Madness, Culture, and Violence: A Delicate Conversation

This differs in deeply existential ways Kimwana’s experience. She is not taken in or tolerated. She is, as one commenter at the post noted, ostracized in a way that was “a living death.”

She responded by fantasizing about inflicting horrid damage on herself and/or her academic mentor.

I fixated on a single vision, me, sometimes hanging, sometimes with gun in hand and a pool of blood on the floor, outside ‘her’ [i.e., her former advisor’s] office…. Suicide, yes, obviously, but also something more: revenge.

Her obsessions and fantasies did not run to mass murder. But others who had committed mass murder in similar circumstances, such as Kazmierczak and Jared Loughner, who was much in the news then, were much on her mind. Her confusion and disorientation and anxiety — her schizophrenia — rose from complex sources. But her anger rose in large part from an alienation that came hand-in-glove with our society’s definition of what she experienced — to the mere application of the word schizophrenia. And her ideas about expressing that anger rose direclty from models of action brought to her from the media, and which expressed, in their violence and their repetitive, replicative nature — each bloody rampage imitating others — deep and multiple strains of our culture.

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