Local psychologist reflects on Aurora theater shooting

By: Allison Harris Email
By: Allison Harris Email

SHERMAN, TEXAS -- Many of us have heard before that just giving someone a smile, or taking time to listen to a friend, can make a difference in that person's life. A local psychologist says just those gestures could prevent someone struggling emotionally from reacting violently.

Austin College psychology professor Jill Schurr, Ph.D, says that to prevent tragedies like the Colorado theater shooting from happening in the future, a little empathy can go a long way.

"Just communicating that empathy that we understand as a fellow human that life is hard and give them just that little bit of support and acknowlegement can make a difference," Schurr said.

The shooting is being talked about around the world. Schurr says that it also should be discussed in Texoma homes.

"It's important for parents to, as honestly as they can, answer questions that kids have. Sometimes that means talking about things that make us uncomfortable," Schurr said.

Schurr says that when you do sit down to talk about the shooting, don't focus solely on why it happened.

"Rather than focusing on that 'why,' thinking about how can we move forward in a way that makes it less likely that something like this is going to happen again," Schurr said.

A Sherman brother and sister say their family already sat down to talk about the Aurora shooting.

"Just somebody wanted to do something bad," Alondra Ramirez said.

"That person just did it for no reason," Alonso Ramirez said.

Alonso says their conversation had an impact on him to be more kind to others, starting with his big sister.

"I'll be kind to this little girl right here," Alonso said, looking at his sister.

If you or someone you know might be in need of mental health support, Schurr suggests seeking help. Do a simple search engine search to learn about psychologists or psychiatrists in the area.

