Germanwings: When Suicidal Depression Turns Into Terrorism

Authorities and investigators are trying to figure out what caused Germanwings’ co-pilot Andreas Lubitz to lock the door and push a button, sending the plane on a deliberate course toward destruction. There is now evidence of a diagnosed illness that led a doctor to declare him unfit to fly (a casual interpreter imagines this to be a serious mental illness).

The investigators are not currently treating this tragedy as “terrorism,” but nor can they call it simply “suicide,” since, as prosecutor Brice Robin noted, “suicide” does not capture what happened here–that is, the taking of 149 lives, along with one’s own.

artwork by Dan Addington
artwork by Dan Addington

The term “terrorism” is regulated in its use in the media; limited to acts of violence that are politically motivated. Terror is linked to an ideological motive, whether political or religious (or usually both). There is some “end” toward which the terrorist is moving. Some geo-political or radically apocalyptic goal by which the terrorist deems his or her violent acts justified or even necessary. When the tag “terrorist” is applied, it seems to set all sorts of things in motion; politically, militarily, and in terms of “national security.” It certainly starts up the media frenzy machine and so often creates social unrest, sometimes leading to violent outbursts of vengeance against people who look like “them” (and not “us”).

But I wonder if there is also a different way of thinking about “terror,” in cases of severe mental illness?

David Foster Wallace, a contemporary American novelist, who took his own life in 2008, after more than two decades of struggling with severe depression, reflected on mental illness–along with many other themes of alienation–as a theme in his novels. Here is a section from Infinite Jest:

The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flame yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don‘t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.

Perhaps we can think of severe mental illness, such as debilitating, life-destroying depression as a kind of “terrorist” in its own right. This of course does not mean that people suffering from mental illness are terrorists. Please don’t misunderstand me, here! To equate the “terror,” or “terrorism” of mental illness with the affected person would be to perpetuate the falsehoods and scapegoating of the victims of these illnesses.  And certainly most people who do suffer severe depression never act violently against other human beings. If it is the case (and we are admittedly only speculating at this point) that co-pilot Lubitz suffered from a mental illness, it would be inconceivable and inexcusable to bring the weight of the effects of his own anguish, his own internal “terror,” down upon the lives of so many others.

In any case, whatever the results of the outcome of the investigation, we have seen time and again how mental anguish not only terrorizes the person dealing with it internally, but can have outwardly violent and tragic consequences. In our modern cultures, it seems, more work needs to be done dealing with the “terror” of the flame that effects so many of us within. Should the devastating effects of mental illness stir up in us a vigilant desire to understand its causes and to temper its effects? While most of us (relatively healthy) people deal regularly with a fear of death and of dying, there are many among us who struggle with a fear of life and of living.

So yes, perhaps we cannot say that the cause of the Germanwings tragedy was terrorism. Nor can we call it (just) suicide. But was it the result of an internal terror(ism); some horrifying fire called the fear of life? Perhaps time–and further investigation–will tell.

 

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  • charlesburchfield

    Thx 4 this! Not many survive a psychotic depression as I did. I am pretty sure the ppl I hit w my truck thot I was a terrorist. Miraculously they survived too. I drove in to them in a blackout. I have heard many stories in A.A. of ppl driving in blackouts and killing ppl, spending time in prison, getting sober & becomming contributing members of society again. Now what makes life so unbearable that one would take a headder like that? Oh yeah I remember now.

  • The Bohemian

    But the difference is that you did not intentionally mean to harm those people. This guy’s actions were not during a blackout. He planned it. I don’t think that’s what you or the AA folks were doing. That is such an important distinction.

  • charlesburchfield

    yes! not all triggers are the same.

  • The Bohemian

    I think it’s a huge difference. Even if the outcome is horrendous, intent matters. If a person is psychotic and thinks certain people are trying to kill them or someone else, violent actions by that person are not the same as violent actions by someone who is acting simply out of hatred.

