Why People Hurt People

Why do people commit random acts of violence against themselves and others?

It’s a question that is rarely asked and even more rarely answered. Why do people commit acts of violence towards themselves and others? Chris Hedges explains why.

At its core, trauma is about the inability to feel. It’s being cut off from your own humanity and the humanity of others. What is it that drives groups and individuals to carry out acts of self destruction, self annihilation?

When people are completely cornered and the only way they feel they can affirm themselves is to destroy, they will.

This rupture of social bonds – people are pushed outside the system. So that all of the ways that they can actualize themself, find dignity within the social structure are denied to them, and they essentially affirm themselves through destructive acts.

Work is not simply about exchanging labor for a wage. Work is about family. It’s about being able to live within the society with dignity. We’ve taken that away from the working class, especially with the destruction of unions and deindustrialization. 

All the manufacturing has been offshored.

Much of my family comes from working class Maine and the mills are all gone. Even the bank is boarded up. There’s methamphetamine labs everywhere. 

Camden, New Jersey was a hundred years ago a huge manufacturing center.  RCA was there. Campbell Soup, which still has a headquarters, but they don’t make soup there. And now the population is cut in half. And essentially what we see in these urban centers is that inability to be integrated within the society. 

The opioid crisis, alcoholism, gambling, suicide, hate groups are an inevitable response to the rupture of social bonds. That’s because those who seek the annihilation of others are driven by feelings of self annihilation. 

We have to rebuild the social infrastructure. It really comes down to investing in people, not into systems of control.

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