Have you ever wanted something so badly, and once you received it, you realized that it wasn't all that you hoped it would be?
The mind has this extraordinary ability to believe that if situations are different that life would be much "better". We tend to attribute the negative emotions we experience inside to the external world around us. That the world around us directly influences how we feel within and we have absolutely no control over that dynamic.
That if we received that promotion we would feel more content, if that special person came into our life, we would feel more fulfilled. If only someone understood us would we feel complete.
It seems the negative emotions we experience are the result of some shortcoming in the world. And if we change our external physical experience, it will have a direct impact on how we feel inside and instantly alleviate the suffering we feel inside.
There isn't any doubt, that if certain things in the external world were different, then we would indeed feel more contented. Living in an area where the weather is ideal would make almost anybody feel more content. Working your dream job will most likely also bring a sense of inner peace and fulfillment.
There are stimuli out in the world that do create a positive shift in the emotions we feel internally.
The issue that exists is that we are now constantly in search of what we can change in our external world in order to influence our internal experience. It becomes all we know. We don’t understand happiness, peace, or satisfaction without a direct stimulus that we can either find, change, or create in the world around us.
We condition ourselves to seek externally how we want to feel internally. We rely on an ever changing reality to maintain a sense of emotional stability. This is inherently a losing battle. We have to separate the external world from our internal world in order to achieve homeostasis.
The human body has mechanisms and pathways which helps it to regulate its own temperature. The body is constantly working to maintain homeostasis internally in response to our environment.
If we are outside on a hot summer day, our body sweats to cool us down. The mind should work in a similar fashion to maintain emotional homeostasis. We have to self regulate what we are feeling internally in response to our environment.
Much of the external world is beyond our control and so this will lead an individual to believe that much of what they are feeling inside is also beyond their control.
This is a myth.
We have to understand and regulate the relationship that exists between our mind and our environment.
We have to self regulate and separate how we feel inside from what is happening to us on the outside.
Many use meditation, music, exercise, reading, art, or religion as tools towards this separation. It’s important to practice this separation.
There is only so much we can attempt to do to control our external reality, our control is limited.
Many people foster a relationship in which their inner peace and happiness is directly dependent upon the external stimulus they are exposed to in the world.
If we foster this type of relationship we develop poor impulse control.
The ability to adapt to situations and navigate them well is what helps us the most.
Cultivating love, inner energy, and allowing that energy to permeate in the world around us is what allows for us to adapt to a world that is greatly out of our control.
Mass Shooting Tragedies
We come across increasing media reports of mass shootings claiming the lives of hundreds of innocent people. These shootings take place in schools, religious places of worship, malls, and many other public places. Theses tragic events seem to be random acts of violence carried out by a ruthless, most likely mentally ill individual. In the case of school shootings, the perpetrator is often a student who may have been a victim themselves of bullying. Attempts to reduce the incidence of these tragic events are being made through the reform of existing gun laws. This is seen as a preventative measure to lessen the likelihood that a gun could be accessed by individuals with ill intent. However, research has found that the states in the United States with the most restrictive gun laws saw a 53% increase in the risk of a mass shooting event, so gun laws seem to be one piece to a larger puzzle.
The Mental Health of A Mass Shooter
It is important we examine the risk factors that could predict an individual’s chances of engaging in acts of violence against innocent people in addition to the reform of gun laws. A study published in the Journal of Loss and Trauma explores the myriad of risk factors that can be identified specifically in the case of the student responsible for the Virginia Tech shooting. The risk factors discussed in the study focus exclusively on the student’s environment and its ultimate influence on him claiming the lives of his peers.
Could there be psychiatric risk factors as well that can help bring us closer to understanding how and why these mass shootings occur?
Below are 6 risk factors that describe psychological characteristics commonly present among mass shooters.
These risk factors give us some insight into the mental health and psychological dynamics of these perpetrators of mass shootings, that the individuals that commit these crimes may not necessarily have a mental illness, however, the presence of these characteristics predict a potential for engaging in acts of violence.
6 Psychiatric Risk Factors
1. Social Isolation/Rejection
3. Self-Esteem Issues
4. Persecutory Delusions/ Paranoia
5. Suicidal Ideation
Considering All The Factors
An individual may present all of these characteristics and never commit acts of violence against others. Specifically, in the case of mass shooters, it seems to be a multifactorial situation, in which psychological/psychiatric factors interact with environmental factors leading the shooter to engage in an act of violence.
It is important to open up the conversation and take into account the many aspects influencing these types of events so that we can work as a community to prevent these tragedies in the future.
Disclaimer: All information, content, and material contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.
Stigma of Mental Health Illness-