Pulling A Trigger To Feel More Alive

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Pulling A Trigger To Feel More Alive

 I have been trying of late to develop the appropriate language to express my thoughts on what it is that’s causing the growing number of mass murders in the United States.  This newest article is based on a word that I have used before to describe the process of committing a mass murder, but never with the precise focus that I create for it in this article.  I’m talking about the word “trigger”.  Trigger in its traditional usage refers to pulling a certain metal piece of a gun back and launching a bullet or some other projectile through a barrel at extremely high speeds.  When one pulls the metal piece back, a snapping sound can be heard in the projectile launching, unless a silencer is used with the gun.  The snapping sound is a strong piece of abrasive stimulation that is accompanied by an abrasive kick of the gun.  Particularly when dealing with a handgun, it has to be properly handled in order not to pull the arm off the shooter’s body.  Most people when shooting a handgun, unlike the depictions of its use in cowboy movies, actually use both hands when shooting it.  And, when used metaphorically, a trigger  refers to any process that is suddenly abrasive, snapping and potentially explosive.

Which takes us to the way the word trigger has been used in my column.  I have discussed my theory that people perform all kinds of abrasive acts as a result of an attempt to pull out of the experiential vacuum that has been created for them by living surrounded by modern technology.  Abrasive stimulation through   mass murders, and suicides among other behaviors acts to prevent people from sinking deeper and deeper into numbness.  And an appropriate way to describe the transition from the numbness to the abrasive stimulation is through the use of the word trigger.  Now the transition actually begins with an external world event that impacts on a person and is not something that the person initiates. The event could be something that causes a painful memory to come forward in a person’s mind.  Or something that generates a painful association.  But the event is something of such a nature, that even a friend, acquaintance or family member could not easily put it together with the pathological behavior that ensues.  Most of the time, it is simply a random happening.  So, it is not something that can be anticipated, planned for or controlled by the people surrounding the perpetrator.

So, in general, when we say something was triggered by something else, we are saying that it is not only beyond are control, but also beyond are capacity to understand.  And any attempt to understand why a particular person would undertake a mass murder is doomed to failure.  Because motivation, in our traditional understanding of the word has little to do with it.  What activates a person to do mass killings is not a complex cognitive motivation but an instinctive impulsive response to a sudden irritation that penetrates his consciousness.  And it happens too fast for either an outsider or the perpetrator himself to see it happening.

Sometimes there is what appears to be a shallow surface motivation which partly propels a person to carry out his acts of aggression.  A shallow surface motivation acts to give a person focus and balance as he is swept away by the random trigger that is temporarily impacting his life.  

Because of the numbness, the perpetrator of mass killings is, to a certain extent, unconsciously opportunistic.  That is, he seeks to embrace a potential trigger when it presents itself.  So, we can say that the situation with triggers is actually complicated with a small amount of human agency sometimes mixing in with the random event.

Rather than dealing with human agency, with human motivation, what we are dealing with is people who have become like zombies as a result of the intense human numbness in which they have been immersed for so long.  Then something comes along which snaps them out of it and into something temporarily which can only be described as a sort of hyperconsciousness.  The hyperconsciousness doesn’t last very long and the person sinks back into the numbness in which he has been living for a long time. 

For people who are extremely numb, they are prone to receiving an intense impact from some of these triggers.  And some of these intense impacts can lead to a tension-pocket of intense abrasive stimulation which, in turn, can lead to carrying out attacks of mass violence.

So, when people look for the motivation behind mass killers today, they are barking up the wrong tree.  There is no coherent focused motivation for them to find.  The real villain in this situation is the experiential vacuum.  But you can’t punish an experiential vacuum.  You can only dissolve it by bringing more primary experience into the world.  And this is done by filling the world with more organic stimulation.

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Acerca de Laurence Mesirow

Durante mi estadía en la Ciudad de México en los años setenta, me di cuenta que esta enorme ciudad contenía en sus colonias distintos "medio ambientes vivenciales", que iban desde muy antiguas a muy recientes; desde muy primitivas a muy modernas.Observé que había diferencias sutiles en la conducta de la gente y en sus interacciones en las diferentes colonias. Esta observación fue fundamental en la fundación de mis teorías con respecto a los efectos de la tecnología moderna sobre los medio ambientes vivenciales y sobre la conducta humana.En México, publiqué mi libro "Paisaje Sin Terreno" (Editorial Pax-México), y luego di conferencias para la U.N.A.M. y la Universidad Anahuac. También, presenté un ensayo para un Congreso de Psicología.Ahora que mis hijas son adultas, tengo el tiempo de explorar mis ideas de vuelta. Le agradezco mucho a ForoJudio.com y en especial al Sr. Daniel Ajzen por la oportunidad de presentar mis ideas.

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