Monday, May 21, 2007

Adolescent Murderers and Their Treatments

ENG 101
Prof. Dowling
Lorita Zhen Chen
Research Paper

The day of April 16, 2007 was a nightmare for all students and faculties on the Virginia Tech campus. Thirty-two people were killed, along with a gunman, and at least 15 injured in two shooting attacks during three hours. After the gunman,
Seung-Hui Cho, had been identified, he was declared mentally ill. The Virginia Tech shooting is not the only case of homicide involving a psychotic murderer. In recent years, many adolescents who murder are affirmed as having psychopathic disorders. To treat those mentally ill youths is not only to help them to regain self-esteem, but also to help a society, especially schools, to reduce violent behavior.

First, we need to know the characters of different types of homicides. Two categories of homicides are preteen homicide and juvenile homicide. In the juvenile homicide category, there are three main types of homicide. The first type of juvenile murder is parricide. Parricide, which is similar to over-controlled aggression is to kill one’s parents. The second type of juvenile murder can be described more or less as an unintentional one. There is no apparent thrill involved in the homicide, because in this type of homicide, a murderer feels his is in “kill-or-be-killed” situation. The third type of juvenile homicide is called “thrill killer”. The actual murder is preceded by repeated fantasies so he kills people who are totally stranger. (Agee 90-91). According to the report, in the case of Virginia Tech shooting, the gunman left a video after the first shooting. I believe he was using the tape to satisfy his fantasy of being a hero. Thus, this case can be characterized as the last type of juvenile homicide.

Various factors affect these three different types of homicide, either the family backgrounds or society’s environment. Adolescents who commit parricide usually have a history of severe family-abuse, an extreme sense of desperation, a generally passive approach to life, and a typically good prognosis. (Heckel 28) When adolescents finally cannot bear the mental affliction, they explore the extreme violence. Youths are more likely to conduct the unintentional homicide if they have a long history of criminal activity and habitually carry weapons. Wherever a situation makes those youths feel they must defend themselves, the weapon, usually a gun, will be used. Moreover, the reason what leads to “thrill killer” is the result of many years of an extremely disturbed fantasy and chaotic lifestyle. During the fantasies, the victims are increasingly depersonalized. Also, because of the years of fantasizing, a murder is able to become quite emotionally detached. (Agee 90-91). This type of murderer is also by far the most disturbed one.

It is important for family and society to consider child psychology healthy. Children who cannot be cured of their psychological problems will aggravate their personality disorders in adulthood. Several studies have demonstrated that personality disorders are traceable to childhood and adolescent emotional and behavioral disorders.

Lewisohn et al. (1) found that adolescent disruptive, anxiety, depressive, and substance use disorders were associated with elevated personality disorder dimensional scores obtained at 6-year follow-up in a young adult population. Cohen (2) found that disruptive behavior disorders and affective disorders measured in childhood and adolescence increased the risk or personality disorder symptoms in young adulthood. Rey et al. (3) demonstrated that disruptive behavior disorders in adolescence were associated with a wide range of personality psychopathology in adulthood. (Helgeland 1941-1945).

For those psychopathic adolescents who commit homicide, what can people do to prevent their violence? Normally, people believe that to effectively stop psychopaths’ vicious behavior, the only way is to send them to a psychiatrist. However, the new research found,

Some mentally ill adolescent can be mean or bad like anyone else. They can be a relationship between nastiness and mental illness. Because some therapists assume that when patients are mentally ill and mean, the illness is probably the cause of the ill temper. But human meanness is far more common than the mental illness in the population combined, so the contribution of mental illness to this essential human trait must be very small ideal. (Friedman F5).

This explanation illustrates the restriction of Psychiatry. For those youths with personality disorders, psychiatry can only do so much. Thereby, the classical psychological therapy might be the right treatment which those with personality disorders finally go back to seek.

