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Thursday, April 19, 2007


It was only once i used a rapid-fire pistol. It was a dainty thing that fit snugly into the palm, like a heavy-built tool a child might wave around knowing they've been told not to, but feeling flush with tingling strength from doing so. I was young and when metal was pressed into my hand - i pointed, pulled, and absorbed.
- - -

i am convinced that nurture rules our existence. genetics and pre-disposition are of little influence on behavior, in my opinion. there are the extremes ~ those who have switches wired in such ways that no amount of experience will stave off their injuries. but, i am convinced this is rare.

i am convinced that the sociopath is a created creature. i believe that we all have the ability to turn off empathy for others, dehumanize them, separate them from having the same fears, pain, loves as we do. i believe that we are trained, either poorly or well, to fend off these slips into the emotional void. i believe this is the evolution of the human ~ whether or not we train ourselves well, or poorly.

and whether or not we help train others.

i have worked and played with people from all corners of this world. i have spoken with the young genius and gaped at the old bigot. i have fought, i have loved, i have feared.

and i believe that we are all of the same cloth, if not the same cut. i believe we learn to value or not value each other. i believe ... we choose.


shawndoggy said...

then maybe you can explain who we "catch" mental illnesses from?

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

300million people in the US.

how many do we have that are mentally ill?

what is the percentage?

would you consider that 'rare?'

X Bunny said...

word, olaf


sdog: first of all, it depends on how you define 'mental illness'

there are genetic tendencies towards certain disorders: depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder for examples

and there are documented chemical imbalances in neurotransmitters that occur in these conditions

and it can influence your behavior and choices and i believe in the power of that

just experiencing the loss of control a day of pms causes is frightening and makes me believe

but not everyone with these genetic tendencies develops these disorders--for most people it is just a tendency, and the environment, how we learn to behave, the nurture facture plays a significant role in whether those genetic tendencies manifest

now personality disorders are a whole 'nother ball of wax and fur

these are not genetic--they are learned--and this includes the antisocial personality (aka-sociopath)

these disorders are our own making, each individually, each family, each society


i better have a few more chocolate chip cookies left to get me through this day

Velo Bella said...

I believe the spectrum of what we can choose from, is predetermined.

Any mother of more than one, can attest to this. Behavior, even under the same circumstances, different, even in infancy.

The son of the baseball player, that wants only to play the piano. The daughter of the party girly-girl, dressed in fancy dresses with little matching shoes, wanting only to climb trees and play hockey. Where did this desire come from, when the environment presented and encouraged was otherwise?

Many times it is a lethal combination of nature and nuture that makes a sociopath. In some study of serial killers, 64% of them were found to have a frontal lobe abnormality (either by birth or damage). Other studies have shown that most psychopaths show an abornmal hippocampus (is that near the medula oblangata?) Of couse, in that case, the argument can be made of whether environment or genes caused the abnormality.

There are those with this wiring, but a loving upbringing, and they thrive. There are those without this wiring, and a neglectful upbringing, and they overcome.

A preexisting wiring, plus the right amount of neglect...kaboom.

And what of the kids with Autism or Aspergers? There is no amount of nurture that will allow them to feel the empathy that those with normal brain development feel. A functioning Asperberger can learn ways to compensate, to do what their society deems as correct, but that is not the same as feeling it.

The brain is an amazingly complex funny looking organ, one little wire, one little chemical..and things go wacky.

So throw me in the Nature+Nuture ring.

McSassy said...

I'm not sure anyone even wants to hear from me on this one......

With that I'll say great topic.


shawndoggy said...

what's the percentage of sociopaths (talking about people who could be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, correct?) as compared to the mentally-ill-with-genetic-basis (i.e. schizophrenia, bipolar, alzheimers, dementia, autism, Asperger's, etc)?

I've got to believe that "sociopathy" (which really, man, is sooooo "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest") is much rarer.

And to discount genetic predisposition is too simple. What about the studies where adopted kids turn out differently from "natural" kids within the same family? Subconscious difference in how we treat 'em?

