Author Topic: The "Loner" Stigma  (Read 4590 times)

Array

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The "Loner" Stigma
« on: April 18, 2007, 10:33:18 AM »
I'm not sure that I have a particular objective or problem to solve with this post. I'd just like to comment on my take on some current events.

Like many of you I'm sure, I've been following the unfolding story behind the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech. It's obvious to me at least that the cause of the perpetrator's actions was driven by severe, depression and probably some other mental illness or illnesses. What bothers me, however, is the fact that his mental illness and other "red flags" have taken a back seat in my opinion to his simply, "being a loner". When I picked up the local paper today the headline on the front page simply read, "GUNMAN A LONER" in letters so large they took up nearly a 1/4 of the front page. Every article I've read be it online, or in the paper has contained the following phrase:

Quote
"He was a loner, and we're having difficulty finding information about him," school spokesman Larry Hincker said.

It really bothers me that the media, and society at large treat people who don't socialize constantly as if they have some major dysfunction. Just because I may not go out for drinks on Saturday nights does not mean I'm out plotting the demise of others. There is a very distinct difference between someone who wallows day in and day out in a pool of malice for those around him\her, and someone who simply does not need require the company of others to be content because of his or her temperament. I'm so tired of people who constantly ask me if there's something wrong because I don't constantly engage in chatter with others. In reality I see myself as more content than most extroverts in that I am completely free to do what I want when I want and the drama level of my personal life hovers around a constant 0%. In my opinion this man was obviously severely disturbed, and his being a loner in my mind is insignificant when compared to all of the other clear warnings displayed.

Just my 2cents. Feel free to share anything else...
« Last Edit: April 18, 2007, 10:43:34 AM by Array »

mdfa

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Re: The "Loner" Stigma
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2007, 11:06:51 AM »
Array,

I share your views on this topic. It seems lately every criminal that commited some heinous crime is immediately labeled as a "loner". It is a gross generalization and unfortunately gives 25% of the population a very bad rap. I wish I knew how to counter it but most likely the only thing that will chagne it is education, education and more education.


Alex

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Re: The "Loner" Stigma
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2007, 11:18:02 AM »
Well, having being quite shocked and disturbed by this event, I feel a bit uncomfortable discussing it, but yes I find it also disheartening that many tend to associate this person's loner traits with his subsequent rampage - as if there was a correlating link between the two issues - I followed some of the coverage on CNN and one reporter's claim was that he refused to take part in life, so the natural implicit assumption is not only is being a loner bad, but possibly dangerous - I can just imagine some extrovert warning another extrovert, beware of that guy, he is a loner(not something that really builds up the selfesteems of innocent loners, does it? Let alone, what about the fact that being a loner is something that many loner's are by choice, because they feel their time is being spent better and more enjoyable when they are alone than with company.

On another note, I can't help but always wonder whether it is suicide bombings in Iraq or a crazed gunman why on earth they have to kill other people because of whatever grievance with the world they have - I simply can not understand this - why not just blow themselves up and leave other people alone. They always state as a justfication that somebody else left them with no choice but to do their horrid act - as if.

mosesnina

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Re: The "Loner" Stigma
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2007, 11:40:08 AM »
With all of the information that is beginning to come out about the shooter at Va. Tech, I am dismayed that so many seem to be latching onto that word 'loner.'  I don't understand why enjoying being alone seems to be such a negative trait in some people's minds.  I agree that the person involved in this shooting definitely had a severe mental illness, but I find it rather alarming that so many people seem to believe that being a 'loner' was part of that mental illness and contributed to his ability to carry out such a horrendous act.  I, too, saw some of the headlines that shouted "LONER" like it explained everything.  From my view, it explained very little.

Array

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Re: The "Loner" Stigma
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2007, 11:42:52 AM »
Quote
I followed some of the coverage on CNN and one reporter's claim was that he refused to take part in life, so the natural implicit assumption is not only is being a loner bad, but possibly dangerous - I can just imagine some extrovert warning another extrovert, beware of that guy, he is a loner(not something that really builds up the selfesteems of innocent loners, does it?

Funny you should mention that. I was watching a similar news program (I can't remember which) where they were interviewing so-called "experts" for them so they could Monday morning quarterback the school's response. Anyway the expert said something to the effect of, "this guy is holed up in his dorm, not out partying, and not having any fun in college". I personally can entertain myself as much or more so on my own as I can going out to a party. There again the difference here is between mental illness and temperament, but I just love how the "expert" implied that one who isn't out partying can't have fun on their own. This is probably the same expert I saw complaining about the lack of inhibition exhibited by college students on spring break a few weeks ago.

