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Language Log

Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 - 5:49 a.m.

I can't seem to wrap my head around this one. I feel like I should be a sobbing mess like everyone else over this, but I'm not. I have been so in the past for far less. So I think I'm having trouble processing it.

This goes nicely with my recent wondering a about the culturally-specific nature of alcoholic behaviors. Now we have mental illness (I'm assuming; it's almost tautological) manifesting in a culturally-specific performance of violence. And where does morality fit in when the cause of the behavior has been medicalized? Not that purely character-based explanations for psychotic behaviors ever did any good. Now we have meds for many mental illnesses, so hooray science. But saying the brain isn't working right (which I realize no one intends as an exculpatory explanation) isn't enough. People like this have something going on that makes them choose this sort of violent performance for expression of their mental illness. It appeals to something in them, and that my friend is still a character problem. (And a cultural problem, but I have no idea how to reshelve this one now that it's in circulation). Same goes for alcoholics who turn into flaming assholes when they drink. There's some brain rot going on, mental incontinence, but what's coming out in ugly torrents is still you on some level.

Maybe. Who the hell knows. So hard to get good info to reconstruct the causes when they all shoot themselves (or get shot) in the end.

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