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― C. S. Lewis


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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thoughts About Connecticut

I am thankful for this article.
It has been bothering me all weekend that people are accusing mental illness, to blame for this young man's actions.
There was a woman who wrote that she was "Adam Lanza's Mother"..
It is going viral all over the internet.  While I feel sad for her, HER situation is NOT the situation of Adam Lanza, or his mother, from what anybody has said, including close relatives.

I kind of feel like every person with a mental disorder, or illness has been made suspect as the next possible mass murderer and that is just not fair.
Mental illness has run through both sides of our families, and VERY SERIOUS mental illness that is incapacitating.  Yet, our relatives were not mass murderers being held back from taking out a school room full of children! 
And then I read THIS article! And it was very balanced. :)

There were no indications that Adam Lanza acted out of a mental illness.  I did read that he was a "Goth"...I looked up "goth" and it was all about death and gore and violence.  I would more likely try to associate his behavior to that, than to having Asperger's Syndrome.
Yet, I haven't heard anything about that.... except for one small mention. Why?  Probably because we are a lot more comfortable with accusing "mental illness" as the culprit, than just plain evil.

We live in a society that doesn't like to believe that evil exists, so we rename it as "mental illness".
I know people, who are adults with "Asperger's Syndrome" and my heart feels for them right now.
They are sweet and gentle people.

While I do understand that early childhood trauma can wreak havoc on a child, that certainly does NOT mean a child will grow up to harm others.

EVIL DOES EXIST.  And outside of Christ and TRUE HEALING, anything is possible. 
Evil does not need TRAUMA to rear it's ugly head.  Evil only needs a willing participant who loves darkness, and we live in a very dark world. 
As far as mental illness, YES, there needs to be improvement. But frankly, there is no such thing as a magic pill that makes mental illness go away. It is a very complicated field, that is in it's infancy.

The solution is Christ.


Aus said...

What you said - MI is nothing to be "feared" - but that's the "brush" that it seems the media is painting with! I don't know that MI was any more responsible for this than the gun that he used to commit this evil act...the simple truth is that this young man turned bad...maybe he even "was bad"...but the ONLY person or thing to blame for this is HIM!

My heart goes out to the survivors and first responders of this event, and I hold them close in my prayers!

hugs - aus and co.

r. said...

I think the article you cite is misleading, and perhaps outright wrong. Many of the perpetrators of previous massacres were found to have symptoms of psychotic disorders. Maybe not always psychosis (as in visual and auditory hallucinations), but other psychotic disorders, including severe paranoia.

I think it's really disingenuous for that author to write that because the DSM says psychosis involves a breakdown in thought processes, anyone who was capable of doing complex, advanced planning couldn't have had it.

It might be that we need to fine-tune our idea of what psychosis and other psychotic disorders mean. Yes, many people do have a significant breakdown in their ability to string complex thoughts together, but that's not the defining feature of the disorder and it might not be a necessary element of the disorders either. By that author's reasoning, Andrea Yates couldn't have had psychosis either, because advanced planning went into her attack on her kids. But by all accounts she did have psychosis and continues to have it to this day.

Finally, about the Goth thing-- I would caution that the goth obsession in some people might be a symptom of the mental health issues, rather than a cause. When I was dealing with severe depression as a teenager and young adult, I also wore mostly black and was "into" dark and depressing things. That's where my mind was at at the time. It was years before I started wearing colorful clothes. Think about Picasso, too--didn't he have his "blue periods" or something like that?

In the end, I don't think there will be any easy answers. I suspect that the gunman's actions won't be entirely attributable to either mental illness or evil. We might always struggle with exactly what role free will and evil intent played in the shootings.

r. said...

One last thing, about the Asperger's diagnosis... I'm wondering if Asperger's might just be current the diagnosis of choice for kids who seem somewhat "off" but don't fit any of the other diagnoses available to kids. For instance, psychologists might be very hesitant to diagnose a child with schizophrenia because of how stigmatizing it is... A lot of other disorders, such as personality disorders, are not supposed to be applied to kids under the age of 18. But it's not as though something magically changes the day the kid turns 18. So before they're 18, there is probably something obviously wrong going on, but maybe the psychologist just doesn't have a lot to work with... And if you have someone with a flat affect, or maybe someone who doesn't have normal social skills or has weird responses to interactions with other people, or who doesn't seem to show empathy-- well maybe Aspergers is a convenient diagnosis in that case.

I dunno, just a personal theory, so don't put too much stock into it. But I've also noticed how lots of violent people have been said to have Aspergers lately (not necessarily rampage shooters, but other people in the news too) and I've kind of wondered about it myself...

Christie M said...

r. It does seem there are a lot more Asperger's cases than before.

I think however, Childhood is a time of self discovery. Children learn at different paces, not all the same. I am sure you know that. :)
Some children have a harder time due to circumstances (nurture vs. nature) and if they have an already finnicky nature, and nurture is not good, it can really effect them for a long time. I don't like the idea of labeling a child because they are still developing and learning.
If the label were to only give one more compassion or understanding, that would be one thing. Unfortunately, in our society, as you stated, labels come with stigma.
And many adults believe that once you are diagnosed, that is who you are forever.
I totally disagree.
Unless there is an ORGANIC reason for mental illness, such as schizophrenia, REAL schizophrenia, not assumed, then it seems all the alphabet soups of diagnosis would put a child at a huge disadvantage.

I know of folks that describe their children... such as My....ODD, FASD, PDD, ADHD child..... and then go on to describe an issue.
A child is NOT a diagnosis, nor is an adult. We are multifaceted people.
As far as Andrea Yates, that whole thing has bothered me for years. (I guess that would be normal) :)
I don't believe she premeditated what she did, did she? I thought her meds were off, a doctor refused to give her something that worked well for her, and then she began hearing voices.
She was truly mentally ill, there is no question.
There are no easy answers.
Good discussion.

r. said...

You're right, Andrea Yates may not be the best example. From what I remember, she did plan on killing the kids once her mother left the house for a bit, which she did. (And prosecutors totally played up this point.) However, you're right that it's not a fair comparison on my part, in terms of the amount of planning involved (filling a bathtub vs. plotting a murderous rampage). Thanks for calling me out on it :)

And I think we're mostly on the same page about the diagnoses. I think they can be useful to help understand behavior, but too many people think they represent a person or a child's destiny.

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