An Article: A Right to an Answer

Read the article below.  I have a follow up at the end of this article.

Christopher Dorner Not A Sociopath, Experts Say

By Kathleen Miles

Christopher Dorner, the fugitive ex-Los Angeles cop who had declared “war” on the LAPD, is not a sociopath, psychologists said.

Dorner’s spree of violence, which appears to have ended Tuesday with the discovery of a charred body after a shootout and fire at a Big Bear Lake cabin, may seem consistent with the definition of a sociopath — a person who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. He was accused of killing a retired captain’s daughter and her fiance in Irvine, Calif., and shooting multiple cops in Riverside and Big Bear, killing two.

Dorner had written in his manifesto that he was motivated by a sense of right and wrong — exactly what a sociopath lacks. The ex-cop wrote that his murderous spree was a “last resort” to expose corruption and racism within the LAPD and to restore his name after that corruption led to his firing in 2008.

Thousands of online fans had come to see Dorner as their “Dark Knight” fighting evil — although many disavowed murder as a means to that end.

“While this man’s actions are unthinkable and inexcusable, he does not fit the profile of a sociopath, who lacks the capacity for empathy and has no respect for social morals and norms,” said Elizabeth Waterman, a psychologist in Newport Beach, Calif. “Dorner showed that he did care for the welfare of others, and, as a police officer, worked to protect the rights of others on a daily basis.

“In fact, his recent actions were his very misguided and desperate attempts to stand up for what is right and fight for justice,” Waterman said. “I think Mr. Dorner’s actions reflected a deep level of desperation to right a wrong and shed light on a justice system that has many, many flaws.”

Dorner’s empathetic beliefs went beyond victims of police brutality and corruption. According to his manifesto, his empathy led him to fervently defend the rights of gays and lesbians and to stand up against anti-Semitism, psychologist Izzy Kalman pointed out in Psychology Today.

Sociopathy, an antisocial personality disorder, is marked by being manipulative or exploitative of others. Those traits don’t align with Dorner’s rigid view and moral standards.

So what went wrong?

Dorner did not know how to cope in a world where right sometimes does not prevail over wrong. “He’s a child,” said Bob Tur, a private investigator who has found over 20 fugitives. “Children see things like right and wrong in black and white. But as life beats you down, you live in gray areas. You realize that fairness is an abstract thought.”

Kalman said this rigid view of a world where right is always supposed to prevail leads to a victimization mentality. Most violence — by criminals and by countries headed to war — is committed not by people who feel like bullies, but by those who feel like victims, Kalman said.

“We all become sociopathic when we feel victimized,” Kalman said. “Our conscience gets flushed down the drain. We feel like we are the good guys, the innocent victims, and they are the bad guys, the bullies — and bullies, as we have been taught, are not to be tolerated.”

So, Kalman said, “We pick up guns and tell our bullies, ‘Hasta la vista, baby!'”

Kalman’s solution is to stop “teaching children … that we are entitled to a life in which no one disrespects us … that our emotional pain is other people’s fault.”

Other experts hypothesized that Dorner may have lost his ability to live in an unjust world because of post-traumatic stress disorder. Although he was not a combat soldier, Dorner served in the Navy in the Middle East and claimed in his manifesto that he suffered traumatic head injuries during his service.

Kathy Platoni, a psychologist for the U.S. Army Reserve, said Dorner does not fit the description of a person with an antisocial personality disorder. Though there “may be a connection between diminished self-control and increased aggression in those diagnosed with PTSD, … it rarely leads to violence, especially of this magnitude,” she said.

Dorner may have suffered from manifested rage resulting from depression or “maladaptive behaviors” because he “perceives the world around [him] and everyone in it as the problem,” Dr. Platoni said. “There is certainly a paranoid flavor to his manifesto and his behavior patterns,” she added.

