Medical Humanities’ Impact On Gun Violence Sample Paper


Mass shootings may be regarded as a serious complex social issue that regularly affects a considerable number of people. However, in order to minimize its scope, it is essential to understand what causes gun violence. From the medical perspective, mental health disorders are regarded as major factors that lead to mass shootings. At the same time, the problem of mass shootings requires a more comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach for the development of efficient preventative measures. The purpose of this paper is to examine how Medical Humanities may contribute to the solution of the problem connected with gun violence.

Medical Humanities: General Background

Medical Humanities may be defined as an increasingly international field of medicine that includes social sciences, the humanities, and the arts for their application to health care. It is “an integrated, interdisciplinary, philosophical approach to recording and interpreting human experiences of illness, disability, and medical intervention” for a better understanding of health conditions and sensitive care (Wald et al. 492). Howard Brody, an American philosopher, bioethicist, and family physician, presented the three fundamental conceptions of Medical Humanities: “a list of disciplines, a program of moral development, and … a supportive friend” (Kutac et al. 372). At the same time, there is no one common perception of this field. Some medical humanists connect it with humanism, a quality and an ethical position of health care specialists, while others refer to medical humanities to bioethics. However, the largest group of professionals perceive this approach as a set of academic fields to study health care.

Medical Humanities use tools, methods, and ideas from various disciplines, such as history, philosophy, ethics, religion, literature, sociology, anthropology, psychology, geography, visual arts, film, and theater to create innovative strategies, understand, and improve medical practice and education. Medical Humanities aim to explore and explain the cultural and social context that surrounds particular challenges and purposes of health care. In the present day, Medical Humanities is embedded in the departments of translational science on the basis of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (Kutac et al. 379). While translational science aims to improve health care delivery and public health by implementing innovations into clinical practice, Medical Humanities shapes its discourse and helps design research projects that protect human dignity advancing human health.

As a matter of fact, this field cannot be regarded as a new one. In 1984, an American academic and bioethicist Edmund Pellegrino stated that “medicine connects technical and moral questions in its clinical decisions: it is required to be both objective and compassionate” (Wald et al. 492). According to him, health care has the qualities of both humanities and sciences and cannot belong exclusively to any of them (Wald et al. 492). Indeed, decisions about whom and when to treat, how to develop health services, and how to prevent various diseases cannot be made without taking into consideration non-scientific realities. They traditionally include modern economic and political situations, ethical judgments, cultural norms, historical facts, socially conditioned risk perceptions, and future aspirations. Thus, Medical Humanities enables professionals to focus on these realities and examine them critically in order to evaluate and improve health care delivery.

In the present day, when the world is constantly and rapidly changing, Medical Humanities is able to question even the fundamental approaches to health care. Within the field of medicine, technological progress is genuinely remarkable. The 21st century may be characterized by the development of nanotechnology, robotics, genome editing, and 3D printing, an increasing array of health care tools, and new techniques essential both for education and practice. At the same time, evidence-based health care the significance of which is currently emphasized describes people from the position of biomedical science. However, regardless of the fact that evidence is essential, this approach will never be fully sufficient for appropriate health care delivery. On the contrary, Medical Humanities focuses on the balance between caring and humanistic care, “forming deeper connections with patients, maintaining joy and meaning in medicine, and developing empathy and resilience” (Wald et al. 492). The integration of this field into clinical practice and education supports health care providers in the development of essential professional qualities, including communication skills, self-awareness, holistic approach, and cultural competence.

Mass Shootings

As a matter of fact, the belief concerning the connection between mental health and gun violence and the efficiency of this issue’s solution through public health appeared more than 20 years ago. The American College of Physicians issued their first statement in 1995 in which they raised concern about the increasing number of gun violence cases in the United States (DeFoster and Swalve 2). In addition, the organization advocated for the inclusion of gun violence in the list of public health issues. Later, in 2015, the American Bar Association in collaboration with eight national health organizations issued specific recommendations to raise awareness concerning injuries and deaths due to gun violence. In general, the majority of experts required additional funding to organize scientific researches dedicated to this disturbing issue.

At the same time, a mass shooting is a particular type of gun violence with its specific characteristics that should be understood for the examination of causes and the development of responsive measures. It differs from gang violence, domestic violence, and other crimes “that are extensions of previous incidents” (DeFoster and Swalve 3). In general, a mass shooting refers to a single incident of gun violence in which a considerable number of people simultaneously become victims. However, mass shootings have three particular elements that distinguish them from other similar crimes.