  • Brandon Roberts

    thx this was awesome! i have a history of severe mental illness and it’s a miracle i’m still alive today

  • Guest

    LOL. This article is utter nonsense 😉

  • d marino

    Why do we assume we are being given the truth on this horrible plane crash? World events and the media are partners in deception. The agenda of the world controllers lies hidden behind false words.

  • Jesus Rueda Rodriguez

    I am sorry there was no terrorism involved in the crash of the German Wings flight – it was a terrible devastating tragedy but in no way was this meant to be a terrorist attack. It really makes it difficult to make any headway in addressing the real causes and threats which stem from terrorism when every accident and tragedy is labelled as terrorism.

    However the analogy of the trapped person in the burning building being akin to the situation of the mind trapped in the depths of mental illness is spot on. Thanks for sharing that.

  • NCMountainGirl

    The words you seem to be trying desperately to avoid in the above bit of mental hand wringing is evil.

    It is useless to try to understand such people. This particular loser differs little from any number of mass murders except that he chose a commercial airplane instead of a gun, a bomb or poison. The odds are also high that are this nihilistic scumbag chose to kill all those people because he wanted to be famous and the only way he could achieve that goal was to take a lot of innocent lives.

    That’s why I refuse to use his name and have little patience for anyone who does.

  • charlesburchfield

    I think your assumptions are terrefying! What’s really going on w you? Is the sun shining where you are? Do you have a nice cat? I really hope you find some way to come down from your adrenalin high.

  • The Bohemian

    Charles and Gregory, I think she has a point worth considering. Instead of ‘evil’ let’s say that rage is usually bad for society and that hatred, when not resolved, is bad for society. Let’s also say that some hatred is always bad for society. Let’s
    also say that murder is bad for society and that hatred sometimes leads to murder. We teach a lot about tolerance, which is good, but we fail to teach about the destructiveness of hatred and revenge. Wouldn’t such
    Education at home and in school and in society in general be indicated?

  • charlesburchfield

    I think what gets institutionalized is often one size fits all & can create more rebelliousness.

  • The Bohemian

    I agree with you completely. I’m thinking more of a wake up call, than something formalised. IMHO, the values neutral and values clarification movement in US Teacher Ed and schools created more problems than it was designed to solve. Teachers were actually taught to not tell students that things like theft, violence, etc. we’re wrong. So, it actually became institutionalised for teachers to **not** teach children right from wrong.

  • http://wonderwheels.blogspot.com/ Gregory Wonderwheel

    Mountain Girl, I feel sad for you. Your own deep anger is showing. If you think that calling people “evil” is a suitable alternative to understanding them, you are way off any moral base.

  • The Bohemian

    Gregory, I want to put forth some ideas for your and Charles’ consideration. So that I am not repetitive, my response will be shown as a reply to Charles.

  • The Bohemian

    I think you have some good points and will respond to Gregory and Charles, below.

  • brigitrest1

    to label this terrorism is to cheapen the word. If the murderer had the motive of terrorize airline passengers over some issue , maybe. The chief promoter of “terrorism” has been Lufthansa for reasons of avoiding responsibility. With governments around the world (including ours) using the terrorism word against any inconvenient opposition expanding the use of the word plays into the hand of developing tyranny. Don’t do it.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/unsystematictheology Kyle Roberts

    Why does defining terrorism as pertaining to an “issue” heighten the word? What makes “issues” (and I assume you mean political and/or religious) so deeply important–and therefore more worthy of our collective attention, energy, resources, etc.? As I shared above, death by suicide is far more likely globally and nationally than is death by “terrorism.” I’m simply suggesting that we give mental illness at least as much attention as we give to terrorism.

  • brigitrest1

    I agree, “mental illness” is much more likely to be the source. I have seen the terrorism word come up from many sources and again it makes the word meaningless and overusing the terrorist word plays into the hands of reaction, as in, they’re everywhere,we will protect you, just give up all your privacy and rights.

  • The Bohemian

    Mental illness is more likely to be the source of…. what? Hopefully you are not saying that mental illness is the source of violence….

