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The "Loner" Stigma

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The "Loner" Stigma

Postby puma » Wed Apr 18, 2007 11:20 pm

Quote from another forum site:
"I'm not sure that I have a particular objective or problem to solve with this post. I'd just like to comment on my take on some current events.

Like many of you I'm sure, I've been following the unfolding story behind the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech. It's obvious to me at least that the cause of the perpetrator's actions was driven by severe, depression and probably some other mental illness or illnesses. What bothers me, however, is the fact that his mental illness and other "red flags" have taken a back seat in my opinion to his simply, "being a loner". When I picked up the local paper today the headline on the front page simply read, "GUNMAN A LONER" in letters so large they took up nearly a 1/4 of the front page. Every article I've read be it online, or in the paper has contained the following phrase:


Quote
"He was a loner, and we're having difficulty finding information about him," school spokesman Larry Hincker said.

It really bothers me that the media, and society at large treat people who don't socialize constantly as if they have some major dysfunction. Just because I may not go out for drinks on Saturday nights does not mean I'm out plotting the demise of others. There is a very distinct difference between someone who wallows day in and day out in a pool of malice for those around him\her, and someone who simply does not need require the company of others to be content because of his or her temperament. I'm so tired of people who constantly ask me if there's something wrong because I don't constantly engage in chatter with others. In reality I see myself as more content than most extroverts in that I am completely free to do what I want when I want and the drama level of my personal life hovers around a constant 0%. In my opinion this man was obviously severely disturbed, and his being a loner in my mind is insignificant when compared to all of the other clear warnings displayed.

Just my 2cents. Feel free to share anything else."..by Array..unquote.
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Since most of us in the schizoid forum are loners , I thought this might generate some comment.
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Postby disquiet26 » Wed Apr 18, 2007 11:35 pm

on the other hand, maybe 'loner' is just the easily accessible layman's term for the several illnesses the gunman might have had, that could easily fit a headline

puma wrote:I'm so tired of people who constantly ask me if there's something wrong because I don't constantly engage in chatter with others.


i think about it like this: they don't really care. so it doesn't matter what i answer when they ask. :wink:
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Postby PBNJ » Thu Apr 19, 2007 12:32 am

The fact that he was a loner is just an easy way to explain one of his features. You can't really describe a guy who never speaks to others, has severe depression and low-self esteem, has a fixation on hurting others, spends all his free time by himself without using the word 'loner' or 'alone' or some variation of the words. They're not trying to say all loners are anywhere close to being as messed up as he was, just trying to give a journalistic view of what he is for the mass-media.
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Postby gigantor21 » Thu Apr 19, 2007 3:18 am

That stigma, along with other things, is just one of many things that will be incorrectly blamed for the tragedy. Apparently, no one thinks that him being psychotic is a valid excuse--they have to make him some kind of martyr for "what's wrong with society today".

I, for one, think it's #######4. As with Columbine, all the blame game $#%^ people are pulling won't better us in the long run. I wish they'd just give it a rest and leave the students and staff in peace.
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Postby Ms. Anthropist » Thu Apr 19, 2007 3:21 am

Well, to be fair, I really don't mind that "being a loner" is classified as a red flag. It can sometimes indicates a mental or emotional problem in a person. The majority of the time, it doesn't. But many mentally disturbed people are loners. Compare it to the idea that automatically by being overweight or a smoker, you are considered much, much more likely to develop preventable medical conditions, even if you know you are perfectly healthy. How many times have people looked at an obese person and thought to themselves a heart attack or diabetes was minutes away? Nearly everyone has some feature or trait that could be used to explain away any negative thing that occurs with that person. When a tragedy like this occurs, people grasp desperately for an explanation, and usually the first explanation they settle on when dealing with a person like this is classifying the person as far away from your average, well adjusted citizen as possible. Which is perfectly true in this case.

Being a loner is just one of many warning signs. By itself, it indicates little to nothing. I doubt a happy, healthy, law abiding person is going to be persecuted or suspected because he or she is a loner. I do agree that this waste of good cells that committed these shootings certainly will not cause the stigma of being a loner to go away any time soon....but I doubt it would anyway. I think people will perhaps start being more cautious of loners that exhibit antisocial or violent behavior...but that's perfectly merited. I doubt behavior towards people like us who are otherwise obviously sane and healthy, but just loners, will change.
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Postby quiet-loner » Thu Apr 19, 2007 1:41 pm

Looking back at my school life I can honestly say that if I'd had easy access to a gun I would have been one of those news headlines that starts "Today a quiet loner....." which raises the real issue. It isn't that loners are inherently violent it's that in the U.S it's far to easy to get hold of a gun.
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Postby szczur achromatyczno » Thu Apr 19, 2007 9:34 pm

I hate the loner stigma. It's worse when you are younger though. I've found that older people are much more tolerant. I hope that it keeps on being that way, because I don't feel like dedicating my life to telling them "NOT ALL LONERS ARE BAD." Bleah.

