Adolescent Rebellion as “Mental Illness”

At Vice, Molly Crabapple gives an ex-goth girl’s take on “Shooter Boys and At-Risk Girls.”

Only she does not really explain the school-shooter phenomenon, though she tries to transition into it at the end. Still, the rest of the essay is excellent.

In the post-Sandy Hook rage to blame anything (guns, video games, internet-addicted youth) the easiest thing to blame is always the kid who fails at the blankly inoffensive ideals of childhood. This 16-year-old drew a glove shooting flames. The police searched his house. They found the sort of gutted machines that hint at a proclivity for engineering. He was arrested on December 18, and was still in juvenile hall when papers ran the story on the 28th.

A few weeks later, 17-year-old Courtni Webb was thrown out of school in California. A teacher searched her bag, and found a poem she had written for herself, that showed too much empathy for Adam Lanza. When you’re underage, your property isn’t private. Neither are your thoughts.

I think of these kids because I was one of them . . . .

Like many smart kids, I had age dysmorphia. In my head, I was ready for adventures. In the world, I couldn’t hang out alone at Starbucks. What the guidance councilor didn’t want to remember is that childhood is helplessness. Schools, sometimes benevolently, sometimes not, have power over their students that most American adults will never experience unless they are in a hospital, old age home, institution or prison.

And there is a Wicca reference too, in a 1990s pop-cultural context. Read the rest.