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The Mind of Michael Slater

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posted on Apr, 11 2015 @ 11:54 AM
We really, really, one day need to make psychology a regular part of a school curriculum.

First, I want to make clear some points that others haven't made, at least not with the type of logic that I would see as important.

Michael Slater MURDERED Walter Scott - that much is overwhelmingly undeniable: and why is that? It's simple. When someone ORIENTS their body away from you, they are no longer a threat. This is the point. Yes - running away - this is how we usually call it, means they aren't a threat. But it needs to be explained further, as a very elementary force of logic, that turning away from someone and moving in the opposite direction deprives you of all that you would need - vision, motor skills, etc - to pose a direct threat.

Could something happen? In the slightest chance in hell that he had a gun, yes. But coulda's mean nothing compared to probability. Probability is LOGIC. And so, if this police officer doesn't get 2nd degree murder - at the very least - I would be completely supportive of whatever public backlash ensues.

But that isn't my point. My point is how naive people are - even in a day and age where the human mind is being understood at the cognitive, emotional and physiological level - at what obviously happened - NEEDED TO HAPPEN - for Michael Slater to respond as he did.

This issue is strange because of the dash cam video that shows Slater - and Scott - behaving rather amicably towards one another. This situation - and way of being - expressed by the two of them forces us to consider "self-state" and "dissociative process" as the basis for Michael Slaters inexplicable move from cordial police stop to a completely unjustified murder of another human being.

Consider his mind state - imaginatively - so you can appreciate what seems to have been going on.

Scott runs, and in all probability, this PISSED OFF Michael Slater. Since we do not know what happened in between Scotts running and Slaters shooting him - although there appears to have been some sort of scuffle - we can assume that nothing truly life threatening occurred to Slater for him to have felt - justifiably - that his life was at risk.

Parenthetically, when we talk about a "threat to life", this isn't a matter of subjectivity - it CANNOT BE - other peoples life are at risk in this matter, so it cannot be reduced in such a way, especially when we can establish basic OBJECTIVE rubrics that every police officer needs to follow in order to establish - veridically - that indeed, they could die if they do not make use of their pistol.

But this was absolutely in no plausible sense the case. What appears to have happened - prior to the shooting - was an intense shift in Michael Slaters mind into a sadistic mental state which endorsed the notion of taking out his gun and shooting Walter Scott. This, I imagine, was a moment of intense sadism. Yes, the word sadism - as Freud rightly noted - is basic to human cognition. We all engage from time to time in sadistic thoughts and feelings, as well as their converse - masochism. But few of us would be tempted to believe that we could pull out a gun and express our sadistic hatred - momentarily felt - in such a fatal act as shooting another human being.

The real mystery - which I hear again and again from moderators and commentators - is Slaters apparent 'cavalierness'. This is an understandable confusion for the laymen, but for traumatologists this is a possible response to a psychological trauma. Why didn't Slater attend to Walter Scott immediately - as he should have - after he shot him? Simple. He was SHOCKED at what he did. This apparent incongruity between the act and his response is called 'dissociation' - a dissociative process is clearly at play here which kept - and appears to be keeping - Michael Slaters mind from consciously experiencing what he did. From the moment he fired the bullets to his casual stroll to Walter Scotts dying body, he never quite accepts - at a visceral level - that he did something terribly wrong. Obviously, this process is an unconscious defense against the anxiety and fear which will arise if he acknowledges the nature of his terrible action. He Can't think of it - or at least wont think of it, and so, appears 'cavalier'.

We also get this sign when he's in police cuffs and speaking to the judge. His voice is normal - not even a hint of depressiveness in it's tonality. Which, again indicates that he is still quite 'shocked' - not yet 'accepting reality' - that he's a murderer, that he will likely spend the rest of his life in jail, and that his two step children and the 'one on the way', will likely grow up without him as their father.

What could have caused this intense shift in awareness? Since all mental states are dialogically connected to what happened before, perhaps some stress - at home? work? - led to a 'tipping point' in his mind that resulted in this enormously impetuous action.

