Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Matt C. Abbott

10/3/2013 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Such acts seem to require something beyond just ordinary human frailty, or even typical human malice.

The hypothesis of the devil-a personal spiritual being whose will is turned toward evil and who can exercise some sort of influence over man-may give rise to scorn from rationalists. I challenge the skeptics to find a better explanation for Sandy Hook or Aurora. As Baudelaire famously put it, the devil's greatest trick is convincing us that he does not exist.

I believe that wherever evil on this scale is committed, there must be some kind of diabolical influence present. The way in which this influence plays out is mysterious and varied-from temptation, to oppression, to outright possession. Mental illness alone, in my judgment, cannot account for these behaviors. Something else is involved.

I believe that wherever evil on this scale is committed, there must be some kind of diabolical influence present. The way in which this influence plays out is mysterious and varied-from temptation, to oppression, to outright possession. Mental illness alone, in my judgment, cannot account for these behaviors. Something else is involved.

Highlights

By Matt C. Abbott

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/3/2013 (9 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Aaron Kheriaty, M.D., Washington Navy Yard, Aaron Alexis, Sandy Hook, depression, Aurora, Colorado, Matt C. Abbott


WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - The following is a brief interview with Aaron Kheriaty, M.D., director of residency training and medical education; associate clinical professor, department of psychiatry; and director of program in medical ethics at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine.

Dr. Kheriaty, a practicing Catholic, is the author of The Catholic Guide to Depression: How the Saints, the Sacraments, and Psychiatry Can Help You Break Its Grip and Find Happiness Again, an excellent and informative book for Catholics who suffer from-or who are close with someone who suffers from-clinical depression. (Click here to order the book directly from the publisher, Sophia Institute Press.)

*****

There were reports that the Washington Navy Yard shooter, Aaron Alexis, had received treatment for mental health issues, including "hearing voices." The shooters in the Sandy Hook and Aurora, Colorado tragedies also reportedly suffered from some form of mental illness. But can mental illness alone cause someone to commit such a heinous crime? Isn't there also a diabolical influence present in such cases?  

Dr. Kheriaty: Severe mental illness, including various forms of psychotic disorders, can put a person at risk of engaging in behavior that he would never do when thinking more clearly. Treating hospitalized patients on a psychiatric ward, I have often seen agitated or aggressive behavior when the person's symptoms were severe. However, it is a myth that mentally ill individuals, even those suffering from severe psychotic disorders, are violent by nature.

If they do commit violent acts, they are much more likely to inflict harm on themselves than on others. It seems to me that the kinds of atrocious violence on a massive scale that we see in these shooters cannot be fully explained by mental illness alone. I've treated hundreds of people with severe schizophrenia, for example, and when the illness is poorly controlled, they may be liable to quite strange behaviors. But not violence, not evil, on the scale that we see in these tragedies.

Such acts seem to require something beyond just ordinary human frailty, or even typical human malice. I believe that wherever evil on this scale is committed, there must be some kind of diabolical influence present. The way in which this influence plays out is mysterious and varied-from temptation, to oppression, to outright possession. Mental illness alone, in my judgment, cannot account for these behaviors. Something else is involved.

The hypothesis of the devil-a personal spiritual being whose will is turned toward evil and who can exercise some sort of influence over man-may give rise to scorn from rationalists. I challenge the skeptics to find a better explanation for Sandy Hook or Aurora. As Baudelaire famously put it, the devil's greatest trick is convincing us that he does not exist.

What can we do as a society to promote good mental and spiritual health?

Dr. Kheriaty: Strengthen the family, where children can grow up with their mother and father. Welcome children into the world and treat them as ends in themselves, not as means to another end. Turn off the TV and get rid of your video games and pornography.

Give young people hope, and a sense of meaning and purpose, so that they do not turn to drugs in despair. Reject the culture of narcissism and self-aggrandizement promoted in the media, and instead, learn to care for those who are marginalized and forgotten, the poor, the elderly and infirm, and those with mental illness. Go to church as a family on Sunday and pray together as a family during the week. 

-------------------------------

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic columnist with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Management from Triton College in River Grove, Ill. He has worked in the right-to-life movement and is a published writer focused on Catholic and social issues. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.)

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More U.S.

