Saturday, April 4, 2009

Men Failing to Thrive

In The New Republic Sherwin Nuland reviews Mark S. Micale's new book on the history of hysteria in men. Yes, it exists, but seems to have been hiding in plain sight over the millenia.

As yet another horrific mass shooting occurs (New York state this time), it occurs to me that this is a uniquely male breaking point. Other appallingly violent behaviors, such as serial killing and suicide attacks, are carried out by females in a minority of cases. I'm sure there must be one somewhere, but I cannot spontaneously remember an example of a female walking into a public place and starting to shoot. Why is this? And it brings up the classic mad vs. bad conundrum. Is a "random" mass shooting like a tornado--a force of nature very difficult to predict precisely--or is it an act of the purest evil? Can it be both at once?

Unemployment is soaring here (fourth in the country as of February 2009). How do you make a man depressed, particularly in a rural area? Take away his manufacturing or construction job, leaving him with lots of time on his hands, to do either nothing or to mind the kids while his wife ekes out a secretarial position. In a couple of months, repossess his car (and no mass transportation out here). In a few more months, foreclose on his house so that his family has to move in with his in-laws. By now he'll be unable to afford the pain clinic where he has been treated for back injuries sustained in those manufacturing or construction jobs. Oh, and he has a 9th grade education, so if he's going to retrain it's going to take a long time, and where will the money come for that, exactly?

I'm not sure that SSRI's have been studied in this population. SSRI's--did I mention, take away his sexual function?

Strange the places human misery washes up in the wake of a distant explosion of greed and fiscal ineptitude...


vanderleun said...

Not so strange and it's going to get worse. It could even get much worse. Worse than we dare to imagine. Might want to arm yourself because if it gets that bad it will be too late to shop.

Anonymous said...

It seems that breaking points have two manifestations: explosive rage directed onto others or implosive rage directed inwardly onto the self. Both/either are frighteningly real potentialities in everyone. I think that precarious point of criticality when that one infinitesimally trivial grain of happenstance can collapse the whole of a life's stability is one the scariest things to contemplate. It's safer to look away and point fingers.

Yes, not everyone can afford existential defusion. Guns are cheaper and more reliable.

Novalis said...

I'll pretty much have to depend on The Force at this point: "These are not the droids you're looking for."

And besides, I expect the stimulus package to start cheering people up real soon.

Anonymous said...

There have been incidents of women who engaged in workplace or other mass killings. Jennifer San Marco shot and killed seven people in 2006 while Olga Hepnarova killed 8 people with a truck in 1973. Women are definitely in the minority with these kinds of crimes.