Thus, as previously mentioned, mass shootings should exclude crimes that may be defined as “extensions of previous incidents or feuds, such as gang violence, as well as robberies” (DeFoster and Swalve 3). In addition, in mass shootings, victims are not recognized or targeted by an offender. Furthermore, the attack should be a single accident and take place in a semi-public or public place. Finally, according to FBU guidelines and the majority of journalists and scholars, in the case of a mass shooting, a murderer or a group of murderers should kill at least four people (DeFoster and Swalve 3). With a help of mass media that frames mass shootings and influences their perception by society, the common reasons for these incidents include inadequate security, poor law enforcement intervention and gun control, pop culture, social immorality, illicit drug use, lack of parents’ involvement, secularism, individual character, and mental disorders. The offender’s mental health, as a potential reason for a mass shooting, attracts the particular attention of health care specialists. Their investigations in this field may substantially contribute to the reduction of the problem of mass shootings.

Mass Shootings from the Medical Perspective

As a matter of fact, mass shootings in public places may be regarded as a serious social issue that may affect people’s physical and mental health. Although in the United States, they account for no more than 0.5% of homicides, approximately 71% of adults report that they are afraid of being victims of mass shootings (Metzl et al. 81). Moreover, according to a national survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, 1 out of 3 individuals try to avoid semi-public and public places due to their fear (Metzl et al. 81). In the present day, in response to increasing community concerns related to the threat of mass shootings, multiple public officials point to mental health disorders in order to explain these acts of violence. Their statements coincide with the public’s major beliefs that people with mental illnesses are dangerous. At the same time, this approach to the factors of mass shootings cannot be regarded as valid and it may lead to serious negative consequences.

As a matter of fact, there is no clear evidence concerning the scope of mental illnesses’ impact in relation to mass shootings. According to the examination of several mass shooters, a considerable number of them had previously unknown mental health diagnoses, and none were receiving any treatment. In addition, regardless of the increased number of incidents connected with gun violence, there is a lack of appropriate medical researches dedicated to the nature of killers’ mental illnesses. On the one hand, some experts believe that mass shooting are caused by severe psychiatric disorders that require proper diagnosis and comprehensive treatment as any other health issue. On the other hand, numerous scholars conduct their own studies that demonstrate the non-significance of shooters’ mental disorders. In other words, the majority of killers had non-diagnosable mental disorders, such as anger, every day stress, unhappiness, jealousy, or dissatisfaction – what the majority of contemporary people have.

People’s definition of a killer as a mentally ill individual reinforces unrealistic expectations concerning mental health experts’ indisputable ability to predict mass shootings and prevent them as well. As a result, it strengthens public support for inappropriate measures, including restrictive interventions and policies in relation to psychiatric patients that unreasonably become the victims of public stigmatization as asocial and dangerous individuals (Metzl et al. 81). On the other hand, mental health professionals have an authority that provides an opportunity to reframe mass shooting-related debates and change the audience’s perception of this issue. Therefore, it is Medical Humanities that may contribute to its solution by the examination of mental health from the multidisciplinary perspective.

Contribution of Medical Humanities

Investigating the causes of mass shootings, researchers should abandon the common assumption that mass violence is driven by isolated individuals’ diagnosable psychopathology. Instead, they may “situate such destructive motivations within larger social structures and cultural scripts” (Metzl et al. 82). In other words, by applying Medical Humanities, health care professionals define various factors that may lead to mental health disorders that are not directly connected with medicine. The media-stylized motivation of offenders relies on stereotypes dedicated to mental disorders’ inherent dangerousness. At the same time, these stereotypes do not consider the role of multiple highly important contributing factors that should be identified for efficient responsive measures.

There is a great variety of causes that may trigger the development of mental health disorders and related crimes. They may include the level of the perpetrator’s social disadvantage, stressful economic circumstances, maladaptive personality development due to early-life trauma, or domestic violence exposure. Moreover, mental illnesses may be determined by smoldering anger and aggrieved resentment against particular individuals or groups regarded by an individual as threatening, hostile, or abhorrent (Metzl et al. 82). In relation to men, aberrant constructions of the gender of associated masculinity may cause mental disorders as well. In addition, mentally unstable individuals may be affected by previous crimes. In other words, mass shootings may inspire others – this fact is proved by the evidence of shooters’ mimicking killing tactics or gestures of other killers. According to forensic psychologists, these offenders perceive themselves as the members of a particular brotherhood that consists of like-minded, resentful, and isolated individuals.

