[Thunderdome] »« Newtown murders

Before you reach for the “it’s not guns, it’s the cray cray” argument

AshleyKate just saved me the trouble of writing about the “mental health” gambit. Good thing: she did a better job than I would have.

 

I’m asking you–begging you, really, to not decide that Lanza had a mental illness. I’m asking you not to make “being a good person” the standard for mentally healthy.

Do not try to rationalize this away with mental illness. Stop talking about how it could have been schizophrenia, stop saying he hadto have mental health issues. You do not know.

You do not know his state of mind. When you decide to armchair quarterback him, to stamp him with an “obvious” diagnosis, do you know what you are saying?

Here is a terrible thing. The only thing that could possibly cause someone to do such a terrible, tragic thing is to have This Disorder. Because only people with This Disorder could be so dangerous/awful/scary. 

And you, you people who want to look for signs of schizophrenia, who want to talk about how he ‘went crazy’, how he just needed medication, I want you to consider how much harder you are making it for someone to seek treatment.

 

Read the rest.

 

Comments

  1. says

    *Clenched Tentacle Salute*

    I get so damn tired of every idiot coming out of the woodwork to declare “mentally ill! schizo, you know!1!” and so forth. The majority of people with mental illnesses don’t ever commit a violent act, while ‘normal’, average people can reach levels of frustration, anger, despair or stress that they end up doing something very violent.

  2. says

    Ideology leads sane people to do horrible things. We note this when religious ideology leads people to cut off bits of their children’s genitals. We don’t posit that the people who murder women because of “honor” are schizophrenic, instead we note that they were in the thrall of a toxic belief system.

    If you honestly believe that the natural order of things is white guys on top, with submissive wives, girlfriends, and children all the way down (and minorities out there somewhere, don’t think too hard about all that), well, you don’t need to be mentally ill to reach the point where violent murder seems like the only option you have for restoring the universe to what you were told it ought to be like.

    Crying “it was mental illness” is a handy way to avoid looking at how pervasive that toxic ideology is.

  3. says

    There was mental illness involved in this tragedy. The mental illness of letting the NRA so completely own our gun control policies.

    That is not mental illness. It’s a symptom of the toxic ideological stew which makes up the mythical America the Great. There’s a great deal wrong with this country, but encapsulating it as ‘mental illness’ is idiocy and it doesn’t help at all.

  4. says

    There was mental illness involved in this tragedy. The mental illness of letting the NRA so completely own our gun control policies.

    way to a)miss the fucking point, and b)stink up the thread with ableism almost instantly

  5. says

    *Clenched Tentacle Salute*

    I get so damn tired of every idiot coming out of the woodwork to declare “mentally ill! schizo, you know!1!” and so forth. The majority of people with mental illnesses don’t ever commit a violent act, while ‘normal’, average people can reach levels of frustration, anger, despair or stress that they end up doing something very violent.

    seconded

  6. Nathair says

    While jumping straight to “He musta been crazy!!” is obviously not helping, the fact is that public mental health policy is an important factor in many of these tragedies. You only have to look back a very few weeks to Andrew Engeldinger’s spree to see why.

  7. says

    It’s very likely that statistically, better mental public health would lower homicide rates somewhat.

    But today there’s been a huge swarm of people saying “gun control won’t help: we have to fix mental health care.” about which:

    1) It’s been abundantly pointed out that this argument rarely gets brought out for anyone but white, straight, male shooters;
    2) “There are seriously disturbed people out there, so let’s NOT make sure they can’t get access to guns” is possibly the stupidest notion I’ve ever heard of, and
    3) everyone really recognizes this fact deep in their hearts, as witnessed by the absolute lack of cases in which people have ever reacted to a violent assault in progress with the phrase “Quick! Someone call a shrink!” Removing access to weaponry is always the first order of business.

  8. says

    Nathair:

    the fact is that public mental health policy is an important factor in many of these tragedies.

    I don’t think anyone would deny that mental health services, along with access to said services is important. However, even focusing on this is detracting from all the issues which lead to injury and death every single day.

    Yes, the mass acts of violence get the major attention and there’s a flurry of observation and concern, then everything goes back to quietly simmering, every day violence until the next one. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    In the U.S., there’s a nasty, toxic mix of religion, jingoism and macho ‘mericanism. This is underlying a rotten economy, one in which people are losing everything, not just an income, there’s no social net to catch people, schools are a mess, there’s no recourse for parents in a desperate situation, most people have no health care coverage and on and on and on it goes. A majority of people live in crime ridden urban areas, where life is the cheapest thing going. Living in fear is reality.

    This doesn’t even begin to cover all the ills we face in the U.S. – insisting on a narrow focus of mental illness is not doing anyone any favours, it’s simply attempting to scratch a thin cover over all the shit underneath.

