Cryptcl: Protect Ourselves: Mental Illness Due Dilligence?

Similar to the DHS program of “if you see something say something”, we need the citizens of this nation to better understand what mental illnesses look like, and do a little due dilligence on their own. Now I am not professional therapist, Psychologist, or Psychiatrist, but I am familiar with mental illness and how it impacts the individual. There are some common patterns that can indicate a possible problem. The Tuscan shooter’s teacher and classmates knew something was wrong. They just didn’t know what to do about it. Let’s look at some of the common symptoms of most mental illnesses, and then look at what can be done about it.

People with mental illnesses:

  • are almost always loners without a social support system
  • are usually repeating the same phrases over and over
  • are usually stuck on the same subject regardless of what others are saying
  • appear unaware of any disruption they are causing
  • are often speaking incoherent nonsense as far as outsiders are concerned
  • often feel persecuted, owed something, or not being treated fairly by some entity
  • tend to speak and mumble to themselves since no one else is listening to them
  • they have no need of professional help because they feel they are just fine, no problems
  • tend to make lots of wild threats against others
  • they have inappropriate emotional responses.  They laugh and show anger when its out of place with the current conversation.
  • they march to a different drummer. They never appear to be doing what everyone else is doing or talking about. Their always on the outside of the group
  • anger toward any authority figures and sometimes anger toward everybody
  • their personal appearance is unimportant to them, often they look disheveled or unkept
  • good chance they are paranoid if they keep worrying about something being done to them
  • speak with too much volume, listeners are overpowered by their yelling or loudness
  • quick to anger, seeming to be very unstable
  • don’t tend to listen to other people, continue repeating their phrase regardless what others say
  • seem slow to react to physical pain, as if they are high or numb
  • often they are substance abusers
  • tend to speak “in your face” overly aggressive
  • in “your gut” you know something is “wrong with that guy”
  • they are fearless in the physical world, intentionally tempting danger
  • try and create conversations about weapons, in most cases the individual is very proud of his/her weapon, and is willing to talk about it.”Hey my dad and I are going duck hunting with a new rifle we haven’t used yet” “Have you ever been duck hunting, or used a rifle or gun?” The answer might help determine what type of weapons the individual has.

The list above is not exhaustive, but I believe it is a good start. Now lets say we encounter someone with many of these symptoms. What are we supposed to do about it. Your actions will be determined by where you encountered the individual that appears to having problems.

  • if in school inform professors, teachers, and nurse that you are worried about the individual
  • if in the military, report to your immediate supervisor and request guidance
  • if it is in the workplace, report to your immediate supervisor and request guidance
  • if it is out on the street, don’t hesitate to report it to the police
  • never argue with the individual
  • never physically confront the individual
  • never indicate you might be reporting to others
  • if the situation is getting out of hand or uncomfortable…..say nothing and just walk away

Remember the goal is to try and help the individual. Sitting in a jail cell without any proactive players helping from the sidelines does not solve the problem, nor does simply locking up and throwing away the key. We are trying to guide the individual to available help and human services.

  • mental illness means the individual is not aware of the symptoms, and it is an illness that is not their fault. Treat these individuals with calming and soft spoken voices, and show them sincere empathy and compassion.
  • never threaten the individual. That will only magnify some of the symptoms. The Tuscan shooter was thrown out of his class for disrupting, and can’t return without a doctor’s note saying he’s sane, not a danger, and can participate in classroom. I know the professor thought he/she was doing what was best for the class. Throwing the shooter out of the class, only leaves the individual isolated, angry, and he could have easily turned around and attacked the professor and the class. In the Tuscan case he had a bigger grudge against Rep. Giffords for a slight during a “Congress on the Corner” session in 2007. But threatening and isolating the individual can be the fuse to horrific act of violence.
  • always seek to discuss the individual privately with family members or people that have seen the individual over a long period in time. You are discussing how worried and concerned you are about the actions of the individual. Are they confirming the symptoms we’ve noticed? Is the individual getting better or worse over time? It could lead to some family members becoming more active in the daily life of the individual and perhaps seeking some professional help to diffuse the individual through medication or hands-on therapy.

We are not professionals in psychiatry so there is little we can do but report the situation and let professionals do their job. The real issue is we are trying to identify those with possible problems before they become large violent problems. Any reporting intervention can only alert professionals and then it is their issue to help protect the public. Hopefully, an early report can prevent some of the violence these individuals cause.

Published in: on August 1, 2011 at 9:39 am  Leave a Comment  

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