A reader suggested I read the book Violence: Reflections On A National Epidemic, by James Gilligan, M.D., and I am so glad she did.
Gilligan directed the Center for the Study of Violence at Harvard Medical School, is the former medical director of the Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane and was director of mental health for the Massachusetts prison system.
His book is brilliant and thoughtful. I haven’t gotten very far yet, but there are parts of it already worth quoting, such as this:
“…even the most apparently ‘insane’ violence has a rational meaning to the person who commits it, and to prevent this violence, we need to learn to understand what that meaning is…The psychological understanding of violence requires recognizing how much method there is in violent madness, and how much psychopathology there is in the violence of everyday life.”
It articulates better than I ever could why it’s important for us to learn from someone like Brent Brents.