Friday, 6 August 2010

Color Aroused Behavior Leads to Killing of Nine Employees at Hartford Distributors, in Manchest, CT.

There is plenty of evidence about color arousal among Americans, Black and white, going back to Brown v. Board of Education, and before. When people visually perceive the skin color and skin color groups of others and compare that with their conception of their own skin color and skin color group, people frequently experience unconscious and conscious color-aroused ideation, leading to color aroused emotion that often is acted out through color-aroused behavior.

On August 3, 2010, the New York Times reported in an article entitled, "A Bumpy Life Ends in Fatal Rampage," that:

Eight years ago, [Omar Thornton] started dating Kristi E. Hannah. . . .

Ms. Hannah’s mother, Joanne Hannah, said Mr. Thornton owned several guns, and wanted to teach Kristi how to shoot. 

Joanne Hannah said she and Mr. Thornton, who was black, once had an argument in which she used a racial epithet to describe him; he, in turn, called her a racist. “He was sick and tired of people being racist to him,” Ms. Hannah said.

When Omar Thorton dated a woman whose skin was white, the woman's mother assailed him with color-aroused epithets.  Some time later, he began buying guns.  Omar Thornton apparently was assailed with color-aroused epithets both from the family of his white lover and in the workplace, according to the New York Times.
Still, Mr. Thornton remained close to Ms. Hannah. He told her that things were not working out at his job, Joanne Hannah said; he complained that co-workers at Hartford Distributors were aiming racial insults at him. “Things were being put on the bathroom walls,” Ms. Hannah added — a racist slur “and a hangman noose.”

Could being "sick and tired" of others' perceived color-aroused and color-associated behavior prompt Thornton to engage in a killing spree that disrupts company productivity while removing a significant number of key workers from the corporate workforce?  The New York Times reported that Thornton's behavior seems "inexplicable" and perhaps it appears to be so, until the hypothesis of color-aroused behavior on the part of Thornton and co-workers is considered.

The Washington Post confirmed the reports of a skin-color-associated motive :
Woman says Conn. shooter complained of race bias
MANCHESTER, Conn. -- A woman who knows the driver who fatally shot at least eight co-workers and himself at a Connecticut beer distribution company says he had complained of racial harassment at work.
Joanne Hannah says her daughter dated Omar Thornton for the past eight years. She says her daughter had no indication he planned anything violent Tuesday morning after he was asked to resign from Hartford Distributors and refused.
Hannah says Thornton, a black man, had complained to his superiors about a picture of a noose and a racial epithet in a bathroom at the distributor. Her daughter told her the supervisors did not respond to his complaints.
The case of Omar Thornton, a deeply brown-skinned resident of Connecticut and 34-year-old beer truck driver, who shot eight co-workers and then committed suicide on Tuesday, August 2, 2010, provides a graphic example of color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior in the American workforce.

Omar Thornton told his sister and a police dispatcher that he was motivated to kill others at his work place by the skin-color-aroused of management and co-workers. Whether or not this is true, it is crucial that Thornton believed it to be true.   He had skin-color-associated beliefs regarding how he was treated by others, and these beliefs led to anger and resentment, which he manifested in the color-aroused killing of eight co-workers and himself.

There are very few avenues in the United States for people such as Mr. Thornton to get help in the face of what they believe is color-aroused animus directed toward them.  In spite of four centuries of political struggles and animosity related to skin color, professional groups such as the American Psychological Association and the America Psychiatrists Association do not offer generally available specialized training for treating those who harbor color-aroused ideation and emotion such as animosity and those whose color-aroused ideation and emotion lead to illegal color-aroused behavior.

This is not accidental.  Through the post-Reconstruction period in the United States, the Klu Klux Klan and other color-aroused antagonist organizations lynched Blacks and sought to create terror and obeisance.  The groups' behavior was often sanctioned by local police personnel who were sometimes members of the secret societies, and the brutality against Blacks was very rarely punished.

The behavior became "normal" and therefore outside of the scope of the work of psychologists and psychiatrists, who seek to identify and treat only abnormal behavior.  Color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior have only recently been identified as problematic by the American Psychiatric Association, and even then focuses on the harm to the victims rather than the emotional illness of the perpetrators.

Thornton told his sister that he believed workers at the factory were intentionally overloading the beer delivery truck he drove, based on color-aroused animus toward him.  He let his sister listen in via cell phone on a bathroom conversation between supervisors who called referred to Thornton with color-aroused epithets.

Although the temptation among many would be to deny that Thornton's homicidal actions were legitimate reactions to his experiences, whatever they were, nonetheless the constant denial of feelings such as Thornton's rather than screening and professional attention make it more likely that these color-aroused behaviors will be repeated in the future.

As is the multiple shooting and suicide case of Doug Williams at Lockheed Martin, and this time by a white man, the event occurred on the very day in which supervisors sought to challenge and confront behavior of the employee who engaged in a killing spree on the day of the meeting.  Doug Williams faced a "sensitivity training" on the day of his rampage, while Omar Thornton faced a disciplinary hearing alleging theft of beer from the beer delivery truck he drove.

