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Old 01-11-2011, 10:11 AM   #101
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They are the pushers, but we're the ones with a needle in our arm. They're only selling what we buy. . .
I see it as a toxic negative feedback loop. We want "entertainment value" with our news coverage, and that means ratcheting up the rhetoric and creating an us-versus-them mentality in politics. They know darn well that reporting on pragmatic, conciliatory effort is boring; they know a Jerry Springer culture wants fists flying. They know there's no ratings in reporting on common ground or the things that unite us instead of the things that divide us (even though in many cases, we have far more in common than we have that divide us).

The more people enjoy it, the more their ratings improve and the more they do it, raising (or lowering) the bar over and over again, reaching new highs (lows) in terms of how much they can show people on opposite sides hating each other's guts for what they believe and because of the "team" they support.

And that's part of the media problem; they clearly cover politics as a full-contact "team" sport as if you must either support Team Red or Team Blue, act as if your Team can do no wrong and the other Team can do no right, and be conditioned to believe the other Team is the Great Satan.

Lather, rinse, repeat -- like a dog chasing its tail in a circular motion that resembles something going down the drain.
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Old 01-11-2011, 10:30 AM   #102
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I see it as a toxic negative feedback loop. . . .
Lather, rinse, repeat -- like a dog chasing its tail in a circular motion that resembles something going down the drain.
Agreed. Plus, the normal desire to avoid cognitive dissonance, which has always been present, induces people to reconfirm their existing beliefs. But it used to be hard to do this. With just three networks that stayed fairly close to the "middle ground" (to capture the biggest audience and to be seen as credible) and a few key newspapers serving broad demographics in their city markets, there were few places to go to have "nonstandard" views validated. Now, with boutique media outlets serving up various flavors of the truth, people can have the news on 24/7 and never need to re-examine their position or hear a report that takes things from another angle. Plus, a "give me the pithy bumper sticker" mindset that eschews deep analysis and you've got a toxic brew. It ain't good for us as a country.
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Old 01-11-2011, 11:05 AM   #103
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Yeah, the Slate article says:
The fact that mental illness is so often used to explain violent acts despite the evidence to the contrary almost certainly flows from how such cases are handled in the media. Numerous studies show that crimes by people with psychiatric problems are over-reported, usually with gross inaccuracies that give a false impression of risk.

What they summarized in Slate is consistent with the study I posted above.
I'm not sure I follow the results of the study, as I don't quite get how the factor of "history of violence plays into it"

Arch Gen Psychiatry -- The Intricate Link Between Violence and Mental Disorder: Results From the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, February 2009, Elbogen and Johnson 66 (2): 152
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... there were more people with severe mental illness (33%) in the groups with a history of violence than people without mental illness (14%).

Simple logistic regression analyses show that people with any severe mental illness had significantly increased probability of having a history of violence (OR, 2.96; P < .001) in the NESARC sample.
It sounds to me like all they are saying is that mentally ill people with no history of violence are not likely to commit future violence. I can buy that. But they also appear to say that mentally ill people with a history of violence are significantly more likely to commit future violence (see their figure). OK, that also sounds reasonable (whether mentally ill or not). But what to make of that?

Regardless,

I don't think it is even an applicable question. We are talking about an assassination, not violence in general. So isn't the relevant question: "Of assassinations/attempts, are a disproportionate % performed by people with a history of mental issues?"

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Old 01-11-2011, 11:44 AM   #104
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Our five-minute attention span... Carl Sagan put it all in perspective:

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Old 01-11-2011, 01:45 PM   #105
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Well, I think the unstable people are more the canary in the coal mine. I don't think it is a coincidence that this happened at a political event given the events of the past year and half. In other times it would have probably been racially motivated (think of attacks on persons of color, churches, marchers) because that is what was going on in those times.

To just dismiss the incident as an isolated incident of one mad person is too easy I think.

