I mean he seemed so…”normal.”


It’s cold.

This morning it was 8 (F) with  a windchill of -7.  Its a balmy twelve degrees now.

A couple years ago this spring I had a conversation  with someone who insisted that “obviously” a man who killed his daughters and grandchildren did it because he was “suffering” from PTSD, because he was an Vietnam war vet. That was it. PTSD from a war decades ago could be the only explanation.  Oh and I was creepy for thinking murder is normal behavior.

News agencies speculate as to whether or not  the man who killed a young Muslim family  had mental issues, because parking.

“Top professionals” decided Putin must be autistic because he’s an ass in social situations (any situation?)

All of these suppositions come from an underlying belief  that the mentally well are good law abiding people and that it takes a mental disorder to disregard others. It doesn’t matter whether or not the person in question is actually diagnosed with anything. Obviously, there must be some disguised  “illness. ”

We see evil doers as strange and isolated. The disfigured (or disabled) and insane bad guy boogey man lurking in the shadows. We look for ways they must not be “one of us.” This is in order to distance, because surely one of us cannot be capable of hurting others.  When they do happen to be we say “oh he must have just snapped” or “he seems like such a typical guy.”  “He just seemed so…normal.”

Most of the time, people who commit violent crime are considered “normal” by society.  While the loner sociopathic or delusional killer is featured most in our television, most  perpetrators of crime are quite mundane.  Investigators generally don’t have to look beyond friends, family or associates of the victim with motive being greed, pride, jealousy, rivalry, or hate. People who prey on our children are usually their “wonderful” teachers, coaches, ministers and family members whom we wouldn’t suspect. We reserve our fear and suspicion for those we don’t consider “normal.” When people hurt others, we look to see how they must have been different.

Typical people hurt and kill others.

Typical people lie, and steal, and cheat.

Typical people exclude and judge, and attempt to coerce and manipulate.

Typical people perceive others who are different from them as threats.

Typical people hate and let anger boil into murderous rage.

I have to say it so often, and I’ll keep saying it,

People with mental disorders are not inherently more dangerous that typical people.

We must consider how we perpetuate stigma when attempting to arm chair diagnose every violent criminal.











5 thoughts on “I mean he seemed so…”normal.”

  1. kdub155 says:

    Awesome post–I agree wholeheartedly about arm-chair diagnosing for the sake of distancing ourselves, reinforcing stigma and perpetuating ignorance It’s a sad, preventable phenomenon that supports the status quo and allows violence to spread. Thank you for sharing, and trying to break the ignorance.

  2. amandasmills says:

    Reblogged this on Nature in the City and commented:

    Reblogging this old post…
    I say this…so much.
    People are attempting to paint the Charleston Shooter as mentally ill. Perhaps it is to avoid admitting it is terrorism. Perhaps to avoid discussion about racism. It is certainly about othering . We must find a way to say he isn’t “one of us.” People counter by saying, “well what if he is mentally ill?” Well, he could possibly have a disorder, after all one on four Americans do. It doesn’t make it the reason behind the act., or make speculating on it as a reason or excuse any more productive. The prime motive is to still…’other.” We need to consider how stigmatizing this mindset is.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s