This piece is not attempting to pass judgment on US Army psychiatrist Maj. Malik Hassan for his recent deadly outburst- but is inspired by those events.
Let me also reiterate the fact that I have little idea on whether he had jihadist motives or was simply someone who snapped.
News reports state that he was highly apprehensive of being deployed to Afghanistan; a decision he had tried to resist with everything at his disposal.
His job was believed to be highly stressful since he had to deal with the injured and returning combatants. I doubt whether these combatants had anything close to amusing to relay. Also, according to his aunt, he had suffered some form of discrimination because of his race and his religion.
What I read here, all things notwithstanding, is that Maj. Malik seems to have had some instability. His race, religion and character could not have helped the situation.
That is why I don’t believe that terrorism was his motivation. I could be wrong. I would like to focus on his job. Maj. Malik seemed to have been highly affected and stressed by his job; he clearly never dealt with it well. You may not be aware of it but some jobs are just intrinsically stressful.
If you are a bill collector, anaesthesiologist, nurse, cook, teacher or production line worker you surely must be able to relate to this. Your job has unrelenting demands, not so great pay and often unpleasant and rude customers.
Studies have proven that the human mind, when submitted to unusual levels of stress, reacts in many different ways. Some levels cause mental break-downs, while others cause chronic depression.
However, other sorts of minds, those that seem to have a stronger sense of self and determination to survive, react by aggression. Robbery, rape, assault, murder, and other violent crimes can be directly linked to stress in the subject’s everyday life.
It has been proven that being subject to large amounts of mental stress and paranoia; seems to increase the chance that one will be the perpetrator of a violent crime in the future.
Could Maj. Malik have reacted in that deadly manner in order to avoid his imagined demise?
He was an American of Arab origin. I’m sure he had to defend, explain and answer to sins and allegations not of his own. His patients were sufferers or victims of his people’s ‘sins’. Who knows what questions the returning combatants were asking him?
Were the returning combatants taking out their frustrations on him?
One can only guess.
From reports, he is said to have been quite determined not to be deployed. Probably because he felt he had heard and seen enough and was very terrified to go to the place that had caused him much stress.
What I am afraid of is that the ‘terrorist’ angle is being peddled despite clear evidence of an unstable character. I can only wonder whether he’ll be asked the right questions by his interrogators.
The author is a journalist with The New Times