Re: Mental illness and More than a gut feeling

<< Previous Message | Next Message >>
From:Paul Howard Lockwood <>
To:Sarah Christo <>,
Content-Type:text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1

Hash: SHA1

To Sarah, Victor, and all,
     I thought I would stay out of this discussion, since my purpose
in joining histonet was to keep abreast of all things pertaining to
histology. However, I gave in to the temptation to add my two cents
     Amoung the various activities I pursue in my life has been a long
time involvement in the martial arts. Over twenty years in Tae Kwon
Do, plus Western wrestling and boxing, various weapons, and some
"street" experience. In recent years I have given thought to strategy,
especially on how to avoid or reduce the possibility of a violent
encounter. I have come to some conclusions based not only on the study
of strategy, but on a study of various crimes, both non-violent (for
example, white collar crime), and violent crime. First, there is no
such thing as one hundred percent safety and security. At best,
through thoughtful preparation, individuals and institutions may
achieve an improvement over a less prepared state. Next, a person or
institution may do everything "right" to prevent a violent crime, and
still fail. 
     Third, you cannot prevent people. This truncated sentence may
sound strange, but it is based on the observation that many believe
that profiling will allow a person to screen out the "violence prone."
Profiling, at best, is an investigative tool, meaning it is used after
the event. It is not fool proof. One only has to recall the fact that
the FBI has to revise their profile of the Unabomber six times, and
were still no closer to arresting him until his brother turned him in.
In order for any crime to occur, the criminal needs two things:
Motivation and opportunity. No amount of social change, or
legislature, will stop an idea, whether it be good or bad. Especially
nowadays, with over six billion people across the world from various
political and cultural background, let alone with the various
illnesses that may befall any individual. For example, King George III
of England is now believed to have had a kidney infection which caused
his mental state. It is better to seek the means of limiting
opportunity. But, even in trying to limit opportunity, there is only
so far one can go morally, ethically, or legally.
      Lastly, if we screen out all of the mentally ill from jobs, what
are we to do with them? They have rights, and one of them is the right
to pursue happiness by being gainfully employed. I work with a person
who is diagnosed with a mental illness. They are under a psychiatrists
care, and take anti-psychotics. The stigma surrounding mental illness
does have an impact on this person's life. People avoid this person,
taunt this person, and generally give them a rough time. Yet, despite
this person's personal problems, and those created by others, this
person does their job, and does it well. Do we have the right, out of
our concerns over personal safety because other mentally ill people
have resorted to violence, to deprive this person of a job?
     If some of this letter seems harsh, or cold, in light of the
tragedy  at Washington University, I apologize. 
     Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. And I offer my
belated condolances to the friends and family of Dr. Haggit.
     Paul Howard Lockwood, HT (ASCP), HT (AMT), LATG (AALAS)
- -----Original Message-----
From: Sarah Christo <>
To: <>
Cc: <>;
Date: Friday, July 07, 2000 12:52 AM
Subject: Re: Mental illness and More than a gut feeling

Dear Victor and all,
   I did not mean to ruffle feathers, but initiate a discussion which
I felt would better serve the Histonet than the subject of gun
   I appreciate that all things were done "by the book".  My
suggestion is that maybe "the book" isn't working anymore.  In our
situation, we also ran up against an employee who refused the free
help offered here at the University.  Eventually a case was made
against the employee and she was let go.  Fortunately for us there
have been no other repercussions from her.  My supervisor was afraid
of a lawsuit.  She appeared to have the early stages of Alzheimer's
  All I am trying to say is that the problem is not being addressed by
the community as a whole.  We seem to wait until horrific events
happen and then wonder why.  Others working with this individual
noticed a mental problem, but nothing was able to be done to help him
or protect others.  I wish there were some stop gap measures in place
that could have prevented the tragic murder of Dr. Haggitt.  People
are quick to jump to gun control and metal detectors which are
controls on our freedom, but will not think about a mandatory
psychiatric evaluation when mental illness is suspected.  Possibly
this individual needed court ordered inpatient treatment.  Surely,
murder and suicide are the ultimate forms of self hate.  
  Also, I am not stating that all personnel problems are due to mental
illness, only that in this particular case it most certainly was.  One
does not commit murder and suicide in a healthy state of mind.  A
healthy individual would have evaluated the situation as to whether
the accusations of his work performance were true, (if it was a
communication problem only) and if it was true, gone for help with
communications or possibly changed professions if it was overwhelming
him.  Only a very sick individual would blame someone (obviously
trying to help him) with his own failures and then go to the ultimate
extreme of murder and suicide.  Some how this individual fell through
the safety net.  All I am saying is more needs to be done to help
people suffering  and protect others from them if needed.  
  Thanks for listening.  

Sarah Christo, HT (ASCP)
Research Associate, Histology Lab
Texas A&M University
College of Veterinary Medicine
Dept. of Vet Anatomy & Public Health
College Station, TX  77843-4458
phone: (979) 845-3177
fax:  (979) 458-3499

>>> Victor Tobias <> 07/05/00 02:39PM >>>
To All,

Both of these topics are serious things to consider, but are
irrelevant in the
case of the UW situation. In the case of hiring this particular
resident, he had
to undergo many interviews and they all felt the same way. They all
felt that he
would have some challenges, mainly due to language, but that he
motivated to meet those challenges. Did he con everybody? When might
you or your
co-worker snap?

With regards to supervisors not taking an active role. When a problem
started to
show with the resident, everything imaginable within the law was done.
University contacted social workers, mental health experts, lawyers,
police. The
resident was offered counseling of which he did not participate. It
sounds easy to just lock up the person and throw away the key, but we
do have
rights as citizens. Everything was done by the book and he could not
involuntarily committed, because there never were any outright threats
anyone. He was a US Citizen and was able to purchase a gun legally. It
always the fear that he was going to harm himself. Even in today's
paper, there
is no evidence that he had premeditation in mind. We will never know
the truth.

Let's not group every co-worker with "problems" as a mental case.
There are
health issues, divorce, etc. that might make them more quiet or seem
These are just my thoughts as they relate to our situation and your

I would like to thank all of you that have sent email of support and

Victor Tobias
Histology Supervisor
University of Washington Medical Center
Seattle, WA

Version: PGP Personal Privacy 6.0.2


<< Previous Message | Next Message >>