At least they aren't describing the shooter like he was totally schizoid. I can just see some of the people I "know" freaking out and calling the cops on me or something. I think American society is in general moving towards being more intolerant of deviancy, and that would totally suck. People have asked me if I'm having problems, or if I need help, or even if I have thoughts of hurting other people. It's annoying as heck, and gee, if I was planning something, I would certainly not tell them! I cannot seem to make it get through their heads that their activities mean nothing to me, and I neither want to get involved or destroy them. I suppose it is only natural for them to keep watching someone who they don't understand, though.

I dislike all the talk about this student-killer. Can someone say, "media-sensationalized"? I think it's rather amusing that a lot of the media covered Anna Nicole Smith in much of the same way. I could've sworn one of the ads on NBC said something to the lines of "a glance...into his secret life!" :(
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Postby Nick » Sat Apr 21, 2007 4:33 am

Maybe they're right. Maybe we are a threat to a normal, safe, functioning society. It's said all the time...turns it into a self-fulfilling prophecy...
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Postby aries » Sat Apr 21, 2007 6:58 pm

Yes I noticed this, now there are going to be a bunch of people at my college telling me I need counseling or friends or something.

I forsee many more skipped classes than my usual 3-4 a week... oh well. As soon as people get over the fact that yes people who are loners might possibly turn to murder and there's NO stopping it, we can get back to normal.
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Postby Misanthropy » Sun Apr 22, 2007 11:37 am

Here's an interesting auricle from an independent news source I subscribe to in Australia. If anything, it illustrates an Australian perspective on how things are in the US.

Dark days for undergraduate weirdos

Guy Rundle writes:

It’s generally agreed that the Virginia massacre isn’t going to change US gun laws -- you’d probably need about a half-dozen of them in the space of a month to do that.

However, what it will do is increase surveillance of students and psychological profiling in American universities, and by extension, here. Cho Seung-hui -- the ''question-mark kid'' who spoke to virtually no one and walked around in wrap-around shades -- is the sort of person who’s scarcely unknown in arts faculties, especially in creative writing courses. Yet, one presumes that from now on every underground weirdo in trenchcoat and dark glasses is going to feel the eye of suspicion upon them.

Which is a pity because I can think of at least two academics, one editor of a national newspaper opinion page, and a bloke who now owns three pizza shops who would fit that bill from my own gun-spree-free student days.

More particularly, what is going to happen to academic confidentiality? Is every teacher now going to be perpetually on the look-out for the next mass murderer in classes where students are encouraged to explore their imagination in whatever direction it goes?

Take, Seung-hui’s play (parts of which were reproduced on Crikey yesterday) submitted for his class, and which led his tutor to wonder if she should call the police. The violent plot concerns a sexually overcharged family in which the family friend has killed the father in order to possess the mother, and the son is fuming with the thwarted desire to murder him.

Shocking really -- for Seung-hui has clearly plagiarised Hamlet, which follows this plot pretty much to the letter. The violent discourse echoes an earlier, funnier Shakespeare work Titus Andronicus in which the heroine has to write her murderer’s name in the sand with a stick held between her arms because the hero has cut out her tongue, eyes and hands.

Looking for a more recent example, there’s almost an embarrassment of riches from Tarantino (‘I hate him. Must kill Dick’ -- from Seung-hui’s screenplay is simply a rip-off of the Uma Thurman’s refrain ‘I’m gonna kill Bill’ in the eponymous film) or the whole Saw/Hostel genre of ultra-sadistic torture films. And the riffs about ''Richard McBeef’s face'' by Seung-hui’s killer character have pretty much the same feel as Woody Harrelson’s riffs in Natural Born Killers.

So the means of the crime -- over-the-counter pistols -- will remain free while the fantasy -- the free-play of the imagination -- will become increasingly criminalised. This, as the second amendment notes, is to preserve freedom.

Oh, and at least 140 died in suicide bombings in Iraq yesterday. Check for their memorials on Facebook anytime soon.


I don't foresee a problem with my university studies here in Australia - despite being a poster child for loners everywhere - because no one really worries about this type of thing. School shootings are viewed as a purely American phenomenon, thanks largely to the widespread use of guns and your media's penchant for constantly reinforcing fear about all manner of things which leads to jittery citizens. I admit that it's a very silly view, but it's not hard to understand why some people over here think it's Wild West in the streets.

I've never understood why American's so vehementally defend the right to bear arms, it just seems so silly to me. I get that it's in the constitution, but...who cares? The classic pro-gun argument is that banning or severely regulating guns is not going to stop criminals from getting their hands on them, which is true I guess, but there is something seriously wrong in your society that results in this high per-capita shooting murder rate.

Admittedly I know nothing about my own countrie's gun laws, or America's for that matter. No one I know does either. I've never even seen a real gun in the flesh bar a standard issue police handgun and a few rifles at a military parade.

Maybe I should go and read some arguments about this. It seems interesting.
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