Before introducing psychopathic adolescents to the processes of psychological treatment, we need to understand the goal of therapy’s treatment. The main goals of treatment are to develop sufficient levels of impulse control, which is also called self-control, to prevent the recurrence of murderous behavior and other violent behaviors; to raising the level of moral judgment and behavior. Therapists may be able to shape, extend, and broaden the youths’ perceptions and proclivity to show empathy to others. Other specific goals are raising self-esteem, maximizing use of personal abilities, developing effective communication skills, developing a more objective, deeper understanding of one’s life experiences, and engendering a sense of acceptance and understanding of one’s role in life events. (Heckel 124-126).

Then, we will study the treatment processes. “Admitting responsibility,” “grief work,” and “ego rebuilding” are three essential phases for the murderers’ treatments. The first phase is “admitting responsibility”. When the patient enters the treatment, murderers might first attempt to deny what they did. Some of them exaggerate this response to the point of denial. Some murderers will not dwell on the details of the incident but may only say something offhand like “I killed a guy.” Furthermore, if denial is difficult, murderers will rationalize the crime. Treatment cannot occur until full responsibility is verbally accepted in front of a therapist, because at least with adolescents, they cannot trust their therapists at the beginning of treatments. Nonetheless, this does not mean that therapists should accept the denial. Instead, therapists will give the clear message that they expect the youths to learn to identify their problems and accept responsibility for their actions, but they will have some time to get adjusted to the therapist. (Agee96-97).

The second phase is “grief work” which is designed to amplify emotional suffering. After the first admission of guilt, the youths usually promptly rebuild their defenses and begin again to justify their own behavior in their minds. These defenses must continually be confronted, and feelings, particularly of remorse, must be encouraged to emerge. The therapist will help youths to achieve a feeling of true remorse and encourage them to do grief work. As various feelings are being expressed by youths during this period, which my take as long as two years, murderers are able to separate self from then object of hostility. In this phase, therapists are also sensitive to when there has been enough grief work, and a major catharsis is necessary. (Agee97-100).

The last phase of treatment is “ego rebuilding.” Patients will be constantly encouraged to be inner directed, to completely analyze their behaviors and how they hurt people. In this process, the emphasis is on taking action. The youth who thinks he has been completely rejected by society must learn how to earn readmittance. This often involves education in social skills. It also includes complete education in the myriad of skills necessary for basic functioning in society, like earning a living, shopping, budgeting, transportation, finding housing, recreational activities. Another strong emphasis of the rebuilding phase relates to one’s peers, particularly helping those undergoing a crisis similar to the one they went through. In addition, the rebuilding process also takes a long time, since the youth has to be prepared to work harder to earn acceptance in the community than the others will face. (Agee 101-102).

Helping youths who are mentally ill to be re-accepted by a society is not only the responsibility of youths’ parents. The society also needs to open arms to those psychotic adolescents, giving them another chance to be cured. Also, schools need to concern students’ psychological health as well as their academic tasks. The result of all the efforts for the psychotic adolescents above will be that parents whose children are normal will be relieved of their worries, and put their children in a school with rarer violent records.

Works Cited

Agee, Vicki L. Treatment of the Violent Incorrigible Adolescent. Publisher: Lexington, 1979.

Friedman, Richard A. “About That Mean Streak of Yours: Psychiatry can do only So Much.” The New York Times 6 Feb. 2007, F5.

Heckel, Robert V., and David M. Shumaker. Children Who Murder. Publisher: Westport, 2001.

Helgeland, Margareth I, Ellen Kjelsberg, and Svenn Torgersen. “Continuities between Emotional and Disruptive Behavior Disorders in Adolescence and Personality Disorders in Adulthood.” American Journal of Psychiatry. Vol. 162, 16 Oct. 2005: 1941-1947. American Journal of Psychiatry. Nassau Community College Library, Garden City, NY 2 May 2007.

