We Need A New Psychology


We Need A New Psychology


As of this date, the world is in shock as to the horror of one young man’s actions of killing 20 children and 6 adults before taking his own life.  In events similar to this where mass murder or multiple assault occurs, the same questions are asked and statements made:


How could someone do such a thing?


He (the shooter) had to be insane.


He needed to be on psych meds.


Why couldn’t anyone see this coming?


We need to have more strict gun controls.


“Guns don’t kill people.  People kill people.”


Much of society is caught up in the belief that any behavior that does not adhere to social acceptance is a physical and mental disorder.   I’m reminded of the line from the movie, The Usual Suspects (1995):  “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn’t exist.”  What the world is convinced of is that people who behave in disapproving ways are mentally ill and have no control over their behavior.  The world lacks understanding that all behavior is purposeful and chosen to satisfy the need to ease unhappiness and frustration and bring about happiness or pleasure.


There have been several mass murder events in the last few years and all but two of them involved men under the age of 25.  Many of them had been on psych meds at the time or previous to their actions.  The deeds they do are carefully planned and not a knee-jerk reaction.  Truly insane individuals do not have the ability to plan in orderly or organized fashions that culminate in their final results.  They have to acquire their weapons, plan their wearing apparel (camouflage fatigues and bullet proof vests), decide how many weapons and how much ammo to use, and plan their method of attack as well as singling out people whom they feel are the cause of their unhappiness and making other members of society pay for their unhappiness as well.   These behaviors require the ability to think and plan that requires the ability to think in some form of organization and control.


Dr. Peter Breggin refers to psych meds as no more than chemically induced lobotomies that inhibit neurotransmitters in the brain.  They cause robot or zombie-like behavior as a result of causing the lack of emotions.  Without emotions, thinking and behavior is affected and stops unwanted behaviors of which others may disapprove . . . drugging individuals to stop unwanted behavior.   This is no different than drinking alcohol or taking street drugs to alleviate unwanted emotions and frustrating circumstances.  Psych meds also tend to cause the person to detach from individuals and society and have no empathy or sympathy for others.  In other words, psych meds can lead to murderous as well as suicidal behavior without regard of the consequences.


It is early in the total findings of the events that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary school but some things are sure to exist:


The shooter was not a happy person.


The shooter was frustrated and angered by those whom he saw as the important people in his life whom he perceived as the cause of his anger and frustration.


The shooter had no success in overcoming his anger and frustration with any previous methods.  The more he tried to control others, the more others tried to control him.


When all a person has done to bring about happiness and/or pleasure doesn’t work, they become creative and think of ways that they haven’t tried yet to reach their wants.  In this case, he made the decision to eradicate those who are the cause of his unhappiness. 


He couldn’t do this without using some form of rational organized thinking that made sense to him at the time.   While he appeared to be irrationaland insane to society in general, his behavior was the result of his own rationalization.  And this is why he is viewed as insane.  Ask someone to define “crazy,”  “insanity,” or “mental illness” and hear what they say.  “Strange behavior, unnatural thinking, a loner, poor eye contact, disregard for others, one who presents a threat to others are just some of the things people will say are mental illness behaviors.  If this is criteria for mental illness, then we are all mentally ill to some degree at various times throughout our lives.  No one can say that they have never made a behavioral choice in their life that resulted in what might be perceived as irrational and had unwanted results and disapprover from others.  And when that behavior was chosen, it was one’s best attempt at the time to satisfy their wants and needs.  It made sense at the time.   And this would often invoke the common question, “What were you thinking?”  (A soft way of saying, “are you crazy?”)


When people use the words “mental health” they only talk about “mental illness.”  They can tell you where to go to get help for mental illness but not where one can go to receive mental health.  Mental health is a social and public health issue.  Mental illness is perceived as an individual issue.


The school shooter was so unhappy and frustrated that he felt his life was not worth living the way it had been and by ending his life, and the lives of those whom he perceived as the cause of his unhappiness, he could resolve his unhappiness.  Also, unconfirmed, was the statement that the shooter had a form of Autism.  If so, then this would also contribute to his inability to have formed a bond with his mother, or anyone else, and allow him to murder her.  But autism is not known for homicidal behavior.


Killing ones mother can only be the result of a person’s intense emotional pain and frustration as being caused by her and/or the lack of the genetic bond with his mother for any need of love and belonging.   The natural genetic bond between a child of any age and his/her mother is one that is so strong that for anyone to kill their mother would have to perceive their mother as the cause of their very intense personal misery.  Matricide is far less prevalent than patricide. 


The only difference between someone who performs such horrible deeds and those who don’t is that those who don’t have learned other ways to resolve their unhappiness, or they rationalize and are aware of the consequences of their behavior and/or . . . they are not experiencing the devastating emotional frustration and unhappiness the shooter is feeling at the time to the point that they see no other alternatives.


