(To my readers: A recent move and downsizing has been a bit of chaos. Culling is tough – and worth it, since less is easier to re-move than more. Still unsettled, but with reliable internet, I’m back to the blog. Thanks for reading!)
When was the last time you heard of a man who, newly separated or about to be from his girlfriend/lover/wife, murdered her… and often her children? It happens often enough. Here and here and here. This man had the chutzpah to claim his religion allowed him to murder his wife. This man set up the murder to look like an anti-Muslim hate crime. This man, a police officer, murdered two of his small children as well as his wife.
What were these guys thinking???
Often enough, the relationship is discovered post-mortem to be replete with abusive and controlling behavior on the part of the husbands. They monitor where their wives go, who they talk to. They insult them, attack them with words and fists. They apparently believe that to do so is “manly”. Especially to a smaller person who would not be permitted under current rules to enter the same boxing ring.
Bad enough, right? Definitely cause for friends and family to haul her to safety and haul him over the coals.
Yet to accelerate to murder?
In all this household culling, I’ve unearthed articles I printed out once upon a time. Most have been trashed. Several, I kept, including this one entitled (it was 2005) “Why breaking up is hard to do for women”. In it, the author quotes a study of brain research that found that “brain activity associated with separation grief follows a unique pattern that is different to other types of loss such as bereavement”.
At least in this small sample of 11 women getting over a recent break-up and using MRI technology, “the results suggested that the women who claimed to be suffering the most following their break-ups had the greatest brain changes when thinking about their former relationships”. Their neural pathways had been altered by the trauma of relationship loss.
Such changes evidenced as grief, depression and sadness. Said one woman, “To me, the break-up felt worse than a bereavement. I felt angry, depressed and physically very lethargic. I could not concentrate on anything and would lie on my bed for days on end.”
That’s a female subject. Women’s depression commonly is experienced as sadness and withdrawal.
Depression in men, however, can look quite different. Irritability, hostility, anger, substance abuse are all signals of male depression – and they are clear risks to others. They may even, as above, be lethal.
It’s beyond obvious that we need to assert to male friends and co-workers, to brothers, sons, and cousins, “No matter how bad you feel, do not take anyone else’s life.”
Another factor to make clear is that emotional trauma – for so long the criticized province of women – can affect the brain of anyone at all. Yet it is temporary. It will not last. During that period, we need to protect vulnerable people, especially wives and children, from the man whose brain has been affected. And society needs to make sure he does not attack.
If that means taking away his guns and knives, why not? How much does it cost society to lose a murder victim? How much in lost hours, lost hopes, the therapy for survivors and friends? How much to arrest, try, convict and incarcerate the murderer? Those costs – which ripple out like a stone cast into a pond – are too high for society when by acting, we can prevent them.
It would help, too, when this ten-year-old research is replicated with adult participants who are, this time, male.