  9. loreo says

    SallyStrange, that’s a hell of a comment, both here and the version on the original post. I’ll be thinking on that one for a while.

    Marc Lepine and Anders Breivik come to mind. They seemed to feel that their wonderful self-centered worlds had been stolen and they set out to destroy the reality that failed to meet their dreams.

    One can look at religiously-motivated terrorists as well, nobody rushes to declare that they “must have been crazy” when they kill for their gods. We recognize that they’ve been lied to and that they wholeheartedly embraced those lies to the point of shredding human lives.

    But if a killer or a terrorist speaks the same language that we do, if he comes from an affluent and “safe” background, or if he is a white man, we conclude that he must have been “crazy”, “sick”, or “broken”, because we have to conclude that there is nothing wrong with OUR society.

  10. azgeo says

    Hmmm, is it OK to call him “crazy” in a general sense, since he clearly was acting far outside the bounds of reasonable behavior? As far as I see it he can be crazy without being mentally ill. If that association seems to close though let me know….

  11. says

    azgeo, crazy is one of those problematic words, however, the consensus here is that its use is best avoided unless we’re talking about an actual case of crazy, as in insane.

    I’d say it’s more likely that the man who did the shooting was disturbed over something, so let’s just go with that one.

  12. abdiel says

    Totally agree that the mental illness label shouldn’t be used to excuse this guy’s crime, or to evade a discussion on gun laws. I think the term “metal illness’ is far too pejorative. It covers everything from depression to autism, neither of which could ever be considered dangerous. Your point about Schizophrenia is valid; by itself schizophrenia isn’t a serious threat . But is anyone here really denying that some sort of psychopathy/ASPD was involved? There was no ideology/religion involved in this crime. What else would you call it?

  13. John Morales says

    abdiel:

    There was no ideology/religion involved in this crime.

    Upon what basis do you make this confident determination?

    What else would you call it?

    Unknown, at this stage, but currently the subject of investigation.

  14. A. R says

    As someone who works with institutionalized patients, I am particularly frustrated by this kind of rationalization. Most of the patients I see (remember, these are patients who are not candidates for even the current rather liberal deinstitutionalization policies) pose more of a risk to themselves than they do to others (1). At the same time however, the fact that schizophrenic patients (particularly those with comorbid substance abuse or antisocial personality disorders) are more likely to commit violent crimes than the average neurotypical individual cannot be dismissed, as sometimes happens (though, to his credit, Chris did not do that here) (2, 3, 4, 5).

    Literature Cited:

    1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23134127

    2. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0031727

    3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22708666

    4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22744175

    5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22270830

  15. says

    abdiel:

    But is anyone here really denying that some sort of psychopathy/ASPD was involved?

    I’ll say there’s no evidence to that effect right now.

    There was no ideology/religion involved in this crime.

    Is this known as an actual fact as of now?

    What else would you call it?

    Possibilities: frustration, stress, someone who felt they had been wronged, someone who felt they had been treated unfairly, someone overdosed on privilege a/o entitlement, someone who was angry, someone who reached their breaking point, etc. Geez, the list could go on forever.

  16. carlie says

    I’m one of those people who’s said we need better mental heath care (in addition to tighter gun control), but I don’t mean it in terms of figuring out who is “mentally ill” and not letting them have guns. I’m thinking more in terms of everyone learning better coping strategies, ways to deal with anger, how not to be an entitled self-centered person, how to have good relationships instead of toxic ones, etc. Is there a better umbrella term for than than mental health care? The only way I learned some of those things was in a clinical therapy setting, so I’m not sure what else to call it. It’s the kind of stuff we’re supposed to pick up as we age and grow right along with how to share and how to take turns, but somehow it doesn’t seem to get through as well as it should.

  17. abdiel says

    Also could people please stop talking about these tragedies as though they were some kind of epidemic? This kind of violence has been in decline for awhile now. Tougher gun control would probably help a lot, and better health services. But the media has grossly over-exaggerated the incidence rate of these mass shootings. Any way to keep the ratings up.

  18. rob burton says

    Again, I can’t thank Kate enough. Her decision to encourage the public to RUSH….to think before breaking out the “pitchfork and torch” mentality regarding mental illness was such a relief! And yes, every moron within reach of a computer, camera or public news media is suddenly a psychiatric fuckin expert!
    Although as a sufferer of adult ADD and told that “it’s a child’s illness and therefore bullshit” or “an excuse or crutch to avoid being responsible” has left me with the need to not divulge my condition; especially in times like this. Here’s a scarier thought, not only does bad press and human need for stigmatization/ vilifying anyone different cause those in NEED of treatment to hide, even lie about their conditions; if those in socially elite positions can manipulate the media, genetic engineering becomes very…ATTRACTIVE!
    YIKES!!
    Apologies for the run on sentence.
    If only “normal” society would finally pull their heads out of their collective asses and admit actual reality, things would become alot better….