Mental Illness?  No.  Frustration and unhappiness?  Yes.   The absence of problem and conflict resolution  skills?  Yes.   All long term emotional problems are the result of unmet basic needs and dissatisfied relationships with the important person(s) in one’s life.   Some individuals develop behaviors that appear strange or unacceptable to society in general.  These behaviors are created out of one’s need to satisfy their wants and the need to replace the unpleasant aspect of their life with something less unpleasant.  They come across these different behaviors by trial and error.  The first behavior they find that has the slightest ability to ease their unhappiness is the one they choose to use and use frequently dependent upon the degree of their unhappiness.  Some discover that by choosing to repeat certain behaviors, it will ease their unhappiness.  Some people find that by choosing to “freak out” or display anxiety attacks is better than feeling unhappy and uncomfortable in a particular situation.  Some find choosing to depress gets attention, eases their anger, or gives an excuse not to take needed action. 


Some people have easily discovered that drugs and alcohol are fast acting remedies for unwanted emotions and temporary relief.  Others find relief through indiscriminate sex, spending, shoplifting, hoarding, or gambling.  Whatever the chosen behavior, it is their best attempt at the time to satisfy their need to achieve happiness or pleasure rather than unhappiness and frustration.


Much of society believes many people are mentally ill when they are not.  The current psychology of the world believes that we can control other people and that other people can control us.  The current world’s psychology believes we can do controlling behaviors that destroys relationships all for the sake of getting others to do what we want them to do.  The current world’s psychology believes that we are not responsible for our behavior because other people “make” us do what we do.  The current world’s psychology does not believe that we choose all of our behavior.


When someone lives a mostly unhappy and frustrated life, they will experience periodic bouts or times when they don’t feel unhappy or frustrated.  No one is unhappy all the time.  And when they do feel happy, they really enjoy these moments and choose to react with much enthusiasm and joy until they perceive something that has them choosing to feel unhappy again.  Then they are labeled Bi-polar and put on meds that cut off both their negative and positive emotions.  Psych meds are not selective.  They don’t single out any specific emotion.


While strict gun controls are proven to have a definite effect on lessening the number of gun related murders, they will never be the total remedy to the problem.  If not a gun, some other form of weapon will be used by those who wish to inflict harm and resolve their unhappiness.  The old saw that perhaps you and I are sick of hearing, “guns don’t kill people.  People kill people” is a true statement.  But this is where the gun enthusiasts end their bit of wisdom.  It offers no resolution to the fact that people are killing people with guns . . . guns that are designed to kill many people and not used for hunting.


When the second amendment was written in the Constitution, a gun could only fire one shot and require a considerable amount of time to reload thus affording groups of people to scatter and get out of harm’s way from a shooter.  At best, the shooter might have had a maximum of four or five guns that would only him to fire one time before reloading.  Now, guns hold several repeating rounds of ammunition that one shooter can dispatch to several hundred individuals at one time.

Of all of the past mass murders, Oklahoma, 2 in Colorado, Tucson, VA, et al, none of them have moved the country to reach the point of “enough is enough” until the lives of 20 children, all under the age of 10, were shot down in cold blood.  Prior to this, it appeared the nation’s general response to mass shooting was alarm and disdain but not enough to make public outcries.  We had become calloused and even indifferent towards such acts.  “It happened to other people in other towns, not mine.” Only by banding together and demanding change can government sit up and take note.  But even then, they don’t want to jeopardize the votes of 4 million NRA members come election time.


No matter how much gun legislation ever gets passed to control and/or limit the use and acquisition of arms, what is needed more than anything is for people to learn how to get along with one another without resorting to guns or any other weapon in an attempt to resolve their unhappiness or conflict with others.   Internal Control Psychology and not an External Control Psychology is what is needed.  And this is where Choice Theory comes into play. 


Choice Theory is not the only psychology that exists.  There are many different disciplines.  But if all of these psychologies were effective, why do we still have so many unhappy people taking psych meds, extreme crime rates, divorce in over 50% of all marriages (even when many received counseling).  Choice Theory is a social as well as an individual psychology.  It was disclosed that even the shooter was under psychiatric care at the time which also leads to the possibility of having been on psych meds.


Ironically, the most effective means of teaching the world Choice Theory is in our classrooms, the very place where External Control Psychology was used by the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooter.  But the work that is currently being done by certified Choice Theory teachers around the world is a start.  Dr. William Glasser’s Choice Theory, “Quality Schools,” are currently in 35 different countries and teaching K through 6 students how to get along with others and resolve their conflict and unhappiness in healthy and effective ways and learning how to get along with one another without trying to change them or control them.  The teaching profession is often a thankless job.  Parents “expect” teachers to teach knowledge but they are not aware of all else they do.  Besides education, many provide values, love, guidance, and instill ethics that are not sufficeintly acquired at home.  Hug your children and while you’re at it . . . hug a teacher.


Until society learns how to live in peace and harmony with one another by not trying to control others or using force or coercion to get people to do something they don’t want to do; and how to resolve differences without resorting to behaviors that lead to harmed relationships, there will still be inhumane behaviors imposed on humanity, with or without gun controls.


It won’t happen in my lifetime or even the next few generations.  But I have hope and faith that in time, the world will eventually learn how to create and maintain satisfying relationships in society.  Imagine:  No more wars.  No more divorce.  No more crimes against humanity.  No more domestic violence.  No more bullying in the classroom.  No more need for drugs or alcohol to replace happiness with short term pleasures.


The “Perfect World?”  Not perfect but a hell of a lot better than what it is and has been for the last several thousand years.

1 Comment

  1. Great article Mike. You have made a very good argument for teaching Choice Theory. If we all operated from an internal control perpective we would have a better place for everyone.

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