With regards to extroverts warning other extroverts about people that keep to themselves, I have actually seen that happen on many occasions where people are talking about someone else who keeps to himself\herself that has done nothing to exude any sort of malintent. It seems to me also that journalism is a very extrovert centered profession in itself. I think the journalists themselves pick up on those introvert traits as being different from themselves and therefore negative, thus perpetuating the social stigma.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2007, 11:59:41 AM by Array »

Fran

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Re: The "Loner" Stigma
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2007, 12:04:21 PM »
This has been bothering me a lot, too.  They've also mentioned that he was quiet, and keep emphasizing things like that he didn't always answer when people talked to him and that he didn't answer when people were asked to introduce themselves in class.  I know I hated being in classes where we were asked to introduce ourselves, and I really can't understand how they could connect the two things.  So far at least, nobody has a clue why he did this, so I really don't see how they can be saying that they do. 

fabforty

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Re: The "Loner" Stigma
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2007, 02:42:55 PM »
I glad someone brought this up this society is crazy that was a very troubled young man. I'am spending my day off from work alone and i love it. the extroverts running around and making noise just for the sake of noise are the problems no one tried   to help that young man they probably  laughed at him, the teachers didn't try to help him. Being a 'loner" is not a crime or a mental illness i believe most extroverted people have mental problems put society says the are great!!! we live in a very shallow superficial world we make judgements on people and don't look at people hearts. my heart goes out of the victims of the shooting but until we change are attitude in this society this will happen again. God bless.
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sasha

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Re: The "Loner" Stigma
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2007, 03:49:57 PM »
The mass media's overuse of the term "loner" is only one of the glaringly annoying things these vampires of human misery do. The " How did That Make You Feel?" bullsh*t question of the young men who where hiding in terror under their desks while bullets flew; well, duh! How did it make you feel when the tornado blew your house away, the hurricane swept your town off the map, the killer shot your friends in cold blood...I can't stand to watch TV anymore. The news in print is only slightly less aggravating.
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MoonGirl

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Re: The "Loner" Stigma
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2007, 08:04:59 AM »
I'm so glad that this topic is being discussed. I've started to recognise myself as loner and get so annoyed at news coverage of these crimes. It maybe that this guy wasa loner, it seems more likely that he wasn't that he had mental health problems that made him feel rejected. Loners don't feel rejected rather the opposite. (Please, reject me!!!!) Again the extroverts are looking for someone who is different to them to paint as potential trouble. Anyone here read Anneli Rufus's book Party of One? I bought it at the same time as The Introvert Advantage. I might take both into work tomorrow.

Array

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Re: The "Loner" Stigma
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2007, 10:01:35 PM »
I found an interesting article today on a science and technology site about this very subject:

http://www.livescience.com/humanbiology/070419_virginia_tech.html

Quote
For instance, trying to come up with a profile of a “typical school shooter,” is not only unproductive but invalid, one scientist says.

“I get a little nervous when people are trying to come up with simple answers, like he was a loner,” said Robert Geffner, a neuro-psychologist and president of the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma at Alliant International University. “I think every report I’ve seen is focusing on ‘He’s a loner.’ It would be nice if somebody said, ‘Yes he is a loner, but most loners don’t kill people.’”

 “We try to look for simple answers. And the first thing I see throughout the media is, well, he’s a loner, and somehow that’s the explanation,” Geffner said. “However, there are millions of loners who don’t go out and kill people. And there are people who kill other people who are not loners.”

It's nice to see someone is trying, but aren't scientists and researchers supposed to be prone to being introverts too :D?
« Last Edit: April 19, 2007, 10:04:48 PM by Array »

greenbrownblue

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Re: The "Loner" Stigma
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2007, 12:25:23 AM »
For sure!  it is the first thing that came to my mind when I heard "he was a loner"

equally "he was mentally disturbed and needed counseling" I think may be another generalization to make people feel better.

i am in no way justifying what he did, but I do wish there was some talk about what we could all do to prevent these things.  do we not hold some responsiblity as a society?  I heard he was severely teased and bullied and that the answer was always that he needed counseling.  How about we as a society stop being so cruel to each other and stop teasing people.  why do bullies in school get away with so much?  i heard stories about people telling him to "go back to china" (even though he is from korea).

I remember when I was having trouble in school because I was always being made fun of.  I had to go to a counselor "for help" and it drove me crazy because it wasn't me who needed help.  It was the bullies that should have been made to go see someone cause they needed to change.

in no way am I justifying his behavior but I think we all need to accept responsiblity that we all may be contributing to these getting so bad in america.  how bout we love each other more instead of taunting people that they feel this is their only way out????

and lets stop calling people loners as if its a bad thing.

