Show the Video

Friday afternoon I talked to my son who had written 3 pieces about the Virginia Tech massacre for a t.v. show that generally spins celebrity gossip. He said he was surprised that the producers were so into real world news, as opposed to gossip about Brittany or Halle, Brad and Luke.

Y. said that what they're really talking about in Hollywood is how badly NBC goofed by releasing the video Cho sent to them in his "manifesto." The video was subsequently picked up by all of the other major networks and everyone who owns a television saw it before the network executives thought about it and realized that this was a bad idea. The video glorified Cho and would encourage copycats, people who might perpetrate violence to further political agendas.

My feeling? I know I'm going to hear about it, but
Show it in schools. Show it at community centers. Show it in churches, synagogues and mosques. Have assemblies with panels of experts talking about it in front of as many listeners as you can find. In schools, have students and mental health professionals discuss it in front of everyone, microphones on! Talk about it, don't shove it under the rug!

It is wrong that millions of people even see what Cho did as a political statement. He was very, very ill. That's all. He was mentally ill, a person suffering, yes SUFFERING, from a disorder, Paranoid Schizophrenia. To prevent copycats, the public needs psycho-education. In a big way.

Children especially need to know about this disorder. They need to know, if you ask me, about all kinds of mental, behavioral and emotional disorders that we discuss on this blog. Who's going to teach them?

How hard could it be to find professionals willing to speak to kids, participate on panels?

I think it's the Chinese who say, Crisis Equals Opportunity.

If we let this one pass, we really should be ashamed of ourselves.



daedalus2u said…
I completely agree with you. If anyone is personally "offended", by the video, they can turn it off. If it causes children to ask questions that parents can't answer, then direct the children to people who can answer those questions. If it causes people in "similar" situations to want to do the same things, maybe the people who put others in those "similar" situations will begin to apprecitate the effects their behaviors have on others.

I think the reason people don't want it shown, is because it contradicts their core beliefs. Not core beliefs that are correct, but core beliefs that are completely wrong.

One of the worst of these core beliefs is that if someone is "wierd", the way to treat them is via maltreatment and bullying. That the way to "succeed" is via trampling everyone else, even for no good reason.

Recognizing the simple fact that if you treat people brutally, that they become brutal, is too scary for people because they don't have other ways of interacting.
TherapyDoc said…
Thank you, D. This week I'll be writing more about this, basically to address the Time Magazine piece by Jeffrey Kluger about low self-esteem and narcissism. I think he's saying Cho had a narcissistic injury, although he doesn't use that language. I don't agree with Mr. Kluger vis-a-vis Cho, but I can see why the theory he suggests is worth thinking about for other cases, especially those in which someone's been bullied and teased.
Would that showing the video spark debate and intelligent converstion about awareness of mental illness in a coherent way.

I'm afraid that's not the way of the media. They suffer from their own mental illness of sensationalism-- among other forms...
TherapyDoc said…
Author, that's a sensational comment. I agree that it hurts the brain the way the media fires us information in bold font. But I have to say there wasn't a moment last week that I didn't tune in and I searched everywhere for information.

The journalists were out there working, doing the investigative reporting, not me, and I thank them for it. Heartily.
So right. It's one thing to glorify a killer, but quite another to examine the cause of illness that many people very possibly share. People are smart, they should merely object to the style of journalism, not deny the occurence. This way the public and civilians can handle the situation better instead of just forget about it. Great post, Doc.
Syd said…
Cho was a sick guy no doubt. I wonder at how much of his anger and resentment had been flamed because he was treated like a potted plant in the corner. He was an object of derision. I'm sorry that he didn't get help and others didn't recognize that he needed something more than an overnight stay or two. The video shows how mental illness and an illness of the soul can manifest. I think that he had both. It is really not glorifying him in any way but providing a glimpse into a dark place that we hope to never see.
TherapyDoc said…
Syd and CK, I totally agree.
TAG said…
I understand what you are saying. I don't disagree with it. But, I still have some serious concerns that others will see all the "discussion" as glorifying the perpetrator. If we turn this person into a hero I fear we will find a rash of copycat shooters endangering our sons and daughters everywhere.

I know the analogy is far from perfect; but, I go back to the 1970's and the craze of streaking at sports events. How many times did you see some fool running around on a field interrupting an event? The streakers got their faces (and other parts sometimes) on camera. Fleeting fame seemed to be worth any amount of later shame.

I also recall what happened when the TV folks stopped talking about it. When TV pronounced that all such interruptions would henceforth be ignored, the behavior stopped.

Again, I'm not saying this would happen if we were to never pronounce the name of any future shooters. I could be completely wrong with my concerns. What do you think Doc? Have I missed a key element here somewhere?


(Notice at no point do I use this individuals name nor will I ever use the name. I say relegate the name to the wastebasket of history. Honor the victims, leave the perpetrator unnamed.)
TherapyDoc said…
Tag, it's certainly something to think about. I understand your concern.

I envision a question/answer session -- video or no video-- that teases out the thoughts and feelings of children with a trained team of paraprofessionals or peer counselors who know how to respond appropriately, thus disseminating important information and raising awareness.

Our children need to know about mental illness. These serious disorders aren't glorious.

The kind of assembly or classroom dialogue I'm talking about would be similar to that of the sexual assault prevention programming that has started in some middle schools and high schools throughout the country.

Kids see so much violence, I feel they have to learn to see Cho as he was, mentally ill, probably hearing voices, and compare being mentally ill to willfully perpetrating crime, ala Columbine.

Kids have to learn that violence isn't cool in either case, of course.

It's not an easy workshop and I haven't thought it out, really. But I think it's possible. The video could be a powerful teaching tool. That's why I suggested we show it, but under controlled circumstances.
I've been turning this post over in my mind since I read it the first time yesterday. Reading the comments today has helped too.

I think your idea of using the video in a teaching environment, where questions could be answered, similar to the sexual assault prevention assemblies is a great start.

It seems to me that a "good touch/bad touch" approach (that's what they call it in MN) would be terrific and could be made age appropriate for even early elementary school. I think of the isolation that a child that age might feel if he/she were experiencing the symptoms or, if one of their parents' were exhibiting symptoms.

To move mental illness out from the shadows and the blaming to something we can talk about together and work together to make better.

The one question I have is raised by some comments I've read other places, purportedly by people who suffer from schiophrenic spectrum disorders or BPD, etc. where they are feeling that all this discussion has made people afraid fo them and increased discrimination/isolation towards them. What do you think?
TherapyDoc said…
NFH, this is terrible. To further marginalize people with illness is criminal, let's say at the very least, emotionally abusive.

We even have laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against the mentally ill.

The medications available today are so much better than ever before. There's every reason to be very hopeful that with proper medication management, family support, and psycho-education, that people who suffer from psychotic illnesses can do well and can function within a community.

Understanding the illness--that's the ticket. Knowing, for example, that someone with schizophrenia, paranoid might be a little more anxious than your average anxiety disordered person and that keeping the anger level very low within the family context can make a big difference to the patient.

Knowing that someone with BPD might be very out of touch with others, might be missing the empathy variable while "high" (manic) is another.

We'll talk more about it soon. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, as always.
lushgurl said…
I have not seen the video, so I cannot comment on it. I do however agree that it could be used as a teaching/learning tool. So many kids suffer in silence, bringing mental illness out into the open could, perhaps, lessen the stigma attached to it. I don't think showing the video makes a hero of the perpetrator. It seems to me that there is so much violence on tv, that maybe a "real" portrayal of all of the effects of this violence might cause us all to think again, and maybe be more compassionate towards our fellow humans.
I'm just sayin'...