Nurture counts sure... but anyone who's had their first in depth conversation with a three year old knows that there's stuff going on inside that noggin that has nothing to do with nurture.

VB -- +1, well said.

X Bunny said...

'one flew over the cuckoo's nest' is one extreme

there are many people who can be diagnosed as sociopaths who live amongst us every day

i may not have quite expressed myself adequately to convey the fact that i know that genetics play a role--more or less depending on the exact situation we are talking about

but what i see in life everyday is that we don't take enough responsibility for ourselves

and that is my main point

Anonymous said...

what about the identical twins who were seperated at birth.

later in life they were reunited.

they were both firefighters.

they were both married with two kids.

they both had the same kind of dog.

they had both named their dogs the same thing.


what about the 12-year-old boys who've been raised by straight-laced, religious families with masculine father figures who are suddenly finding themselves attracted to other 12-year-old boys?


i'm not saying i think we're all genetically programed i'm just saying your reasoning is flawed.

X Bunny said...

maybe being raised in a straight-laced religious family with a masculine father is what made them attracted to other 12 year old boys?

bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

As someone who has had intense personal experiences with "real" mental illness (which I see as having identifiable biological causes -- wiring, hormones, etc.), I do think that "off" wiring can help to create a volatile life. I think that mix does infinitely more damage to the individual with the illness than any outsiders.

I personally feel that a whole lot of what it is to be human starts with nature: we want to survive, we seek companionship, we seek pleasure and improvement. However, I think that nurture is much more important in deciding who we become. How do we react to the things that happen to us? Are we taught to appreciate what we have or that we are entitled to it? Are we victims of or actors in our own lives? Can we accept that there is good and bad, attempt to see the best in people rather than suspecting them of being against us?

I think they both play important roles in the development of humans, but I think that nurture is really what shapes us.

Nome Agusta said...

I have a friend that is studying to be Doctor of Sociopathology.

Nome Agusta said...

News = Poison for the brain.

Change the channel.

X Bunny said...

word, nome
a study has shown a correlation between amount of time watching the news and levels of depression

ginmtb said...

Hey Sea Otter was cool, wasn't it?

What were y'all talking about again?

X Bunny said...

sorry i missed you at the otter, gin

and i agree, it's time for a cheese break

shawndoggy said...

ignorance is bliss!

Little_Jewford said...

I'll never understand why people cant accept mental illness is an ILLNESS, that something in our genetics predetermines that we will be mentally ill or that we will more likely to become mentally ill depending on the social or environmental factors we are exposed to.

The brain is an organ, just like any other organ, with complicated biochemical pathways that determine its function. Is it so difficult to accept, like other organs, sometimes this pathways start to malfunction and that, hopefully, medication will mediate the problem?

Mental illness is as common as any other disease, we just dont treat it like it is. I dont feel "sorry" for the shooter at VT (that is what we are talking about here) but he was a extremely ill individual. I am no expert but from what I understand he was not a sociopath.

In the back of my mind I was hoping this incident may raise awareness of the lack of resources for the mentally in the us....instead we'll try and say this is another Columbine. sigh....

McSassy said...

ok I cant........

Why do we have to try and pin a tag on all the people who do some bad thing such as this?

I mean cant we just allow the possibility that some people are just "F'd" up and not nice?

I think its because if we decide they are ill in some way then we can feel somehow better because there is at least some answer other than having a normal person do something that seems so insane.

I think bad people do bad things.

Some ill people do bad things also but I'm going to go with my obervation that give an asshole a motive and a platform and they will make headlines.

Now where are my Jolly Ranchers cause the Giants game is on and I need my baseball fix.


ginmtb said...

Yeah missed you too at the Otter XBun - I inquired about you and da PAB but was told something about sleeping in and no racey racey.

