Friday, April 12, 2013

Knowing Killers

I’ve been watching Hannibal—the new TV series—and while it may grow on me, right now it’s just annoying.  I know it’s way more dramatic to make a flawed character, but I don’t understand why Will Graham has to be some borderline personality which he describes as closer to autism than narcissism, or something like that.  I mean, I get that it’s difficult to think like a criminal, but you don’t have to be crazy to do it. 
It does bother me when my kids come into the office wanting to shoot or blow up something or someone.  I’ve heard some disturbing things in my practice.  But, when I sit and talk to these kids, I get it.  You should hear some of the things they say.  They’re pretty fascinating.   I wouldn’t say I’m disturbed though—just maybe a little nutty.  But then, aren’t we all? 
I’ll admit the obvious sociopaths don’t bother me as much as others.  I know I can do something about those:  call psych, admit, call the cops, CPS, whoever.  People intervene on those. 
What bothers me more are the ones I can’t intervene on because they’re not doing something classified as wrong.  Things like “Oh, he’s just like his lazy, selfish sperm donor,” and “He’s out of control.  I can’t get him to do what I want him to do.” “He’s so bad” —spoken in front of their children.  One place I really cringe is the ball parks:  football, soccer, baseball, any of them.  I want to take some of those kids home and say, “Don’t listen to them.  You’re just fine.”  What about those who decide their current family isn’t good enough?  Try helping a parent explain why mom decided that other guy is better than her kids and their dad.  Then you have those kids that never have rules enforced. "No" is a bad word to them.  Don’t ask the parents to train them in the way of considering others and delayed gratification.  You’d do better telling a serial killer to stop killing. 
I think what’s most distressing is that this is considered acceptable behavior no matter how much it hurts others, killing confidence, self-esteem, and ability to love and care.  Maybe that’s why we like to classify and label the “monsters.” That way we can feel good about ourselves and say “well, I don’t act like that” as we criticize and gossip, tearing down others.
See, it’s not so disturbing when those with true disorders act in accordance to their condition.  They are fairly predictable.  You try to anticipate and intervene early.  It’s those who are supposedly normal that bother me most.  You can’t figure out what to expect.  Their actions are more subtle and far more damaging and long lasting, especially since they’re most likely directed at those we say we love. 
I do understand Will Graham’s emotional turmoil at trying to categorize and keep a normal perspective.  Listening and looking at the worst humans do to each other is hard day in and day out.  It’s easier when we can explain it away by having some kind of sociopathy or psychopathy.  It’s harder when it comes from someone who is supposedly a “really nice, upstanding person.”
Kind of makes me wonder: Who gets to make the rules on what defines humanity? 


  1. I'd never thought about in such terms but I agree with you. In many ways, it's much harder to help people with the ordinary everyday problems than it is with something bigger. With the bigger things, next steps are often more obvious.

  2. Excellent, excellent post! I so get what you mean. Obvious I can see and deal with, devious is harder. And small minded gossip is so dangerous and mentally hurtful to the target.

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