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psychiatry and mental health (1)

Gun Problem: Fear Problem

Dr. Jonathan Metzl, a psychiatrist and Director of the Center for Medicine, Health and Society (Vanderbilt University, TN)

 https://www.vanderbilt.edu/mhs/faculty/jonathan-m-metzl/

I just watched an interview with Dr. Metzl on Democracy Now on the internet, and I know his expertise is very important to the debates, as we now witness the tragedy of another mass murder shooting in a Florida highschool, another one, one of 18 such incidents in the school year so far in the USA. 

Most important in the discussion on the program was the impact on society of such events, which Metzl raised as the "broader questions" beyond all the details and symptoms of these mass murders. I heartily agree, as he says, "In terms of what I think psychiatry and mental health can do.... the question that rarely gets asked at times like this is why do we need so many guns in the first place? What kind of society do we really live in and want to live in?....in the aftermath of this people start to mistrust each other, all of a sudden, we need more guns in schools, more armed guards, more metal detectors....this mistrust becomes so pervasive," he says.

And, yes, mistrust only can register and grow like a virus damaging the social fabric (i.e., sociality and social trust) if fear is rampant and spreading like a virus. The word fear was not actually mentioned on the entire story Democracy Now covered, or in Metzl's dialogue. I think this is where feariatry (as one of the branches of fearology and the three pillars, in Desh Subba and my books) comes in... we will not get to the roots of what Metzl is concerned about without a serious study of the Fear Problem, as more important than the Gun Problem, and that whole shift would really give us a chance to ask what kind of society we live in and want to live in. Since the mid-1990s these issues have been brought up with the documenting and naming of the "culture of fear" problem in America, but fast spreading around the world... and, actually, this label goes back to the early 1980s. So, clearly, there isn't much take-up of the problem, and much really serious public discourse on fear--and, certainly, in my 29 years studying this all the school systems are loath to get into discussing it. We so lack vision in W. society.

Anyways, there will always be more opportunities, and unfortunately, more deaths... more guns... more mistrust and more fear. Feariatry has to be brought up to help inform psychiatry (and mental health) at all levels. I have written on several of the mass murders about these things for years. So far, no one really is listening too intently and rather people follow the fear trail... and look who to blame ... a point Gavin de Becker made back in the late 1990s as he studied these issues as a security expert... yes, change is very slow. Though, one cannot predict the future totally by the past--thank goodness, otherwise, I'd be motivated to say, "we're fucked!" 

 

 

 

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