You can read about my SOC weekend here, including my encounter with oV... :)

Sorry for the smart a$$ remarks, this is actually quite a compelling discussion. I think what is bothering me the most about the whole incident is how much face time this guy is getting on the media outlets, etc. He clearly had some serious issues and it's sad that they weren't recognized or taken more seriously. And let's face it - kids can be brutal to other kids, and clearly that contributed in tipping the scales. But come on, I don't want to see this guy's face over and over again and it shouldn't be broadcast every-freakin'-where unless something good is to come out of it. Illness or no illness, he still killed 32 people and it shouldn't be glamourized. I mean, look how many copycat fockers are out there already. Dumba$$es.

On a side note the Warriors made the playoffs for the first time in 13 years!!!

PAB(a.k.a.CID) said...

Sassy, I doubt people want to read what I have to say on the subject either.

But tough shit.


I will never be convinced that either nature or nurture are the stronger influence. I think it can go both/either way. Every case is different and unique.

Is my temper just inherited genetically, or is it a learned pattern of behavior? Could be either or both, dunno.


Chemical imballances are real. And they can cause people to do things.

Environment is very powerful. It can cause people to do things.

And I believe that everyone has a breaking point.

Sometimes I am amazed that more people don't reach it.


So Ov, what were you shooting at? I assume whatever it was deserved it...

PAB(a.k.a.CID) said...

holycrap i type (ok think, too) slow.

there's like, 10 comments in the time it took me to write that crap.

McSassy said...


Great great point.

I for one am not the most ummm warm and fuzzy person to say the least.

I'm a nice person "In my mind" and hope people know that but at the same time can and have used a weapon with intent to kill. Not a human but in the right situation I have no doubt that I could if I had to.

Had I a gun or anything other than my bare hands when I was car jacked we would know for sure.

Am I ill?


Am I aware of how human weakness works........hell yes.

I also agree that the VT killer is getting way to much press time but sadly thats what the majority of the US population wants to see and they will get it.


X Bunny said...

is your slow typing genetic or (not)learned?

bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

Is it what everyone wants to see, or are we all just watching because it is the trainwreck of the moment & we've spent so long staring at train wrecks that we think it's the normal course of things?

I don't want to see it...I quit watching. I don't think a lot of people want to see it, but I do think that "we" as a society think that we're supposed to be up on current events & see disengaging from toxic news reports as a sign of weakness and apathy. I don't think that's true. What we see on the news isn't what really happened anyway; it's some highly concentrated version of what happened filtered through people who weren't there, didn't have the experience, but share the fear of those who were there.

Kinda scary, really.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me the term "mental illness" is obsolete and should be retired. There are neurological disorders and there are cognitive/behavioral disorders. Sometimes one influences the other. Then again, some people are just twisted and evil. And some people have an enormous capacity for compassion and love. Most are somewhere in the middle.

At least, thats the way I see it...

Little_Jewford said...

Sassy said:
"I think its because if we decide they are ill in some way then we can feel somehow better because there is at least some answer other than having a normal person do something that seems so insane."

No....because we dont "decide" they are ill in some way....they ARE ill.

This has nothing to do with "what I (or you) would do if in a certain situation" or "pushed" it has to do with a disease that causes people to involuntarily do things. Thats why its an illness. It's totally off-base to discuss it in terms of "human weaknesses".

I think I am starting to understand why support for research and treatment of mental illnesses is so woefully underfunded.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

ack ~ brain ... overloaded.

must revert to biker booty talk.

ginmtb said...

I think I am starting to understand why support for research and treatment of mental illnesses is so woefully underfunded.

And if you think it is bad here, travel overseas where those with physical disabilities are treated as not just 2nd class citizens but lower, and where those with mental illnesses are even lower. This guy's country of origin is probably one of them, as are most Asian countries.

Okay I gotta stop now. My little brain is starting to hurt.

Little_Jewford said...

Sorry Olaf...but you opened the can of worms.

Anyway...I'm thinking we find a steeper hill at next years S.O. so any especially good biker booty cant ride away so fast....

Velojuice said...

This one is too hot to touch, so I think I will. How many of you have had famly members murdered? How many of you have had a family member as a murderer?

You may all take a step back now. So this conversation can meld into many others. As one of the aforementioned

I think some times a things just happen and it doesn't neatly fit into a % of a study and just defies logic. I have spent the beter part of 15 yearsa trying to make sense of it all.

