Human emotions are more sophisticated and complex when compared to any other animal on the planet. Our emotions are like a double edged sword, too little or too much can lead to disastrous consequences while just the right amount can lead to productivity, achievement, altruism and greatness. Blinding rage can happen to anybody under certain circumstances. However it is more likely to occur among those who have established difficulties regulating their emotions.
Over many years I have worked with children as young as 3 and I have come across a few that are enveloped with blinding rage. When calm they tend to be logical, reasonable and capable of normal interactions. But when enraged, all logical thinking goes out the window leading to destruction of self, others or both like in the Sandy Hook and other mass massacre shootings.
Other factors that play in the lack of control of emotional rage are the presence of neurobiological illnesses such as Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Depression, poor impulse control in the form of ADHD resulting in emotional impulsivity and social skill deficits. The use of drugs and alcohol can also lead to lapses in judgment and dangerous behaviors.
So what do you do with a 6 year old who wants to kill or assault everyone within sight when set off by the smallest emotional trigger? Do you blame the parents, the child’s genes, the child’s traumatic experiences or the violence ridden neighborhood? The few lucky ones living in states like NY that has some mental health services might get help. Otherwise they may go in and out of hospitals, clinics and eventually juvenile detention centers. I do understand the plight of mothers like Liza Long the “Anarchist Soccer Mom,” as parents like her might find themselves stuck either because of uncontrollable circumstances or their self-made situations.
As long as humans inhabit this planet, blinding and illogical rage is here to stay. The bottom line is that there are two choices to prevent carnage of innocent lives. Either fix the emotional landscape of human functioning and accountability or fix the gun laws. I think it is easier to amend gun laws to make it harder for lethal weapons to fall into the wrong hands. But this can happen only if all politicians put their personal and political agendas and emotions aside.
By Preetham Grandhi MD