New theories and reality: The case of the Hungarian student

As I mentioned yesterday, theories abound about the reasons for the tragedy at the University of Pécs. Some "experts" blame the media. Others think geographically: all these "bad influences" come from the West. If only the borders were sealed or at least couldn't easily be crossed Hungary would be saved from the scourge of the western world where such murders happen. Aggression grips the country and it spreads rapidly unchecked by a government that is unable to introduce the law and order everybody is longing for.

Politicians especially love that last explanation. Surely if Fidesz-KDNP wins the elections next spring everything will be right again. No murders, no crime, no harsh words exchanged on the streets, drivers will not scream at each other and at pedestrians. An earthly paradise.

Today a new theory emerged on the pages of Népszabadság. According to the author the real problem is "the credit system." Not credit as understood by the financial world; the academic credit system, as in credit hours required for graduation. No joke! Well, let's see how Dóra Varga, a journalist covering education for Népszabadság, manages to make the credit system responsible for this murder and who knows for how many more to follow. Because it is unlikely that there will be a change in the newly introduced credit system. And as long as the credit system is in place there will be murders at universities.

According to Dóra Varga the problem is that "students, with the exception of a few introductory courses, can decide on their own which seminars they will attend and therefore it can easily happen that a student spends every hour with a different set of people." Therefore, she concludes, "friendships and relationships cannot easily develop." What a dreadful situation: a student is free to choose. Instead, I guess Dóra Varga would love to see students attend a compulsory set of classes, always with the same set of classmates.

Let's hope that those days of uniformity and lack of freedom will never return to Hungarian universities. In this particular case my guess is that most of the first-year students were enrolled in introductory courses in biology, chemistry, and physics and therefore were not "running from class to class without classmates," as Dóra Varga imagines the situation at the university.

The explanation for the tragedy is straightforward: Ákos Gere was an undiagnosed schizophrenic. After the fact two psychiatrists began working on Gere's case. They discovered that the student suffered from bouts of depression and "also heard different voices whose genuineness he himself doubted." He was greatly bothered by the fact that ever since his teens he had no friends and he was certain that his acquaintances made fun of him and talked about him behind his back. Although he visited several psychiatrists they didn't discover the real cause of his problems. They were satisfied with prescribing antidepressants that "may have aggravated his condition."

On the day of the murder Ákos Gere may have heard voices again. During the lab he came to believe that his classmates were saying insulting things about him. He left the room three times and finally returned with the gun. After the murder he went up the seventh floor of a nearby hospital with the intention of committing suicide, but he changed his mind because "he wanted to meet with his parents." According to the two psychiatrists who talked with him afterwards, he simply didn't want to believe that he had killed anyone and he wasn't sure whether his classmates had made fun of him or not. Perhaps he had heard "those voices" again.

So it wasn't the media, it wasn't the socialist government, it wasn't the credit system. If anything, it was an incomplete/incorrect psychiatric diagnosis. Of course, most likely Ákos Gere didn't say anything about hearing voices to the psychiatrists he encountered, but the psychiatrists couldn't have probed very deeply. It is so much easier to prescribe antidepressants.

One doesn't have to be a psychiatrist to have a general idea about the nature of schizophrenia, a serious brain disorder that results in hallucinations, delusions, disordered thinking and behavior. Here are some of the symptoms: beliefs not based in reality, such as the belief that there's a conspiracy against you. Seeing or hearing things that don't exist (hallucinations), especially voices. Angry outbursts, trouble functioning at school or work, and social isolation. Gere's classmates were aware that he exhibited all of these symptoms.

So forget about aggression brought in from the West and spread by the media. Forget about a government that cannot keep law and order. Forget about the credit system. If anything, perhaps the training of psychiatrists could be improved. 

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One blame I missed so far, is the blame on the local “shooting club”, where Ákos Gere was a member for several years. In the previous piece this is described as – “belonged to a shooting club and thus was entitled to carry a handgun between the club and his home. Unfortunately, he didn’t stick to the rules and arrived at the university with his 9mm parabellum, two magazines, and forty-one rounds of ammunition” – As a former recruiter, trainer and also deciding whom to dismiss from one of the companies of the Swedish National Guard (Hemvärnet) I have some experience in what type of people who seek to be members in “shooting clubs” and similar organisations were you can get a license for a firearm. Some of them suffer from alcoholism and social problems in acting together with other people. I do not think that a local Hungarian “shooting club” is any difference than the typical ‘Gentlemen’s Club’ that very much was the spirit and soul of the Swedish Hemvärnet. There is a tendency to forgive and forget when you notice strange behaviour from one of the members. – I find it highly unlikely that no one in this… Read more »
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Hallucinations are something that many people seek, maybe a way to leave this reality for a while, maybe for religious purpose, or just to get a nice ride. I think the most common way to do it is by consuming LSD.