In summary, what were seeing in Michael Slaters behavior is a paradoxical effect of PTSD. Sometimes the effect is anxiety, and dissociation, and other times the effect is far more strange - apathy, as if nothing 'really happened'. Clearly, for Slater, he was aware enough to know - at least cognitively (that is, not emotionally) that he did something wrong and so attempted to plant evidence on Michael Scotts dead body. But it would be wrong to assume, based on this apparent cognitive lucidity, that he was in a 'rational state of mind' after the incident. For example, I was a bit bemused as to how, while being taped - something I think he was implicitly aware of - he continued doing what he was doing. Casually, "Cavalierly". And this interpretation - of an unconscious 'need to avoid recognizing what he did' - is made more credible by his bizarre non-chalance before the judge.

posted on Apr, 11 2015 @ 12:13 PM
The problem is that people can't handle the truth. It wasn't even 70 years ago that white people where freely killing black people and badly mistreating them for hundreds of year, deceiving them which they still do that. Now we supposed to believe that overnight it changed, yes we see some have been reprogrammed, but most belong in those camps. A snake is a snake.

posted on Apr, 11 2015 @ 12:33 PM
a reply to: Astrocyte

I was encouraged by the family's comments which initially did not focus on race at all.

We must realize that this has nothing to do with racism and everything to do with abuse of power. Bullies will always target the weakest and least able to defend themselves which in most cases are minorities and the poor.

My impression is simply that we have criminalized civil infractions to the point of absurdity. For an officer to be pulling over someone for a tail light is in and of itself a corruption of the original intent of public security services. To then shoot him as he runs away is the shocking but inevitable result of such criminally irresponsible policy.

Reduce, reallocate, restore.

posted on Apr, 11 2015 @ 05:10 PM
His last name is "Slager". I remember because when I read the story I wondered if his name came from the German "schlager" which means "to beat, hit or strike".

And my guess is that Mr. Slager grew up with at least one parent who was a control freak who meted out harsh punishments for tiny infractions.


a reply to: Astrocyte

edit on 11-4-2015 by SallieSunshine because: ; )

posted on Apr, 11 2015 @ 08:20 PM
a reply to: SallieSunshine

That would indeed be a plausible etiology!

We learn how "to be" by how others were with us.

Of course, I'm not saying he doesn't deserve prison time for this. But we should all try to stay aware of the very human lapse of judgement that happened here: he got angry and failed to "become aware" and then "restrain himself".

posted on Apr, 11 2015 @ 08:27 PM
a reply to: greencmp

I agree with your points, but take this one, as I think is the crux of the matter.

How desperately are people trying to avoid self-awareness when the only considered 'solution' to police brutality (and there is another disgusting case of police brutality in the San Bernadino beating of a white man) is to strap police with cameras.

Don't get me wrong: the camera idea is a very good one. But we could go a step further by TEACHING POLICE OFFICERS mindfulness techniques to deal with the times when they feel compelled to shoot someone, kick someone in the face, or the balls, or some other inhumane misuse of power.

Mindfulness needs to become an aspect of police training. This naivete assumed by our society, that police officers are "good people", just because, just like anyone else...etc. This naivete needs to be addressed, as EVERYONE of us possesses the capacity to be evil, and to do evil.

The only real defense against succumbing to the urge is to possess the epistemological wherewithal (knowing how to deal with) to both recognize, and to restrain yourself.

What clearly went wrong in this case is that an opposing voice never entered his head to say "wait!"

posted on Apr, 11 2015 @ 08:39 PM
a reply to: Astrocyte

I would be delighted if all law enforcement read Thich Nhat Hanh and the Tao but, I think the only way to correct for abuse of power is to remove the power that is being abused. It just doesn't work to try to change human nature.

"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty. In politics the middle way is none at all."

-John Adams

posted on Apr, 11 2015 @ 09:31 PM
a reply to: greencmp

It just doesn't work to try to change human nature.

I completely disagree.

Contemporary psychology, behavioral science, genetics and neuroscience gives us very good reason to believe that the human nervous is VERY able to learn and to change, but of course it isn't easy, as history shows us.

What we see in police abuse is a feedback loop: CULTURE, essentially, IS a feedback loop.

Systems theory is giving all of us, all of the scientific community, a means to understand JUST HOW these feedback loops are established.