  19. says

    abdiel:

    Also could people please stop talking about these tragedies as though they were some kind of epidemic?

    Perhaps you should focus on not pulling shit straight out of your ass and assuming facts not in evidence.

  20. loreo says

    Think about military personnel all across the world: they have been trained to kill because they believe their cause is just. We don’t claim that they must be “crazy” to take human lives, we simply know that they believe what they have been told.

  21. says

    @Loreo (30)
    Drawing a parallel to people fighting a war versus a lone gunman mowing down children as a way to justify that a man who shoots up an elementary school doesn’t “necessarily” have a broken brain is quite absurd.

  22. carlie says

    Pteryxx – yeah, I guess that cuts right through to the heart of it. We seem to do a generally shitty job of it outside of trying to backfill once someone gets to the point of needing a professional, though. I don’t know that I’d call it all socialization, because there’s a difference between “don’t let your anger show” and “here’s why you really shouldn’t be getting angry in this situation”, and that’s more of an individual “inside your own head” issue.

    I guess I’m letting my own anecdote get in the way too much – I needed a therapist to help me sort out some of those basic thinking and behaving like an adult patterns, so I’m prone to think it would make everybody nicer people.

  23. abdiel says

    I clearly touched a nerve, and I’m sorry if I offended you, but I was discussing this from an academic perspective. So please go pontificate somewhere else. I just don’t see any evidence that people without severe ASPD or psychopathy ever decide to brutally murder little children (again with the exception of religious/ideological motivations, and even then only if soem sort of church/terrorist group is directly involved).

  24. ChasCPeterson says

    Oops! Sorry, Kate.

    It’s like ray-ee-aaaain on your wedding day.

    the man who did the shooting was disturbed over something

    fucker killed his mother and a bunch of children in her care.

    Some might page Dr. Freud.
    Others Dr. Hitchcock.

  25. Pteryxx says

    carlie: I dunno, there’s probably a more precise term or collection of terms for it, but in my mind I just keep wanting to call it ‘life lessons’ and going back to learn more of it from MLP and Last Airbender.

  26. carlie says

    I just don’t see any evidence that people without severe ASPD or psychopathy ever decide to brutally murder little children

    Are you that insulated from the realities of child abuse?

    I apologize that I was using terms more directly referent to mental illness when I meant socialization.

  27. yubal says

    yeah, mentally handicaps do not make you a murderer. I for example have two diagnosis and am a die hard pacifist.

    what strikes me more is this question:

    why do those things happen more often in the USA than in other countries with extremely relaxed gun laws (e.g. Canada)?

    Is there something wrong with the society here? Do we “produce” amok shooters?

  28. says

    Call it a Bayesian prediction :P.

    that’s either an attempt at hiding a “i pulled this out of my ass”, or a reality-fail, since the absence of a strong adherence to a ideology/religion is quite rare

  29. says

    Carlie:

    I don’t know that I’d call it all socialization, because there’s a difference between “don’t let your anger show” and “here’s why you really shouldn’t be getting angry in this situation”, and that’s more of an individual “inside your own head” issue.

    It is an issue of socialization, though. We live in an age where many people are terribly isolated to begin with. Many people live in places and areas where there is no sense of community, there’s no ‘Mr. Roger’s Neighbourhood’. For many people, the only offer of help is in the form of what they find at church, which isn’t very helpful.

    We live in a country with no safety net, with no recourse for most people – there’s simply nowhere to turn. It can be exhausting and frustrating in the extreme to even begin to wade through the layers of shit in order to try and get any help.

    We live in a time of busy, busy, busy, most people have a phone attached to their head and earbuds in their ears and most people don’t (and won’t) take the time to listen to someone who is troubled. Even in cases where someone does listen, there’s a tendency to handwave things away.

    Ours is a country of excesses – highs and lows, with next to no one in the middle. A breeding ground for troubled people.

  30. abdiel says

    “Are you that insulated from the realities of child abuse?”

    First of all I wouldn’t call anyone who abuses their children “mentally healthy”. Also, there is a huge difference between a child abuser and a mass murderer. The two involve very different kinds of people.

  31. John Morales says

    abdiel:

    Also could people please stop talking about these tragedies as though they were some kind of epidemic?

    Who here has done so, rather than noting they occur on a regular basis?

    (It’s not an outbreak, but rather an ongoing problem)

    But the media has grossly over-exaggerated the incidence rate of these mass shootings. Any way to keep the ratings up.

    Perhaps you can cite in support of this claim “that the media has grossly over-exaggerated the incidence rate of these mass shootings”, because the reportage I’ve seen is about each particular incident rather than their relative frequency.

    (Are you seriously suggesting the media claims more mass shootings occur than actually do occur?)