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  • by Steve Location: Denison on Jul 24, 2012 at 12:23 PM
    I try to be a kind and compassionate human being to everyone, but, since that obviously doesn't always work, I carry a pistol.
  • by Anonymous on Jul 24, 2012 at 10:12 AM
    One can feel empathy and shoot back at the same time. For whatever reason, nobody did.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jul 24, 2012 at 04:16 PM in reply to
      Maybe because conceal carry is illegal in Aurora?
  • by Joey Location: Denison on Jul 23, 2012 at 09:17 PM
    Once again, the rednecks can read, but not understand that which they read. The professor wasn't talking about displaying empathy toward those who do evil. She was talking about showing empathy to those who appear troubled as a means to perhaps prevent them from taking the leap to commit evil acts. You know, the "golden rule". It ain't psycho babble. It's common decency toward your fellow man. Of course, if you prefer, just treat everyone around you as trash, think only of yourself, beat your kids to a pulp, and make the world a better place upon your exit.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jul 24, 2012 at 06:04 AM in reply to Joey
      Oh, I think this redneck understood completely. If you are kinder, gentler, understanding and coddle the poor little things when they rebel and do antisocial things, they won't do bad things to us. It's OUR fault!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jul 24, 2012 at 06:49 AM in reply to Joey
      Why can't everyone be as smart as you Joey?
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jul 24, 2012 at 07:28 AM in reply to Joey
      Well Joey, I guess there is no end to the mights and maybes. All are focused on prevention. A little empathy can go a long way. Only an idiot would argue with the golen rule. The good doctor believes parents should set down with their children and discuss these things. To many children don't have any or near enough contact with their parents for this to be viable. And then there are those parents who are way to busy and have no knowledge of parental resposibilities. Pay attention. Ossie and Harriet, Father knows best, ect.. are history. Rednecks tend to be realist. I guess you won't be able to see any resemblence to the Sandusky ordeal and this one. I don't think anyone should beat their kids to a pulp. Enableing behavoir is real. These people are not trash. Tough love is a phycho babble phrase. Cultural standards start with individual standards. These standards (golden rule) are either learned or rejected. When compromised, enableing behavior results. Have a nice day!
    • reply
      by Joie on Jul 24, 2012 at 07:48 AM in reply to Joey
      Most sane individuals are incapable of displaying or feeling EMPATHY towards a mass murder. Sympathy, maybe, but not EMPATHY.
      • reply
        by Joey on Jul 24, 2012 at 07:51 PM in reply to Joie
        Are you really that dense?!?! No one is suggesting displaying empathy toward a mass murderer!!! The point being made is that folks may be prevented from ever committing mass murders if those around them recognized signs of trouble, and took the time to offer help, guidnace, friendship, referrals to professionals..like a doctor for someone who appears is suffering from depression, for example. Of course it starts with being better parents, friends and neighbors. I say this not to offer or provide excuses for terrible behavior, but almost everyone has been touched by someone in their lives who spoke a few words or uttered an encouraging phrase that ended up making a positive difference in our lives...perhaps significantly changing our lives and redirecting us along a positive path. I don't know when, why or how this guy started spiraling down the evil path he chose, but maybe if someone around him had been more aware, or even somewhat interested, he may have been diverted away from performing his horrible acts.
        • reply
          by high horse on Jul 25, 2012 at 07:21 AM in reply to Joey
          I doubt this guys problem was a lack of encouragement or lack of cuddles. If he gave off indications of illness and he was unwilling or unable to seek help, there is nothing that anyone could have done to help him. I'm not going to blame people who knew him for not stopping him because society gives them no tools to do so and every reason to stay out of it. Let's just tell the truth. Prior to the 80's you had far fewer deranged walking around in public. That changed, not because the mean old Ronald Reagan cut off funding for mental health as is the preferred narrative of the Left, but because of the ACLU and the Supreme Court that made it much more difficult to involuntarily commit people. Before, police could pick someone up off the street or in response to a concerned citizen's report, take them to the county mental health official who could then keep them confined for treatment or just keep them confined to keep them from eating someone's face. Try that today and you will be sued and possibly charged. Now they have to wait until some heinous crime is committed. If this guy gave off indications of mental illness and someone had called and reported him, that person could be sued. Had the police picked him up prior to no crime having been committed, they could be sued. If they did commit a crime they could not be held beyond what is normal practice for such crimes. They can't be forced to take medication. If a Dr. thought the person a danger, it is almost impossible to have that person confined and to try would get that Dr. sued. Getting involved has become illegal. All this concern over gun laws would be better directed towards methods by which such people can be taken off the streets and kept off the street for the good of everyone.
        • reply
          by I'm here for you, Joey on Jul 25, 2012 at 08:42 AM in reply to Joey
