Regardless of my thoughts on the judgment, the post-verdict conversations I’ve had in the past 24 hours over social media, in person, and on the radio have been nothing short of stimulating, including those spurred by my article Casey Anthony: Where Evil Comes From.
Of the many words exchanged, one deeply important theme has risen above the rest: the difference between externalizing and internalizing our anger, soul-sickness, trauma, and fear. The idea is this: some people send their sickness out to others, committing acts of violence both physically and emotionally, and some send it inwards towards themselves committing acts of violence both physically and emotionally. The question is: what’s the difference?
This conversation, though inspired by the Casey Anthony trial, is about so much more. There are countless examples of those who take the disowned and uncovered mold growing from within themselves and try their hardest, understandably, to rid themselves of it. They send it to others to hold in the form of horrid and hurtful words, despicable actions, and appalling treatment. This externalization of inner issues knows no boundaries and can be seen in actions ranging from simply being a hostile person, to cheating, bullying, lying, or even worse, the heinous acts of rape and murder.
Then there are those people who take that same disowned and uncovered mold growing from within themselves and they re-direct it inwards. They drink it up in massive quantities of alcohol, then get in their car and drive. They abuse their own bodies by cutting their skin, throwing up their food, or refusing to eat. They snort it, shop it, eat it, or orgasm the pain away for as long as is sustainable.
There are people like Heidi Pratt, who was recently quoted as saying that she works out 14 hours a day to keep up her post multiple-plastic surgery figure. She has literally diluted herself in her soul-sickness, punishing her own body as a result. Her body dysmorphic behavior is fueled by hatred and disapproval, though if she were to treat and say the exact same things to another human being as she says to herself, we wouldn’t call her a sad girl, we would demolish her in the media as we have Chris Brown.
Another example close to our media-loving home is Lindsay Lohan, who we say can’t get it together, and she’s “so stupid” for doing the things to herself that she does. Unless she gets proper and successful treatment for the seeds of sad that continue to grow like wild vines all over her life, she can either continue to send it in and kill herself slowly, or she can send it out; but if she sends that level of sick outwards, who knows what she’ll be in court for next time.
So is the difference between externalizing and internalizing our feelings as simple as one is a selfish manifestation and the other is a selfless manifestation of inner angst? Or is there more to it than that? Is committing suicide, or internalizing emotions to the point of killing one's own soul, the selfless counterpart of murder? What’s the difference between someone who kills, for example, a gay person physically vs. someone who kills them emotionally so deeply to the point that they take their own life?
Who are we to decide who the "bad" people are from the "good"? We’re not all murderers, and we don’t all have serious eating disorders, but we’re all human and we all start with the same seeds. Some get watered and some get stepped on, some grow tall and some retract. It’s not an excuse for violence nor is it a get out of jail free card, but before judging, before deciding, before pointing the finger at anyone else, ask yourself if you were to treat others in the same way you treat yourself, would society be safe?