  • brigitrest1

    I don’t even like the word illness. It seems that his personal issues of depression and self-identity are at the root of this self-destructive and murderous activity. His past difficulty with suicidal threats is witness to this.Does “mental illness” lead to violence, not usually but it can. Obvious example, shooting someone not in truth a threat by a psychotically paranoid person. It happens.

  • The Bohemian

    I agree with you completely. You articulated it well.

  • The Bohemian

    I agree with you. Other things lead to violence, as well. The press loves to latch on to mental health diagnoses because it is easier than looking for real answers.

  • http://wonderwheels.blogspot.com/ Gregory Wonderwheel

    It seems the intent is well meaning, but the use of the word “terrorist” in this context is exceedingly misleading and causes a perversion of the word beyond any redemption. Killing himself by bringing down the rest of the people with him was not just an escapist act done under the influence of terror, but of rage against one’s inner demons projected upon others.

  • charlesburchfield

    yep projection of one person is one thing but can you imagine when a whole nation projects it’s shyt!?

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/unsystematictheology Kyle Roberts

    I’m suggesting that “terrorism” is already a very subjective term. The “rights” to define it (and to determine who is a “terrorist”) seems to lie with whatever political power or nation-state is setting the definition. And the term is used for political and propaganda purposes. How different would the media presentation and social media conversation about this tragedy be had the co-pilot self-identified as a “terrorist”? And yet, when we look at the facts, suicide is far deadlier than terrorism, in terms of deaths each year–isn’t it? (over 800,000 die globally, 38,000 Americans each year–it’s the 10th leading cause of death in America while homicide is the 16th). I’m not simplistically suggesting we label mental illness a “terrorist,” but I do think this case maybe illustrates how little attention we pay to mental illness, vis a vis the seemingly exuberant attention we pay to “terrorism.” But what is really more likely to kill us? In any case, I wasn’t trying to communicate that this was “just an escapist act done under the influence of terror.” However, I am aware that severe mental illness can cause all sorts of horrific, unimaginable acts that no sane person could come close to considering (e.g. Sandy Hook). And I’m not sure we can confidently just call this a case of “rage against one’s inner demons projected upon others,” either.

  • http://wonderwheels.blogspot.com/ Gregory Wonderwheel

    To the degree that terrorism just subjectively means what the person saying it intends it to mean, then we are in a humpty dumpty world where words have lost their value. I agree that “rights to define” should be in quotes, because it is definitely not the “right” of political powers to define, even thought they attempt to be the arbiters of definitions. We the people have to push back when the political powers try to bend out perceptions with twisted definitions. That is how totalitarianism works as so well described in the novel 1984. The problem we have in the USA is that our Fourth Estate of the media has completely let us down and failed to protects us from government propaganda. The USA has so confused people with the misuse of the words “terrorist” and “terrorism” that it now gives every dictator in the world the “right” to define their oppression of their people as keeping terrorists down.
    I can see that you are attempting to draw attention to the problem of suicide and I agree that it is generally a much bigger and more difficult problem than political terrorism has ever been. Certainly we would not know that from our media and government. Mental illness (I’ve worked at psych inpatient wards) is very complex and has many variations and should never be generally associated with violence. There is no evidence that the mentally ill engage in violent acts to any greater percentage than so-called normal people. What usually happens is that someone does something violent and then they are called “mentally ill.” We could adopt the convention of saying that all violent people are anti-socially mentally ill, but in fact that would mean that we would have to acknowledge that every member of congress and the presidents are all equally mentally ill for engaging in state terrorism and violence. I’m personally willing to go there, but I know most people would not, and would simply say the violence I agree with is not mental illness but the violence I disagree with is mental illness, therefore it is a really bad idea to equate violence with mental illness.

  • The Bohemian

    In an article about Sandy Hook, the author mentions “the work of Park Dietz, a psychiatrist who, in 1986, coined the term “pseudocommando.” Dietz says that for pseudocommandos a preoccupation with weapons and war regalia makes up for a sense of impotence and failure. He wrote that we insist that mass killers are insane only to reassure ourselves that normal people are incapable of such evil.” http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/03/17/the-reckoning
    So, an appropriate question is, why have you assumed that the Sandy Hook shooter was suffering from severe mental illness?

