16 June 2020

The Threat-sensitive Brain: a theory about animals applied to Gabriel Wortman

An analysis of
Seeking to explain Nova Scotia shootings: Inside the 'threat-sensitive brain'
'A threat-sensitive brain that is always looking for evidence to confirm the world is against them' by Michael MacDonald· The Canadian Press· Jun 08, 2020 7:25 AM AT | Last Updated: June 8

The Threat-sensitive Brain 
Can such a theory be applied to human beings or is it better off being applied to animals who survive on instinct? (revision of response to same article previously posted elsewhere).
This type of mental health explanation, as described in the article, ignores the reality of informal social networks or community ideals of conforming to the authority of those who have been granted power to control the lives of those living within their borders. Communities based on tradition or other cultural values may well result in the individual being punished discreetly and informally for breaking the rules of the hierarchy, which could be based on sexuality, or gender, wealth, or another kind of perceived status of members of the community.
Seeking to understand the behaviour of the individual presumably isolated within it, in relationships with fragile bases in which loyalty and trust have little place, means that injustices will build up, and if not resolved may eventually result in the individual attempting to break away from this insurmountable problem.
The idea of the 'threat-sensitive brain' must surely result in loud beeps in the brains of those reading about it, as though the individual has some kind of physical brain disorder (or animal-like brain where instinct is what counts) that results in the individual being unable to reason, to adapt, to be in a relationship, and to live a life of substantial success within the community and at a distance, doing work that has earned him compliments and security, doing sensitive, personal work with clients/patients seeking dental repair. If Gabriel Wortman were this kind of person, he probably wouldn't have been able to achieve all that he did.
The term 'injustice collector' is the creation of those who have lived at the top too long and has little understanding of what really happens in society, in communities that are encouraged and rewarded for demonstrating the collective value of family, sharing, and conformity and excluding those who don't quite measure up.
Referring to being an 'injustice-collector' as a way of seeing the world, as Tracy Vaillancourt (children's mental health and violence expert) does, according to this article, is only one possibility of a motivation for this tragic event. This expert in child bullying would do better spending more time on the subject of 'peer victimization' among adults.
Read ‘Dangerous Instincts’: FBI profiler explains the dangers of that ‘nice’ neighbor <https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/dangerous-instincts-fbi-profiler-explains-the-dangers-of-that-nice-neighbor/2011/10/17/gIQAkvNCDM_story.html> for information on the world-view of Mary Ellen O’Toole, a former FBI profiler who coined the term.
Michael Arntfield, criminologist turned armchair psychologist, who speaks of the 'injustice-collector' as someone who often feels "cheated or disrespected by others, even though there may be no evidence to support those beliefs." And that is most likely the problem. If a community does show disrespect in small ways, in an unrelenting manner, there may well be no “evidence” of the type that someone like Arntfield, a former police officer now working in a 'customized academic appointment' at Western University, would value (see Wikipedia, Michael Arntfield). Most of his work seems focused on the individual rather than the community, as most psychologists involved in extrapolating this theory of 'injustice-collecting' and the 'threat-sensitive brain' are.
I suggest a focus on the community, and I don't mean accepting their stories on Wortman as 'evidence' of his guilt or fitness-of-mind or not, but treating them, too, as though they might not be as credible as the investigators of this horrendous tragedy would like them to be. Liking should not translate to 'credibility'. Rather, investigators should attempt to be objective and to keep in mind that when such a tragedy happens, evidence of the sort that shows the killer in a good light may well be kept hidden. No one wants to support the bad guy at a time like this. Mr Wortman was known to be a caring and community-minded denturist in his working community and among those who knew him in that role. But community is often set apart from a person's work-life. It doesn't mean that Wortman should be labelled 'injustice-collector' because those in the business of psychology see him as such. 
A perspective taken from the discipline of Sociology might be better at undoing some of the falsehoods of this perspective, and the very one-sided blame on one man, similar, in fact, to the moral culpability of the tragedy of the Montreal massacre of 1989, during which killings were committed by Marc Lepine, for reasons that were distorted and attempted to be hidden from Canadians.

Seeking to explain Nova Scotia shootings: Inside the 'threat-sensitive brain'  
by Michael MacDonald·
The Canadian Press·
Posted: Jun 08, 2020 7:25 AM AT | Last Updated: June 8

 ‘Dangerous Instincts’: FBI profiler explains the dangers of that ‘nice’ neighbor
By Monica Hesse 
October 24, 2011

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