Bike on......

Flandria said...

how many mental cases out there voted for Sanjaya to be on American Idol this long....

that's just nuts...

britney shaving her head for no reason - is that a mental illness, I wonder?

horrid...just horrid

in all seriousness of this topic, it is scary...

Anonymous said...

"ack ~ brain ... overloaded.

must revert to biker booty talk. "

Yeh, stick to that. At least when you give a not so accurate/ one sided assessment of biking (tactics, behavior....) you have more than 15 "followers" to preach your gospel and pounce on anyone who disagrees. Kinda like the Bush administration, but different.

Anonymous said...

OK that was mean - I take i back. But I still do not agree with your smear campain against dean. Especially in light of what happened a few weekends later with the PAB - you know what I am say'n.

Sometmes your opinion is too strong and in the moment.

Still -you are a great guy though

X Bunny said...

i am following the wisdom of snowball here

X Bunny said...

i take it back

at least it takes some courage to give your opinions with your name attached to them

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

funny ... i thought i was pretty clean with my commentary on Dean. And on Jeff.

and i did point out my part in the play, my errors in judgment and action. Has Dean ever said anything about his? or, does he not have to because he was 'smeared?'. and ... maybe you should read back a few months to check on all the other myriad times i've put myself up as example of when acting an asshole.

and i have followers?

right on ...

just wait for the kool-aid, kids!
- - -

anony said:
"Seems to me the term "mental illness" is obsolete and should be retired. There are neurological disorders and there are cognitive/behavioral disorders. Sometimes one influences the other. Then again, some people are just twisted and evil. And some people have an enormous capacity for compassion and love. Most are somewhere in the middle."

... ayup.

The question the original post centers around is ... what do we choose to do?

more and more, i feel our country/culture is slipping deeper and deeper into isolationism ~ both on a national and personal scale. Our foreign policy feels like an SUV jumping through lanes on the freeway, cutting anyone and everyone off, just to push forward a few seconds in traffic ... going the same place.

Is there going to be a point of no-return? Have we ever not had this be the case?

isolationism ... meaning, a lack of empathy to the needs and pain of others. does anyone else see a parallel between VT and an illegal, immoral invasion of a country that posed absolutely NO material threat to us?

shawndoggy said...

Hmmm, no I don't get the connection. Iraq = OUR choice; VT = HIS choice. If VT = OUR fault, then 9-11/OK City/Columbine/Jim Jones our fault too?

There are lots of disaffected people out there with gripes, even legit gripes, but in the end it's THEIR choice to get strapped.

for every Cho, there are 10 million disaffected loners who suck it up and find a way to deal. Get religion. Join a cult. Join the army. Take up bicycle racing. There's lots of room in the world for dorks.

Or sit in your dorm room, play Halo by yourself and plot your exit.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

no Shawn, Iraq was HIS choice. Or, THEIR choice. not my choice. but i let it happen, didn't i?

VT was HIS choice, and we (family, associates, citizens) let it happen. didn't WE?

or maybe i'm just too pinko about it all?

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

and i'm waiting to hear what violent video games that fukkup was into...

next wave of hysteria

Little_Jewford said...

S.doggy said:
"for every Cho, there are 10 million disaffected loners who suck it up and find a way to deal." IMHO, Cho wasn't a member of the group we typically describe as "disaffected loners" and, in his abnormal mind, he likely didn't have a choice. He was a ill individual that lost his grasp on reality and his ability to make decisions in the way most of us, disaffected or not, do.

If he was truly like millions of others dont you think this type of incident would happen more often then it does (and I'm not counting Columbine...the leader there was a sociopath, Cho was more likely psychotic)?

What I like least about S. doggys specific comment has nothing to do with Cho, VT or other similar acts, rather that it makes those who are mentally ill sound simply like disaffected individuals who didnt find the strength or the right hobby to keep it together. Thats just not how it works...they are sick, like cancer, like MS, like a ton of other horrible non "mental" diseases.


shawndoggy said...