          Joey, you clearly think you are an intelligent person with insight not available to most of those expressing an opinion. But how do you know that no one tried to offer this punk guidance, friendship, referred him to a professional? Do you have some source of info not widely available to the rest of us or are do you hear voices in your head that tell you things? Take a moment, Buddy. We all love and care for you. We are not your enemy. There are people out there you can help you with those voices and your irrational ideas you express so freely. Is that what you mean?
        • reply
          by John Q on Jul 25, 2012 at 12:08 PM in reply to Joey
          Go and re-read the last sentence of your reply. ..."the evil path he chose".. NOW do you get it?? No amount of empathy,sympathy,kind words, guidance, or anything else anyone could have done can change what he himself CHOSE of his own free will to do. He CHOSE to kill the innocent regardless of their age. As far as I am concerned he can't be executed fast enough.
        • reply
          by Joey on Jul 27, 2012 at 06:51 AM in reply to Joey
          Look, I don't know how many cuddles or how much attention THIS PARTICULAR GUY did or did not receive. It's not about THIS GUY, although it would be refreshing to actually learn something from this incident. This guy has already done his thing. Rather it's about the NEXT GUY. I would submit that folks who commit horrible acts do not live in a vacuum. They are influenced positively or negatively by those around them. They aren't destined from birth to commit these acts. You can go on with a bunch of hogwash about the ACLU, the supreme court, prayer in school, the threat of being sued (SUED?!?!), and any number of excuses that fit into your narrow view of human behavior. However, you may hear common threads that often run through these stories of those who commit these acts: Many include phrases like, he seemed to be a normal guy, he came from a good christian family, he was always quiet and kept to himself, I never would have dreamed he would have done something like this, I remember him as a child signing in the church choir, he was such a smart boy...along with but I remember one time after his father passed that he...or I noticed lately he began to...etc. The attitudes expressed in this thread suggest many folks have everything all figured out. Well then, all I can say is get used to it. All we as a society can do is kill or incarcerate those who commit these acts, and there is nothing that can be done to prevent the kid next store from growing up to be the next mass murderer. Then you too can get your 15 mins of fame along with him by telling the camera, he was such a quiet boy, he sang in the church choir, I thought about reaching out to him, but I was afraid I might get sued.
        • reply
          by high horse on Jul 27, 2012 at 11:51 AM in reply to Joey
          Yes, SUED! It's happened many times that persons filed suit to be released from involuntary psychiatric custody and then sued the Dr. who signed the order to have them committed. If you don't know any more than that on the subject, why go to such lengths to discuss it? Google it and you will see a couple hundred million in lawsuits on the first page alone! The fact is it is extremely difficult to make someone get help or to get them off the streets until after they have broken the law. So all of your blaming of the uninvolved and heartless who are really to blame is moot.
  • by Billy Bob Thornton Location: @Windom on Jul 23, 2012 at 04:38 PM
    The PRO_FESOOR is right, just talk kind to them and give them prozak, and ambien, and apologize for their parents misgivings,but most of all tell them how sorry you are for their miserable life....and then step on them like the scorpion they are, and kill them!
  • by Anonymous on Jul 23, 2012 at 08:34 AM
    I know a guy who is 30 something. Has fathered 5 children with 3 different women. Has a new girlfriend. Drawing SSI and can't hold a job. Goes to counceling 3 days a week. Fishes and plays video games otherwise. Is he a scorpion?
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jul 23, 2012 at 08:49 AM in reply to
      If you are asking does he deserve empathy? I doubt it, but has he in engaged in violent acts against others? If so, I would put him in the 'scorpion' category. Otherwise he sounds like more of a parasite---let's call him a chigger. (and before the PC get up in arms, a chigger is a tiny blood sucking parasite). You can't stomp on a chigger, but you can deny him access to sustenance gained from the life's blood of others.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Jul 23, 2012 at 08:21 PM in reply to
        But what do you call morons who make up stories about "a guy I know". Oh, yeah. They're called Republicans.
        • reply
          by Anonymouse on Jul 24, 2012 at 07:33 AM in reply to
          and the morons who make up stories about "a good guy who was raised in a disadvantaged household and never meant to harm anyone, so we should give him hugs and money and lots of support, because it wasn't his fault and we can't hold him responsible for anything he did". Oh, yeah. They're called Democrats.
    • reply
      by Anonymoose on Jul 23, 2012 at 10:36 AM in reply to
      Sounds more like a tick to me...
    • reply
      by Billy Bob Thornton on Jul 23, 2012 at 04:39 PM in reply to
      Yea he is!
  • by Anonymous on Jul 23, 2012 at 06:37 AM
    I think a lot of time needs to be spent on enableing behavior. Most perps have been forgiven for bad behavoir time and time again. I suscribe to spare the rod, spoil the child. Barriers and boundaries need to be established early. Compromise has minimized any level of functional decipline. Parents can go to jail for corporal punishment of their own children. Psycho babblers have convinced politicians that the state can take better care of young people if they will just appropriate enough tax dollars to hire the councelors and build the facilities. Moms, Dads, marriage, and families are old news. We have decided to let public institutions set standards. We are suffering for it! Stomp it out like you would a scorpion and move on without regret for having done so.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jul 23, 2012 at 07:14 AM in reply to
