To me, being a social worker in the wake of a tragedy, leads me to feel somewhat differently than many of the general population. This is true especially in the aftermath of a violent crime. While, like many, I feel for the victims and their families, their friends. However, I also can’t help but feel empathetic towards the perpetrator, their family, their friends. I can’t help but wonder, what happened? While I do believe everyone ultimately is in charge of their own destiny to a certain degree, I can’t help but wonder…what else? What else was behind this event, from the perpetrator’s perspective. Was it mental illness? Perhaps psychosis related to a mental illness, such as paranoid schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder? Perhaps, this individual suffered some type of trauma in their life that left them confused, and unable to cope? And what about their family? The undoubted hate mail, threats, shame, and guilt that follows such a tragic event, just for being related to this individual. The love and conflict that they must know feel, as this individual played an important role in their lives, but hating the actions they took, and the impact that it has or will have on them forever.
These thoughts and feelings that I have, they are not meant to sleight the many victims and their families. I feel for them also, for their loss, for their struggle, their recovery moving forward. This is not meant to be a mockery of their struggle.
I cannot imagine I am the only one that feels this way, it seems innate, as a human services professional, however, I feel very few individuals will embrace these feelings and speak of them aloud. If you agree, you are not alone, and it is ok to feel this way.