I don't think it's one political leaning over another either - I've been part of political events and have had to manage a lot of unstable elements at those events - believe me - I know for sure there are unstable people of every political leaning!
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Old 01-11-2011, 02:02 PM   #106
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I don't think it's one political leaning over another either - I've been part of political events and have had to manage a lot of unstable elements at those events - believe me - I know for sure there are unstable people of every political leaning!
Nor do I. From what I've seen of this guy's ramblings and beliefs, there is no cohesive traditional ideology in it. To the extent it was politically motivated, it was a deranged person looking for someone to take it out on -- a member of Congress, and I don't think an "R" or a "D" next to her name had anything to do with it.

But I do hope it gives us cause to re-examine the harshness and intolerance in much of today's heated rhetoric. Not necessarily change people's beliefs, but only how they discuss them and how they treat others who believe differently.
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Old 01-11-2011, 03:30 PM   #107
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But I do hope it gives us cause to re-examine the harshness and intolerance in much of today's heated rhetoric. Not necessarily change people's beliefs, but only how they discuss them and how they treat others who believe differently.
I do too Zig. This has touched DH and me personally. One of our longest term friends has become a political extremist the past few years. He's angry because of job and money problems. He sends us bizarre political e-mails and we've decided it’s best to distance ourselves from him. He's taken it to a personal level by condemning our mainstream political views and even suggesting DH is part of a "ponzi scheme" because he's earned a pension – even though it’s very modest, significantly funded by our contributions, and earned after over 33 years on the job. This is part of the reason I was defensive and touchy about all the pension threads that popped up around here recently.

It's a very painful thing for us to cut off this relationship. We haven't heard from him since the events of this past weekend and aren't looking forward to hearing what he has to say about it.

I appreciate the civil tone of the discussion here and am relieved we haven’t turned this into a “hog calling contest”. Thank you everyone for this. I like hearing how others view this tragic event as it helps me think through it all.
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Old 01-11-2011, 03:59 PM   #108
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I appreciate the civil tone of the discussion here and am relieved we haven’t turned this into a “hog calling contest”. Thank you everyone for this. I like hearing how others view this tragic event as it helps me think through it all.
Did I ever mention that this is, bar-none, the best Forum ever?
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Old 01-11-2011, 04:35 PM   #109
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And, if this event wasn't tragic enough already, it looks like the nutjobs from the Westboro Baptist Church are planning to picket at the funerals in Tucson...

How does anyone justify protesting at funerals of our fallen soldiers or a little girl who was brutally murdered?

Arizona shootings: Senate OKs 'funeral protection zone'
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Old 01-11-2011, 04:36 PM   #110
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Old 01-11-2011, 04:49 PM   #111
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And, if his event wasn't tragic enough already, it looks like the nutjobs from the Westboro Baptist Church are planning to picket at the funerals in Tucson...

How does anyone justify protesting at funerals of our fallen soldiers or a little girl who was brutally murdered?

Arizona shootings: Senate OKs 'funeral protection zone'
Yeah, Westie, I'm pretty PO'ed about this too. We can learn from this though. This is the most extreme example of using this tragedy to further an agenda I've heard of so far. More troubling is those closer to the "mainstream" who are also attempting to use this horrible situation to their advantage.
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Old 01-11-2011, 04:57 PM   #112
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Unfortunately the aggressive mentally ill are left on the street for the police to deal with. As bad as our mental hospitals were deinstitutionalization can be worse. Anyone who has had to deal with such family members knows what I say. His parents remind me of my sister, her only child has a major mental illness. She was in denial for several years. He too engaged in inappropriate behavior as a young adult and even now is difficult to keep on his medications.

People with untreated major mental illnesses become fixated and are easily influenced by inflaming rhetoric. They have little impulse control.

Because these people walk the streets with all of us inflammatory language is dangerous.
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Old 01-11-2011, 05:31 PM   #113
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Because these people walk the streets with all of us inflammatory language is dangerous.
The language is what's dangerous? I disagree.
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Old 01-11-2011, 05:33 PM   #114
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People with untreated major mental illnesses become fixated and are easily influenced by inflaming rhetoric. They have little impulse control.

