I’ve often thought that I would have liked to be a psychiatrist. Not the psychologist, that just seems like the second class. But then, I’ve often thought I would like to have been a theologian or a paleontologist too. Those are other stories, which though fascinating, no doubt, have little to do with this post.
The trouble with being a psychiatrist, is that they are all pretty much nuts, and I have enough issues as it is, I don’t need to be professionally deranged. So, I’ve never seriously investigated that career path.
By now of course, you are wildly curious about what the picture above has to do with psychiatry, but patience is a virtue, and you’ll have to continue reading.
I took one course in undergrad that had to do with “abnormal” psychology, which perhaps begs the question, since if one is seeing a shrink, there is something abnormal going on by definition I would assume. I found the whole thing fascinating actually, which probably means I would have been a great candidate for psychiatry school.
The reasons why folks do what they do has always fascinated me. I figure, if I can determine why someone acts they way they do, I can be more compassionate, or at least put them in some perspective that allows me to catalog them in my personal universe. I like a certain amount of order.
The Contrarian and I were discussing murder the other day. Neither of us is so inclined, in case you are wondering, but we got to thinking about the legal definition of insanity and how that relates to the mind that kills in the premeditated format. The Contrarian would argue that anyone who kills in any but the legally sanctioned manner, is nuts by definition.
Of course, that in no way conforms to the legal definitions of insanity. One has to be either unable to understand the nature of the act, or that it is wrong, or unable to conform their behavior to what they know to be right and wrong. Most every state has some version of that.
My thinking is that most murders who are not stark raving mad, so as to be obvious to the world, know they are doing wrong, and in most cases know they will either have to commit suicide or spend their life in prison/or die in the chair. They know this, but the pain caused by the victim apparently supersedes this knowledge, so they don’t care. At least until after the killing. Then they may do a lot to “get away with it.”
Anyway, you get my drift. I need to understand. I really do. It’s a bit too frightening to see people as sane and unpredictable at the same time. Logic should have been my middle name I guess. I like it, I need it, and I want more of it in the world.
Okay, now let me get to the point here, before you run off in disgust to dust the furniture or walk the dog.
I was watching GMA this morning, sipping my coffee, when a lady came on to tell about her encounter with Bernie Madoff. She knows him well, considered him a friend, and had invested substantial amounts with him. All of it is gone of course. She was surprising not really all that angry. She is 78 by her admission, and lives within her general means of social security, pension and her still active modeling career. She gave her excess to Bernie, so her life is still intact.
She was not, as I said, especially angry, neither obviously so, or with that calm exterior covering a seething interior kind of facade. Her main point was that she was angry with herself because she thought the man “smarter than this, smart enough not to do this to himself.”
While, I like everyone else has marveled at the sheer chutzpah of the man, and felt oh so sorry for the victims, many of whom find themselves retired with no nothing but a social security check, I hadn’t really thought a good deal about Mr. Madoff himself.
What do we know? We know that he stole from people who were his social friends, he stole from little old ladies who he must have known could not take the loss. He stole from the rich and famous. He stole BILLIONS. His wife now claims she had nothing to do with the scheme and wants to keep some 60 MILLIONS as her own private loot.
What is in the brain of this man? What makes him tick? What happened to him as a child, young adult, that rewired what was otherwise a human brain and turned it into this alien thing?
Surely Mr. Madoff could not begin to spend this money, if he shopped at Mercedes Benz and Tiffany each day. He could buy homes in three dozen countries and not spend it all. He could by yachts for every ocean and not spend it all.
Was it all to stand, as above, in the room with it? Was it some sexual like rush of orgasmic delight at puttin’ it over that just made him shiver in sick delight? I don’t know and I would like to. I surely would. I have to file Bernie somewhere in my head and I can’t find the right folder in my file drawer of a mind. And frankly it irks me.
I have to laugh a bit. Cameras are trained on his penthouse, where apparently there are no curtains and Bernie doesn’t care that we peek in. We watch him on the internet, watching TV, ordering food, fluffing pillows. People stare, and anger bubbles up in the minds of some. How dare they let him live like this while his victims are selling off their homes and assets, moving into efficiency apartments and the like.
I wonder what it’s like to look down and see this:
I’m waiting for the diagnosis. Asocial, sociopathic, or whatever. What goes through your mind Bernie? Are you finding ways to justify and minimize what you did? Excuse it? I really need to know. I like things neat and tidy. When I shake my head, I don’t like stuff flying around unfiled and laying around undesignated.
Maybe that should be the punishment. Undergo a full diagnostic and then have to see it published on every front page, read on every news cast across the land. But then, stocks are still no doubt available in some New England towns. I’m sure they would be willing to rent out that sightseeing delight for a few days. We could all go down and watch ya Bernie.
I just want to know, ya know? You can understand that can’t ya Bernie?