    As for reporting on them being a way to keep the ratings up, are you suggesting the proper response by the media should be to not report them?

  32. says

    Is there something wrong with the society here? Do we “produce” amok shooters?

    yes. you probably couldn’t design a more unequal, stress-overload-inducing, antagonistic, atomized culture that’s not in (or recovering from) a state of (civil) war or if you tried

  33. carlie says

    Pteryxx and Caine – self-help skills, maybe also? I do like “life lessons”. I wish this was the kind of thing taught in health class. :(

  34. raven says

    I just don’t see any evidence that people without severe ASPD or psychopathy ever decide to brutally murder little children

    That is because you buried your head in the sand and didn’t look.

    To cite just one common population.

    Fundie xians practice human child sacrifice and kill around 100 chidren a year, usually their own but sometimes foster children.

    Most of the children die in agony from withholding medical care. A few are just tortured and beaten to death in a horrifying ritual called “raising up a child”.

  35. says

    Jadehawk:

    you probably couldn’t design a more unequal, stress-overload-inducing, antagonistic, atomized culture that’s not in (or recovering from) a state of (civil) war or if you tried

    QFMFT.

  36. abdiel says

    “That is because you buried your head in the sand and didn’t look.

    To cite just one common population.

    Fundie xians practice human child sacrifice and kill around 100 chidren a year, usually their own but sometimes foster children.

    Most of the children die in agony from withholding medical care. A few are just tortured and beaten to death in a horrifying ritual called “raising up a child”.

    I’m sorry but can you read? What did I write in the parenthesis you conveniently left out of that quote?

  37. mesh says

    THANK YOU! I am so tired of this. Following every reported massacre the immediate response from people is essentially a “No True Human” whereby they seek to relegate the perpetrator to some subhuman category in order to relieve themselves of the stress of considering that a human being could actually make the choice to kill, for which mental illness fits their aims well. It’s a lot more comfortable for them to simply lump this guy into a group widely stigmatized as being the broken, dangerous dregs of society. I notice that this is pretty much the only circumstance where the general populace even acknowledges the existence of the mentally ill; otherwise they could care less. I mean who even cares that many of these people are ending up in jail because the mental institutions are filled to the brim? What’s important is that they’re separated from society so they won’t threaten society for their own good.

  38. says

    First of all I wouldn’t call anyone who abuses their children “mentally healthy”.

    oh fuck you. seriously. not all deviant behavior is an issue of mental health. in fact, most isn’t. and child-abuse isn’t even considered deviant in plenty of American subcultures, and those aren’t “mentally ill” subcultures.

    One of these days all your fucking assholes are just going to have to face that humans are assholes, and consequently “horrible” acts don’t require a malfunctioning brain.

  39. raven says

    Is there something wrong with the society here? Do we “produce” amok shooters?

    Good question. Hard to say.

    One of the major enemies of the right wing extremists (Tea Party/GOP) is our social safety net. For various reasons they really hate that.

    So what do you think the USA would be like without it? I see millions of poor, hungry, and desperate people with no hope and nothing to lose myself.

  40. says

    I just don’t see any evidence that people without severe ASPD or psychopathy ever decide to brutally murder little children

    what a fucking dumb thing to say. non-psychopathic people kill their kids all the fucking time. it’s not even a form of deviant behavior in many (sub)cultures

  41. carlie says

    Also, there is a huge difference between a child abuser and a mass murderer. The two involve very different kinds of people.

    That’s not what you said. You said: “I just don’t see any evidence that people without severe ASPD or psychopathy ever decide to brutally murder little children”.

    People brutally murder children every day, and they do it at a much closer and intimate range than spraying a room full of bullets. Do you think they’re all diagnosable psycopaths? Every one of them?

    Caine – yes, to everything you said, but also adding self-regulation to it. That’s the part I’m more focused on, especially having a child for whom that is a difficult process requiring a lot of very specific training in. A huge part of self-regulation is exactly the kinds of socialization and social safety net you described, but also how a person views themselves and how they personally cope with their own problems. So, for instance, I’d see “please don’t growl when you get frustrated because it makes people nervous” as a socialization lesson, but “you don’t need to get frustrated at this thing because it’s not upsetting you on purpose and let’s work out how you can ignore it so it won’t bother you” as a personal one.

  42. says

    again with the exception of religious/ideological motivations

    this OTOH is kind of awesome. “only psychopaths kill kids, except when that thing most people have is involved”

    *facepalm*

  43. abdiel says

    Sorry I’m new here, still trying to get the quote tags to work :P.

    Perhaps you can cite in support of this claim “that the media has grossly over-exaggerated the incidence rate of these mass shootings”, because the reportage I’ve seen is about each particular incident rather than their relative frequency.

