while and come around. In fact, to some degree "being bad" is part of the rite of passage of being a teen, it's part of the healthy parent-child individuation process to have some, but limited, decent "I hate you" and "Fuck you" confrontations, while there still being mutual love. But neglect of kids, lousy parenting, addicted parents, rageaholic parents, incest perps, smothering, over-controlling parents, abandoning parents, emotionally unavailable parents...all create children who grow up with psychological issues on the continuum, some healable and plenty that are not and the kid gets stuck for an entire lifetime of anything from depression, anxiety, ocd, panic disorders, eating disorders, addictions of all kinds...all the way to antisocial personality disorder, no conscience and a capacity for mass murder.

Random thoughts...I don't think the nuclear family is working. Husbands leaving their wives to be workaholics or screw around when there are young kids in the family is simply too hard on the mothers. It puts too much burden on the kids to behave like fake little angels for their martyred mother. The kids end up being their mother's confidante, her therapist, friend, when the kids need parenting themselves. Mothers who are workaholics and screw around on their often workaholic or addicted husbands, abandoning their kids to underpaid, undereducated, usually third-world caretakers, which ends up being all a foundation for a gigantic societal mess, which is happening now all over the place in the West (where it isn't happening by dint of war, poverty, political messes elsewhere).

Parents in the West now put their kids in front of a tv or video game to keep the kids quiet from birth on and I do think this totally messes up the minds of kids emotionally. En masse. Kids need loving human contact, healthy human interaction, *lots of it*, hugs, playing, fun, laughing, messes, mud pies, screaming and jumping outside, running around filthy until exhausted doing dangerous and fun things with friends under trees, in fields...exploring. A childhood.

Kids lose their innocence too early to junk on tv or the web. 6 year olds know about goatse. The advertisers, merchants of cool, have their talons out for the money they can make off of parents' guilt they are not really being loving parents, spending real time with their kids or interacting with their children in sane, emotionally stable ways.

Some kids are prone to anxiety or have heaps of unresolved rage for many reasons and can be healed. Sticking those kids into boot camps or reform schools makes things worse. And forget the sad state of foster care facilities...a breeding ground of lifetime pain..

The troubled teen industry

Excellent MeFi threads/posts: The Trouble with Troubled Teen Programs

A now deleted thread from the Sociopranos sociology discussion website, packed with details of how the troubled teen industry is failing to help kids and ends up committing insane child abuse, really staggering abuses.

And another MeFi post, A 15 year-old girl was dragged behind a van as punishment. Her crime was being unable to keep up on a forced run at an at-risk youths boot camp, Love Demonstrated Ministries. It's not the first time something like this has happened. These boot camps and reform schools are still in operation, so it will continue to happen.

Anyway...getting off my usual think of the children soapbox. It pisses me off that "think of the children" is such a typical snark line here in MetaFilter. If children are not thought about there is hell to pay.
posted by nickyskye at 11:05 AM on November 9, 2007


alicesshoe, under the new law the court has to send her to forensics for junior woodchuck psychopaths to be "rehabilitated" because of the nature of her crime (the old law didn't have the same provision). Who knows whether they'll try to treat her psychopathy or just focus on her depression and, anxiety while she's in custody.

and on preview: I agree with nickyskye, I don't think psychopathy is treatable.
posted by squeak at 11:49 AM on November 9, 2007


Thanks for the validation squeak. Yes, psychopathy is usually co-morbid with other issues, depression, anxiety, addiction and those are treatable. Even some of the behavior issues, anger-management, verbal abusing, overt bullying can be ameliorated with behavior modification. But under that behavior-modded surface is a psychopath, who will create agony in the lives of those close to them...over a lifetime.
posted by nickyskye at 12:24 PM on November 9, 2007


