Thursday, February 14, 2008

Kathryn Faughey and the Northern Illinois University killing rampage, an ordinary day

This is the homepage for Kathryn Faughey. Above the picture it says:
psychotherapy in new york
Just below it:

February 15, 2008

Emotional help for adaptation to change

Solution Oriented Psychotherapy

Last night I had Dov and Cham over for dinner, and as we slurped our vegetarian lasagna (a little soupy, but good and hot), I looked up at Cham and asked, "What was that link Pat sent me? I didn't have a chance to open it."

"Oh, it was about some therapist who got murdered by a patient in New York City," she murmurs, not looking up from her food.

I raise one eyebrow. "Really."

"Uh, yeah. She's just worried about you, is all. Thinks you should be careful."

Cham's studying to be a therapydoc. I'm sure she heard the same directive.

"I don't want to hear about it," I say.

"Me neither. Could you pass the salad please?"

With pleasure.

So I let it drop. But today I have time on my hands as I wait on the telephone for perhaps an hour or more, and speak with the third, no exaggeration, third, customer service rep from ATandT who is determined to resolve the mystery of my telephone bill. You should know that the customer service representatives at ATandT are very kind, patient, and full of time, if mystified at the enormity of their task and not altogether sure how, exactly, they can help you.

Thus while I wait for these well-intended individuals to work it out amongst themselves, between several games of spider solitaire, jotting notes, and filing bits of paper into charts, I open the dreaded email.

Kathryn Faughey, 57, a lovely, compassionate, hard-working Manhattan psychologist, is slashed to death, stabbed with a meat cleaver in her office. She will not be coming back to work tomorrow.

The New York Daily News:
"No one is helping me! No one is helping me!" the balding butcher yelled as he . . .(I can't say it!)

"She helped so many people, rich and poor," Adam, a retired lawyer, told the Daily News, as a cop stood guard outside his apartment door. (Adam is her husband)

"She was a very good and decent person. She saw herself as the child of immigrants. Both of her parents came from Ireland. She was one of seven and the first in her family to go to college. She worked very hard to become what she was."


Police said it's unlikely Faughey was slain by someone who just snapped during a therapy session. "It wasn't a sudden burst of temper. It was planned."

She specialized in domestic violence.

I haven't heard from my mom yet, but for sure she'll be listening to the news and reading that paper, watching the phone, wondering if I'll call her. She knows I teach tonight. She'll be thinking . .Should I tell her. . .Be careful?

FD, of course, went to the drill. "You take your chair and hurl it at him and get out of there."

Or, I say, I could whack him with that 5 # dumbbell that I keep on my desk, the one that I have never, ever used for exercise, but can point to and say, should someone ask,

See? I keep weights right here at my desk, in case I get bored. Never waste
time, life's short.

Or what about that hammer that I keep in my desk?

I tell FD, "I sit right next to the door for a reason, dude. I'm a runner."

Are all therapists wondering what they would do? Are all of you in the business thinking, Who in my practice might do that to me? Isn't this the secondary trauma that they write about in mental health blogs? (yeah, look in the sidebar, it's there somewhere). We therapydocs are traumatized (oh, just a little, seriously) merely hearing the traumas of others. And so are you.

I know we're supposed to say, when someone passes away, either "naturally" or tragically, that there's a reason, that it's for the best somehow, who knows how. And yet it's surely a tragedy, it has to be. Think of the family, the incompleteness, the roads not traveled, the jobs not done. And in Ms. Faughey's case, think of all of those patients, the people who looked to her for comfort, ideas, smiles, support, help.

And then, when it couldn't get any worse (the news), we hear that five (now I hear seven) students are slain, seventeen injured, many seriously, as a gunman fires off several rounds of ammunition in a crowded geography classroom at Northern Illinois University.

NIU is only about an hour and a half away from my house. A short trip, really. Dekalb. Think women's basketball. Huskies. Nice people, now scared to go to school.
It's Valentine's Day. A quick and dirty: Another peer rejected kid. With mental illness.

A dangerous world we live in, perverse. We're going to need more mental health professionals, my friends, not fewer, in the coming years. So don't listen to people tell you that there's a glut of psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, and counselors, or that psychiatrists don't get to do psychotherapy anymore, all they do is push medicine.

Don't be discouraged, don't be skittish about the field, or worried that a sociopath or otherwise sick individual will surely cross your path one day, that thought driving you to think . . .Real estate. We need you. Something tells me, we need you.

Oh and Pat, thanks. Honest. You just beat Mom to it, is all.

therapydoc

10 comments:

PuddleSplasher said...

I love humanity, but people kind of freak me out.


I came across that story a bit ago (the therapist getting murdered story), and couldn't even read the whole thing, but then I wanted to find out what happened, so I continued reading, and it gets even worse, and as I was reading, I guess I made some disgust noises, and had my hand over my mouth, and my room mate was like "seriously, what are you looking at?" and I couldn't even speak.

I read more about the Northern Illinois one after seeing it on your site, and in the story, it was mentioned that it had been the fourth shooting at a school in the past seven days.

That says a lot, yet practically nothing at the same time. Nothing clear, I mean. There are so many things people could analyze to attempt to explain it, but it's still cloudy.

AnnD said...

I'm glad you wrote about the Ms. Faughey. I also got a few worried emails from well-meaning friends: "Did you SEE this?!" I would hope that this is a once in a millenia occurrence. It certainly doesn't scare me away from being a therapist, but I can see how it might others. Truth be told there are not many safe jobs (safe meaning free from people who have the mental and physical capacity to hurt you). It could really happen anywhere.

Jay said...

A psychiatrist I knew, a wonderful Italian man, was killed by an ex-patient about three years ago. I've never been nervous about walking alone, never worried about where I parked or what neighborhood I was in, but since then I am jumpy and I park under lights.

Anonymous said...

This happened in my town in September 2006. A 19 year old patient killed his psychiatrist. This particular doctor saw extremely disturbed patients, he was also one of the directors of NIH. He was an expert in schizophrenia and a leading researcher in the field.

The kid killed the doctor with his bare hands in the office. It was a very tragic situation. You can't imagine what its like when it happens in your own community.

Anonymous said...

The student gunman who shot students yesterday in Illinois was working on his MSW degree at U of I Champain in Urbana. Hard to believe.

Liza's Eyeview said...

very disturbing...

yes, it's a dangerous world we live in, perverse.

Thus we need powers beyond ourselves.

Prayers - that works. Does not always guarantee that everything will be "rosy" but it guarantees peace, knowing that our Sovereign God is in control. We may never understand some circumstance, but we trust in the One who holds us...

therapydoc said...

Oh, we're just like everybody else, maybe a little more sensitive. I'll get to that this week.

chana said...

When I read this story the first thing I did was email my therapist. "I know you'll tell me not to worry... too late."

My next thought was, what does he think of ME?! uuuh... that's not something I can even chuckle about...

therapydoc said...

oh, that you're the sweet and sensitive person that you are, I'd imagine.

Barbara said...

I was Faughey's patient for 15 years.

I miss her every day since this happened.

She did NOTHING to deserve this. Nothing.

I would bet the last words out of her mouth were: "Can I help you?"