, 2010). Furthermore, I felt a feeling of helplessness, as if the fact that CNN was responding to the verdict with sympathy for two young men who not only raped a young girl, but filmed and publicized aspects of that assault, meant that society would never improve. I realized that my feelings of helplessness were directly related to the level of frustration I experienced, and the amount of anger I experienced. That helped me understand why I would feel such an extreme response to a verdict in a case in which I did not know the victim or the perpetrators.
I also found that I responded with anger to aggression that I could not understand. On Facebook this week, I read a story that I had not previously read about a dog name Buck, which was shot in the face, tied up in a trash bag, and left for dead. I have heard more horrific accounts of things happening to people. In fact, during that same time period, I read a story about a young pre-med student who gave his infant daughter a bleach solution to drink, because he had been told that the solution would help her chest congestion. Objectively, I value human beings more than I value animals, and I believe that a young infant suffering a tremendous harm is worse than an injured dog. However, the father's actions, while ignorant, were unintentional. I actually found myself empathizing with him. On the contrary, the person who shot the dog and tied him up in a garbage bag was not acting out of ignorance, but out of malice. I found myself very upset by the notion of this type of emotional aggression, which people commit simply for the sake of the harm (Kassin et al., 2010). Interestingly enough, I believe that my failure to understand is a form of helplessness. Because I could not understand why someone would do something so horrible to another living creature, I find myself unable to predict when people would do those things, which leaves me feeling helpless to stop that type of behavior.
It also made me contemplate the weapons effect. Reading about Buck's story, I discovered that it is not uncommon for people to use weapons against domesticated animals for nuisance behaviors, such as dogs defecating on someone's lawn. I do not believe that people would be so quick to inflict violence if they did not have such ready access to weapons. It made me realize that the concerns of gun control advocates, which I had previously dismissed, might have more merit than I had previously believed. What made this really occur to me is that I felt as if, had I witnessed Buck's abuser do that to him and had access to a weapon at that time, I feel that I would have used a weapon to inflict violence on him.
I found that my responses to feeling anger and frustration were different than I would have said prior to this assignment. First, I did not believe that I engaged in any type of displacement behavior. I would never have believed that I would aggress against a substitute because the source of my frustration was inaccessible, but this journal revealed to me that I would. I was so angry and upset about the Steubenville verdict coverage that I was mean and short-tempered with people that I care about, like my mom, even though she completely agreed with my anger about the coverage. Likewise, I felt angry at my dog for wanting to go to the bathroom, even though the dog had nothing to do with the fact that I did not like mornings.
Another thing I discovered is that only some forms of catharsis are actually productive for me. For example, I do a workout routine that involves aggressive kick-boxing activity. After doing those workouts, I would feel less angry and aggressive. However, watching an aggressive scene did not leave me with the same sense of relief; those scenes seemed to make me feel greater levels of frustration. I believe that the catharsis was linked to the physical activity, not to the fact that the physical activity was aggressive in nature. While I did not journal long enough to test that hypothesis, I intend to see if going for a run leaves me feeling as relieved of anger and frustration as the kick-boxing routine does.