Monday, April 23, 2007

A Clarification

In reading over some posts, and being rightfully called on the carpet by some posters, I wanted to clarify the issue of mental illness vs. evil in the VA Tech shootings. Here is my position as clearly as I can explain it.

Evil exists. As a Catholic, I believe that God exists, and, so does evil.

But, as a mental illness advocate and consumer, I firmly believe that mental illness certainly exists and has nothing (in general) to do with evil. Mental illness is a brain disorder and by definition, causes various behaviors.

There are situations where an otherwise "sane" (read, non-mentally ill) person commits horrible atrocities. It is in those situations that it is easiest to see the work of evil.

But, the fact that evil exists, does not, by definition mean that the person committing those horrible acts cannot suffer from mental illness.

Mental illness does not preclude intelligence--it often accompanies it. People who suffer from mental illness are quite capable of planning and forethought in many cases. The fact that an act is planned, does not mean the perpetrator does not suffer from mental illness.

Mental illness is physical and for the most part, treatable.

In trying to balance my belief in the medical model of mental illness with my belief in the existence of evil, I missed the boat. For that, I apologize.


Unknown said...

I agree that mental illness has nothing to do with evil.
If this shooter from VA had been on some form of medication or hospitalization (depending how ill) he may have been able to recognize the evil thoughts he had as being wrong. But clearly he was very disturbed and didn't make sense when he was talking.
I know that evil exists of course.

Anonymous said...

Naw DSIL, you didnt miss the boat at all. I think you're understanding of several very complex subjects (religion, the brain, the mind) are
very difficult subjects to understand, even for those who spend their entire lives trying to. I think it all boils down to G-d makes things complex so that we have to stetch our learning, expand our horizons, and remain true to our faiths. It's the old mathmeticians saying - Ive finally begun to understand infinity, now if i could just come to terms with eternity.....

so, welcome back to the boat, which is very simple. As a matter of fact, i'm going to let you row !

Staying in Balance said...

Are you sure you want me to row?! ;)

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