Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Human Mind; The Good, The Bad, The Very Ugly

When things go very right in a human brain, and I mean when things go as absolutely right as they can go, you wind up with a masterpiece painting, or a symphony, or some astrophysics thesis that changes the way we view the universe. Any political process that refuses to acknowledge the power of one individual to make that incredible leap is doomed to failure. As a whole, as a species, we have to be ready to recognize this when we see it, or we may very well lose what is offered to us in genius.
Imagine the human mind as some sort of disjointed effort made by the various parts of the human brain. The parts of the brain that compose the mind must somehow get the human body connected to it to feed, clothe, and house itself, and then it has to establish relationships with other minds, and then after all of that, it has time to consider how to launch a space shuttle and bring it back to earth again. Meanwhile, the body has to be maintained well enough for vision, sight, hearing, and automatic functions to do so. It does not always operate smoothly and in some cases the entire system cascades into disaster in ways most of us cannot comprehend.
A woman in Texas is in jail after decapitating, disemboweling, and partially eating her infant son. Afflicted with schizophrenia, post partum depression, and likely something far worse, this human’s brain went wrong, and went wrong hard. Houston, we have a problem, and this time failure is not only an option, but a seriously horrible outcome. We, as a species, as a society, as a people, are as ill prepared to deal with this sort of thing, as we are a child prodigy, or some new form of genius. The answers we have always held for this sort of thing have yet to prevent it from happening again and again.

Otty Sanchez, 33, is charged with capital murder in the death of her son, Scott Wesley Buchholtz-Sanchez. San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said that Sanchez apparently ate the child's brain and some other body parts before stabbing herself.
Woman kills infant

It’s curious the woman claims to have been told to do this by “the Devil”. The last Texan mother to kill her children claimed she wanted to “give them to God”. Is this some sort of odd copycat type excuse, or does mental illness lend itself more towards supernatural explanations? It would be easy, and a cop out, to ascribe this sort of behavior as evil. It is one individual’s brain coming apart at the seams, and the human mind’s attempt at making sense of the very confusing signals it is getting.
It’s easier to get to the heart of went when wrong if we can only step away from assigning blame or motives. Regardless of whether or not the woman goes to jail, or a mental hospital, the what went wrong and why it went wrong still remains. The part where something might have been done has not been explored. The idea this is preventable in some way that doesn’t involve blaming someone for not doing their job will not be considered.
The idea that we are all just a chemical imbalance away from infanticide is repugnant to almost everyone. The reality of the situation is we cannot comprehend the crime, and therefore we illogically assume what happened is evil, or an act of malice. But we must understand the human mind which cannot comprehend the act is also a human mind that is not affected as the mind of the person who killed and ate part of her son.

If this all sounds as if I’m leading up to releasing this woman back into society as soon as we fix her that is not at all what I’m trying to say. Clearly, we do not understand what happened and it certainly behooves us to know why the human mind does this. Yet we cannot trust ourselves to repair the damage to the point she is no longer a threat to us, or herself. Were we truly passionate about punishing the woman we would cure her, and make her mind whole again. Can you imagine the horror of realization she would have?
I suspect in the end we will warehouse her, drug her, and keep her chemically balanced enough to not be a threat to anyone else. We simply are not prepared to deal with this sort of human mind, no more than we are prepared to deal with the mind of a genius. When something horrible, or something wonderful, appears in our midst, we tend to try to kill it or hide it. Very rarely to we learn from it, and even more rarely, do we understand that in all of us, lies both the horror, and the wonder.

Take Care,


  1. That was an example of the brain going very, very right. When I hear these stories I always think about how desperate the mother must have been before the event. Was no one 'seeing her, noticing her. What happened to push her to a place where this seems reasonable? I am also not saying she should be absolved but agree that 'fixing' her would be the most horrific punishment.

  2. I never know what to think of these events. I'm not sure how you begin to study this type of case, although I wish they would. Like you say, she'll probably be "warehoused" and drugged beyond reason for the next several decades. And while that keeps her potential future children from facing a similar fate, how does that really help society?

    On the other hand, what more can you do when a person's only defense is "the Devil made me do it"?

  3. Bits,

    She was one medication so someone, somewhere, knew she had problems. Shouldn't there be laws against crzy people having babies?

  4. Karen,

    I simply have no answers this time.

  5. I've said it a million times. You have to pass tests to have a license to drive, a license to serve food and to give someone a haircut. You should have to pass some kind of tests and obtain a license to have a kid.

  6. This is a failure on a scale of the likes that takes the breath away, DJ