    (Are you seriously suggesting the media claims more mass shootings occur than actually do occur?)

    There you do have a point, I made a mistake in generalizating “the media”.

    As for reporting on them being a way to keep the ratings up, are you suggesting the proper response by the media should be to not report them?

    Actually yes. This is a local incident, it isn’t national news. The reporting will bring no solace to the families of the victims. All it accomplishes is making these sick fucks famous.

    Also, every time these shootings occur religious groups pounce on them to claim it’s a result of declining family values or some such bullshit. Meanwhile the crime rate is half of what it was in the 1990’s and the prison population actually experienced negative growth last year (for the first time since the 1970s). We’re a less violent nation today, in a much less dangerous world. So yes, I do think these incidents get so much reporting because assholes like to take advantage of them to advance their own agendas.

  44. neuralobserver says

    Hmmm, is it OK to call him “crazy” in a general sense, since he clearly was acting far outside the bounds of reasonable behavior? As far as I see it he can be crazy without being mentally ill. If that association seems to close though let me know….–asgeo@17

    I would agree, especially as there are (likely) no professional psychologists psychiatrists in the posters here (are there?) I think ‘crazy’ or ‘mentally ill’ is a label we reach for, whether or not a person is or will be proven to be clinically/psychologically injured. And certainly, as an NPR interview revealed tonight with a psychologist who has studied shootings of this nature for decades had said that a person doesn’t necessarily need to have a clinical manifestation of a diagnosable ‘mental illness’ to commit acts like this. According the the expert, often there is a slow build up of stresses in a particularly vulnerable person’s life that push them to a point of placing blame for their problems, whatever they be, externally, rather than looking inside themselves, and then lashing out externally on those perceived causes.

    The gun violence in general seems to emanate from a deep tap root in this culture, stemming from many sources, both gross and subtle,… from the deeply ingrained methodologies of founding and expanding the United States, to the ‘American Exceptionalism’ ideology (the ‘we can do no wrong, and don’t need to re-think old attitudes’ sort of thinking), to the ludicrous overuse/misuse of the word and the concept of ‘freedom’ that seems to spring from the mouth of every Faux News’er, Tea Bagger and conservative politician and pundit (so deftly manipulated by Republicans and conservatives for political gain)

  45. mesh says

    First of all I wouldn’t call anyone who abuses their children “mentally healthy”

    So, basically, Kate’s synopsis fits you to a tee; you’re using “being a good person” as the standard for mentally healthy.

    Believe it or not one of the core functions of a healthy, human brain is to rationalize our own actions. Most abusers don’t consider themselves abusers because they consider themselves victims of their targets, not because of some unspecified mental disorder but because of known healthy defense mechanisms such as cognitive dissonance. It’s easy for many abusers to condemn abuse while committing it, same as the way many rapists to convince themselves that they didn’t really rape because they didn’t threaten a stranger in a back alley with a knife, and the way many anti-abortionists convince themselves that their own abortions are the only moral ones, and, yes, even murderers can believe they committed no crime.

  46. carlie says

    Saying “Oh, he’s obviously mentally ill” is pretty much the same as saying “oh, she asked for it”. It’s an excuse to make the person who did it out to be something other than you yourself are ( “one true human”, as so well said above), so that you can pat yourself on the back and declare that you’d never do anything like that, and neither would anyone you know, so you and your people can all feel safe and secure. And best of all, it means you don’t have to take an ugly, hard look at what kind of society you’re contributing to and what steps really need to be taken to fix the problem.

  47. yubal says

    raven,

    So what do you think the USA would be like without it? I see millions of poor, hungry, and desperate people with no hope and nothing to lose myself.

    Those people :

    Seung-hui Cho
    Eric David Harris and Dylan Bennet Klebold
    Andrew Philip Kehoe
    Jared Lee Loughner
    James Eagan Holmes

    were neither poor nor hungry and had all opportunities to peruse a respectable career in society.

  48. abdiel says

    <q cite= "Welcome abdiel…"

    Haha thanks. Sorry about getting right into a fiery rage fest as soon as I joined :P. I just can’t stand it when people use these lazy generalizations about “the culture”, “stress”, or “society” to try and explain violent deviant behavior like this. People pull all of this shit out of there ass about but I have yet, in the many years I’ve had to listen to people spew that shit every time there is a shooting, to see a single case study offered supporting any of those claims.

    Ha! finally figured out the quotes.

  49. says

    Carlie:

    So, for instance, I’d see “please don’t growl when you get frustrated because it makes people nervous” as a socialization lesson, but “you don’t need to get frustrated at this thing because it’s not upsetting you on purpose and let’s work out how you can ignore it so it won’t bother you” as a personal one.

    I’d see both of those as socialization, the latter one in particular (your personal one), because that lesson is the one which will prevent a potential lashing out which would affect others.

