Friday, September 20, 2019 | ePaper

Human Mind

The Deadliest Weapon

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Melissa Martin :
Firearms are not the deadliest weapon-it is the human mind, what's between the two ears. "Perception is a clash of mind and eye, the eye believing what it sees, the mind seeing what it believes," declared Robert Brault.
Long before the invention of guns, people killed other people with an assortment of weapons. Rocks, sticks, slingshots, spears, knives, swords. How did humans become killing machines?
And human body parts can be used as weapons. Strangulation with hands. Beating with fists. Kicking with feet. Biting with teeth. Can human body parts be considered as deadly weapons in the legal system?
Several years ago in a self-defense class, the instructor taught us to use an eye gouge (in certain situations) by driving a finger or thumb deep into the eye socket of an attacker to cause the eyeball to hemorrhage. So even fingers can be used as weapon.
The brain, a curious enigma, is the command center of thoughts (rational or irrational), perceptions, beliefs, emotions, behaviors, movement, and experiences. What goes on in the minds of mass shooters? What part of their brain is defective? Are their souls blackened by the rot of hatred?
What evil lurks in the murky recesses of an adult shooter's brain-that randomly kills humans? Has the coward become a hero in his own deranged psyche? Knowing right from wrong-yet choosing annihilation of life.
Are mass shooters damaged from childhood experiences? Many humans grow up in abusive homes, societies, and countries-yet they do not become killers of humanity.
"School Shooters: Understanding High School, College, and Adult Perpetrators" (2017) by Peter Langman examined 48 national and international cases of school shootings. The quotes from the attackers at the beginning of each case narrative are a window into the minds of these disturbed individuals. Langman's previous book, "Why Kids Kills: Inside the Minds of School Shooters," was named an Outstanding Academic Title of 2009 by the American Library Association.
Langman asserted: "The research presented in my book furthers our understanding of why certain people carried out school shootings. Not only were they psychopathic, psychotic, or traumatized, but they experienced repeated failures across multiple domains: education, military aspirations, work, intimate relationships, financial stability, and sense of masculinity. They often felt they had nothing to live for, and they often wanted to get revenge against those they blamed for their predicaments. These factors, combined with psychopathic traits, psychotic symptoms, or histories of traumas, resulted in violence."
Of course, the environment has to be taken into account. Langman found that traumatized shooters grew up in severely dysfunctional families with parental substance abuse and parental criminal behavior. The individuals were exposed to child abuse, and sexual abuse in some cases, domestic violence, and moving frequently with changing caregivers.
Environment includes the world, nations, countries, states, cities, communities, neighborhoods, and homes. Environment includes schools, churches, temples, synagogues. Environment includes technologies, social media, televisions, computers. Environment includes relationships.
And the ensuing debate over nature vs. nurture argues which has the greatest influence. Both impact each other. What's inside affects the outside-what's outside affects the inside. But, ultimately the mind makes the decision. And the insanity defense, impairment due to mental illness, is used for impaired minds.
Human beings are complex creatures, a two-sided coin; capable of noble acts of compassion and immense acts of destruction. Since the beginning of the beginning, humans have loved and hated, given life and taken life, healed and killed.
We must focus on the human mind, the human body, human behaviors, and the environment (home, school, community, places of worship) to prevent mass shootings.
But can we look deeply into the human heart and soul to recognize a deadly mind?

(Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator and therapist, writes from US; email:

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