Fran

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Re: The "Loner" Stigma
« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2007, 07:18:25 PM »
I agree with you. I read the same thing that you did.  It does seem like some people are finally trying to do something about bullying, but teasing and bullying have been accepted for far too long.  I thought that most of the rules in school were pointless, while nobody tried to do anything about the real problems.  I was also very surprised at how much the teachers didn't seem to see.  I wondered if it went on so much that they just stopped noticing.  I wasn't sent to a counselor, but I hated that whole attitude where they expected me to be the one to change, too.  Like you, I wasn't the one who needed to change.

One of the parents of one of the victims said almost the same thing that you did about loving each other.  He wanted to make sure that this brings people together, rather than leading to more hate.   

scout64

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Re: The "Loner" Stigma
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2007, 06:01:02 AM »
Hey Moongirl,

I read the Party of One, it's a very good read but sometimes it's a bit militant. Some parts are a bit jaded, but the first section is really amusing and insightful.

The writer makes it clear that loners are not introverts, they are extroverts who long for company and are often rejected, thereby bearing a grudge against humanity and in some cases, acting out that grudge by killing others. Clearly, this man was not an introvert!

Introverts, living a happy introverted life, don't go as far as wanting company, so rejection is actually not an issue!  :D

I don't mean to make light of the recent killings, but it's quite obvious from his professors' interview, he was very angry and his aggressiveness came out in his writings; he needed some serious help. The same professor warned the local police, well before the shootings, but they could not do anything, I quote:

The former chairwoman of Virginia Tech's English department, Lucinda Roy, said the anger Cho expressed was palpable if not explicit.

Cho, an English major, never wrote about guns or killing people, she said. But his writing was disturbing enough that she went to police and other university officials to seek help.

"The threats seemed to be underneath the surface," she said. "They were not explicit, and that was the difficulty the police had."

Cho, a resident alien from South Korea, lived at the University's Harper Hall

"He was a loner, and we're having difficulty finding information about him," said Larry Hincker, associate vice president for university relations.


Question: How can a resident alien legally purchase guns?

Seriously, if the US amended the ownership of handguns, they wouldn't have half the issues they have at present.
INFJ

janl1413

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Re: The "Loner" Stigma
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2007, 12:10:01 PM »
My two cents:  :-)

It could be that being a longer, WAS part of his mental illness.  Irregardless, the fact that he was perceived as being a longer, should not be accentuated or be left to stand alone.

What information did they seem to lack on him?  The fact of the matter is if he was a loner, that exactly, strictly does not mean that because of that, certain information was not there.

Anyway, to all us introverts, let all this not affect us negatively.  The man was mentally ill, now THAT is a fact.

Let us all introverts, stand up and be counted and get in line WITH all the extroverts and reach out for life's success.

                       Janl1413 
Live and let live.  :-)

happy crab

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Re: The "Loner" Stigma
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2007, 12:50:16 PM »
I certainly agree with what everyone is saying here about the loner stereotype being associated with social deviance and tendency toward violence and such heinous crimes as the Virginia Tech massacre.  I remember in the book some people have mentioned here, "Party of One", the author talked about this very inappropriate and unfair stigma.  I have been concerned about how the media is portraying Cho as a loner, and therefore the "type" of person capable of such hate and terror.  I've also felt concerned for the Korean and Korean-American community for the likelihood that they'll too be stereotyped as less trustworthy given Cho was Korean.  Just like after 9/11, it wasn't uncommon for some Middle-Eastern or Middle-Eastern looking people to be discriminated against when they tried to board an airplane.

I was just trying to think of what a better headline would have been instead of the offensive "Gunman was a Loner" one.  Perhaps the whole story that ran beneath it (I didn't see the particular one you referenced here) was a flawed idea given the likelihood that it focused on Cho's loner traits.  If it had been something like "Gunman was Mentally Ill", I wouldn't have felt great about it either, as that would target mentally ill people as categorically destructive.  I suspect journalism happens this way as people's attempts to understand how anyone could possibly commit such an atrocious act.  I found someone's comment here, that perhaps a lot of journalists are extroverted, interesting.  Perhaps that's true, and if it is, it's easier for those reporters to see introverts and "loners" as very different, separate and "other" than them; as a bizarre and mysterious minority whose minds can't seem to be uncoded. 

We introverts are way too often misunderstood.  And ironically that was Cho's complaint, that no one understood him.  I agree with those who have written about how important it is to try and prevent these kinds of crimes by intervening sooner, and not just with ostracizing punishment but with quality professional help that better attempts TO understand.  Perhaps Cho's complicated mental illness would have never been able to be deciphered, but at least he could have been getting psychiatric attention that may have helped, rather than continuing to act from the illness and plot and carry out his crime.

Anyway, this is an important topic of discussion and I'm glad so many of us feel so strongly about it.

Happy Crab