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by
Bonnie Ramthun

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March 20, 2014 - 2:04 pm

keep-calm-and-look-at-the-flowers-73

Love it or hate it, The AMC channel hit series The Walking Dead is a mirror of our culture. The show is nominally an apocalyptic zombie series but it is really about how people deal with a total societal collapse.

The answer is: Badly. Usually very badly.

the-walking-dead-season-4B-poster

Episode #14 of season 4, “The Grove,” is a thoughtful and tragic examination of what a society should or can do with a psychopath. (Spoilers!) Set in the woodlands of the American south after a zombie apocalypse, in this episode a group of five refugees find a cabin to stop and rest for a few days. There, disturbed young Lizzie goes homicidal. She stabs another little girl to death. Her mother-figure, Carol, then asks her to “look at the flowers” while she prepares to execute her, the only solution possible in their terrible new world.

The clues were all there, laid out carefully in past episodes. The girl had an obsession with capturing and cutting up live rats. She had sudden outbreaks of violent rage and anger. She was fascinated with zombies and couldn’t distinguish between the living and the dead.

The clues are all here in the real world as well, and we are no better at preventing the slaughter when a mentally disturbed person decides to kill. The Sandy Hook killer, the Aurora theater killer, the murderer at Virginia Tech, the killers at Columbine High School, all exhibited distinct indicators of violence and psychosis. All of these killers were under psychiatric care and on medically prescribed drugs. Each of them showed signs like little Lizzie on The Walking Dead, and her path ended the same as theirs, in blood.

In “The Grove,” just as in America today, we wait until a disturbed person becomes a killer and only then do we do something about them. Only then do they receive the confines of a cell or a grave. We can do better than this. Unlike Carol on The Walking Dead, we have options.

In the heartbreaking and frightening essay “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother,” the mother of a mentally disturbed boy explains how she cannot find care for him. “With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill.” This mother doesn’t want to put her innocent (but violent and disturbed) twelve-year-old boy in prison. Would you like to live in a world where people are jailed for crimes they might commit? Instead, we need to re-build our mental health care system in this country and that includes treatment centers and hospitals. If we don’t, we will continue to endure the slaughter of innocents at the hands of the mentally ill.

Bonnie Ramthun lives in Colorado with her husband and children. She's the author of mysteries and thrillers for adults and children. Her middle grade mystery "The White Gates' was a Junior Library Guild premiere selection and was a finalist for the Missouri Truman award. All her novels are available on Amazon.

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Top Rated Comments   
Oh...and if they kill Carol...I riot.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
The script is always the same…

Act 1 - Mass shooting!

Act 2 - Left and right begin to discuss the 4 legs of the prevention stool: 1. mental health; 2. the culture; 3. the news media; and 4. guns. Left and right agree that there is some common ground for discussion on issues 1, 2, and 3.

Act 3 - On 4-guns, the left (a minority opinion on this topic) always goes for gun control/gun elimination. To which the right (a majority opinion on this topic) then says: “Ok, can we agree to disagree on guns for the moment and at least work on what we can agree with on mental health, the culture, and the news media?”

Act 4 - “No!” says the left, “We have to start with the guns…no discussion can be had that doesn’t start with more gun restrictions! No advancements on the prevention of the next mass shooting can happen unless we first enact more gun restrictions…we won’t even discuss mental health, the culture, or the news media until we get stronger gun restrictions!”

Fin. This is why there is no advancement on the appalling problems we have in this country regarding the dangerously mentally ill…
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (14)
All Comments   (14)
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Really depressing, but you are right, we have to deal with this problem. I think that they are not as insane as we think, they kill themselves at the end. I think we need to make copycats see what we think of them. I like how the Roman Czars dealt with suicide, when it got 'cool' to the unchristian ladies (no such thing at that time). They took the dead bodies and tied them to the back of a cart and dragged them around the town. Amazing how quickly it became uncool. It would be awful to do, but then again, isn't killing kids and taking the easy way out even more aweful. Even a crazed killer might think twice.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I worked for a short time in a psychiatric hospital, and it will make a Social Darwinist out of you in a hurry. Teenage patients would get tagged and bagged by their school, and it would turn out that the mental illness in that family went back a couple of generations. We could treat them, and make some progress, but then would have to send them right back to the toxic environment that helped create them. The hopelessness of the situation, and the specter of the continuation of the cycle, was so obvious and depressing, and hugely expensive to society in so many ways, that I was relieved when the hospital closed down and I no longer had that job. I had a great uncle that spent most of his adult life in a facility, due to violent tendencies, and he was released in his fifties, after his testosterone started to wane, and lived a peaceful, productive life with his family. The expenses for his upkeep were all assumed by his family. If we could get people to institutionalize their dangerously mentally ill, how would we pay for it? I am pretty sure the motivation for shutting down all the psychiatric facilities was economic in the first place.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
How to prevent the next mass shooting? In the real world, we can't.