The New York Times reported on August 10, 2003:

Factory Killer Had a Known History of Anger and Racial Taunts

MERIDIAN, Miss., July 9— When he overheard a black man complimenting a white woman a couple of years ago on the factory floor, Doug Williams stepped up to the man and, using a racial slur, angrily told him blacks had no business being with blond women, witnesses recalled today.
When a black colleague complained last month that the white protective shoe-covering Mr. Williams was wearing on his head looked like a Ku Klux Klansman's pointy hood, and his boss at the Lockheed Martin aircraft parts plant a few miles outside of Meridian told him to take the bootie off his head or go home, Mr. Williams went home, company officials said today
On Monday, Mr. Williams, 48, told his father he was ticked off that he would have to attend an ethics and sensitivity training course the next morning, the authorities say. A few minutes after it began, Mr. Williams left the room, returned from his pickup truck armed to the teeth, and began blasting away at close range at people who had known him, and known of his quick temper and simmering hatred, for years.
Aside from the skin colors of the color-aroused killers, their cases seem all too similar.  Color-aroused ideation and emotion lead to color-aroused murderous and suicidal behavior.  And yet, there is no indication in newspaper reports that either of these employers considered the possibility that a confrontation associated with these ideation and emotions could provoke a color-aroused violence. 

Lives can be saved if employers assume that alleged color-aroused provocations and allegations thereof indicate potentially violent and explosive situations in which psychiatrists should be called upon to screen those who allegedly have been involved in color-aroused provocations as well as those who allegedly have been the victims thereof.  In these cases, color aroused behavior and perception of color-aroused victimization in the workplace are among the predictors of color-aroused violent and murderous behavior.

Arguably, the failure to pursue professional psychiatric intervention in such cases could make employers liable in wrongful death actions, where they have failed to attend to the obvious risk of violence associated with color-aroused employees in the workplace.
Another obvious take-home lesson from the Doug Williams and Omar Thornton cases is that when workers are confronted formally with respect to behavior (their own or someone else's) that may be perceived as color-aroused, such confrontation meetings may well give rise to acute color-aroused ideation and emotion such that puts co-workers at greatly increased risk of violent color-aroused behavior. 

Employers have an obligation to workers that co-workers will be screened for dangerousness, regardless of their skin color, before confronting them about color-aroused victimization in the workplace, whether they perceive themselves as, or are, victims or perpetrators.  The Williams and Thornton cases, taken together, show that all workers, regardless of skin color, are at risk when color-aroused behavior and potential acute psychiatric color-aroused crises are ignored in the workplace.

Employers cannot make use of this crucial anecdotal information unless they first acknowledge at least the confronted employee's potential belief that the confrontations are associated with color-aroused behavior, whether by co-workers, the employer or the employee.  Such beliefs, actual behaviors and evaluation of the risk of consequent potential behaviors fall squarely within the expertise of psychiatrists and not that of "sensitivity trainers," untrained employers or even EEOC personnel.

Only competent psychiatrists have the training to conduct color-arousal screenings and to identify specific levels of color-aroused ideation, emotion and potentially dangerous color-aroused behavior.  Thornton and Williams were, by definition, "extremely" color-aroused, because their color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior included or led to one or more of the following consequences of color-aroused ideation, emotion, behavior and consequences:
  • Actual or potential illegal behavior that risks criminal and/or civil penalties;
  • Formal and or informal reprimands or reasonable potential for such in the school or workplace
  • Loss of employment and/or future employment potential;
  • Loss of earnings and/or future earning potential;
  • Loss or potential disruption of social standing and repute;
  • Loss of potential loss of life (theirs and/or someone else's);
  • Loss, actual or potential disruption of family contacts;
  • Loss, actual or potential disruption or disruption of educational/occupational studies or opportunities for study.
  • Loss, actual or potential disruption or preclusion of romantic relationships;
It might be argued that potential loss of employment isn't sufficient reason to declare a patient's color-arousal to be "extreme."  However, the potential for intervention before extreme acts requires that the a high likelihood of such acts be seen as evidence of the extreme nature of the problem in an individual patient.  Anyone who shows an immediate potential and likelihood for engaging in behaviors, or who has engaged in such behaviors or spoken of a desire to do so must be perceived as "at risk" and receive the greatest possible support and intervention.  It does little good to identify mass murderers in retrospect, since the damage is already done. 

Potential mass murder/suicide victims, as well as those whose lives are diminished without being ended, must be identified using empirically based methods and case-based anecdotal measures to identify those who need most help so that they can contribute the most in their workplaces and other relationships.

Psychiatrists must conduct dangerousness assessments of potential aggressors, be they color-aroused antagonists or the victims of color aroused antagonists.  Within both groups there is the potential to kill and to suicide associated with their own color-aroused ideation and emotion and the color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior of others.

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