Because these people walk the streets with all of us inflammatory language is dangerous.
I understand the feelings behind this due to these events. But if I detach a bit, I have to say: Really? ...... Really?

Politicians or anyone else engaging in general 'inflaming rhetoric' is really going to make the difference between triggering one of these people or not? Maybe to the extent that anything might act as trigger. What triggered the people who shot Reagen or John Lennon? Do we tell Jody Foster she can't be a movie star, it might cause someone to become obsessed with her? Or that Salinger shouldn't write novels, it might affect someone in a bad way?

Hey, I'd prefer to see our politicians deal with things in a more 'grown up' fashion, but I think tying that to these random events is a real stretch. Maybe we want to believe it, but I just can't see it.

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Old 01-11-2011, 05:52 PM   #115
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Politicians or anyone else engaging in general 'inflaming rhetoric' is really going to make the difference between triggering one of these people or not?
My understanding is that the mentally ill person knows that something is wrong, and the mind is looking for an explanation. The inflammatory rhetoric we are all bombarded with offers a simple yet specious explanation for all that is wrong in the world. The mentally ill person seizes on whatever bits of rhetoric might 'explain' his problem, and finds affirmation with other adherents to that rhetoric.

These folks are drawn toward what they perceive as a cause, enemy, or a savior. They derive reinforcement from selected media, often from radio programs or online forums. The more extroverted ones often reinforce each others beliefs, banding together in online forums or the real world.

It's not always politics. Quite a few of these folks fixate on other odd bits of life, real or imagined. (Listen to callers and interviewees on 'Coast to Coast', the bizarre middle of the night radio show, for some of the stranger cases. No, sir, the President is not really a reptile wearing a human skin. That's a fictional TV series...)

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Hey, I'd prefer to see our politicians deal with things in a more 'grown up' fashion, but I think tying that to these random events is a real stretch. Maybe we want to believe it, but I just can't see it.
Oh, wouldn't that be nice? Sometimes I think the crazies have elected some of their own to office.
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Old 01-11-2011, 05:55 PM   #116
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Regardless,

I don't think it is even an applicable question. We are talking about an assassination, not violence in general. So isn't the relevant question: "Of assassinations/attempts, are a disproportionate % performed by people with a history of mental issues?"

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I'l leave the research alone for now and address your point. It could be true that assassinations in the US are disproportionately performed by people with mental health issues. I don't know. "Mental health issues" is such a wide ranging statement that it isn't all that descriptive or helpful. However, I understand that approximately 12.4 million people in the US have a serious mental illness. NIMH · Statistics · Prevalence of Serious Mental Illness Among U.S. Adults by Age, Sex, and Race. Assassinations and attempts are very rare in this country. Serious mental illness is common. It doesn't help predict whether any particular person might take such an action. So, even if what you guess is true it doesn't tell us much. Maybe it gives us comfort that we do not have a big problem with cold blooded political killings?

What I worry about is that people get reinforced in their belief that seriously mentally ill people are dangerous.

Influence of newspaper reporting on adolescents' a... [Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2006] - PubMed result

Quote:
I'm not sure I follow the results of the study, as I don't quite get how the factor of "history of violence plays into it"

Simple logistic regression analyses show that people with any severe mental illness had significantly increased probability of having a history of violence (OR, 2.96; P < .001) in the NESARC sample.
It sounds to me like all they are saying is that mentally ill people with no history of violence are not likely to commit future violence. I can buy that. But they also appear to say that mentally ill people with a history of violence are significantly more likely to commit future violence (see their figure). OK, that also sounds reasonable (whether mentally ill or not). But what to make of that?
Anyone, mentally ill or not, who were violent in the past are more likely to be violent in the future, as compared to the general population. So you have to see how all the variables interact.

