A Nurse with a Gun

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Manson and Other Charlatans

Over the past 12 hours, to bide my time while on call, I have been watching interviews of Charles Manson. I observe to learn, to analyze, to prepare myself for when I must deal with mental pathology........Again. Manson was interviewed in 1981 by Tom Snyder, and again in 1987 by Geraldo Rivera. That is one spooky sociopath.

Watching Charles Manson gives one a sick feeling of revulsion. He attempts to manipulate an interviewer into feeling empathy, appearing to allow them to enter his world, knowing by their presence that they want to see inside his mind, and then he suddenly slams the door when they try to peep inside. For Manson, these mind games seem to be a method of control, a not so discreet game to boost his own feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. He is a looser, and he knows it. Still, because of the interviewer's very presence, he has gained something.

I was struck by how common Manson's pathology is. He is a garden variety sociopath, albeit a very hardened, incorrigible one. I have seen his thought processes before....They are not unique. The denial, the manipulation, the evasion, the refusal to directly answer questions, the deflected responsibility, the word salads and the mumbo jumbo bullshit that so many professionals call a disease. It all allows the sociopath an excuse for bad and criminal behavior. If there is any truth to anything that Charles Manson claims, then it is that the whirly-gig performance of the incarcerated criminally insane prisoner and psychiatrist keeps them both fed. To me, it all appears to be a cantankerous waltz with madness, a grinning monkey pumping a squeezebox and tapping his foot to the side.

As nurses, we must interview patients. I suppose this is why I do not handle psychiatric patients well. I would probably handle them fine as a corrections officer, but I usually fail as a nurse. I see right through their bullshit, and I do not accept any of it. I hold them responsible for their actions and inactions. I have absolutely no empathy, and they know it. I believe the best thing that could happen to them is productive work digging potatoes in the fields of a farm labor supported mental hospital. Let them be a message to society.......If you don't want to be placed there, then act right. If you can't figure out how to act right, then here's a shovel asshole!

My wife is a psych nurse, and God knows I love and respect her for it, but I have no idea how she can put up with the loads of crap that comes out of some of these people's minds. They don't want to "get better". The psychosis is a defense mechanism, an adaptation for survival. I do not pity them. I used to have to tolerate them occasionally. Thank God I now only have to say "Breathe deep," do my job and roll them out and into the care of another nurse before they wake up.

And some kids think Manson's a hero. Idiots.



Blogger Firehand said...

Way back in college, had an instructor who told of having managed to get permission to interview Manson. He described him as having these 'odd blue eyes, and if you didn't pay attention he'd just kind of suck you in'. Said he thought Hitler must have been something like that in person.

Also stated that Manson scared hell out of him.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Sterno said...

That's the same thing I've been saying for years! I think 99% of mental problems stem from a self-centered lack of personal responsibility.

My wife also considers it more than that and feels sorry for people who are diagnosed with these "problems".

Maybe it's a mothering instinct thing.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Hyunchback said...

I'm with you on this topic, Xavier. I couldn't work psych for many of the same reasons.

In the course of nursing it's not uncommon to come across various psychiatric symptoms. My sense from this is that psychiatry does its science and its patients any good by making all diagnosis equal. It's a area where political correctness isn't newly arrived.

My wife is fond of real crime shows. The New Detectives, Cold Case Files, etc. Occasionally such shows will feature testimony from the criminals themselves.

I haven't heard one yet who wasn't totally bullshitting. All of the actual footage of Ted Bundy and all portrayals based on his interviews are so obviously hollow to me.

Having also been a nurse working in corrections I can't say that I've seen anyone inside that claimed psych issues who wasn't trying to defraud the system in some way.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Jay G said...

C'mon now, Xavier. There's nothing wrong with Charlie Manson...



...that a good ol' Colt 45 wouldn't fix...

9:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dunno, Xavier...maybe all those slobbering sycophants have given you a false sense of insight...

You say you have no empathy for anyone with psychiatric affliction? So that pathetic incarnation of evil Manson aside, you don't believe mental disease can be as real as any flesh and bones injury?

That's not so insightful, it's just crazy (funny, huh?). Are you still so sure you're smarter than 100% of the "others"?

Oh, by the way, it's presence, not prescence...unless you meant prescience; now that would change the whole pallor of that paragraph...and might really be insightful! Remarks? Al Terego

9:38 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Al Terego,
When it comes to psychology, I'm a behaviorist. I believe that those with mental illness have maladapted defense mechanisms. This is an accepted area of study.

I do not believe that mental "illness" can be "cured" chemically. I believe the supposed symptoms can be masked through drugs that would mask any behavior.

Can mental illness be as real as any other affliction? Certainly. I simply believe in a different path to helping the patient. There is a lot of money to be made in psychotrophic pharmaceuticals and psychiatry. Far to much to admit that it is a behavior problem. When a chemical is tried on a test group, effects discovered, and then a diagnosis arrived at to complete the marketing package, science is being utilized for ulterior purposes.

Years ago when schizophrenics lived in mental institutions rather than under bridges and on the street, they were cared for.

If a heart beats irratically, we have not "cured" the affliction if we stop the beating.

As far as being smarter than 100% of the "others", well, there are a lot of folks who follow B. F. Skinner. 100% doesn't enter into it. No body agrees on this stuff. There is not a singular school of psychriatric thought and methodology. Your math is off.....Unless, of course you are trying to sway an argument with false statistics. Don't be so influenced by the manipulations of the pharmaceutical companies. They would have you believe their products "cure" behavior you do not like. I suppose there may be a reason for that.

ad hominem attacks on my spelling are just that. I frequently spellcheck and recompose sentences for several days after writing a blog post. Sometimes i do not even have time to use the spellchecker, as I blog between other tasks that occupy my day. Writing is not my primary job, nor my talent, although I try.

5:38 AM  
Anonymous Keith said...

A few years ago, a creepy psychopathic sadist called Iain Brady (he and Myra Hindly used to kidnap, rape, torture and murder children together before burying the bodies on moorland near manchester in England)went on hunger strike.

A criminal psychologist was talking about people like Brady and said that it was a constant battle to keep the creepy little bastards from trying to gain any sort of control over other people. the psychologist put Brady's hunger strike down to just another attempt by Brady to gain some sort of control.

Fortunately both Brady and Hindly died before any reason could be found to release them.

Firehand, I aggree. just looking at pictures of Stalin with his creepy slitty eyes gives me the shivvers. I went to school with a guy who looked like that, and by some fluke of chance he had a real sadistic streak in him too.

Xav, I'd be careful with the behaviourists, I'm not sure that their model of assuming an automaton like "this is the input therefore that is the respose" stands up to much scruitiny.

If you read Temple Grandin's work, she found the behaviourist school certainly didn't explain her observations, and she fell out with one of the leading exponents when he tried to grope her when she was 17... yet another creepy guy.


12:36 PM  

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