My Father's Philosophy

ENG 101
Prof. Dowling
Lorita Zhen Chen
Free Writing

How many intimate friends should a person has in his whole life? Yesterday, I thought about this question. It reminded me my father’s philosophy in a friendship. He said, “To make a lot of friends it good for a person to create a strongly social connection but friends need to be categorized into different group. There are bosom friends who are always there to support you and can share secrete without fearing any negative impact; there are fair-weather friends who only have fun with you; there are false friends who always take advantages of you; etc.” My dad is very proud of his friendship philosophy. The fact is his relationship philosophy is practical.

Generally, I think few of friends can be classified as sworn friends. It is even harder for an adult to make a close friend in a complex society. I have many friends from different places. Till now, I think that only two of them can be deemed as close friends. They are Wen and Yong. The interesting thing is, I met both of them in the middle school. Now, I am live in American, and they are in China. When I feel lonely and face any problem, I still call my friends in China to confide in them. Even if they cannot give me some useful advice to solve problems, I still appreciate them because they support me anytime and anywhere.

Now, I meet lots of new friends. We are studying and sharing happy moment. I still believe that a friend in need is a friend indeed because for me, I still cannot completely disclose myself to those new friends. It does not mean that new friends are not nice and kind but we still need time to strike up our friendship to be steady. Now, my father’s friendship philosophy helps me a lot to get along with my news friends. The friendship philosophy always reminds me to forgive others’ fault and understand different opinions from others. It also makes me to open my arms to meet various friends.

When one meets a friend who is always taking an advantage of one, would one end the friendship with his friend? My father’s philosophy teaches me not to judge a person no matter what kind of personality a person has. To get along with others is not easy because everybody has unique characteristics. That also means conflicts between people are inevitable. When we understand the meaning of categorizing friends into different groups, we will able to solve conflict. For example, when we have a conflict with a fair-weather friend, we just let the argument go. On the other hand, when the same case happens between us and a bosom friend, we need to try our best to communicate with him.

At the begging, I did not understand my dad’s saying. I thought friends are just friends. It would be unfaith to divided friends into different group. Gradually, I understood and adapted my dad’s friendship philosophy as I got older.


ENG 101
Prof. Dowling
Lorita Zhen Chen
Assigned Topic

There are many quotes to describe “silence”. Most of them are positive and are related to wisdom. For example, “speech is silver, silence is golden”, and “silence is the most perfect expression of scorn.” Also, Buddhism teaches silence can make a person peaceful. However, I find that silence sometimes expresses depression. In other words, to speak out is another type of wisdom as well.

I remember my grandfather was a taciturn person when he was alive. Unlike other elders, my grandfather rarely told us stories about his youth. Nevertheless, grandpa was a hardworking person. Even in his late years, he could not bear to stay at home doing nothing. Usually, he liked to make some furniture or to cook for us, and his cooking was magnificent. While we asked him where learned the cooking, his countenance was woeful, and he tried to avoid answering us. A long time after, we heard from grandma about grandpa’s story. She said, formerly, grandpa was born to a very rich family. Our great-grandfather owned a big restaurant. During the Cultural Revolution in China, great-grandfather’s restaurant was ruined. The repression hit my great-grandfather so hard. Because of their sadness, great-grandpa and his wife passed away before long. My grandfather lost his parents when he was a teenager, so his personality totally changed after then.

In my impression, grandpa hardly spoke to others. He was a silent person. Even when he had conflicts with people, he did not argue with them or communicate with them to solve the problem. Instead, grandpa came home with wrath. He refused to talk to us about what had happened. In my eyes, grandpa was an unhappy and inactive person. Even when grandpa and grandma faced some problems of family, always, grandpa made the decisions but did not tell grandma the reasons. Sometimes, my grandma was very frustrated to be married to a man liked my grandpa. Now I totally understand her. In grandma’s place, grandpa’s personality sometimes hurt her feelings. Our family could keep the peace and be happy because grandma used a lot of patience with grandpa. So in our eyes, grandma was a positive person, but grandpa was a negative person.