At the same time, modern global challenges and their impact on people’s mental health indicate the necessity of additional researches. For instance, the pandemic caused by the spread of the coronavirus is associated with multiple negative consequences, including isolation, loss of income, absence of integration, low-quality housing, weak social relations, and poor quality of the information received (Wathelet et al. 1). As a result, a considerable number of people experience severe distress, anger, high level of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts (Wathelet et al. 1). In addition, due to health care providers’ workload connected with the pandemic, individuals with already existing mental issues cannot receive appropriate care delivery and psychiatric follow-up. Thus, some of these factors enhanced by substance intoxication along with free access to a weapon may lead to mass shootings.

In addition, scholars should scrutinize any correlation of mental disorders with gun violence affected by racial bias. Regardless of the fact that the United States political and popular discourse addresses white male shooters with serious mental health issues, the impact of race and ethnicity is traditionally omitted from researches and published studies (Metzl et al. 84). However, the situation is completely different when a perpetrator involved in mass shootings is non-White. According to the analysis of data dedicated to mass shootings committed in 2013-2015, White and Latin American make perpetrators “were more likely to have their crimes attributed to mental illness than were shootings by black men” (Metzl et al. 84). All in all, racial peculiarities should be regarded in the investigation of factors that lead to mental health disorders and mass shootings in general to develop comprehensive responsive strategies. At the same time, racial bias should not distort health care specialists’ understanding of the acts of violence and limit the scope of their studies.

Medical Humanities may additionally promote public awareness of the political and social determinants of mass shootings. As a matter of fact, the public health system is responsible for not only health care delivery but for the dissemination of information essential for disease prevention. In the case of gun violence, researchers who consider social, political, cultural, and psychological aspects of the United States private gun ownership are able to develop a more efficient approach to prevent shootings (Metzl et al. 85). Thus, not only the motivation of shooters should be examined but cultural attributes toward a weapon and gun ownership, laws and policies concerning gun access, and traditional responses to conflicts commonly accepted in society.

Finally, community engagement is essential for the interdisciplinary research dedicated to mass shootings for their prevention in the future. First of all, the studies of “how perceptions and potential biases surrounding mental illness and firearms intersect with those that involve race, gender, and class” are required for the minimization of psychiatric patients’ stigmatization (Metzl et al. 85). In addition, community engagement should be provided through friendly communication and ongoing dialogue between community members, including health care providers, children, parents, security officers, and social workers. In general, as an interdisciplinary approach, Medical Humanities is beneficial for the minimization of mass shooting cases. It helps health care providers define political, economic, cultural, social, and medical causes of this issue and develop the most appropriate strategies on their basis.


On the basis of the current research, it is possible to conclude that Medical Humanities may substantially contribute to the prevention of mass shootings. Although mental health issues traditionally cause gun violence, it is essential to consider all social, economic, political, cultural, and personal reasons that may lead to the development of these issues. In the majority of cases, killers had non-diagnosable mental health disorders that are typical for a considerable number of people in the modern society. However, in the combination with other factors, they lead to abhorrent incidents. In addition, by addressing all disciplines, Medical Humanities helps develop efficient strategies of information dissemination and community engagement that will minimize the number of mass shooting cases. Thus, due to Medical Humanities, all factors that may lead to mental health problems and related gun violence in different fields may be identified and efficiently addressed to prevent their negative consequences.

Works Cited

DeFoster, Ruth, and Natashia Swalve. “Guns, Culture or Mental Health? Framing Mass Shootings as a Public Health Crisis.” Health Communication, 2017, pp. 1-12.

Kutac, Julie, et al. “Innovation Through Tradition: Rediscovering the “Humanist” in the Medical Humanities.” Journal of Medical Humanities, vol. 37, no. 4, 2016, pp. 371-387.

Metzl, Jonathan M., et al. “Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Future of Psychiatric Research into American Gun Violence.” Harvard Review of Psychiatry, vol. 29, no. 1, 2021, pp. 81-89.

Wald, Hedy. S., et al. “Medical Humanities in Medical Education and Practice.” Medical Teacher, vol. 41, no. 5, 2019, pp. 492-496.

Wathelet, Marielle, et al. “Factors Associated with Mental Health Disorders Among University Students in France Confined During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” JAMA Network Open, vol. 3, no. 10, 2020, pp. 1-13.

Marx’s Four Types Of Alienation

Marx alienation focuses on the capitalist mode of production and an objective approach resulting from the reality that evolves in an individual’s knowledge in capitalist society (Lavalette & Ferguson, 2018). Alienation is the loss of control over one’s attributes whereby the participant’s relationship with the attribute is disconnected. The product owners are forced to transfer their means of production to someone else called the capitalist. Marx’s four types of alienation based on the capitalist mode of production include alienation of the product labor, alienation of production or labor activity, alienation from the human essence, and alienation from other people or the society.