Others said Dorner’s violence resulted neither from his mental state nor his view of the world. And that includes Dorner himself, who wrote in his manifesto that he began suffering from “severe depression” in late 2008 as a result of being relieved of duty as an LAPD officer.

“The poor and downtrodden, who have suffered unending, unspeakable abuse, … their internal lives are saturated in rage and a sense of utter helplessness,” said Erika Sloane, a psychologist in Los Angeles. “I do not see this as a reflection of individual failings or ‘mental illness.’ I see the rage as a response to our increasingly corrupt, unjust, unresponsive culture.”

Link to Article:

 How Kathleen Miles Made Psychology and Social Science Irrelevant  

By Logan

Let’s drop the debate about whether Dorner was a sociopath or whatever label we choose to slap him with and specifically take issue with Kathleen Miles’s insertion of citing a useless conclusion: “Dornor did not lack a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.”

I understand that these experts are describing his personal sense of moral responsibility and social conscience, and not if those beliefs are wrongly or rightly held.

My issue is Kathleen Miles did not. 

Kathleen Miles and a number of psychologists, with the exception of Erika Sloane and Kalman, failed to inject any debate about justice, duty, and civic education.  So I will.

Starting with Elizabeth Waterman’s statement is a good place to start our civic debate.

“Dorner’s actions reflected a deep level of desperation to right a wrong and shed light on a justice system that has many, many flaws.”

Our justice system has flaws, but our governmental and civic structure allows a number of different outlets to amend flaws. Dorner could have written his city officials, state legislature, and his governor, his House member in Congress, his senator, and the president.  In addition, Dorner could have reach out to interest groups or associations that would have been motivated to assist him in his search for justice, but he did not.  Lack of civic education a consequence?

In part, but not all. (Obviously there are mental health issues)

When Dorner decided, what he believed, to right a wrong and take justice in his own hands, he demonstrated that he disregarded the moral responsibility to uphold and follow laws.  Laws are just words, until they are enforced or followed—it is moral commitments that give laws its prestige, fear, and reverence.  A law without enforcement or observance is just symbols on stationery.

Additionally, he disregarded most social conscience—the greater good—when he undermined our exciting institutions, both civic and public, in taking the lives of those he blamed and the incident (the captain’s daughter and her fiancé).

When Dorner took those first shoots at the daughter and her fiancé, he generated mistrust and trauma in all public servants and their families. Additionally, he may inspire individuals to pursue their own course of justice instead of demonstrating the importance, vitality and potential of our society.

Dr. Martian Luther King Jr. helped uncover our virtues with civil disobedience and the civil rights movement.

Dr. Matian Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement brought communities together into a web of interdependence and understanding of various social, political, and institutional arrangements.  They are virtuous and worthy of honor.

[Click here for Required Listening]

Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva was the youngest child and only daughter of Joseph Stalin.  Stalin is infamous for his purges and executions, near the millions. He had political enemies and some had the right in wanting justice.  Yet killing Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva, his daughter, would not be right.

Svetlana Iosifovna Alliluyeva defected to the United States and became a citizen.  She married an American architect and had a child.  She died in November of 22, 2011 in Wisconsin, far from Russia and the life she would have had in the politics of Stalin.  She had the right to craft her own narrative and life.

We must be free from the sins of our fathers.

The captain who lost his daughter is no Stalin. I’m sure he is a good man and does not deserve a mad man’s justice, but I use this analogy to demonstrate—that even in the worst circumstances—justice cannot be carried out by Dorner’s way.  It is unrepentable.

While our society has problems, we are free to criticize its flaws.  But we can never credit it as the sole cause of Dorner’s action or any other destructive action, as Erika Sloane does.  Individual responsibility and action is the final call.

“I do not see this as a reflection of individual failing or mental illness. I see the rage as a response to our increasingly corrupt, unjust and unresponsive culture.”

If only we had her premises, then we could collectively evaluate ourselves.  Her conclusion is a boat without a body of water– useless.


About Logan

Logan lives in Arkansas
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