In modern society, silence is not good for many things. For example, to speak out one’s feelings makes a relationship work better than to keep silent or to accommodate when a conflict appears; to say what a person knows about in a professional field shows the person’s talent and ability. Thus, it often helps the person to get more opportunities when he speaks than to keep silent. In philosophy, silence is wisdom, but in certain situations, to express oneself appropriately is also wise.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

peer marriage cannot exist in a happy family

ENG 101
Prof. Dowling
Lorita Zhen Chen
Two Part Essay They Say

They say in the modern society, men and women should be equal, especially in a marriage. “Peer marriage” derives from this point of view. The basis of a happy marriage is tolerance, and in generally, women are more tolerant than men. Because of this, there is equality in a marriage if the woman is really not equal to the men.

It is very natural that a couple has different opinions. If we insist on equal rights for women and men, family arguments would happen at the time. Usually, a wife will stop the arguing. It seems hard for a couple in a peer relationship to create an intimacy without any scarifies. Both parties have their reasonable views and strong power and authority. The high divorce rate in the United States indicates that the peer marriage is difficult.

Compared to our parents’ generations or before them, women in modern society are more independent and knowledgeable. As individual pursue higher and higher education, they know more about the world and the society. Women have developed more independence at work and at home. However, one problem married couples face is when to have a child. This probably leads to conflict. The wife may not be willing to become pregnant because she is working and makes good money, but the husband might insist on having a baby. Eventually, conflict will break out. In a contrast, this was not a problem in our parents’ generation. Women stayed home and raised children. At that time, women knew few things about the world outside of family. In the past, if the woman gives in to the husband’s wishes, there is peace in the family, but it was not a peer relationship.

Today, society gives women more opportunities. Yet, it also results in a problem. Women often cannot balance time between job and family. In recent years, a lot of women occupy high positions at work. They are more chances for women to be promoted to high management positions. The high position can also mean high frequency of trip. If a woman has children, there are difficult choices for her to make, either staying at home to take care of children or focusing on business. If her husband does not understand her, it can lead to fighting. In contrast, my mom would choose to give up a promotion without any complaint if she were in the same situation. Actually, customs and norms in old society limited women. They didn’t need to quarrel with their husbands for making decisions. The husband made the decisions because he made the money. This was not a peer marriage.

Sometimes, when I review the opinion of feminism from the marriage angle, and I think, a happy family cannot be built on selfish relationships. Peer relationships mean equal understanding, equal responsibility and open communication. Both people must be able to be tolerant to make the marriage work. So, men, do not think you are always smart and reasonable. If an argument stops, usually because women choose to back off.

See My Change

ENG 101
Prof. Dowling
Lorita Zhen Chen
Two Part Essay Once/Now

Once I was a dependent girl who lived under my parents' protection; now I am an independent and confident lady who can take care of herself without relying on others. Multicultural cities like New York make people strong. The change was painful. As I left my parents to go to the United States, I changed.

Chinese culture differs from American culture. Gender differences still exist in many features of daily life in China. In upper class families, young girls do not need to do housework. Generally, people will hire maidservants to take care of the house. My family, which still lives in China, is one of those kinds of families. My parents have always had two servants to help with the household chores. My life was not bad in China. My father used to be the chief of a Chinese government’s Legal Department, and I am the only Child in my family. When I was born, the negative impact of family planning led to many families abandon baby girls, but fortunately, it did not affect my dad. He always treated me like the apple in his eyes. Dad and mom did not ask me to do any housework because we had two maidservants to dust the house and do other household duties. I was so coddled by my parents that I never even washed a plate until I came to America. If I needed anything, my parents gave me the money I wanted, and I got whatever I wanted. My life was very comfortable.

I remember, a year ago, I decided to study in America, but my parents strongly opposed to the idea. I understood what they were worried about. Because I had never lived alone, they were concerned that if I should go to an unfamiliar country without parents and maidservants, who would take care of me? However, I did not think about the future. I just decided to leave and wanted to try a different lifestyle. Nobody could stop me. Even though I knew my mom secretly cried several times and often blamed me for being a disobedient daughter, she still could not prevent me from leaving.