      Man, I could not have said it better! This post and the previous post hit the nail on the head. There always has and always will be evil. Period! I get angry when the democrats start using this tragedy for their gun control agenda to disarm the honest citizens. When that happens, people like this guy couldn't care less and will get illegals guns and carry out their plan. The only difference is that NO ONE in society will be able to protect themselves any longer fom violent agreesion. I wonder why the congressman always EXEMPT THEMSELVES from these laws they want to push down our throats? Regardless, if you take away guns, people like this will have them. If not, they will stab people in teh dark, one at a time, until they are caught. Again, evil exists and there is no stopping it, especially in showing empathy for it! This is about the response I would expect from a true liberal!
      • reply
        by Willie on Jul 23, 2012 at 08:18 PM in reply to
        The biggest fuss I've heard about "gun control" is coming from all the right wing folks, imagining that the "Liberals" are all trying to take our guns. There have only been a couple of Democratic politicians mentioning this imaginary fear that the Republicans and the NRA keep filling their heads with. Gotta keep the kooks scared. There has not been a single gun control bill make it's way through Congress since Obama took office. And even if some Democratic Senator or Representative were to introduce such a bill, it would never make it to a vote. If any kind of bill that would even come close to confiscating guns from Americans were to be put up for a vote, it wouldn't get more than a dozen (If that many) votes. Of course, none of that matters to the far right wackos who are dumb enough to let the NRA and their masters at Fox News, talk radio and nut-job websites, scare them with the kind of garbage they know their listeners will believe.
        • reply
          by Wylie on Jul 23, 2012 at 08:25 PM in reply to Willie
          "far right wackos who are dumb enough to let the NRA and their masters at Fox News, talk radio and nut-job websites, scare them with the kind of garbage they know their listeners will believe." And what of the far left wackos who are dumb enough to let DC, Chicago and NY mayors and their masters at the NY Times, NPR and the nut-job websites, scare them with the kind of garbage they know THEIR listeners will believe? The rims of the bell curve ring the loudest.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Jul 24, 2012 at 06:00 AM in reply to Willie
          Have you noticed how even the most Left are only calling only slightly more restrictive laws? Because the 'right wing nuts' won on the issue years ago. It isn't because they don't want to take away guns from the public, it's because they know they can't.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Jul 24, 2012 at 06:53 AM in reply to Willie
          Nothing imaginary Willie except the fantasy world you live in. People like you will be the most shocked when the democrats try to take your guns away. You can live in denial, but, all the while, Obama is working on the international gun treaty. Hilary is 100% behind it as well. It would basically disarm all honest people. The saddest part is it has nothing to do with stopping gun violence, the pretense they base their actions on, and they know it. Lucky for them there are people like you who don't understand what they are doing and will support them up until the day they get a knock on the door from the US Gustavo!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jul 23, 2012 at 07:58 AM in reply to
      That was a little odd, lifting phrases directly from others in the same comment thread.
    • reply
      by John Q on Jul 25, 2012 at 11:59 AM in reply to
      Parents do not go to jail for "corporal punishment" of their own children. You might want to read Chapter 151.001 of the Texas Family Code. Sec. 151.001. RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF PARENT. (a) A parent of a child has the following rights and duties: (e) Only the following persons may use corporal punishment for the reasonable discipline of a child: (1) a parent or grandparent of the child; (2) a stepparent of the child who has the duty of control and reasonable discipline of the child; and (3) an individual who is a guardian of the child and who has the duty of control and reasonable discipline of the child. The majority of parents do not want the responsibility of disciplining their children and would much prefer that "Big Brother" took care of that for them.
  • by Anonymous on Jul 22, 2012 at 08:35 PM
    How about just acknowledging that these things happen and always have? It isn't guns, it isn't culture, it isn't the media. There are a very small number of people in the world moved to do evil things and there is little that can be done to prevent it, but you can make yourself prepared in the tiny chance that it comes your way. Displaying empathy for evil only enables it, gives others so inclined an excuse to follow in the same path. Stomp it out like you would a scorpion and move on without regret for having done so.
  • by Texas NDN Location: Denison on Jul 22, 2012 at 06:34 PM
    Giving that empathy is all good & well I think Dr. Schurr is forgetting one very important thing. That being that not everyone is capable of seeing or trained to see sociopathy or psycopathy in others. You can't put that burden on people who don't know. All it does is create guilt when they DON'T see it & something happens.
    • reply
      by just me on Jul 22, 2012 at 06:56 PM in reply to Texas NDN
      I agree, we cant feel guilty for all the bad that people in the world do and some people are just plain evil and no matter what you do they are going to do what they want because they have no respect for other human lives.
      • reply
        by Texas NDN on Jul 22, 2012 at 08:53 PM in reply to just me
        You got it, Just Me. The evil is there & all we can do is pray that we stay safe from it. All guilt does is keep us so tied up emotionally that we don't see that evil when it comes.
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