Last week Lashanda Armstrong drove her car and four children into the Hudson River in upstate NY. She is described as having been nice, hard-working, ... a good mother.
Let's look for clues:
1) She was a single mother of four, working full time, and going to school at night.
Meaning: her primitive aspect was tired and frustrated. Perhaps she was scared, angry, and sad.
2) She tended four children, had little support, and complained of being alone.
Meaning: her social aspect was overextended and undernourished.
Nonetheless I have no idea why this woman did what she did. I know nothing of her inner world, nothing of her life. It is easy to imagine her being overwhelmed, hard to fathom such destructiveness.
What was the trigger? Neighbors say that the children's father banged angrily on her door for 30 minutes earlier that day despite a court order barring him from the premises. After the altercation, she bundled her kids into the car and drove them to their death. One son escaped, later telling authorities that his mother had been mad about cheating.
Did emotional impulses overwhelm her? Which ones? Can emotions really be that powerful?
What happened to her reason? How could it go so astray? Before driving into the river she called an older relative to say "I'm gonna do something crazy". Her reason seems to have accepted the role of passive observer. Did it also make things worse by imagining her misery stretching endlessly into the future?
As the car filled with water, Ms. Armstrong reportedly changed her mind. She tried to reverse the car, screaming "I have made a terrible mistake," but it was too late.
Without having known Ms. Armstrong we can never truly understand this heartbreaking tragedy. Not knowing makes it all the more difficult to bear.
As an Emotional Detective I seek knowledge and awareness of my feelings. I focus on my inner life, trying to learn about myself, trying to prevent unnecessary mistakes.
This catastrophe suggests the incredible force behind our emotions, leaving me humbled and awestruck by their power - once again.