Posted on | April 8, 2017 | 2 Comments
OK, so here’s the set-up: A couple is waiting to order at a fast-food place in Santa Monica, California, and the guy’s got his arm around his girlfriend, affectionately nuzzling her. “Out of nowhere,” the guy explained, a woman who was finishing up her transaction at the cash register “looks at us and exclaims emphatically how inappropriate PDA was and how uncomfortable it was making her.” So the guy then kisses his girlfriend on the cheek, at which point the woman begins freaking out and the guy starts recording her on video with his phone:
The temptation to play armchair psychiatrist here is difficult to resist. Why was this lady so offended? I mean, some levels of affectionate behavior in public places may be inappropriate, but what the guy describes didn’t seem unusual for young couples and, hey, it’s Santa Monica, a beach town in Southern California. Like, chill out.
So why the freakout? Was it perhaps because the guy’s girlfriend is very attractive? Was the girl clearly enjoying her boyfriend’s affection? Did the woman freak out because of the perceived unfairness of it all? Like, “How dare this good-looking girl enjoy having her boyfriend wrap his arms around her in public, displaying how much he loves her, when nobody ever treated me that way?” Maybe that’s what it’s about.
Whatever it is, it’s not about the couple, it’s about what’s going on inside this woman’s mind, as she rants that the girl is a “prostitute,” a “whore,” etc. She goes on and on in this angry unhinged rant despite the fact that she knows she’s being recorded on video. And the payoff?
Well, they had to lock down the thread on Reddit after the woman was identified as Anna Marie Storelli, a 28-year-old Bay Area native who graduated from the University of California-Davis in 2010 and here’s where the story, as told at Turtleboy Sports, gets really weird: While she was in college, Storelli reportedly participated in a project led by Micha Cardenas that involved spending hundreds of hours immersed in the virtual-reality game Second Life. Storelli has since reportedly developed “serious mental health problems” which, among other things, led to multiple restraining orders being issued against her in 2014 and 2015. Also, it appears that Storelli has gained a lot of weight and possibly gotten breast implants since graduating UC-Davis. She has reportedly used multiple online accounts to post pornographic videos and images of herself, and was trying to get the attention of Justin Bieber.
Crazy is as crazy does, and there is every reason to believe that this woman is suffering from chronic schizophrenia, which typically manifests itself among people in their late teens or early 20s. Many of these people are highly intelligent, even genius-level, but start coming unraveled in early adulthood. Think about Ted Kaczynski, a math prodigy who graduated from Harvard at age 20 and by age 25 was teaching at UC-Berkeley. Within two years of being hired, however, Kaczynski suddenly resigned and by 1971 was living in a hut in the Montana wilderness.
The reason Kaczynski (a/k/a the “Unabomber”) comes to mind is because, like Anna Storelli, he participated in a research project while in college, one which involved a “brutal” psychological assault on the subjects’ sense of identity. Some have theorized that this experiment may have led to Kaczynski’s subsequent descent into dangerous madness, and there is another case which has long intrigued me: Valerie Solanas.
Solanas became infamous after she tried to assassinate Andy Warhol in 1968 and wrote The S.C.U.M. Manifesto which arguably made her the founder of radical feminism. (Some of the early radical feminists cited Solanas, and rallied to support her legal defense in the Warhol case. See Susan Brownmiller’s In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution, pp. 27-28. Also see Sarah Evans’s Personal Politics, p. 209, where she notes that when Roxanne Dunbar formed a radical feminist group in Boston in 1968, “there first order of business” was reading The S.C.U.M. Manifesto.)
Breanna Fahs, a feminist professor at Arizona State University, recently published a biography of Valerie Solanas which makes clear (a) she was the product of a seriously disturbed family background, but also (b) she was a promising young student of psychology. Solanas got her bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland in 1958 and enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Minnesota, but dropped out after a year and began roaming around aimlessly. She turned up in Berkeley in 1960, then headed back east where she gravitated to the bohemian scene in New York’s Greenwich Village. Professor Fahs blames sexist bias for Solanas leaving grad school, but there were many women who got advanced degrees in psychology in the 1950s and ’60s, so some factor beyond mere sexism must explain why Solanas dropped out. I actually emailed Professor Fahs to suggest the possibility that Solanas was the unwitting victim of psychedelic drug research which, as is now well-known, was going on at many universities at the time. For example, Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert were doing experimental research with psilocybin in 1960-62 at Harvard, and Humphry Osmond used LSD in experimental treatments in the 1950s. Was it possible, I asked Professor Fahs, that somehow Valerie Solanas was involved in this kind of “research” while at the University of Minnesota? She replied that she had found no indication of that, but on the other hand, the possibility hadn’t ever crossed her mind and some of this kind of “research” was done quite secretly, funded by the Pentagon or the CIA. But I digress . . .
My point is that while this crazy woman ranting about a couple kissing in public is being regarded as a sort of joke, what apparently happened to Anna Marie Storelli is a very serious problem that affects many young people. The great psychological challenge of adolescence and young adulthood is the formation of personal identity, to develop a sense of one’s self that is stable and functional, and enables social success. Anything which disrupts this identity-formation process can have catastrophic results, leading to insanity and criminal behavior.
Read this story about Micha Cardenas using Second Life immersion in connection with his/“her” gender transition and ask yourself, “What could the effect of such a project have been on Anna Storelli?”
We are too quick to dismiss cases like this — just another kook — when closer examination may reveal important clues about how this kind of craziness develops, from which we can learn how to prevent (or at least try to discourage) such craziness from turning otherwise promising young people into dangerous maniacs who probably voted for Hillary Clinton.
Oh, come on, you didn’t expect me to resist a chance for a cheap laugh like that, did you? Probably a therapist could explain my irrepressible tendency to sarcasm, but I’ve spent years avoiding psychiatrists because craziness is sort of an occupational skill for me. Otherwise, how could I possibly endure three years of researching radical feminism without becoming a gibbering lunatic? Holding onto my sanity under such circumstances requires me to keep an emotional distance from the subject matter, and my crazy sense of humor is all that has saved me so far.
But who knows? I might suddenly snap any day now . . .