Born Monster or Insane?

It is an age-old question, one that has occupied our minds since the beginning of time: 

What makes us tick?

For a very long time now, I too have been wondering about this.  What makes people do or say the things they do?  What makes us handle situations different?  What makes one person look at a situation, learn from it and let it go, while another brood over it for years to come, allowing it to fester and grow a black cancerous hole in their soul?

Before I carry on, I do not mean to step on any toes.  I do not say that these things are only done by men, and I am well aware that women are also in the wrong.  Men, however, are more prone to violent crimes and have thus become the target of my study.  Apologies to any male reader offended by this post.

In searching for this answer I have, sort of, turned the people I encounter into “test subjects”, looking for inconsistencies, looking at reactions, expressions and words.  I find it fascinating how two people can react so very differently when presented with the same situation.

“We are all born into genius” says Robin Sharma.  We are all born with a clean conscious, a mind to be filled, a personality to be shaped.  Where does it go wrong?

(Disclaimer: The following are all still on trial, thus the actions are “alleged”)

In the small town of Bredasdorp, Anene Booysen goes out for an evening of fun with her friends.  The next morning she is found raped and brutalized, left for dead at the side of the road.  Despite all efforts to save her, she dies in hospital, but not before identifying one of her attackers. It was done by young men known to her and her family.  How do you dismember a girl you know, rape her and beat her senseless?  Was it drugs, alcohol, insanity?

A 16 year old boy shows up at the police station, panic stricken.  He had just escaped a horrible attack on his family: his mother, father and sister murdered.  Forensics shows that the sister had been raped too.  Forensics also indicates that he did it.  How do you kill your parents, rape and twice shoot your sister?  Was it for the R23 million inheritance or insanity?     

A hero to millions around the globe, Paralympian, Olympian, Oscar Pistorius fatally shoots his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the early morning hours of Valentine’s Day.  The world recoils in shock; surely it must be true that he mistook her for a burglar!  But as the bail hearing proceeds, seedy details about his past emerge, the picture and the story just does not add up.  Was it jealous rage; was it insecurity stemming from his disability or insanity?

The Boston Marathon ends in a manhunt, bombers have targeted the race.  Again America is under siege.  Days later two brothers are identified.  Their families are devastated, “they must have been framed” they say.  The wife of the older brother says she never had any idea that he was involved with extremists.  The younger brother is described as a gentle “walking angel” by all who knew him.  How does one person influence another that much?  How does one person turn from an angel to a murderer?  Insanity?

Johan Kotze sees his ex-wife with another man and looses the plot completely.  He arranges for 3 men to rape her, he tortures her for hours, turn screws into her breasts before cutting them off, murders her son, because he loved her and can’t stand the thought of losing her to another man.  He loves her!?!?  It makes me sick!  Is it psychosis, jealous rage or insanity?

Some more stories from people I spoke to:

A girl is forced to eat an entire pot of green beans (and nothing else), simply because she did not cut the pieces small enough.  It may seem a small thing to you, but the abuse that went with it will stay with her forever.  A lesson in cooking or insanity?

A man goes into a rage because his wife forgot to buy something, smashes the house and beats her senseless.  The next morning he wakes up in utter shock: what happened here? He cries like a baby, stunned in disbelief: he would never have done that?  An excuse or insanity?

A paedophile befriends children or families with children, he is the friendly uncle next door who always has a kind word and sweeties in his pocket.  Behind curtains he drools over child porn, waiting for the right moment to make his move, lure them into his trap and destroy their future.  A treatable disease or insanity?

A man goes out to find a girl then rapes her.

An alcoholic or drug addict goes on a binge and spends his entire month’s earnings over a weekend.  He goes home and mentally, physically and emotionally abuses his wife and children.  The next morning he laughs it off, saying that they should know by now that he never means of the things he says or does when he is drunk.  A chemical imbalance created by substance or insanity?

You will not have to search very far to find more stories like this.  This I can guarantee you!