Ben Hartley
I write it, I sign it
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I got that sinking feeling when I re-watched One Flew over The Cuckoo's Nest when I got older. As much as ya wanna sympathize with the residents they can not handle their affairs so they are in the best place for them to be, but the film leaves you thinking that everybody should be free. The Lou Grant show did a similar episode where they depicted everybody in State Hospitals are there for trumped up reasons and should be free. By the end of the 70's they had done their work and the doors were thrown wide open. The left never admits a mistake nor ever tries to undo what they have done, truly a pity because they drum up popular support then before it falls on its face they move on to some other project and never look back.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Criminality is not connected to mental disease. A person inclined to murder will reveal signs of that behavioral outlook in elementary school. They will probably end up killing someone in a bar fight, holdup, or drug transaction. Criminal tendencies are independent of mental disease. A paranoid schizophrenic feeling threatened will be in the hall closet with broiler foil armor over principal parts. A paranoid schizophrenic who is unfortunate enough to also have the criminal tendencies that are the murder type will be the one to do some ghastly mass murder. Their mental disorder almost always sabotages their commission of the crime such that they leave an evidence trail like the plume of a comet. The number of mentally ill who also are unfortunate enough to have killing tendencies is very small. They can be located by focusing on the criminal tendencies. Society will concentrate on the easier mental disorder evidence and conclude all are budding murderers when only a tiny fraction are and then will congratulate itself on the brilliance of its problem-solving.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I like "Do Androids Dream of Mechanical Sheep?" P. K. Dick as a better model or at least more fun.

The key issue is that no one wants to make judgments, ex post on these people: they are just like everyone else. Getting 'creeped out' is not an option.

That was the first step, is we admit such exist in potential, maybe we can form a policy.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm a born-bred LosAngelino (DOB 1951) and remember full well what happened after Regan. Moonbeam Jerry Brown took over and promptly began dismantling the state hospital system in California.

Within the first two years of his rule our streets became flooded with the insane (homeless, of course), but it didn't stop there.  He then began emptying the much smaller subset of those hospitals that housed the mentally retarded (ooohhh, so sorry, developmentally disabled) with it's own set of subsequent problems for society in general (behavioral disorders, extreme low IQs, etc) in the name of "mainstreaming".

Today, even the thought of re-establishing some sort of system, flawed as it was, is abhorrent.

Consequence? More Lanzas. 

Well, ya reap what ya sow.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
L
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
You mean to tell me the century of psychiatry and psychotropic drugs hasn't worked out so well?
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Psychiatry is at about the same stage of development surgery was when it was practiced by barbers.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
The script is always the same…

Act 1 - Mass shooting!

Act 2 - Left and right begin to discuss the 4 legs of the prevention stool: 1. mental health; 2. the culture; 3. the news media; and 4. guns. Left and right agree that there is some common ground for discussion on issues 1, 2, and 3.

Act 3 - On 4-guns, the left (a minority opinion on this topic) always goes for gun control/gun elimination. To which the right (a majority opinion on this topic) then says: “Ok, can we agree to disagree on guns for the moment and at least work on what we can agree with on mental health, the culture, and the news media?”

Act 4 - “No!” says the left, “We have to start with the guns…no discussion can be had that doesn’t start with more gun restrictions! No advancements on the prevention of the next mass shooting can happen unless we first enact more gun restrictions…we won’t even discuss mental health, the culture, or the news media until we get stronger gun restrictions!”

Fin. This is why there is no advancement on the appalling problems we have in this country regarding the dangerously mentally ill…
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
The larger problem is that we tried tight gun restrictions, while at the same time de-institutionalizing the severely and dangerously mentally ill and returning them to our streets and communities.

Most people are not aware that until 40 years ago, we did have institutions to care for the violently mentally ill and severely disabled, and we made the decision to close those facilities and treat those patients as outpatients (with the predictable result that many stopped taking their meds as soon as they left the facility) and make it nearly impossible to put them in forced treatment until they commit an atrocity.

And then the atrocity is used an a justification for all kinds of policies, EXCEPT stopping the experiment.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh...and if they kill Carol...I riot.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
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