GRCC symposium on gun violence addresses anger in men
Caroline MacGregor February 12, 2013 | WGVU
Last night’s session on gun violence opened with a look at the profile of a
killer, factors that contribute to aggression in males, cultural stereotypes, movies
and video games, mental health, and media. The well attended event included a
large number of GRCC students and members of the public.
The night didn’t focus
much on guns - rather on the psychology behind violence in males who make up
the highest percentage of perpetrators of inner city violence and mass
Dr. Frank Connor, head of GRCC’s psychology department, claims
the biggest cause of gun violence is repressed emotion in men displayed as
"If you don't belong then you become anxious, you have an emotional state, well, for men the only privileged emotion is anger and if I separate you from the herd you become angry because you can't become sad."
Add to that anger a feeling of insignificance or not belonging and
the anger grows into seething resentment. Triggers in three quarters of all violent shootings include a loss of status, loss of a significant relationship, a personal
failure or being jilted by a girlfriend.
"I have been harmed and now that I've been harmed I have the right to go out and destroy everything that harmed me. So if you are a young man who probably has some mental health issues and you become marginalized from the group, you don't have good social skills you have a society of retribution and you see this modeling of aggressive behavior - it's fairly predictable this can happen."
Dr. Connor ‘s says men are constantly trying to find their
place in a hierarchy and battle their way to the top of that hierarchy which
means belonging. It’s fortunately a rare
event that someone fits the profile of a mass murderer which includes long term
anti -social traits, being pathologically shy or socially isolated. Kristyn Runnels is a student at GRCC who
agrees with the assertion that males in society are not able to properly express
“It totally depends on how you are raised, what your are around at home, more so than school. Iff you are taught to be sensitive and to look out for others, to be a good brother or helper to your mom or dad, that's definitely different than if you are alone and not talked
Zachary Van Gilst wants to be a counselor and agrees males
are less able to deal with anger. He says growing up with a single mom who expressd
a range of emotions other than just his dad’s anger helped him use those
emotions in his own life and change the life of a friend who was once shy and
"He was one of those people who - the more I got to know him and how people treated him how he was shy and not talking to a lot of people, I think I helped him because now he's talking to my friends and has opened up a lot."
Key to overcoming the problem, Dr Connor says, is inclusion,
accepting emotion other than anger in men and using schools as a first line of
defense to determine problems if the family unit is not doing the job.
the current debate on the Second Amendment will be considered in a panel
discussion. On Wednesday, an expert in
criminal justice will look at prevention, law enforcement and how to deal with
perpetrators of violent acts after the event. The symposium takes place in Room 108 on
GRCC’s DeVos campus on Bostwick NE in GR.