When they did a multivariate analysis (looked at more than one variable at at time) they found no significant difference in violence by the mentally ill unless there was also substance abuse. However, this risk is significantly greater if the person also has a history of violence and is both mentally ill and a substance abuser. Otherwise:

. . .the analyses revealed that people with any type of severe mental illness were not at increased risk of committing serious/severe violent acts such as use of deadly weapons, inflicting extreme physical harm, or forcing sexual acts. Such data are at odds with public fears such as those reported in a national survey in which 75% of the sample viewed people with mental illness as dangerous and 60% believed people with schizophrenia were likely to commit violent acts. Instead, the current results show that if a person has severe mental illness without substance abuse and history of violence, he or she has the same chances of being violent during the next 3 years as any other person in the general population.



I can't seem to paste in a table, but:

Predictors of any violence included younger age, male sex, lower income, history of violence, having witnessed parental fighting, juvenile detention, history of physical abuse by parent, comorbid mental health and substance disorders, perception of hidden threats, victimization in the past year, being divorced or separated in the past year, and being unemployed in the past year.



So, maybe we should take guns away from young men. It is a greater risk factor for violence than simply being mentally ill.

Of course, this is just one study and like most studies, has its strengths and weaknesses.
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Old 01-11-2011, 05:57 PM   #117
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And, if his event wasn't tragic enough already, it looks like the nutjobs from the Westboro Baptist Church are planning to picket at the funerals in Tucson...
What happened to decency? Really.
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Old 01-11-2011, 06:06 PM   #118
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I understand the feelings behind this due to these events. But if I detach a bit, I have to say: Really? ...... Really?

Politicians or anyone else engaging in general 'inflaming rhetoric' is really going to make the difference between triggering one of these people or not? Maybe to the extent that anything might act as trigger. What triggered the people who shot Reagen or John Lennon? Do we tell Jody Foster she can't be a movie star, it might cause someone to become obsessed with her? Or that Salinger shouldn't write novels, it might affect someone in a bad way?

Hey, I'd prefer to see our politicians deal with things in a more 'grown up' fashion, but I think tying that to these random events is a real stretch. Maybe we want to believe it, but I just can't see it.

-ERD50
I don't think Brat is referring to rhetoric or behavior from the politicians/the movie star/the Beatle--it's the talk radio callers and the Internet (almost 2,000 comments just to the latest medical report on Rep. Giffords here: Giffords moves arms, survival odds at '101 pct' - Yahoo! News) that can be inflammatory. I can see how one could make the connection that a person without filters might take some action after being exposed to these kinds of behaviors.
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Old 01-11-2011, 06:34 PM   #119
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Hi Everyone

It has been awhile...we moved, and had trouble with our online connection...all fixed now. Anyway,

I suggest checking out the NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill). Representative Giffords was allegedly an advocate for persons with mental illness. I'm sorry, but can't paste the link, but NAMI is a credible organization composed of families, professionals, and advocates for the mentally ill.

It seems that this whole event was something of a "perfect storm," of unfortunate realities. I do believe that our world is inter-connected, even though it sometimes doesn't appear to be that way. What I do does affect other people, who in turn affect other people, and on and on.

Hopefully, this will give us all pause to look around and be more aware of the effects of our presence in this world.
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Old 01-11-2011, 06:49 PM   #120
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I do too Zig. This has touched DH and me personally. One of our longest term friends has become a political extremist the past few years. He's angry because of job and money problems. He sends us bizarre political e-mails and we've decided it’s best to distance ourselves from him. He's taken it to a personal level by condemning our mainstream political views and even suggesting DH is part of a "ponzi scheme" because he's earned a pension – even though it’s very modest, significantly funded by our contributions, and earned after over 33 years on the job. This is part of the reason I was defensive and touchy about all the pension threads that popped up around here recently.

It's a very painful thing for us to cut off this relationship. We haven't heard from him since the events of this past weekend and aren't looking forward to hearing what he has to say about it.

I appreciate the civil tone of the discussion here and am relieved we haven’t turned this into a “hog calling contest”. Thank you everyone for this. I like hearing how others view this tragic event as it helps me think through it all.
Hey Purron, we love you girl and we want you and DH to have all the pension you can get.

It's those other pensioners that we don't love and don't even know that we fume about.
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