Omnia Mutantur, Nihil Interit

At the risk of vexing people who’ve seen enough about the shootings at Virginia Tech, I thought I’d pass on some messages about Jamie Bishop (a German professor at VT and son of sf writer Michael Bishop) from an unlikely source–it surprised me, anyway: the Classics-L listserv.

The messages are archived here and here.

Re the killer:

The images (from photos and video) in Cho’s package addressed to NBC didn’t tell me much. But his words, as he rambled on the soundtrack, suggested to me that the guy might have been schizophrenic. One of the American media’s famous pseudo-conversations is taking place even now about gun control. But if Cho was mentally ill (as seems possible), the real issue here is not whether we need more or less guns.

There are hundreds of thousands of schizophrenics in the US living in private infernos, unnoticed or at least unhelped because their pain turns inward and they hurt themselves or their families, not random strangers. Cho may or may not have been insane, but our treatment of the mentally ill is certainly crazy.

About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Omnia Mutantur, Nihil Interit

  1. sartorias says:

    That’s for sure. (Having had a schizophrenic uncle who died last year, to the entire family’s relief, including his mother.) He was dangerous to everyone around him, but the treatment options basically came down to “lock him up tight for a time, and then, after he’s good and angry, declare his sentence served.”

    • JE says:

      “lock him up tight for a time, and then, after he’s good and angry, declare his sentence served”

      Oy. Pure genius. Well, perhaps a little impure…

  2. ryanharvey says:

    Schizophrenia has been on my mind a lot lately, and when I say the video of Cho, I too immediately thought “schizophrenic.” The other symptoms mentioned by people who knew him—staring at nothing, not responded to others—sound like classic schizophrenia. Certainly his rampage had nothing to do with hatred of the rich… he was mentally ill and not getting the right treatment. I’ve asked my pshyciastrist about it, and he also agrees that Cho might have been suffering from schizophrenia. We’ve suspected in our office that one of our brokers is also schizophrenic, and since the VT shooting his behavior has made many people in the office just a touch nervous.

    • JE says:

      I know what you mean. It’s been years since I had a conversation with a full-blown schizophrenic, but I still remember the intensity of the alienation and the touch of anxiety when I realized that I couldn’t expect this person to do what I and most people would consider sensible. It’s appalling, once you start to think about it, how other people’s reasonableness protects us.

      I think our reasonableness has to protect them, though. Not that I have any clear ideas how to do that, but dumping hundreds of thousands of schizophrenics into the street and saying “See you!” doesn’t seem to be the optimal solution.

Comments are closed.