Archive for October, 2011

Hate, Mass Murder and Society

So What Happened:  When people feel helpless to deal with their hate, it becomes toxic

NEWS: On Wednesday, October 12, 2011, at a beloved hair salon in Seal Beach,CA, Scott Dekraai walked in armed with pistols, body armor and in two minutes had murdered eight people (killing his stylist ex-wife first). On Friday, October 14, Deputy District Attorney sought the death penalty, and people in the courtroom screamed out in agony and fury at Dekraai, including the words “I hate you.”

Scott Dekraai had been a lovable sportfishing captain until a gruesome accident severed a deckhand in two as Dekraai was trying to save her. He came away with severely injuries to his legs, leaving him unable to drive, and so disabled that he needed a caretaker. After that, friends say, he turned into a ghost of who he was. In time, things turned so tense in his marriage that then-wife, Michelle, left him. Shared custody of their young son went poorly, with Scott distrusting Michelle’s parenting. As things turned uglier, Michelle’s co-workers were uneasy or scared of Scott’s argumentative anger and temper. Still, at home, he was a friendly neighbor who shared gardening tips, gave gifts to newborns, and joined neighborhood watch.

How can the good guy be reconciled with the viciously murderous hate-filled one?

OPINION: Scott and his wife were helpless to deal with his terrible accident, not just his loss of career and mobility, but also the huge trauma and helplessness of witnessing the grotesque death of someone he was trying to save. Scott was helpless to get past his rage, despair, loss of a beloved profession, and loss of vigor and wellness of body. Michelle was helpless to help him with those reactions.

It’s natural for all of us to hate something awful. Hating that we were injured, can’t do what we used to do and our very memories when they take us back to trauma. But when we continue to be helpless to deal with something awful, and then when things get worse, the hate simmers and cooks into the awful brew of irrational hate. We hate someone instead of circumstance. Scott, helpless to improve his circumstances, hated hiswife for leaving him. Michelle had come to hate living with him, and was helpless to do anything but leave.

When we’re helpless, the key is to recognize our helplessness, and deal with that. Why are we feeling helpless? How can we get new tools to adjust to  new—unwelcome—circumstances and events? It’s healthy to feel the “ick!”  or “yuck!” of hate toward anything that is unhealthy or just plain wrong…like a horribly life altering accident or a marriage turned intolerable.  It’s healthy to then try to get to the bottom of it, excavate and clear out the bad stuff.

Feeling helpless to deal with our hate it becomes toxic and leads to irrational and dangerous situations…whether in small ways, or huge ways. It will automatically be aimed at someone or something, instead of just at the circumstances or traumas that caused it.



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Stress, Rage and Laughter

NEWS: “Laugh Well, Live Well” “A good laugh may be the next-best thing to a workout…. …laughter boosts the immune system, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, and reduces stress.” “Shifts in appetite hormones following a case of the giggles resemble the effects of a moderate session at the gym,” according to the result of psychoneuroimmunologist Professor Lee Berk, PhD, and team from Loma Linda University, California. “Berk is now studying whether laughter can also reduce inflammation associated with many illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.” [quotes thanks to Amber Angelle, Discover Magazine, October 2010]


I expect that Dr. Berk and colleagues will indeed find that laughter can reduce physical inflammation. Bodily inflammation is the physical equivalent of both emotional rage/outrage and of stress. Stress and rage are opposite sides of the same coin. Both are intensely pressuring feelings pushing from inside outward. Laughter, rage and stress are all energetically explosive sensations. In the case of stress, we hold the pressure in: at the expense of our internal organs. In the case of rage, we release (explode) the pressure outward, at the expense of other people’s internal organs. In the case of laughter, the energy explosion is upward and outward in a geyser-like spray: thus relieving the pressures of stress and of rage.  As I am fond of saying, without laughter thereisonly madness (stress/rage). But without madness there is less laughter.


Practice full-bodied laughter by keeping your mouth wide open, deeply breathing/laughing “ha-ha-ha-ha-ha” while rocking back and forth between doubling over forward and arching up and backward. Watch for  emotions interfering with your laughter such as: 1) Keeping your teeth or lips together in residual tension or anger; 2) Keeping your head erect instead of fully arching back indicates a mixed-in vigilant state; 3) Hunching up your shoulders suggests the presence of shame; 4) Slouching your shoulders and dropping your chin indicates helplessness and/or pessimism. [More on laughter in “Celebrate Your Emotions: A Guide to Eight Incredibly Transforming Feelings” at Amazon or www.surfyoursoul.com ]


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