Friday, October 06, 2006

School Shootings - A Lesson in Coping (Read our Essay at

From Po:

Jump to our Time essay by clicking here.

This week, Ashley and I investigated the school shootings around the U.S. and Canada.

You might have three recent shootings in mind, but there have actually been 25 shootings at or near schools since the school year began. 25! Not all of these have been fatal, and a couple have been averted, such as the three students in Green Bay.

Six of these shootings seem mysteriously connected, by some sort of pathological contagion. Did the news of one shooting trigger the next? Psychiatrists talk about how a disease narrative is not just diagnostic - it actually enters the social fabric and becomes a way to explain our symptoms. For some, it even causes those symptoms to arise. There's a good word for this: "meme." A meme is an idea that spreads, like a virus. Most memes are catchphrases or stories or slogans. In this case the meme "gun/school" is flying around. Six times it has landed in the mind of an angry person under great stress, became internalized, and vented in the form of more gunfire. It started in Essex, Vermont, in late August. Less than a week later, a 19-year-old in North Carolina shot up Orange High School. In mid-September, a 25-year-old in Montreal stormed into the local college and shot 20, killing one. On this meme spread, to Colorado, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. In every case, a family and a community are stretched to find a way to not let this ruin them forever. They choose between ritual and improvisation, between vengeance and forgiveness, and between acting quasi-normal sooner or later.

Our essay at is not about how these shootings are linked. Rather, we spent the last few days looking at the various calls to healing in each community. We also looked into the research on healing from severe trauma. We chose to focus on this question of acting normal within a week or two after something absolutely abnormal has occurred, and the use of normal rituals for healing when the traumatic event was not in the range of normal. Is it okay to act normal after something disastrous? Does doing so deny the event? In our society, there is pressure both ways. We feel very weird about resuming routine. Sometimes, it feels almost taboo.

From the research, we learned that "acting normal" is commonly misunderstood. And that it's okay. Please go read the essay, and comment here.


Blogger 'noods said...

I liked this article very much. I related in many ways because after the recent death of my father. I had gone back to my normal routine after a couple weeks, but inside I'm a completely changed person. When someone loses a very close person it seems to everyone else that it easy to cope once the rituals are over. That is not the case at all and continuous support by friends is very important. The only people who understand this the most are others who have lost people who are close to them.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Here's a possible solution

A course, called Critical Incident Response, involves a training video that shows students throwing objects and then rushing and tackling a gunman.

Read more and see the video here.
Burleson Schools Training To Defend Against Gunmen
My comments here

12:55 PM  
Blogger Hari said...

Well the way you put it this seems to be going like as though the Tipping point for School shootings has been reached.

Reading Tipping point by Malcolm Gladwell might give some explanations to this sort of behavior change. For Example the study he did on the sudden rise in Suicides as a method of showing dissent / anger.

This seems a lot similar.

11:23 PM  
Anonymous BeaLZ said...

right on everyone has a point, but please look in the mirror once in awhile and spend some time with yourself and the ones who is not always as important as we think it is until there is horrible tragedy...and sometimes we do need a ritual to get over a tragey to the mind and soul...but we need to prepare more for the long can happen anytime so keeping it real everyday is key, Po...thank you for having the courage to put it there...saying it like it is is not always easy...I have lost a few friends that way...but I know in the end they will come back to me whether thehy like it or not, because love has a lot to do with letting go of the pain

1:59 PM  
Blogger Ray Forbes said...

The main problem with these school shootings is that most of them are manic depressives and they are in the manic state which can make them highly agitated and suicidal. If treated most are just treated for depression and not mania. I contend that it is due to posterior pituitary deficiency. This supplement cures both mania and depression. I have other info on You Tube under rforbes1. It will continue as long as they are improperly treated.

4:58 AM  
Blogger sam dingo said...

why does this keep happening?

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly, I you are in school and are participating by the actual doing or in support of by laughing at regular and frequent disrespect and humiliating picking on anyone, then maybe you had better look yourself in the eye in the mirror and YOU helped kill that person's very will to live, gave them no way out of the pain of an existence you helped create for them. I hope all your parents know how you helped to massacre those students, I hope it follows you into your family life, into your work life into your church life and into your children and grand children's lives and it is finally known, right here, right now, how you defiled the human race with your need to show your superiority...over anyone else at the expense of pushing them over the were only a kid....well, so were they...and you helped ruin it all for them.

4:32 PM  

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