  • charlesburchfield

    does it cost $? are you selling something? are you a rep? why don’t you tell us right here on the blog?

  • The Bohemian

    Suicidal depression does not turn into terrorism, nor to murder. People who commit acts of violence have another disorder or factor that leads to the murder of others. For some of the causes of murderous acts look to hatred, rage, blaming others or the world for their problems. These are not characteristics of depression or anxiety disorders. Violence is also associated with erotomania, antisocial personality disorder, psychopathy, sociopathy, and psychosis. The following article has an interesting take on the subject from the point of someone with depression: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/06/29/mass-shooters-mental-illness/ This article is the viewpoint of a clinical professional: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/06/10/the-psychology-of-elliot-rodger/ I do not think the author is a professional in the field of psychiatry or psychology.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/unsystematictheology Kyle Roberts

    Thanks for the links, Patricia. And you are right, I’m not a professional in the field of psychiatry or psychology. I’m a theologian who is interested in the intersection of theology and psychology–in particular questions around death and death anxiety. But I am admittedly a rookie in this territory. So I welcome your corrections and feedback. Also, I’m trying to explore this question: We’re told that this tragedy was neither suicide nor terrorism. So what is it? It’s that space between that seems so murky and complex.

  • nicolelynn

    It was a suicide-homicide.

  • The Bohemian

    With a great deal of vindictiveness and disrespect for other people thrown into the mix.

  • The Bohemian

    If you recall some of the school shooters, the terms anger and rage seem to come up a lot in discussions of the shooters. We, as a society, immediately focused on why they were angry, why they had a lot of rage, why they hated certain people and what we, as a society, need to do to remove those things that triggered their anger, rage and hatred. A famous teacher (Jesus, whom I believe was also a theologian) once said “If you hate someone, you have already murdered them in your heart”. I think unresolved anger and our societal acceptance of hatred are part of the equation. Where is the discussion about the inner source of mass murderers’ hatred? Where is the discussion about personal responsibility in working towards forgiveness and healing? Where is the discussion about pride, about someone thinking their rights, desires, comforts are more important than others’? Where is the discussion about disdain for other human beings? It’s so easy to immediately blame mass murder on mental illness. We put it in a neat little box and don’t deal with the moral issues around it.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/unsystematictheology Kyle Roberts

    Great points, Patricia. You are winning me over to your side.

  • The Bohemian

    😉

  • http://wonderwheels.blogspot.com/ Gregory Wonderwheel

    Let’s not forget, every time the USA invades or attacks another country, incidents of violence increase on the homefront. The leading theory is that the official governmental (as the surrogate parent) use of violence to solve international problems gives license and approval to citizens (as the surrogate children) to solve their own problems with violence as well.
    And Siddhartha Gautama Buddha said, “Enmity never brings peace to enmity; through amity is enmity brought to peace. This is the constant truth.”

  • The Bohemian

    You have some good points, Gregory Wonderwheel. Although I don’t personally think that mass murder has a relation to US wars, I can understand why some would conclude this to be the case. The Buddha spoke wisdom.

  • nicolelynn

    In any case, whatever the results of the outcome of the investigation, we have seen time and again how mental anguish not only terrorizes the person dealing with it internally, but can have outwardly violent and tragic consequences. 

    Sigh. For those of us who live with these diagnoses, this focus on the “outwardly violent and tragic consequences” is so stigmatizing. The fact is MOST people who feel the flames of fire Wallace talks about are NOT violent. In fact alcohol use and drug use have stronger correlations with violence against others than mental illness does. Can we please please please stop feeding the public’s perception that people with mental illness are to be feared?

  • nicolelynn

    P.S. I am not sure Wallace himself understands the term psychosis based on his quote. Psychosis isn’t some kind of synonym for “extreme.”

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/unsystematictheology Kyle Roberts

    That’s a fair point, Nicolelynn. Obviously, by itself, mental illness does not “cause” violence. There are clearly other factors involved. My intention was certainly not to contribute to the stigmatism attached to mental illness. The point is really that we don’t do enough to address mental illness, but then we are shocked when violence is done by those who suffer from them. How do we do better at addressing it? It’s an honest question.

