Roundup: Psychic numbing, false feeling of hopelessness found behind U.S. gun violence

NEW DELHI, June 17– The disturbing truth of “psychic numbing” and “false feeling of hopelessness” has been dug out behind the raging gun violence in the United States, according to an article published by the Indian daily newspaper Deccan Herald. Paul Slovic, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon, has found the possible reasons why there was no major push…

NEW DELHI, June 17 (Xinhua) — The disturbing truth of “psychic numbing” and “false feeling of hopelessness” has been dug out behind the raging gun violence in the United States, according to an article published by the Indian daily newspaper Deccan Herald.

Dr. Paul Slovic, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon, has found the possible reasons why there was no major push for gun safety legislation amid the country’s rampant gun violence.

As Slovic has written previously, “Through my research, I’ve learned something disturbing — and that is, ‘The more who die, the less we care.'” In fact, as more people die, humans can experience a “compassion collapse.”

He also pointed out is that a political dynamic has been operating alongside the basic human psychology when it comes to gun control debate in the United States.

“There are some people who are so aggrieved in our society that they don’t care about the violence,” said the professor, who has studied popular indifference to genocide and other mass atrocities in the country. “They want their guns to protect themselves,” he was quoted as saying in the article published on June 11.

When there are mass shootings like the one in Uvalde, it “wakes us up, and we’re charged up and we want to do something,” Slovic explained. “If we see something that we can do, then we’ll do it. But, if we feel ineffective, then after a while we turn it off because it’s painful to keep watching these stories if we think nothing is going to change.”

Slovic warned that Uvalde has created a window of opportunity for taking actions against gun violence, but it would close.

“In fact, the opponents of action, I contend, will use the inevitability of that window closing as an important battle strategy, in the same way that Republicans in the Senate drew out police reform negotiations until the passions around the topic cooled and they could walk away with little to no political damage,” said Charles M. Blow, an American columnist who wrote the article.

Slovic also took an example from the recent 1 million American deaths from the pandemic. “How did you feel when there were a million (deaths)? Did you feel any different (from 900,000 deaths)? Probably not. Our feelings are insensitive to the numbers, and so in that sense the statistics of the deaths round off.”

From COVID-19 to the insurrection to mass shootings, psychic numbing and helplessness are working against accountability and change in the United States, said the article.

In 2020, there were more than 45,000 gun deaths in the United States — the highest number on record, the article cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as saying. “But there was no major push for gun safety legislation. Why?”

Last year, there were nearly 700 mass shootings in America — the highest number ever recorded by the Gun Violence Archive, the article continued. “And again, there was no major push for gun legislation. Why?”

“Washington must act quickly to pass gun safety legislation — senators are reportedly in talks about a few narrow measures — or else our society will once again grow numb to the carnage,” said the article. Enditem

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