Such a zealous fan base can go to a guy’s head. We start to think that, unlike most everyone else, we actually have something to say. And what’s the difference between treating a malady of the digestive system and treating a malady of the U.S. tax code? Besides everything, that is.
Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, “Why Doctors Make Crazy Politicians”
Is Ben Carson nuts?
It seems a fair question to ask, given the chilling nature of his curiously detached observation about the violence done to gun victims and the Second Amendment to the Constitution. According to CBS News:
In a Facebook question and answer session he wrote: “There is no doubt that this senseless violence is breathtaking – but I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away.”
Carson apparently recognizes only this one particular scribble across the face of our Constitution. (Readers may recall his bizarre argument that a Muslim could not be President because a Muslim’s faith would be “inconsistent” with the Constitution. For a man who wants to be President of the United States, he is profoundly ignorant of the actual requirements for that office, which nowhere include a religious test.)
Not surprisingly, Carson’s emotionally impaired assertion infuriated the not inconsiderable number of survivors: parents, children, brothers, sisters, other relatives, friends, co-workers, and classmates who have actually seen their loved ones’ shattered and mutilated bodies–victims of our pandemic of gun violence.
To be consistent, Carson would have to endorse this motto: “Okay, Maybe Black Lives Matter, But They Damned Sure Don’t Matter as Much as George Zimmerman’s Right to Own a Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm Semi-automatic Pistol. So, Suck it Up, My Brothers.”
In another notorious release of Dr. Ben’s Patent Verbal Flatulence, Carson made the ignorant, condescending argument that German Jews could have prevented that whole untidy Hitler Holocaust thing if they only had guns. Stuff happens, but guns prevent stuff from happening, and, you know, all like that.
This specious line of argument is a favorite of the gun-sucking right wing. It deserves its own rebuttal. I recommend Jay Michaelson’s masterful retort and…well, surgical…dissection of Carson’s particular foolishness in The Forward newspaper:
Those familiar with Carson’s long history of bizarre, ignorant and just plain weird pronouncements were likely less surprised, but have probably chalked it up to just another Weird Carson Moment. The only mystery, they probably mused, is why 20% of Republicans think this guy should be president.
Michaelson goes on to answer in crushing detail Carson’s erroneous assertion, and explain why it is so dangerous.
The jury is still out among many on whether Carson is (1) really that dumb, or (2) cynically pandering to the so-called “base,” the knuckle-draggers who rammed their collective fist up the cloaca of the Entity-Formerly-Known-As-The-Republican-Party and ripped it inside out, producing a hideously deformed political sow, the sole function of which has been to spawn a parade of grotesque clowns.
I think there is a third, more subtle, and more serious explanation.
Carson is manifesting plain signs of PTSD: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I came to this conclusion thinking about a book I wrote on Latino street gangs a few years back, No Boundaries: Transnational Latino Gangs and American Law Enforcement (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2009). In No Boundaries, I wrote about the ground-breaking work of two psychiatrists, Drs. Spencer Eth and William Arroyo. In the early 1980s, these two then-young doctors–based on their clinical observations among children in East Los Angeles–upended the age-old belief that children exposed to the violence of wars and inner city streets simply shrugged it off and moved on.
In fact, we now know, children suffer at least as much as adults. They suffer not only in war, but in violent homes and in violent neighborhoods. By his own account, Ben Carson was at risk. According to “Meet Ben,” his official hagiography, “… growing up poor in a single-parent household in Detroit with bad grades and a horrible temper, the statistics were certainly not in his favor.” In fact, Ben’s Detroit is one of the epicenters of PTSD among Black communities in America.
Research on military veterans has found that the symptom of “chronic hyperarousal” – the distorted sense of always being under extreme threat – can lead to increased aggression and violent behavior.
In plain fact, Ben grew up on mean streets and in a broken family. He acted out violently (“increased aggression”) as a youth. That acting out is one of the symptoms of PTSD. Ben also always seems to see himself, and America as it is perceived through his odd lens, as under existential threat (“the distorted sense of always being under extreme threat”).
Another issue, wrote researchers at Drexel University, is that people with symptoms of PTSD may be more likely to carry a weapon in order to “restore feelings of safety.”
Finally, and perhaps most cogently in this context, another symptom of PTSD is emotional numbing, or detachment, the kind of bizarre lack of sympathetic affection that allows damaged children and adults to insulate themselves from the overpowering horror of the reality that hurt them so deeply.
All of this adds up perfectly.
Dr. Ben, let’s face it. You need psychiatric help.
Please get it before you hurt more innocent people.