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Feeling the hurt, pain from crimes of passion

This morning, I was thinking about which question I would use for this week’s column and a co-worker asked me this: “I just want to know what a person is supposed to do when someone won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
 Lucy Shaw

This morning, I was thinking about which question I would use for this week’s column and a co-worker asked me this: “I just want to know what a person is supposed to do when someone won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

She was referring to two crimes of passion in our hometown over the weekend. In one, a 7-year-old child was killed in the crossfire of some teens shooting at young ladies who had blown off their romantic passes, and the instance where a young man allegedly murdered his girlfriend and rode around with her dead body in the car until stopped by the police who were tipped off about it.  

Both of these are heartbreaking, tragic events that stir a community to despair on the one hand and apathy or a feeling of powerlessness on the other. We don’t know what happened with the young man and his girlfriend but the activities related to the killing of the 7-year-old may be a bit clearer.

My first response, however, is that in both instances, we have people acting out of their primitive brain and not from higher level thinking or reasoning. The primitive brain is the lower part of the brain that makes its decisions based on primitive assumptions of a threat to survival of the species or the violation of accepted rules of the tribe.

Now, since I am pretty simple-minded myself, I think much of this behavior is a tantrum totally out of control. It’s not that person’s first tantrum and frankly, the tantrums have probably been escalating over time. Tantrums are pretty much primitive brain behavior. It’s what a child does when he can’t have his way. Some children escalate to hitting at their parents when in a full-blown tantrum. The more the child hears “no,” the more he acts out and sometimes the more aggressive the behavior becomes.

While this may seem to be a very simplistic view of what turns out to be criminal behavior, the question was, “What do you do when a person is not willing to take ‘no’ for an answer?”

Every child prone to temper tantrums is not prone to becoming a criminal.

Unfortunately, the flip side of not accepting “no” is not wanting to be told what to do whether directly or implied and can develop into an issue with authority figures and issues with autonomy. Autonomy is described as having a sense of independence and control over the environment.

Literature says that tantrums get better in children as they develop better language skills and the ability to effectively communicate needs.

Tantrums have something to do with having a short attention span and some children are also prone to making some rather outrageous demands.

My point: Tantrums as a routine response to ‘no’ are no more acceptable in children than they are in adults. But over time, parents get pretty good at spotting an oncoming tantrum! In relationships, both casual and committed, it is equally important to know the signs of escalating tantrum type behavior, ineffective communication skills, control issues, attention span issues, anger management and so forth. Maybe, we can begin to teach these signs to young men and women so that, if nothing more, they can spot the danger, get help, run the other way or whatever it takes to get out of harm’s way.

And while all of this may seem like an overly calm and rational response by me as an outsider looking in, there is no answer right this moment that feels adequate. The families of the victims, the perpetrators and the community are still left with awful feelings of guilt, loss, pain and frustration.

Feeling the sadness,


(Check out Lucy Shaw’s website at http://www.heart works4u.com. Send your questions to her by U.S. mail to: Heartworks4U, LLC; 4646 Poplar Ave. Ste 201, Memphis, TN 38117 or by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . You may also contact her for a free 20-minute consultation.)

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