  50. abdiel says

    No. But to deny that clinical diagnostics don’t provide the best predictors for this kind of behavior is just silly.

  51. Ben P says

    But of course you “know” that if we had different laws, this never could have happened, right?

  52. yubal says

    abdiel

    what were the clinical diagnostics for

    Cho, Harris, Klebold, Kehoe, Loughner and Holmes

    ?

    (and what prediction power has a diagnosis have if it is not established prior to the event?)

  53. says

    Were the men who passed out smallpox-ridden blankets to Native American men, women, and children schizophrenic or mentally ill? No. And yet they were mass murderers. And they were soldiers, but they weren’t under immediate threat to their lives. So why did they decide to murder hundreds of innocent people at a go?

    Answer: ideology. The ideology that told them that white people were God’s chosen people, that Native Americans were mere detritus, obstacles in their path to fulfilling God’s glorious destiny for them. In their mind, inducing a fatal epidemic among the Native Americans was not only okay, it was the right thing to do.

    This is what I mean when I talk about being in the thrall of toxic beliefs.

    I am highly skeptical that no such similar ideology was at work in Adam Lanza’s mind. The difference is, we don’t label it “ideology” because it’s part of the fabric of our lives, and as such is nearly invisible to us, especially if we’re not paying active attention.

    For Jared Laughner, certainly anti-feminist rhetoric and the ideology that women should not participate in politics was part of the ideology that, at the very least, helped him choose his targets. We don’t know enough about Adam Lanza’s life to speculate about what ideologies he subscribed to but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he was definitely not one of those people who have no ideologies. Do such people even exist? I mean, “ideology” simply means “system of ideas,” and it’s more or less impossible to be human and not have ideas which you try to systematize to some extent.

    With regards to people who abuse children – there’s an excellent book that details precisely the kind of ideology that leads to rampant child abuse, and the consequences of that abuse on a society. It’s called For Your Own Good, by Alice Miller, and the subject is child-rearing manuals in German in the late 1900s and early 20th century. German parents were taught that children were willful tyrants who could potentially be influenced by Satan if their wills were not “broken” by their parents so they could be trained up into obedient adults. Physical punishment was not only permitted, but encouraged. Not only that, but parents were advised to use trickery on their children, to try to convince them that their parents had magical powers of seeing through walls and detecting lies. Miller argues convincingly that this sort of training left Germans as a whole predisposed to falling under the sway of a charismatic father figure such as Hitler. Although the millions of Germans who took this advice inflicted all sorts of depravity upon their children, but they themselves were not depraved. They were under the influence of a toxic ideology.

    White men in our society get taught a particular type of ideology, but we don’t want to look at that and admit that it is an ideology. It’s just “the way things are.” When that ideology leads entitled white men to murder in order to make the world conform better to that ideology, we turn away and cover our eyes, saying, “No no, it’s nothing to do with us. Something’s wrong with his brain.” No, actually, his brain was fine–it was the stories he heard from his culture that were insanely fucked up.

    Time to address that.

    P.S. @ loreo – Thanks for the kind words.

  54. raven says

    Those people :

    Seung-hui Cho
    Eric David Harris and Dylan Bennet Klebold
    Andrew Philip Kehoe
    Jared Lee Loughner
    James Eagan Holmes

    were neither poor nor hungry and had all opportunities to peruse a respectable career in society.

    This isn’t true at all.

    In theory everyone has those opportunities. In practice for various reasons many millions don’t.

    To take one of the latest examples, James Holmes had just failed graduate school and didn’t seem to have idea of what to do next.

    Are you really saying that poor, hungry, desperate, and hopeless people aren’t a problem for society? Of course they are. Look at the basket case countries of the world like Somalia or Afghanistan. Young men with little hope for the future find their best option to be Jihadists and die in a big explosion that hopefully kills a few dozen complete strangers.

    So Yubal, what do you think would happen in the USA if we cut our already meager social safety net. Do you think people would just quietly starve to death?

  55. says

    Sally Strange, both your posts were excellent and the point is one which needs to be hammered home – very hard, in some cases. We’re seeing some fine examples of the No True Human fallacy in this thread.

  56. yubal says

    Are you really saying that poor, hungry, desperate, and hopeless people aren’t a problem for society?

    of course not. all i said was that the poor and hungry apparently don’t go on killing sprees as often as the well suited middle-class.

  57. abdiel says

    “what were the clinical diagnostics for

    Cho, Harris, Klebold, Kehoe, Loughner and Holmes

    ?”

    Okay, so “mental instability” might be a better term for people like Cho. Kehoe was from before modern psychology even existed. The rest obviously did have some kind of disorder (except for Harris, I have no clue of who that is).

  58. raven says

    of course not. all i said was that the poor and hungry apparently don’t go on killing sprees as often as the well suited middle-class.