Amokkers now get their own homage blogs and league tables. Note Pekka-Eric's a new entry in at #27. As I mentioned earlier, this is part of the Singularity. It's not really about transcendent ineffability, as many of the Singularitarians want to believe, it's really about becoming more dangerous. It used to be you needed to field an army to fight another army... now you just need a few hundred people, impressively lethal small arms, and the ability to download IED plans and tactics off the internet as accelerated learning and best practices. What works for resistance fighters also works for spree killers.
posted by meehawl at 6:40 PM on November 9, 2007


nickyskye,
Yes. Is there a chance of rehab.
The 12 yr old plotted the murder of her family. Participating once BF started the murdering.
What is a 12 yr old doing with a 24 yr old 'boyfriend'¿ Whom she persuaded to carry out the murders. Where is the parents' supervision¿ We won't know now sadly what was up.

I question this boyfriend's state of 'development'...
I hope he gets life, because aside from the multiple murders, add sex with a minor.
is it the girls fault for being manipulative and finding a patsy in the boyfriend¿ who thinks, yeah, great idea and carries it out...'for his girlfriend'.

Your random thoughts... seem to be sweeping generalizations not representative of the majority of folks. The excuse 'too busy, busy' to notice what your kids are up to sounds like a cop out.
Where's the parental direction and supervision, I ask myself.
posted by alicesshoe at 7:52 PM on November 9, 2007


alicesshoe, No, no chance of rehab, except for certain aspects that may be part of the whole picture of that psychopath, like depression or ocd.

A psychopath is usually a combination of both nature and nurture, definitely a victim of extended parental or early childhood abuse of any number of kinds, including over-controlling or smothering. There are commonly signs of the illness in early childhood, such as torturing animals, pathological lying, exploitative manipulativeness.

Psychopaths can seek out and find co-abusers and form a folie a deux, a pair of malignants, supporting each other. Karla Homolka is a classic example of a young, 17, female psychopath, who hooked up with another serial killer/psychopath and they went on a murder/rape binge together over years.

A 12 year old child mass murderer (3 at one time, including parents and sibling) such as this may have fallen into an enmeshment with another psychopath, willing to go along with her murder plans. Or they may have planned it together. Of course, a healthy family would not condone such an age difference in a relationship as a 12 year old with a 22 year old. But with a psychopathic child/teen, there is very little chance to control such a child.

not representative of the majority of folks

I differ with you. The statistics about mental illness, depression, eating disorders, all kinds of addictions (including gambling, binge eating, booze, compulsive over-use of porn/prostitutes etc) reflect that the nuclear family isn't working in the West. Here are easily Googled statistics...

"Mental disorders are common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year." And "Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time. Nearly half (45 percent) of those with any mental disorder meet criteria for 2 or more disorders, with severity strongly related to comorbidity."

"Over 15 million Americans are dependent on alcohol. 500,000 are between the age of 9 and 12."..."In 2000, almost 7 million persons age 12 to 20 were binge drinkers."..."Nearly 1 out of 4 Americans admitted to hospitals have alcohol problems or are undiagnosed alcoholics being diagnosed for alcohol related consequences."..."43% of Americans have been exposed to alcoholism in their families."

..."15 million people display some sign of gambling addiction"

..."In any given year, about seven percent - between 13 million and 14 million people - will experience a depressive disorder."

"One-fourth of employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives....Job stress can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Job stress can lead to poor health and even injury.

The concept of job stress is often confused with challenge, but these concepts are not the same. Challenge energizes us psychologically and physically, and it motivates us to learn new skills and master our jobs. When a challenge is met, we feel relaxed and satisfied. Thus, challenge is an important ingredient for healthy and productive work. The importance of challenge in our work lives is probably what people are referring to when they say "a little bit of stress is good for you."

As of 2003, 43.7% of custodial mothers and 56.2% of custodial fathers were either separated or divorced.

Fatherless homes account for 63% of youth suicides, 90% of homeless/runaway children, 85% of children with behavior problems, 71% of high school dropouts, 85% of youths in prison, well over 50% of teen mothers.


Married couples in which both partners are employed: 30.212 million (53.5%)
posted by nickyskye at 11:06 PM on November 9, 2007


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