However, dreams are always easier than reality. I never image how hard it would be to make my dream come true. On the first day I arrived in America, the first and the most important job I had to find a place of my own to live. At that time, I temporarily lived in a house of my mom’s friend in Brooklyn. After clicking on numerous websites and looking for many apartments that were advertised in local magazines, I found that most of them were expensive and far from my college. The date of the new term approached, but I still had not settled down. When I almost gave up, my mom’s friend suggested that I take a look at some Chinese newspapers. Following her advice, I finally found a suitable place in Valley Stream. I was now on my own.

I also found a driving school. I remember the day I had the road test. It took me almost six hours to go back and forth between school and the road test point. That day, I got up extra early to catch a bus for the first class; then after class, I caught another bus from NCC to Flushing in order to take the road test on time. That afternoon, it began to rain, and the road test was to take place in five minutes later. I didn’t experience driving in the rain before and this made me very nervous. I passed the test. I was so excited. That meant I could drive a car from then on instead of getting up early to catch a bus and spending more time on the way. That night, I called my mom and dad in China. They sounded very surprised at how independent I had become. In the days that followed, I always let them know when I learned some new skills and principles about America. My behaviors showed them that I could adapt to the new environment, and I can solve any problem. I proved that their worry was unnecessary.

Studying in the United States alone, I have to do everything myself from washing a plate to bargaining with the seller to buying a car. However, I have learned a lot from leading such an independent life. Once I was a self-centered girl, who did not know how it would feel to be independent, but now I do and I like it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Value of My Name

ENG 101
Prof. Dowling
Lorita Zhen Chen
Early Memory

“Zhen Chen” is my name given by my grandmother. In Chinese, trueness, puerility and vivacity are the meanings of “Zhen.” However, I used to complain to my parents, why they didn’t give me a more famine name like the name related to the meaning of prettiness or adoration. The answer was always the same. I was not a good looking baby when I was born. As they described, my forehead was narrow; my face was square; and my little nose was flat without a bridge. In my grandma’s eyes, I was not a good looking baby, so she didn’t expect me to be a pretty girl in the future, but she wanted every dream of mine to come true. In her mind, the significant meaning of “Zhen” suited me perfectly. As parents and grand ma wished, I was a vivacious, active kid, and everything went smoothly in my childhood.

However, not long after, I began to dislike my name. In the 80’s, Hong Kong’s movies were very popular in mainland China, especially action movies. They never failed to fascinate people. There was a famous active movie called “Jing Wu Gate.” The story of the movie was about a national hero called “Wuo Yuan Jia.” His Chinese Kong Fu was so amazing that he could beat several enemies at one time. He had a lot of students that practiced Chinese Kong Fu. Among those students, a young guy called “Zhen Chen” (yes, don’t be astonished, his name is the same as mine), was the best student who inherited all of Wuo Yuan Jia’s tour de force. From then on, my classmates in elementary school began to make jokes with my name. They laughed at me behind my back, calling me “Jing Wu Gate Zhen Chen” or “Wuo Yuan Jia’s student Zhen Chen.” Even friends of my parents also called me “little Zhen Chen.” Finally, I could not tolerate it anymore so I told my parents that I wanted to change my name.

I wondered my name whether was a good name for a girl. When I heard somebody called me “Jing Wu Gate Zhen Chen", I always asked for my dad to give me a unique name that would not overlap someone else. Nonetheless, no matter how I begged my dad, usually, I was educated that a name is only an appellation for a person. He said the real reason for people to respect you is not your name but your personally moral character. My parents edified me that if I learned how to behave with decorum, people would like me as they did the Zhen Chen of the movie “Jing Wu Gate.” But i thought even though he is a national hero, I would never be a hero.