You know that Bruce Hornsy song "thats just the way it is"? Heed the wisdom of the second part "but don't you believe them". It turns out Bruce was right.

To fix society we need to fix education. To fix education, we need to fix society. The solution, absolutely, is not libertarianism (as that would leave the issue at the status quo), but rather, to use the knowledge that we have gained (which have never had before in human history) and apply it to our educational systems.

I was once a libertarian - and indeed, my bookshelf is filled with Hayek and Friedman and other libertarian thinkers - but this was before a career change. In the last 3 or 4 years, I have been studying at the University of Toronto, have immersed myself in psychoanalysis, systems theory, social theory, theoretical biology, traumatology, anthropology and the neurosciences: what you see as "unchangeable", I see as eminently changeable.

What is a human being other a process? The question is, what kind of process? All organisms are, as the palentologist Niles Eldgridge calls them "eternal ephemera". These ephemera are repositories of a certain kind of cognitive knowledge: what an animal IS - it's body - is a function of what it does.

For the last two years, since discovering "epigenetics", I have been amazed at how unbelievably versatile the human nervous system is.

First, what is the nervous system? When we talk about human behavior, were talking about what people think, feel, and do: and all of this happens IN the brain. So its important to know something about the organ of our cognitive, affective and enactive BEING, if were going to make political pronouncements - such as Hayeks pessimism, albeit one justified by the thoroughly ignorant - and patriachal - implementation of social policy - about what is possible for human beings.

I work in traumatology so I know a lot about what human beings are capable of. And there is nothing more inspiring to both help people change (that is, to help facilitate change) and then to contemplate, what exactly is happening in their brains?

But of course the dialectics of the process of change are tremendously subtle: and this is precisely what previous social revolutions never worked: it tried to FORCE change - and that, obviously, is an asinine, uniquely patriachal way of pursuing change.

The therapeutic context is a very good analogy for the change process, both between the working therapist (who is changed by his work with his client) and the client themselves. What matters, ultimately, is the mirroring: how what happens in you is related to what happens in me. Did any socialist revolution ever consider empathy in their argument? Of course not. It was FORCE and FORCE alone that entered their minds. Not surprisingly, it wasn't long lasting.

You may not be noticing (or maybe you are) but society is already undergoing a change process, partly through the influence of social policy, and partly the influence of the market. A big element in this change process is gender: how power and the abuse of power seems more a foible of the testosterone fueled (and distracting) male brain than the female brain. And this would make sense, as the difference between the male human experience and the female human experience hinges on the subject of pregnancy, and later on, attachment. In short, intersubjectivity - empathy - mutual recognition of one for another mind - is more natural for woman than it is for man. And so a big part of 'healing mankind' of our historical traumas is to help women into positions of power in business and government, at least on par with men (50%). The beginnings of such a change is already underway in Europe, which mandated (this being a good use of social power) that by 2016 that 40% of European executive boards be made up of women.

Anywho, if you're interested, I'll have more to write later.

posted on Apr, 11 2015 @ 10:15 PM
a reply to: Astrocyte

A very lucid and heartfelt articulation, I appreciate the careful consideration of my argument short as it was.

Of course, I disagree with all attempts to manipulate individuals to behave according to a predetermined plan. People thrive when they are allowed to be free and they do not thrive when they are not allowed to be free. The current experiment in social engineering is not only ill conceived but, the scope of the experiment and its failure threaten to dissolve what advancements in cultural evolution that I presume you approve of.

It isn't just wrong it is destructive to society.

I think the missing factor in your larger analysis is economics, it is not simply a matter of what should be when we discuss the foibles of human nature but, rather, it truly is about what is. In this case, we are talking about the propensity of humans to abuse power. I make the case that power is always abused so power must be kept to a bare minimum.

I believe that you have the best of intentions and that is what concerns me the most. I am delighted that you recognize that totalitarianism will not achieve your goal but, you seem to be suggesting that a more gradual, or what what I might call insidious, handling of the design will produce your desired result.

Human Action by Ludwig von Mises is probably the place to start if you are interested in what I consider to be the most complete explanation of human behavior as it relates to economics and society.
edit on 11-4-2015 by greencmp because: (no reason given)

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