  • nicolelynn

    Well those of us who have these conditions and work in the mental health field are just as shocked. Because it’s not normal. Psychology has no power to predict violence. None. There just aren’t strong correlations between mental illnesses and homicide.

  • nicolelynn

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2014/04/anger_causes_violence_treat_it_rather_than_mental_illness_to_stop_mass_murder.html

    Kyle, here is some food for thought. (Article above.)

    I would love for society to have a serious discussion about how to better support people with what our society calls mental illness. But in my view that is a mostly different conversation from how to stop mass homicides. There are points of intersection. But homicide is not the starting point for discussing how to better support people with MI, for many reasons… mostly though because most people with MI will never commit such atrocities and most homicides aren’t committed by people with diagnosable major mental illnesses. So if you start a discussion with homicide as the jumping off point, you’ll miss how to help the majority of us with MI, and as an unintended side effect you just might lend credence to the perception of us scary and in need of containment.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/unsystematictheology Kyle Roberts

    I understand your concern and the point is well-taken. Also, I’m not trained as a psychologist. But isn’t it the case that depression can manifest itself (in some) as anger? I had understood anger as a particularly “masculine” expression of depression. Again, I really do get the need to distinguish clinical depression from violence, so as to avoid perpetuating a stigma.

  • The Bohemian

    Any person suffering from depression that was triggered such things such as abuse will (hopefully) get angry. Anger is part of the healing process. In order to truly internalize the fact that they didn’t cause the abuse and were not to blame for the abuse, the person will need to accept that they were wronged. That will lead to anger towards the perpetrator. But then that anger will need to be resolved. In order to be healthy, they will eventually need to forgive, to let go of the anger. These are the same steps, though, that a person who does not have depression needs to go through.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/unsystematictheology Kyle Roberts

    yeah that distinction makes sense.

  • The Bohemian

    Yes, there is healthy anger, but there is also poisonous anger. Anger in and of itself is not bad, but it certainly can be.

  • nicolelynn

    It’s interesting you bring up the word masculine. In the media right now some of the articles on the plane crash mention a recent Swedish study. That study found a slight increase in rates of violent behavior in people with clinical depression vs the general population.

    Here’s what’s interesting to me though–this study is being used as proof depression is a slight risk factor for violence. Now, I can’t really argue with the numbers.. But you know what’s fascinating? If you look at the Swedish numbers they also reveal gender as a risk factor for violence. In fact they reveal the gender correlation is stronger than the depression correlation. Strong enough that women WITH depression are still LESS likely to commit violence than men WITHOUT depression.

    Now please hear me. I don’t think this means we should invoke gender as a big causal explanation for violence. Nor do I think we should have discussions about whether men should be granted pilot licenses. Nor do I think we shoulf have discussions about how to “better treat maleness”.

    But those are the discussions happening with depression as a result of this crash. So what’s interesting to me is WHY. Why do people notice that teeny tiny infinitesimal extraordinarily weaklink between depression and violence, and feel justified in asking how to better handle mental illness and question our policies around hiring, yet no one notices an also teeny tiny yet relatively STRONGER link between gender and violence? With the numbers staring them right in the face?

    I don’t really need an answer. The answer is prejudice. The answer is it doesn’t even occur to us to look at gender because we know it would be wrong to implicate maleness as causally responsible for violence. We all know SO MANY men that it would seem ludicrous to us to read a headline saying “Pilot was male before he was even awarded his pilot license.” But we’re prejudiced against people with mental illness. So the headline “Pilot suffered depression before he was even awarded pilot license” seems ok. We see nothing wrong with it. It just seems LOGICAL to write or read that headline. And that is prejudice of the worst kind.

  • nicolelynn

    These are the numbers from the recent Swedish study by the way:

    In a recent recent Swedish study, researchers found that 3.7% of men and 0.5% of women committed a violent crime after being identified as clinically depressed. This is compared with 1.2% of men and 0.2% of women in the general population.