Despite my negative attitude toward my own name, dad and mom never considered a change one for me. “Zhen Chen” accompanies me until now, and as I have grown up, I have realized that how significant my name is. The real world is much more intricate than the one in our innocent image. Famine, warfare, rivalry, poverty etc. exist in the world here and there. When we experience more, our nice expectation toward the world might diminish as we get older and older. On the other hand, some people might learn wisdom by follies of others. They might look at the society from different angle so that they know how to think rationally. I realize that the latter one is what my parents expect me to be. Like an old saying, that is good wisdom which is wisdom in the end.

Now, I am not that such ugly girl any more. My facial features have elongated to fit my face. But sometimes I still hear friends calling me “Jing Wu Gate Zhen Chen.” I feel affable rather than disagreeable because I begin to understand why my parents insist on keeping this name on me. Puerility, trueness and vivacity are so precious in the real world. Now, I understand the significance of my name much more than I did before.

Rabbit’s Advantage over Fox and Wolf

ENG 101
Prof. Dowling
Lorita Zhen Chen
Essay 1 Fable

On a sunlit afternoon, the weather is very warm and comfortable in spring. A rabbit jumps out from her cave to enjoy the afternoon. The fresh and clean air lets her lose awareness that a crafty fox follows her. Unfortunately, the rabbit is caught.

The fox is very proud of himself and says: “I am so hungry. I will eat you for lunch.”

Rabbit shouts to stop him:” wait for a second! Can you give me a couple of days? I am doing my Doctoral dissertation which is almost done.”

“Ha-ha. What a stupid excuse. Tell me the topic of your dissertation.” The fox is curious but scoffs at her.

Rabbit responds carefully: “the topic is ‘Comparing rabbit’s advantage with fox and wolf’”.

“What? Funny, it is very funny. Ha-ha-ha,” fox laughs even harder, “Are you crazy? You are supposed to die right now!”

Fox’s scoff might be right. For some reason, everybody acknowledges that foxes and wolfs are always stronger than rabbits.

However, rabbit replies very calmly: “Mr. Fox, according to my research, the hypothesis is acceptable. If you do not believe me, please come into my cave, and I will show you the truth. If you still cannot be convinced after reading, you can eat me right away.”

Because fox is curious, he cannot find any error in rabbit’s words. He thinks he would not be at a disadvantage by knowing the truth, so he follows rabbit into the cave. Nonetheless, he does not come out anymore.

A couple of days later, rabbit jumps out from her cave to gather flowers. A wolf jumps out from a bush, where he successfully hides his body, preying on the rabbit rapidly.

“Wait!” rabbit shouts as she did last time with fox, “I know you want to eat me, but can you give me two days?”

“Do not say any excuse, my delicious appetizer!” Wolf seems not to want rabbit to explain something.

“Dear Mr. Wolf, these days, I am writing a dissertation, ‘to compare rabbit’s advantage with fox and wolf’, and it is almost done.” Rabbit looks at wolf’s face and continues, “If you allow me to finish my dissertation before eating me, I would appreciate you.”

Wolf laughs so hard that he shakes his body and lets go of rabbit’s head.

“Maybe your brain is filled with water, so I cannot eat you right now.” Wolf scoffs at rabbit as fox did.

No matter how wolf insults her, rabbit still invites wolf to read her dissertation and makes a deal with him that if wolf does not agree with her conclusion, he can prey on her immediately. Like fox, wolf follows rabbit into her cave but does not come out any longer.

A month passes. Rabbit invites her friends into her cave to celebrate her completion of her dissertation. An incredible view is displayed in front of her friends. Her cave is the typically messy bedroom of a graduate student; in the right corner, a heap of fox’s bones are piled; wolf’s bones are piled on the left side. Yet in the middle of the cave, a huge lion is licking his lips.

Finally, everyone understands what the content of rabbit’s dissertation is about.

The moral of this fable is:

1. In the world, there always are some people stronger and smarter than you, even though many people praise you as a smart person.

2. In the business field, no corporation can look down on small businesses. If those small businesses are supported by big companies, they possess capabilities and resources to compete with their adversaries.