    Well you are still wrong.

    Cho Seung, Loughner, and Holmes might have come from lower or mid middle class homes. But they themselves were anything but middle class.

    In fact, they were right on the edge of our society in a lot of ways.

    BTW, crime rates are much higher in poor neighborhoods and areas than in more well off areas. There is no way to cut down the social safety net any more without causing more problems even for people who don’t directly rely on it.

    Whatever, this is a rather pointless derail.

  59. mesh says

    I just can’t stand it when people use these lazy generalizations about “the culture”, “stress”, or “society” to try and explain violent deviant behavior like this. People pull all of this shit out of there ass about but I have yet, in the many years I’ve had to listen to people spew that shit every time there is a shooting, to see a single case study offered supporting any of those claims.

    Thanks, I was looking all over for a better example of irony!

  60. rickk says

    CNN is talking about mental illness and spotting the warning signs, etc. But didn’t this kid just do what he was trained and equipped to do? If he was like many young men he was probably exposed to scores of images every day in video games, movies, TV and music telling him that gun violence is a valid and glorious way to solve problems. It is quite possible that the media trained him, and it is certain that his mother equipped him with two powerful handguns and an assault rifle.

    Once trained and equipped, this kid failed to restrain himself from acting out. And for that he’s being labeled mentally ill.

    Obviously I’m assuming a scenario without sufficient evidence. But given the tsunami of violence our kids are (or can be) exposed to, the scenario is not particularly improbable.

    If we truly don’t like spree shootings, then we have to get the guns, tone down the media violence, and pay some real attention to the disconnected, disenfranchised loners.

  61. abdiel says

    Lol. Same goes to you. Provide a good journal citation supporting the claim that mental health isn’t decisive a factor in non-political, non-religious, mass shootings and maybe you won’t be such a hypocrite. Until then everything I’ve said up till now is fairly self-evident. I really don’t get why you people are trying so hard to contest this point. It’s embarrassing, for you.

    Thanks, I was looking all over for a better example of irony!

  62. says

    Provide a good journal citation supporting the claim that mental health isn’t decisive a factor in non-political, non-religious, mass shootings

    You’re kind of an idiot, aren’t you abdiel? Perhaps you should find another thread to engage in your sixth-grade logic errors.

  63. Esteleth has eaten ALL the gingerbread! Suck it! says

    Two things:

    Already, I have seen a lot of reports speculating as to Lanza’s mental health, specifically revolving around the theory that he may have had Asperger’s, or some other form of autism.

    Leading directly into:

    OMG PEOPLE WITH AUTISM DON’T CARE ABOUT PEOPLE AND THEY’RE GONNA KILL US ALL

    *sigh*

    Someone asked about what mass murderers have in common. I have seen cited Geoffrey Amherst (him of the smallpox blankets fame – or at least one of them), Seung-hui Cho, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Andrew Kehoe, Jared Loughner and James Holmes. Also people who perpetrated genocide in general.

    Finding a commonality is difficult.

    But.

    I’d argue that all of them did not believe that what they were doing was wrong, because the rules against murder – social and legal – apply to people. They didn’t see those they killed as people. Their victims were dehumanized to them.

    Dehumanization is not only the first step to removing an “unwanted” type of person, I’d argue that it is in many cases necessary for one person to kill another. Not all, of course, but many.

  64. mesh says

    Provide a good journal citation supporting the claim that mental health isn’t decisive a factor in non-political, non-religious, mass shootings and maybe you won’t be such a hypocrite.

    And a stellar example of strawmanning, too! Good stuff! What else you got?

    Hint: Where’s the evidence that mental health is a factor here at all?

    Another hint: Armchair psychoanalysis after the fact isn’t evidence.

  65. rapiddominance says

    The post is titled, “Before you reach for the “it’s not guns, it’s the cray cray” argument”.

    Its a fitting title. I must have counted the word, “guns” in the excerpt at least 15 times. Actually, it was probably more like 20.

    We can examine the mental and societal factors later. As for now, we need to start snatching up firearms (AND I DO MEAN QUICKLY) before something like this happens again.

  66. abdiel says

    Yeah, please be patient with me, I’m kinda slow :P.

    If I am wrong about this I would like to know, I but most of the literature I’ve read does seem to support the notion that these kinds of crimes (mass shootings in 1st world nations) are committed by people with severe psychiatric disorders. So far all I’ve gotten in response is some emotional raging, and some red herrings. Except for Sally Strange’s post , that may invalidate a lot of what I said, looking into that book now :).

    You’re kind of an idiot, aren’t you abdiel? Perhaps you should find another thread to engage in your sixth-grade logic errors.

  67. A. R says

    rapiddominance: Yep, and that won’t cause more problems by driving all of the militia types into the woods with their guns.

