The “Face” Behind The Face In Mental Illness

Columbine, …Fort Hood, Texas….Jonesboro, Arkansas….New Town, Conn…The D.C. Sniper…The Washington, D.C. Naval Yard…

  • A police officer stands at the main gate of the Washington Navy Yard in Washington

WASHINGTON/BOSTON (Reuters) – Rhode Island police warned the U.S. Navy last month that Washington Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis had reported “hearing voices,” raising further questions about how he gained security clearance at the complex where he went on a shooting rampage.

What is the common denominator of each place or event listed above?  People with Mental Health Issues that were undetected yet preexisting that ultimately caused the death of innocent victims.  Many man hours, think tanks, security forces and the creation of safety book packs and clothing are attempts to ease the mind of each of us as we so desperately want to be safe.   In the most recent episode of mass killing that took place at The Naval Yard in Washington, D.C., the personality profile of the shooter is almost a photo copy of each one that came before him who committed similar acts.  Conflicting summaries from friends, colleagues, and relatives about the shooter creates an appearance that almost put those who knew the shooter against each other.  At each level of engagement with others, individuals with certain mental illnesses have the ability, at least for a duration of time, to hold themselves together and not reveal the true face of who they really are.  Deception and the ability to manipulate the world around them is critical for day to day existence to individuals with certain mental problems.  There are as many faces behind certain mental illnesses as necessary for the mentally ill individual to survive.  This may be one of the key factors that makes it quite difficult for just one person or one environment to readily pinpoint the larger mental health problem.

Police: Navy Yard shooter experienced paranoia

The D.C. Naval Yard killer time after time exhibited questionable and socially unacceptable behavior.   There was no way how he behaved at home could be clearly conveyed to military personal because Alexis was the buffer between those two worlds of which he was a part.  There was no real way for those who interacted with him socially to communicate with his work world because again he was the buffer between them.  Thus this shooter and all other individuals suffering with certain behavioral mental disorders are also able to make sure that each of their environments never have a real opportunity to merge into one space.  Corporate environments to a larger degree do not look favorably upon people who bring their social or family faces into the work place.  Corporate environments often do not want individuals venting, discussing or seeking help for matters other than what they were hired to do.  Because of the corporate work expectation this becomes a perfect place for individuals with certain mental issues to put on a professional face of having it together, looking the part, talking the part, being admired for their toughness or being admired for being direct or being admired for just being silent and not engaging.  In work environments anger is seen sometimes as one just having a bad day or frustrated with a project, etc.  Only people who work in close day by day sometimes stress environments will begin to notice some abnormalities in how the person responds to frustration and boundaries.  Co-workers begin to use phrases like, he is all business, she is direct and to the point, or he pulls no punches to describe the person.

  • Navy Yard Shooter Aaron Alexis Heard Voices, Experienced Paranoia, Police Report Shows (ABC News)

    ABC News – Navy Yard Shooter Aaron Alexis Heard Voices, Experienced Paranoia, Police Report Shows (ABC News)

a quote from ABC News states the following:

Whether Alexis’s problems actually stemmed from 9/11, his behavioral issues were apparent for years before the shooting.

“I know Aaron had some post traumatic [stress disorder] from being in the military,” his friend Melinda Downs told ABC News. “He went to the VA and they would give him some medicine.”

In addition to Alexis’s claim of PTSD, he struggled to connect with his family and win his father’s approval, Downs said.

The “face” behind the face in many mental illnesses such as discussed in this article manifesting traits of mistrust, the face of insecurity, the face of a sense of entitlement, the face of isolation and the face of anger and the inability to forgive others for injustices goes with the individual whether they are at work, at home or at a social event.  Individuals who share life with individuals suffering from mental illnesses such as narcissism, sociopath, paranoia disorders may sense a low level of discomfort pertaining to the behaviors and comments of such individuals.  Individuals who are narcissistic, antisocial, or paranoid are very careful not to disclose or display all of their internalized emotions for fear that their true face will be made known.

Below are summaries of three mental health disorders that most individuals experience daily at some level but at best scratch their heads in dismay when they try making sense of what just happened right before their eyes.

A. Sociopath Traits –  Promiscuous Behavior, lying as if they are telling the truth, live as a parasite off others, callous, no empathy, no love toward others, nor remorse for actions, arrogant, conning, sense of entitlement

B. Narcissism Traits – Arrogant, self centered, demanding of others, cockiness, manipulative of others, very aggressive, destructive of others character

C. Paranoid – Suspicious of others, feel others have hidden motives, low ability to work with others, social detachment, hostility, carry grudges, very confrontational

The Navy Yard shooter was a practicing Buddhist yet he remained on a road of destruction of others and ultimately himself.  It is not uncommon for people suffering from mental illness and family members to believe the cure for mental illness disorders is religion.

Alexis was also a Buddhist who believed in meditation to relieve stress, she said. He would practice meditation and also encouraged his friends to do so. She said she never would have imagined him shooting innocent people… ABC News

Because many mentally ill individuals do not work with the people they live with, nor do they socialize with with individuals they work with, peoples opinions regarding the exact same person such as the Navy Yard Shooter will almost appear to contradict.  Friends depending upon the level of interaction with mentally ill people may not always know the individual at the same level regarding anger, mistrust, lack of friends, etc.

PublicationsGet booklets, fact sheets, and brochures on mental health topics.



One Response

  1. So true brother It looks like he was getting help but not enough that he reached his breaking point.

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