I have always wished that I can sit down with a serial murderer or rapist and have a good heart to heart over a cup of tea and some biscuits, maybe ad some truth serum in there.  No nonsense, no lies, no mind games – just the truth.  To truly understand another person’s mind, what an accomplishment that will be.

Seeing that I am not able to do that, I settled for reading Insanity – My Mad Life by Mickey Peterson aka Charles Bronson.  Fair advance warning:  this book is not suitable if you are under 18, squeamish, faint hearted or anything like that.  I enjoy a good horror movie and I love reading. In all honesty I can tell you that I have never struggled this much to finish a book.  It is so filled with anger, hate and violence that it leaves you sick to the core.  This is after all a biography by the most feared and notorious convict in the prison system.

Bronson describes himself as the King of Roofs (he made it to the roof of prisons 8 times during incarceration, causing £1,5 million in damages), Master of Sieges (during several sieges on the inside he took 11 hostages), Supreme Lord of Cuttings and Stabbings, Stylist of attempted Murder and Governor of Isolation (at the time of going of print, he had spent 24 of his 30 years inside in solitary confinement).

I pushed through and finished the book, simply because I hoped that it would give me the answer.  What made him do all these things?

At one point he, and all the others mentioned, were someone’s beautiful baby, a child with dreams, a teenager in love.  Where did it go wrong?

I am in two minds about this issue.

1. Can someone really be born bad? 

Is it possible for a chemical imbalance or misplaced gene to take away your ability to distinguish between right and wrong?  If this is the case it can be remedied with medication.  Or can it?  Is that not merely a temporary delay of the insanity that drives them mad in the end, as Bronson puts it?  Can psychological disorders be picked up by DNA scanning after birth and corrected with treatment?  Can it ever truly be corrected or is the inevitable simply delayed?  When questioning a person about a crime or anything, for that matter, how do we really know the truth unless we saw it with our own eyes?  Even then, how I perceive something and you perceive it will hardly ever be the same.  Our views and opinions are formed by past experiences.  The very convenient “I can’t remember that, therefore it could not have happened” or “he suffers for psychosis and therefore cannot be held accountable” – it is all just a very convenient excuse to me.

2. Is it simply a choice? 

No one is perfect.  We all have had our share of misfortune, some more than others.  I, for one, have had a pretty rough deal.  Does that give me the right to think the world owes me?  Does that give me the right to go about my life like a lioness caught in a bear trap?  NO!!!  I made a choice to learn from it, to grow, to be a better person.  I made the choice to forgive and not carry the hate with me.  If you do, it will consume you and slowly eat away at your existence until you snap.  Forget?  No, I will never forget, but I choose to think about the good and not be reminded of the bad.  What would happen if psychological treatment for traumatic events and life coaching were more readily available?  What would happen if we raised men with true emotion, rather than men with ego?

Bronson makes a compelling case for the idea of insanity and how the insane are created by the penal system.  This will be covered in another post.

Why is it happening more often?  Or have we just been blind?

What are the signs?

What do we look for?

What can be done?

What is the cause?

What makes these people lose the ability to stop a second before the act an ask themselves: what am I doing?

We live in a society where violence is at the order of the day.  Maybe it’s in the water!

I simply don’t understand it.

The search must continue.

More facts on me – Q & A With Louisa

Thanks Louisa for taking part in the Liebster Awards!

Since I’ve already done my post on this, I will just do a short Q & A to answer your questions:

What is your biggest fear? Water, without a shadow of a doubt! I have this unreasonable fear of water. So many people have tried to get me over it, but it’s just useless.
What is your biggest dream/wish? My biggest dream is definitely to publish my novel. My biggest wish is for financial security for me and my family (all of them!)
If your closest friend/s had to describe you starting with “Most likely to…” what would they say? Difficult one! I would have to say “..surprise you”. As donkey said in Shrek: I am an onion and I don’t think anyone has every managed to get through all the layers.
This is not a Question per se…draw something and show me? Anything – but you must use your favourite colour! http://www.layoutsparks.com/1/97522/ice-heart-red-passion.html
What is the one thing you wish you had? (can be a characteristic, body part, material object – anything) A decent camera DSLR Nikon / Canon
What time do you get up, and how do you spend the first hour of each day? 5AM – Robin Sharma’s 5 AM Club was initially very difficult, but it’s proven to be very effective in creating a good start to the day!
You know how sometimes a smell can remind you of a person? (I’m talking about good smells here, like oranges, or vanilla or something). Name three people you are close to, and what smell reminds you of them and why? Varnish and wood glue and Old Spice reminds me of my dad – he is always tinkering away in the garage on some or other wood project. I don’t know when last he wore Old Spice, but somehow I think of him every time I smell it. Baby powder will always remind me of Luke when he was just born. There is a certain perfume, the name of which I can never remember, but whenever I smell it, I think of my mom. Somewhere in the distant past she used to wear it and to me, that will always be mom’s smell.
Have you ever stalked someone (yes, even online), has anyone ever stalked you? Explain… Can’t say I have nor do I know of anyone who has ever stalked me. For that matter, I’ve never even had a secret admirer (that I know of at least!)
What does comfort food mean to you? YUM!!!! Chocolate brownies covered in First Choice Vanilla Desert. Seriously, is there anything else?!?!
Does absolute silence get to you? With no stimulation whatsoever…nothing to read, nothing to listen to, nothing to look at, how long can you be comfortable in silence and where does your mind go? Definitely not! We need to more silence. I wish I could retreat once a month to a monastery somewhere in the mountains where you do nothing but meditate.
When last did you have a proper belly laugh, and why? Too long ago

Fearless = Legendary!

On Saturday Jacques and I were fortunate enough to attend the Robin Sharma conference in Cape Town. I have to take a minute here to thank the fantastic people at African Billionaire Events Management and Mi-Fone who made this possible. You are a fantastic bunch!

A lot has been said and written about motivation, success and personal growth over the centuries. Robin Sharma, however, definitely goes into my Top 5 list and on Saturday he again confirmed why he has earned his spot.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be sharing some of his principles and techniques with you. First of, though, I want to cover a very important aspect.

Why do we not succeed? Why do we struggle to attain the things we want, be they physically, emotionally, spiritually or tangible? Why do we have dreams and goals, but seem to be just incapable of doing what is needed to make it a reality?

The answer my friends lies in fear. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of ridicule. We can blame circumstances and people. We can look for every excuse possible – and we will find it. Like Robin said: The funny thing about excuses are that you’ll always find them. You don’t even have to look very far, an excuse is always lurking just around the corner, it is after all one of the cornerstones of a failure.

I heard a beautiful quote, which really hit home with me:
Fear and faith both requires us to believe in something we can not see.

Is this not true? You can not possibly see into the future, you can not possibly know which opportunity awaits. It is just all too easy to look at things and, through fear, only see that which can go wrong. Don’t blame yourself, it is not your fault! It is simply the result of years upon years of conditioning. We are not conditioned to explore, to speak out, to act on what we want. From early childhood we are told: don’t do this, don’t speak to strangers, do act like that, don’t question things! Don’t, don’t, don’t! The result? Adults, young and old, who are highly dissatisfied, depressed individuals. We have suicides, divorce, infidelity – all because we are unhappy to the core and too scared to do something about it!

My favourite saying from Saturday would have to be the following:

We are born into genius, we are born to be legendary, to be iconic.

Wow, does that not just sound fantastic? Stop a minute here, look at yourself in the mirror and say it out loud, say it with conviction:

I am iconic! I am legendary!

WOW!!!

I must admit I failed miserably at the 5AM club this week (eish, that’s a tough one still, but I am determined to master it!), but I did say these words to myself each morning. Want to know a funny thing? It worked! This week I made more sales than the previous two weeks combined!

I certainly can’t wait to see the results a month from now, once I’ve put the other practices in place.

Try it! Really, what do you have to lose?