    The study tracked the medical records and conviction rates of 47,158 people diagnosed with depression over a period of about three years. It then compared th e data with the records of 898,454 people never diagnosed with depression.

    Violent crime was defined as a conviction for any of the following: homicide or attempted homicide, aggravated or common assault, robbery, arson and sexual offences (including indecent exposure, and illegal threats or intimidation).

  • The Bohemian

    But what we don’t know is if the people identified as depressed had a coexisting problem that triggered the violence. What the study showed is a correlation, not cause and effect.

  • nicolelynn

    Correct that correlation doesn’t equal causation. But that wasn’t the point. The point is society sees a correlation (no matter how slight) between depression and violence and FREAKS OUT about whether depressed people should be allowed to fly. But they don’t notice that contained in those same numbers is a correlation between gender and violence. THAT is what I’m trying to get Kyle to see… and wonder about.

  • The Bohemian

    I am sorry that I missed your point. I agree. All to often the media focuses on one factor among many, generally the wrong one. And yes, the media leads people to draw the wrong conclusions and people do freak out.

  • The Bohemian

    Again, many, many, many people suffer with MI and are not violent. People who have depressive disorder or clinical depression are not violent. Something else is driving the violence and we keep assuming it is due to MI.

  • The Bohemian

    I completely agree with you. Rage, hatred and disregard for other human beings are hallmarks of these types of killings.

  • KoreanKat

    “Terrorism” is violence with a political agenda. This was just mass murder without reason. Deal with it.

    The people I see constantly misappropriating the word “terrorism” are left-leaning religious apologists. You shamelessly want to muddy the waters and obscure how religious beliefs and terrorism are so frequently linked.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/unsystematictheology Kyle Roberts

    What constitutes a “political agenda”? (there I go muddying the waters)

  • KoreanKat

    Actually it is not difficult at all to define what constitutes a “political agenda”. Politics relates to the governance of an entity and thus a political agenda is an interest in a particular mode or principle of governance.

    Besides if Lubitz had a political agenda, you would respond by articulating it, thus proving your point. The fact you respond with a deliberately obtuse recrimination is merely a window into the ‘progressive’ religious apologist mind.

    I’m not the only one in this thread calling you out on your misuse of “terrorism”.

  • Guest

    grind away kat!

  • charlesburchfield

    w respect, KK, I think it isn’t so black and white. I would like to know what draws you to these categorical conclusions that seem to define your reality.

  • KoreanKat

    And I would like to know why rather than present an actual counterargument of some sort, you instead resort to an ad hominem.

  • charlesburchfield

    Nope! Not gonna race w that horse.

  • charlesburchfield

    I think the question ‘why’ will be answered only by beings who themselves have had the experience of a psychotic depression and also have a degree of recovery to come back to articulate their experience. There are repeat patterns I share w ppl who have had severe childhood traumas that set up the rest of ones life for more, and layering of trauma events. PTSD can look and feel a lot like a psychotic depression. I think the best outcome all tramatic events like the one that triggers a discussion like we are having here is for the purpose of creating an empathetic community enlightened by the holy spirit. Ppl w M.I. seem to be the last ppl whose voice is heard, heeded, included or listened to in any institution or political setting. We should be the first ppl to be asked what is really at the heart of ‘sin’.

  • http://wonderwheels.blogspot.com/ Gregory Wonderwheel

    Here’s an article I found worthwhile. The author Anne Skomorowsky writes “For instance: Act completely blasé, then lock the pilot out of the cockpit, and deliberately crash a plane full of people. I don’t know what that is, but it’s not depression.”

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2015/03/germanwings_co_pilot_mental_illness_suicide_is_linked_to_depression_but.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_fb_top

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/unsystematictheology Kyle Roberts

    I commented thusly to Nicolelynn below, but it fits here too. Thanks for the link to the article–helpful information and perspective. I understand your concern and the point is well-taken. Also, I’m not
    trained as a psychologist. But isn’t it the case that depression can
    manifest itself (in some) as anger? She seems very confident to distinguish depression from anger, rage, hopelessness. Is there only one expression of depression–and is it completely unlinked from those emotions? I had understood anger as a
    particularly “masculine” expression of depression.