Sudanese woman previously sentenced to death arrives in United States Watch

Image of Greeted by her husband and two young children at a large crowd of supporters at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in New Hampshire, Mariam Ibrahim declined comment to the media.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Mariam Ibrahim from Sudan, at one time sentenced to die for her Christian faith has since arrived at her new home in the United States. Her plight was of grave international concern. Greeted by her husband and two young children at a large crowd of supporters ... continue reading


'We are coming for you!' American Islamic jihadist suicide bomber gleefully shouts to Americans on chilling final video Watch

Image of American terrorist Moner Mohammed Abu-Salha smiled and talked about dying and going to paradise.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new video shows an American smiling as he prepares to kill himself and dozens of others in a suicide bombing. In the video, made just before his death, Moner Mohammed Abu-Salha, 22, ripped, chewed, and burned his American passport before climbing into an ... continue reading


Bridget of Sweden, Marriage and Family, and the Need for Canonized Married Saints Watch

Image of St Bridget of Sweden, her husband Ulf, and all the modern Popes call Christian married couples to become the 'Sweet and Smiling Face of the Church' in this age. This is an age which is desperately in need of all kinds of saints. I suggest we particularly need examples of married, canonized Saints. That is precisely because this is an age where faithful marriage is now counter-cultural. We need examples of men and women who not only embraced it in Christ, but lived it as a but a path to heroic virtue.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The clear teaching of the Bible, the Christian tradition and the re-emphasis of the last Council in the Catholic Church, the Second Vatican Council, make clear - we are ALL called to holiness in life. That  is what the Catholic Church regularly refers to as ... continue reading


GOBBLING UP RESOURCES: Fastest part of U.S. population is immigrants, gobbling up national resources Watch

Image of A new report from the group warns that continued population growth could top a worldwide 10 billion by 2100. The report, entitled

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Most of the United States' population growth is from immigrants - who are consuming resources dangerously fast. Those are the finding of the group called Negative Population Growth Inc. Furthermore, 80 percent of the growth in U.S. population comes from ... continue reading


Malinformed much? Ninety percent of your information now comes from just 6 media sources Watch

Image of Small media outlets are consumed by the large, limiting the variety of expression.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Have you ever tried to describe something, but lacked the vocabulary to do it? This is the concept behind Newspeak, a fictional language in George Orwell's 1984. Orwell proposed that by limiting expression, thought itself could be limited. Today, as media companies ... continue reading


Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage struck down Watch

Image of The Virginia case, Bostic v. Rainey, was brought by two same-sex couples. Fourteen thousand gay couples also were certified as a class for the suit.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a dramatic reversal of a voter-based 2006 decision, U.S. appeals court this week struck down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, the latest in a string of court rulings to back gay marriage. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit ... continue reading


Archbishop Chaput Speaks at the Napa Institute Conference on Pope Francis and Economic Justice

Image of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput is one of the preeminent Churchmen of our age. He offers a prophetic voice for this important time. He not only grasps and articulates Catholic Social Doctrine well, he also understands the real treasure we have been given in this Pope who took the name Francis. I believe that his insights into Pope Francis need to be read by as many people as possible.

By Catholic Online

In matters of economic justice, Francis' concerns are the same as Benedict's and John Paul II's and Pius XI's and Leo XIII's. He understands economic matters through the lens of Church teaching in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Like his ... continue reading


Thousands of Christians Flee Under Death Threat From Tyrannical Caliph and ISIS Jihadists Watch

Image of (Pictured: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, or Caliph Ibrahim) At first, Christians were ordered to gather in a central place to receive the directive from the self appointed Caliph. Understandably, given the track record of this maniacal tyrant, few did. So, the text of the statement was issued as a formal declaration to all Christians - We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract - involving payment of Jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

By now, everyone who is in anyway concerned about what is happening to Christians in Iraq has heard the horrific news. The madman who claims to be a descendant of Mohammed, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi - who in his delusion and grandiosity has taken to calling himself ... continue reading


Deacon Keith Fournier: The Courage of the Catholic Bishops, Religious Liberty, Hobby Lobby and ENDA Watch

Image of Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate. Deacon Fournier is a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville (Theology and Philosophy, BA), the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University (Theology of Marriage and Family, MTS), and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (JD). He has completed requirements for the PhD in Moral Theology at the Catholic University of America and is writing the PhD dissertation on the teaching of St. John Paul II.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Catholic Bishops are doing an excellent job standing up for Religious liberty as a fundamental human right. One of my growing concerns is that many Catholics do not even read what they are saying. Sadly, in a propagandized media where sound bites substitute ... continue reading


Obama demands that illegals be allowed to enter U.S. Watch

Image of Tens of thousands of illegal, unaccompanied minors have flooded into the United States since 2014 began, often escaping violence in war torn Central American countries.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama's administration is considering whether or not it will allow hundreds of minors and young adults from Honduras and other war-torn Central American states to enter into the United States illegally and without crossing into the country ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 26:1-9
1 At the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim son of ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 69:6, 8-10, 14
6 Those who hope in you must not be made fools of, ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:54-58
54 and, coming to his home town, he taught the people ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 1st, 2014 Image

St. Alphonsus Marie Liguori
August 1: Bishop, Doctor of the Church, and the founder of the ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter