Word-Of-the-Week #623: Unconscionable

July 13, 2016 by  

Unconscionable – beyond all reason.

I am a bit bothered as the last month seems to have been filled with random acts of hatred and killings. I just don’t understand it and can’t begin to comprehend how anyone could act like that. And Fred Dickey’s The Way We Are weekly UT column caught my attention. “Psychiatrist won’t trust his subjects, for good reasons. I am including excerpts from that article this week.

Dickey writes, “Mark Kalish looks straight into the face of evil, and what he often sees is – nothing.

Looking back at him is the blank face of a man as prepared to discuss thermodynamics as why he kills people.

Mark A. Kalish, M.D., 64, is a forensic psychiatrist living in Poway. He is a specialist at looking into the heads of people you read about and shudder. He sometimes looks for a soul in criminals and only sees a barren space.

“Jonathan George is the only person I have ever examined that I insisted he be placed in shackles. Looking at him, he was very large and imposing. He was the cat that swallowed the canary. He was unconcerned about what might happen to him. If you or I were placed in that situation, looking at life in prison, maybe even death, we would be very scared. For him, it was of no consequence.”

Why would that be?

“Ask yourself what would you miss most if you were sent to prison?

“You’d miss your family. You wouldn’t be able to hug them anymore. But to these guys, that’s of no value. You can’t understand them by framing it in your own experience. It’s impossible to do that. I’ve been doing this for 35 years, and it’s hard for me to understand it.”

I ask how it felt to sit across from such a monster and try to engage him.

“Scared, but not for me. I’m scared about the other guys that we haven’t caught yet. I’m scared for my family, my kids, my grandkids.”

Serial killers or mass murderers may have personality disorders, but what you can expect to see in them is just plain evil. They are the only criminals who commit violent acts and are not motivated by reasons any normal person would understand. Strictly for their own pleasure.a uncon

I tell him I’m philosophically mystified when I see victims standing up in court and saying they forgive their assailants, especially when it’s not sought by the offenders. For whose actual benefit is that?

“There is certainly a philosophical and a religious basis to forgiveness, but there’s also a psychological aspect to it.

“If somebody does you harm, you retain negative emotions about that person. Understandable, but it wears away at you personally over time, because a lot of emotional energy is spent hating.”

What I hear you saying is that forgiveness is not for the supposed recipient, but for the one offering it.

“Yes. You have no power to forgive. God does that. What you’re saying is, I’m not going to spend any more emotional or psychic energy on hating you.”

I don’t know what to say other than this week is about understanding that we’ll never be able to make sense of why people commit violent acts. All I know is there is a lot to be said for forgiveness and not spending emotional energy on hating others. This is a very sad time and I hope that we can all find it in our hearts to be more tolerant and more accepting of others.

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