What does “acting strangely” mean?
A stabbing at the Mall of America made national TV news. It was several days before authorities released the name and image of the suspect, who had been detained at the scene. None of the texts I’ve found names his race, but the image indicates he’s black. One detail in the article alarmed me; not his name, not his race, not the fact that he’d stabbed two people. Rather, it was this:
“Witnesses also reported seeing [him] acting strangely before the attack.”
Horrified, I said, “Gawd, I hope none of those people were white.” Under political correctness, God forbid any white person accuse a black person of “acting strangely.” Yes, the white person can say he stabbed two people; but the white person dare not disapprove.
Related: James Bible
But what does “acting strangely” mean?
I look around me and see that there are infinite dimensions to chaos, and behavioral chaos — acting strangely — can rise from any one (or more) of an infinite number of causes.
Arrested development refers to people who don’t act their age. In jail, I was surrounded by forty-year old four-year olds. I discussed arrested development in some detail here.
Mental illness takes many different forms.
▶ Melissa’s mental illness comes and goes. She’s actually exceptionally bright and articulate. She’ll come out with a expression that challenges my powers of abstraction — and five minutes later be doing things that are absolutely crazy.
▶ Bobby’s the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet. He has a strange-shaped head, suggesting that he may have lost a big chunk of his brain in a motorcycle accident. He tells me candidly about his hallucinations; it’s a blessing that he recognizes them as such. He entertains deep questions, such as what really happened with Adam and Eve. I can become impatient when he asks the same question over and over.
▶ Poisoned in the womb: Meet the first patient that psychiatrist Carl Bell recognized as having fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS):
The agitated mom had three kids in foster care and she wanted them back. But she didn’t understand how to parent. She’d never worked. She had a short fuse. She was slow and didn’t seem to learn from experience. *** Bell had seen thousands of patients like this over the past 40 years and been baffled by their explosive tempers, poor social skills, spotty memories, trouble communicating, and learning disabilities.
David Earl Miller had FAS, too. You can read his story here.
▶PTSD: random, innocuous events can trigger violent outbursts in combat veterans who actually, at the moment, fear for their lives. It is also surprisingly common in civilians, even children, especially black females like Rachel Jeantel. It can also cause vast distress apart from such outbursts, as the patient struggles to manage her or his emotions. Marinna Rollins, a combat veteran, had a service dog tasked with helping her self-management. She tied the dog to a tree and shot it four times, recording the video on cell phone. Days later, she hung herself.
Then there is the utterly normal, well-adjusted person seeking to find or concoct anb excuse for his or her irritability. We almost all do this: I continue to see, daily, that the untoward affect occurs first, and the notion to justify it — often an actual lie — occurs later. This accounts for much bigotry, political turmoil, and so on.
Some people may be karmically hard-wired to act strangely.
Love is the one solution to all difficulties.
|I never met a man I didn’t like.|
|— Will Rogers|
Love enables me to accept the person as she or he is.
Love enables the willingness to clean up the disorder he or she creates.
Love alone enables one to grasp that one engages in self-marginalization.
Love alone will bring the healing one desires. “One must love the wounded or disagreeable member into wholeness.”
Others’ love alone will empower them to cooperate with one’s seeking to become whole.
It can take years or decades to accomplish healing of an untoward behavior pattern. Love enables one to do the work each day.