Alienation from the product of labor is when workers provide labor to the production of commodities to an organization that produces the products for others. For instance, employees involved in the production of particular commodities provide labor and lack ownership of the items produced. The organization that employs these workers produce the commodities for consumers. Therefore, their produced items become alien objects (Lavsssalette & Ferguson, 2018). Workers lack control and rights to the products produced and have no ownership of the exchange value of the final commodity in the market. The increased level of productivity leads to the capitalist who takes control of the product produced, increasing the wealth, power and enjoying the product outcomes of their labor.

Alienation from the production or labor process results from a lack of control over the product labor (Lavalette & Ferguson, 2018). If workers do not control product labor, they do not control activities involved during production, including product organization and design. Also, this type of alienation is reinforced by the lack of control over worker’s job function and association with product production.

Alienation from the human essence is the labor itself whereby humans are creative and objectify themselves by utilizing their conscious life to create a relationship with nature and make real the thoughts and objects through management of nature. The essence of being alienated from conscious thoughts results in creating objects through will and efforts from species-essence (Lavalette & Ferguson, 2018). Therefore, species-essence, including thoughts and experiences, provides humans with the power to produce products based on objective existence.

Alienation from other people or society is the alienation that emerges from oneself or the capitalist society (Lavalette & Ferguson, 2018). People’s social relations are also alienated, including the competitions of workers or society members to emerge as the best performers in their functionality. This type of alienation is experienced between the employed and unemployed individual whereby the unemployed seek similar positions of the employed, leading to competitions to emerge as the best employees.

Confucius’s describes a virtuous leader as the one who does not seek strategic force or military to gain success and does not hesitate to leave the office when the mandate is lost (Van Vugt & Smith, 2019). Confucius’s idea of leadership describes a virtuous leader as the one who shows respectfulness, deference, gentleness, and frugality traits in functionality. Machiavelli state the characteristics of a good leader whereby a good leader should have people’s support because it’s hard to carry out functions or make decisions without their views (Van Vugt & Smith, 2019). A good leader should be feared and loved, and if not, the leaders should be feared rather being loved to circumvent revolt.

Lastly, a leader should have good virtue attributes, meaning that a leader should be a role model to others. Machiavelli’s idea of leadership is the most used and quoted guide to effective leadership. Therefore, a virtuous leader is the one that seeks help from others to make effective decisions towards leadership.


Lavalette, M., & Ferguson, I. (2018). Marx: Alienation, commodity fetishism and the world of contemporary social work. Critical and Radical Social Work, 6(2), 197-213.

Van Vugt, M., & Smith, J. E. (2019). A dual model of leadership and hierarchy: Evolutionary synthesis. Trends in cognitive sciences, 23(11), 952-967.

Essay Voice-over

Breathless: Analysis Of The Characters

The film Breathless presents quite unusual characters – they demonstrate their egoism in relationships, have philosophical conversations, and relax while one of them is hiding from the police. For instance, in the end, when the police are already following Michel, at first, he does not try to run away, and it seems that he has come to terms with the arrest, but then he fears for life and changes his mind. Michel built the image of a gangster, but there is a guess about his hidden inner fear.

Another character, Patricia, is very close to ordinary people who usually represent the audience, but at the same time, is mysterious. She often asks to explain a particular word or expression, which makes her real. However, she calmly accepts that Michel killed a man and his death in the end (Godard, 1960). The unusual nature of the characters departs from canonical love stories with a happy ending, but at the same time, captures the audience’s attention.

Many unusual effects are present in the film, such as breaking the fourth wall and similar to it. For instance, one of the most notable details of the film is a lot of jump cuts. They significantly accelerate the movie’s pace by removing the details of some moments that are not influential to the plot. With a relatively large number of such cuts, there are still long episodes, for example, with dialogues, and their peculiarity is in revealing characters. Despite the contrasting nature of such approaches, their combination is very harmoniously represented in the film and makes it more creative.

The film openly borrows many elements characteristic of other genres. For example, there is a reference to American gangsters and their style. In creativity, there is always a challenge to develop something completely new, and inspiration from other people’s works is natural. Despite the possibility of condemnation by colleagues because of borrowing ideas, the director of Breathless was not afraid to take familiar details and connect them into something unusual noticeably, thereby creating an original film.


Godard, J. (1960). Breathless [Film]. Les Films Impéria.

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