School Shootings & Psychoactive Drugs

John W. Maly maly at shell.servtech.com
Thu Apr 22 09:43:28 EST 1999


In article <371e922b.0 at news.victoria.tc.ca>,
Arthur T. Murray <uj797 at victoria.tc.ca> wrote:
>
>If the above statistic is indeed valid, the psychotic outbreaks
>occur in a uniquely American setting conducive to an urge to kill.
>
>There are small American children right now who will be killed in
>their prosperous American high schools over the next ten years be-
>cause America fosters the society that erupts in a killing spree:
>
>1.  Although radio in the nineteen-twenties and TV in the forties
>started out as innocent media belonging to the public, their rapid
>commercialization led to violence as the lowest common denominator.
>Kill! Kill! Kill! computer games such as Mortal Kombat and Doom
>have finished off the complete numbness and subconscious lust for
>pulling the trigger which now lurk in the minds of American kids.
>Sadly, nothing can be done about this collective youth culture.

While this is definitely a recent invention, I would posit that it simply
allows children to bring their fantasies closer to reality.  The root of
the problem would seem to be that children are confusing fantasy with reality,
and even having murderous fantasies to begin with.  Violent TV has been around
longer than the 1990's; the "Faces of Death" movies, and the violent action
thrillers in the theaters today are not exclusively a product of this decade.

>
>2.  The American glorification of high school athletics leads to
>the in-groups and the "Trenchcoat Mafia" outcasts who are made to
>feel inferior to the "jocks" on whom America lavishes money, praise
>and high self-esteem.  Something actually could be done about this
>factor in the killings, but American culture would rather witness
>twenty or thirty kids shot dead each year than change priorities.

True, but why weren't "nerds" (who would likely possess a superior knowledge
of chemistry) causing widespread poisonings or similar such crimes in the
past?

>3.  American high school principals, vice-principals and coaches
>would rather root for the home team than crack down on the teasing
>and the social outcasting that results in the Ritalin shoot-outs.
>Massive parental pressure here could prevent some of the killings.

Again, this teasing has existed for eons.  In the past, at most, a child would
act out against his aggressor; murder the bully.  Nothing of the current
magnitude.

>
>4.  The Republican gun-lobby stranglehold on American politics
>ensures that when some Ritalin-crazed kid or Prozac zombie wants
>to shoot your child dead in the cafeteria, your child will die.

Come on, let's try to A) keep on topic, and B) not be ridiculous.  It is
Federally illegal to possess a gun, unsupervised, under the age of 18, to
make, possess, and detonate pipebombs, to saw off shotguns and possess
said modified weapons, to carry any guns within 1000 feet of a school, and of
course, to murder people.  A lack of laws caused by conservatism is certainly
not the problem here.  Further, guns have been around since the 1500's.  Why
weren't children coming into school in the 1800's, or the 1950's, and gunning
down all of their classmates?  Are modern guns (inanimate objects) more "evil"?
Let's keep in mind that these kids could just as easily have mixed large
quantities of ammonia and bleach, and possibly killed even more people.  They
certainly had the planning ability to execute such an action.

All of the listed factors (except number 4) seem to contribute small parts.
But they still seem to add up to a pretty low correlational value, in my
opinion.  This suddenly started happening, and I seriously doubt that it is
because some "threshold" was reached.  The probable presence of a missing
chunk of causality is what seems to make the psychoactive drug theory worth
investigating.

John
Syracuse University Psychology Department




More information about the Neur-sci mailing list