The news of two videos circulating on the internet showing kittens and a dog being tortured by Malaysian youths, seemingly for fun, has caused public outrage and anguish.
What makes people do these things?
The general public may have difficulties comprehending this scenario. However, for those in the mental health profession, this is something they deal with often.
Nature or nurture? Were these torturers born like this or were they exposed to extreme cruelty during their developmental years? Or both?
Most mental health professionals will recognise abusive behaviour as mental illness and psychopathology. People who commit violent acts and display no remorse are deemed psychopaths.
This explanation does not make it any easier to find ways to get the nasty images of torture out of our minds but we need to find ways of coping.
So how does one cope? Firstly, get educated. Yes, read up on the subject matter. Try to understand what kind of people have a propensity to abusive behaviour. Read the follow-up stories in the news and see what can be and has been done.
Whilst waiting for information, practise self-care. Feeling sad at the situation and having grim thoughts about life may come naturally, but then we should act on them to address the situation.
Appreciate that the media has allowed for the public recognition and confronting of the kitten torturer. She has apologised and her mother gave reasons for her behaviour. She apparently was exposed to an abusive father and domestic violence in her childhood.
Fine, give her another chance. One suggestion during her press conference with the media was that this person undergoes psychological counselling. It may mean nothing to the kittens now but it’s a start.
One can only hope that the press coverage this incident has received will create greater public awareness of the underlying causes of cruelty to animals and prevent it from happening again.
We can only hope to create such awareness and the change that follows with it.