March 26, 2005

The News Annoys Me, Part I Don't Even Know

It was the drugs! No, it was the films! That's what made the poor kid murder nine people--the films! No, wait, the drugs! No, neither--it was the blogs! The blogs and the chat! It was the internet!

Here's a thought: Maybe it was the crazy. Pardon the lack of a technical term, but I'm hardly qualified to diagnose Jeff Weise beyond that.

Can we just for once admit we don't know everything there is to know, not even a tiny fraction of what we need to know, about the crazy? We're as bad as people in the Middle Ages were about the plague. Maybe someday the crazy will also turn out to be caused by something as simple as bacteria; I kind of doubt that, but I'm not ruling it out.

My point is, we're only a tiny step up from sending for the parish priest to perform an exorcism; we still have largely no idea how to fix this level of crazy, the "pardon me I have to go shoot my grandad now" sort of crazy. We have counselors and psychiatrists and psychologists and evaluation teams and social workers and medications and treatment plans and rehabilitation centers--but even with all that, every so often the crazy wins one. And it's always tragic when it does, but scapegoating Prozac, bad films, and chat rooms doesn't get us any closer to fixing the crazy.

The older I get, the more I think Vonnegut had it right in Breakfast of Champions--these tragedies arise from just the right combination of bad ideas and bad chemicals. What I don't think Vonnegut did say (but it's been years since I've read that one, so be nice if I'm wrong) was that the two are related by a variant of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle: The more precisely you identify the bad ideas, the less you know about the bad chemicals, and vice versa.

Oh, how I wish the journalistas could be cured of their lust for "the angle." Just write the sad truth: We have no idea why Weise did this and no idea how to prevent anyone else from doing this. Or does that not sell papers or something?

Posted by Ilyka at March 26, 2005 12:37 PM in news

Sad to say, it's true. I've seen some seriously off-kilter people who need their drugs, but I've never seen anyone capable of doing something like this. Hint: it was not the Prozac.

Posted by: Dr Alice at March 26, 2005 02:32 PM

I have been surprised and hurt at how much of a horrible difference the wrong medication --including OTCs-- can make.

Unfortunately, however, human beings are not sterilized test tubes; we can't run the same chemical experiments and get the same results in each one.

Posted by: jdc at March 26, 2005 06:56 PM

The crazy? Had it for over ten years. Took a severe bleeding and seeing "the light" to get over it.

Your 101.97% right, Ilyka. There is no angle. Just a crazy person. And the crazy will always be part of our world.

Posted by: Solomon at March 26, 2005 07:50 PM

making attributions to causes helps us predict the future, but it is only useful if the attribution is true. here is one that i would chalk up to evil. you have scored it for crazy. there are tests for crazy. i am curious if there are tests for evil. without them, it will be harder to argue this point.

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