  • The Bohemian

    Depressed people can have anger when they process issues that may have led to their depression, rape, abuse, etc. But anger, per se, is not a characteristic of depression.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/unsystematictheology Kyle Roberts

    Is there a potential link between depression and violence at the point of “low self-esteem”? I’ve studied Ernest Becker’s work and the Terror Management Theory stuff and it seems that violence is very often the result of people with very low self-esteem seeking out an “immortality project” in order to deal with their inability to cope with the apparent meaningless of life and their sub-par systems of meaning-making. I’m not saying there that MI is the “cause,” but could it not be a contributing factor to the greater issue of self-esteem, which can lead to violent outbursts? Again, just exploring the territory here.

  • The Bohemian

    Research is conflicting regarding self esteem and violence. Much research concludes that high self esteem rather than low is a predictor of violence. When the one with high self esteem feels slighted, the response is violent. Much research has shown the majority of prison inmates have high self esteem. Teachers have reported students with high self esteem having the most behavior problems. Additionally, correlation does not prove causality.

  • The Bohemian

    A clinical psychologist was interviewed on CNN. She said that flying a plane full of people was not something you would expect a person with depression to do. She said they would need to know the copilot’s personality, as well as many other factors. As humans, though, we don’t want that answer. We want the problem explained in a two minute sound byte, so that we can relatively quickly develop a solotion, and also assign blame to someone who had interactions with the person. IMHO, we do this because we need to make sense out of an insensible act, even if that ‘sense’ is wrong. And, IMHO, we also do it because we need to feel safe, we need to feel like it won’t happen to us or those we love. For years, in tragedies such as this, the media has been feeding us the 2 minute sound bytes, despite more accurate, but more complex, explanations, along with proposed solutions, that are non-solutions.

  • infidelphia

    Depression is anger turned on the self.

  • http://wonderwheels.blogspot.com/ Gregory Wonderwheel

    As Parricia noted, depression and anger can go together but are NOT necessarily paired. Sometimes depression does appear to be combined with repressed or introjected anger with both as symptoms of the overall sense of failure or inability to cope with life. Also, as reported elsewhere, when someone is given anti-depressant medications, the meds can seriously decrease normal self-censorship and normal inhibitions which then cause people to do the previously unthinkable such as suicide. So in this case, it could very well be that it was not the depression that “caused” the suicide-murder but the anti-depressant medications that were the immediate proximate cause.

    Here’s an article that talks about better outcomes for depression treatment in the past before the so-called “anti-depression” medication became widely prescribed as the primary treatment. http://www.madinamerica.com/2011/11/depression-2/

  • Chuck Farley

    I really have a problem with words being redefined to fit a scenario. Words are defined by societies to enable people to communicate ideas. Changing the meanings of words, or stretching them to include other things confuses the communication.

    Terror and terrorism are two different things, that is why there are two words to describe them. Terrorism has a goal. If you stretch the meaning of the word to include what some mentally ill people feel because of their illness you are anthropomorphising mental illness. It’s confusing and unnecessary.

    As for more people worldwide dying from suicide than terrorism you conveniently leave out that those that take their own lives do so willingly whereas the victims of terrorism are killed against their will.

  • charlesburchfield

    I think depression is a consequence of soul murder. I think it is a defaulted state of consciousness that takes over when structural violence deprives a person or a nation of a means to live in peace and wellbeing. I think it’s like what happened to gollum in the lord of the rings. I think depression makes a person over into its own image. I think a person or ppl or a nation even can become an agent of depression and I think depression can also lead to a positive transformative experience. it can humble and expose the lies of ego infation and the myth one tries to live by and the addictions that keep those lies in play.

  • Denzil Walton

    Bit late reading this, but the concept of an internal terror struck a chord. And the fact that this event happened just before Easter week. Maybe I’m reading too much into this but I am reminded of Jesus going into the inner room and locking the door to keep everyone safe from the terror outside, when the “terrorist” (Judas) was inside in their midst.