OUR in Iraq context = U.S. Govt. I'm still not subversive enough to distance myself from our government even when I disagree. Actually the act of vocal disagreement is what really makes me feel patriotic.

But back on topic -- lots of legal rights in the individual in the U.S. and an ethos of individualism too. Don't tread on me and all that.

And this is in contrast to his being a first gen Korean... which adds all sorts of funk to the mix. His family, for instance, probably acted in a way that your pinko side would find abhorent but which was culturally appropriate. I mean really, if you think that there's stigma about dealing with mental health issues among "mainstream American culture..." (whatever that is)

Really, the scarier thing to me is how close we ALL are to F'ing it up bigtime.

And LJ -- you and I are totally on the same page... my point was that "reaching out" to THIS PARTICULAR guy, well NO, it ain't gonna work. Longer involuntary commitments? Forced meds? Straight jackets? Or maybe, just maybe, a different way to look at the stigma of mental illness (see my first comment at the top of the page).

Little_Jewford said..., sorry I didnt catch the whole story. Interesting, Stacy (who has worked in psycho-social rehab) and I have been debated if "the system" (especially since he was over 18) could have done more in this particular. WAAAAY to long of a conversation..but very interesting debate. I will say that she has one particularly good point, that after he visited campus counseling, left campus for treatment, then returned (for the Spring 2006 semester I assume) there should have been proactive follow up from the campus counseling office. She believes this holds even if he was only a danger to himself (suicide) or others.

I'm out...

Grey said...

"Or sit in your dorm room, play Halo by yourself and plot your exit."

Has anyone read or heard about Hikikomori in Japan? Lotsa Japanese guys not leaving the house these days. At all. For years.

I liked the "warriors made the playoffs" and "Giants win!" parts of this thread. That was easy enough.

And +1 on the Lucas ups from yesterday. I did training rides with him when he was 17. He's rad.

Jeez, about that other stuff? A semi-on topic thought I had is a quote from an old Indian guy who doesn't talk who lives over the hill from you, Olaf (which hill I'm not sure since I don't know exactly where you live): "Work honestly, meditate every day, meet people without fear, and play." By meditate he of course means, "ride your bike."

Grey said...

Also it would make me insane to identify myself with my government. Of course I can't help it to a degree. I want to be a good citizen. 32 at Virginia Tech; same day 160 in Iraq. The latter caused by "my" hideous, willful, ideology-first-people-last ignorance.

Before all things I wish to be human.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

i believe a *sigh* is in order.

shall we adjourn for margaritas, mes amis?

lauren said...

woops, i think i'm at the wrong party.

bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

Can I have mine with two cherries and a little umbrella?

jAndy donka-donk said...

Darwin... overpopulation... oversize brain... mommy not breast feeding long enough....

I am just glad we are one of two mammals that enjoy sex and smart enough to create two wheeled motion....

PAB(a.k.a.CID) said...

ok, back to the originl topic.

yes, we choose.

myself, i choose to try.

but it can be mighty challenging, and I don't always succeed....

Anonymous said...

The Juice said it -

"How many of you have had famly members murdered? How many of you have had a family member as a murderer?"

And can I add -

How many of you have killed and how many of you had front row seats to someone being killed?

What you "think" you are capable of does not count. That fits into the "what if" category.

velogirl said...

what's the second mammal, Andy?

Anonymous said...

The thing about choice, OV, is that the lens of our experience sometimes distorts or blinds us to choices that we may have. How many children never fully realize their gifts because they were conviced at an early age that they would never amount to anything? Far to many.

I did see something the other night that gave me a glimmer of hope, though. 15 years ago, my commute took me through East Palo Alto, when it was a much higher crime neighborhood. I frequently saw young men on corners selling drugs. I'm commuting the same route again now, and last night I saw young men on corners selling strawberries.

Now, lets go race bicycles!


jAndy donka-donk said...

orgasm... all mammalian males upon ejaculation

making love... dolphins (from some movie)

females smart enough to stimulate an orgasm... dolphins, elephants,
monkeys, orangutans, gorillas and chimpanzees (had to look that one