Is the present uptick in violence and criminality a coincidence? Is it happening in a vacuum? If we are finding ourselves as a society becoming increasingly violent and our culture more and more criminally prone what should we do and where do we turn for answers? Last week began a series of articles that purport to take a hard look at the dynamics of the recent upsurge in crime and violence in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis with Commentary and recommendations to chart a course that can offer possible alternatives to the conventional political wisdom presently being tried. Last week a look was taken at the political culture in the Federation, with its very partisan politics. This highly charged atmosphere in which it is not only difficult to exhale, think objectively or choose a party or candidate for whom to vote (without of course being ‘branded’ and then possibly persecuted), but it is also conducive to the growth and maintenance of crime, due to its hostile and aggressive nature. Since it would be dysfunctional not to look first at the leader of the Country, this week a look at the society through the eyes of the leader of the political directorate, in the context of crime and security. In an article on the murder of a teenager at a party a couple of weeks ago, the Prime Minister commented publicly. After appropriately offering his condolences to the family and the community, as represented in the Observer Newspaper, Friday, March 5 Edition, the PM said during his live radio broadcast that, ‘the antisocial behaviors being exhibited By young people in recent times is akin to a form of psychosis.” The article continues the excerpt of the PM’s address as he further states, ‘the incident in Lodge last weekend, like incidents involving young people By young anywhere in the world, resembles in all seriousness, a form of insanity.” Coming from the Leader of the Nation, this comment was most refreshing and one of the most reassuring developments in memory as regards the situation of rising crime levels in the Federation. Calling a youth slaying a ‘form of psychosis’ and a ‘form of insanity’ is being blatantly honest about the nature of the beast that confronts us. The first step in any process to resolve a problem is to acknowledge it as a problem and to reveal the true nature of it. With his medical background as a physician the PM clearly demonstrated the first part of the medical or disease model, which requires first a diagnosis or a definition of the problem, followed (hopefully) By the requisite treatment and appropriate care. Kudos to the Prime Minister for taking this important step forward. Call a spade a spade! The situation IS insanity; it IS a form of psychosis, which simply means a break from reality manifested in the personality of an individual. What is so reassuring about the comment is the fact that our Leader apparently wasn’t talking just about the actual behavior of this particular senseless slaying, but about the larger context in which these killings are happening. He described the state of the behaviors displayed By young people as crazy but also commented on the big picture as well. In the same article, again referring to the PM’s radio address, the Observer states that the PM actually uses the term, ‘societal dysfunction’ (full context in next week’s article). So the Prime Minister agrees with me – the behavior of our young is crazy and so is the society in which the same young people and the rest of us, live. The term used when I grew up in Nevis for the obviously crazy person on the street was ‘para’. The Prime Minister has just announced that the society in St. Kitts and Nevis is PARA or ‘PUL crazy’, another term used when I was growing up, also referring to the overtly crazy people we saw on the streets around us. As a trained Family Psycho-therapist and someone who has been practicing in the field of psychology and social sciences generally, now for almost 30 years, a few observations come readily to mind. The best definition of insanity that I have heard is ‘to keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.’ This idea has actually helped me in my practice over the years. When I see a family or a parent who is having difficulty with their youngster and what they have tried or keep trying is obviously not working, I sometimes point out two things to them: since what they have been doing to get their youngster turned around is not working, then they would undoubtedly be willing and open to trying the fix that I would recommend? I would also gently suggest to them that what brought them in to see me in the first place was the fact that things weren’t working. This is necessary since individuals, all of us, get stuck quite easily and find it extremely difficult to try new things and make changes to the way we have been conditioned to think, act, feel and believe. Our society is stuck in a vicious pattern of fantasy, delusion and well, insanity. Another observation is that to get families or individuals to change their accustomed behavior patterns invariably requires a crisis. Most often when a family or an individual submits themselves to a therapist or a counselor for treatment or intervention, it is because they are at a crisis point, are overwhelmed and can no longer function using the usual dysfunctional methods that brought them to the crisis. Part of that dysfunction is not to have recognized the extent of their problem (often referred to as denial) and not to have appreciated that the magnitude of the problem is such that professional assistance should be sought. Our society is at a crisis stage and could be the reason why we hear the Prime Minister making unorthodox comments and his own observations. Nothing that he has tried up to this point has worked; in fact the problem seems only to be getting worse. I therefore view the PM’s recent utterances on radio as a cry for help, much the same way that someone who attempts suicide is usually crying out to someone for help. I applaud him for his candor and for taking this important first step forward. A sure mark of a good leader is this kind of honesty and transparency, especially in our political culture when a leader almost never repeats the mantra of his political enemies. Of course the mark of a GREAT leader is to go beyond this admission that there is a grave problem with the nation that he leads, to taking difficult concrete steps to actually implement an effective fix. Next week, more on the Prime Minister and some additional observations.
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