  68. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    If he was like many young men he was probably exposed to scores of images every day in video games, movies, TV and music telling him that gun violence is a valid and glorious way to solve problems.

    Not this shit again.

  69. says

    Well, I’m of the party to think that anyone who chooses to do a violent act is basically demonstrating a mental illness. It probably isn’t schizophrenia, that’s not all that common as murders are. But then again, my definition makes religion into a symptom of mental illness.

    But then again, I have dealt with depression, deal with it ongoing, along with other issues. So obviously I don’t buy the ‘mental illness equals crazy’ but I’m probably too close to see the connection in ‘normal’ people.

    Then again, ignoring facts at hand is kind of a mental illness, such as making shortcuts such as equating all mental illnesses as if their symptoms and causes were all ‘kill person next to you’ or something stupid like that.

  70. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Crissa, you are not distinguishing between neuro-psychiatric disorders and purely memetic dysfunctions. You should be.

  71. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Already, I have seen a lot of reports speculating as to Lanza’s mental health, specifically revolving around the theory that he may have had Asperger’s, or some other form of autism.

    Leading directly into:

    OMG PEOPLE WITH AUTISM DON’T CARE ABOUT PEOPLE AND THEY’RE GONNA KILL US ALL

    What the FUCK? WHERE?

  72. Esteleth has eaten ALL the gingerbread! Suck it! says

    What the FUCK? WHERE?

    Well, usually, the “Lanza may have had ASD” is in the body of the article, and the “ZOMG AUTISTIC PEOPLE ARE SOCIOPATHS THEY’RE GONNA KILL US” is in the comments.

    And yes, I know you shouldn’t read the comments. But still.

    While I’m sickened and infuriated by that shit, I am not surprised.

    The jump to that from the pre-existing ZOMG AUTISM stuff is not big.

  73. evilDoug says

    I’m thinking more in terms of everyone learning better coping strategies, ways to deal with anger, how not to be an entitled self-centered person, how to have good relationships instead of toxic ones, etc. …

    I am of the opinion that these matters are of huge importance, both to the individual and to society as a whole. I would add learning how to to seek and be happy with personal progress, rather than always competing against others and requiring the adulation of others.
    I personally would regard them as matters of mental health, since I also hold the opinion that, to a greater or lesser degree, much of what constitutes mental health is what we say it is. You can’t do a swab, culture a plate and make a slide to make a diagnosis. Much is subjective. BUT I also reject the notion that everything needs a one or two word “name”, though I recognize names will be hung on things, and those names, all by themselves, can influence attitudes. Stigma can be a monstrous barrier.
    I knew a ten year old kid who had problems with every item on Carlie’s list. It is when we are kids that I think help with these problems is crucial. The helping isn’t easy. It can demand a lot of one-on-one time, caring and sensitivity along with a whole raft of other skills. In the past couple of decades we (I speak as a Canadian, but I know this applies in many countries) have come a long way in helping people with physical and intellectual (for lack of my ability to come up with a better term) disabilities to be able to participate as fully as they can in general society. We seem to recognize that such people often need another person to help them to simply lead their lives – sometimes for just a few months or years, sometimes for their entire lives. We haven’t done the same for people with the disabilities on Carlie’s list. We need to.

  74. abdiel says

    Not necessarily. A lot of violent crime has actually been attributed to boredom among adolescents and the growth low SES brackets. They get suped-up prison sentences because so many people feel that the prison sentences are too short these days, and then find themselves unemployable once they get out. Nothing pathological about it.

    Well, I’m of the party to think that anyone who chooses to do a violent act is basically demonstrating a mental illness. It probably isn’t schizophrenia, that’s not all that common as murders are.

  75. rapiddominance says

    A. R

    I don’t offer counter arguments when I realize I’ve lost.
    Well played on the militia thing.

  76. mesh says

    If I am wrong about this I would like to know, I but most of the literature I’ve read does seem to support the notion that these kinds of crimes (mass shootings in 1st world nations) are committed by people with severe psychiatric disorders

    And let me guess – confirmation bias couldn’t possibly be a factor here, right? No doubt an expert armchair analyst of your credentials is beyond all criticism here, so I’ll go and sit quietly in the corner. See, abdiel, the difference between actual psychologists and armchair psychologists is that real psychologists recognize that there are many factors that go into all behavior and decisions – emotional, cognitive, and environmental. The fact that we lack the scientific means to point to one thing and say “this – THIS is what drove this person to kill” – does not automatically lead to “unspecified mental instability did it”. Actual psychologists also recognize that committing a crime in itself isn’t any sort of criteria for any kind of a diagnosis and that the process is a bit more rigorous then screaming “MENTAL ILLNESS” hours after a shooting incident has been reported somewhere. But, then, seeing as you consider such possible factors as culture and stress to be lazy thinking I’m not surprised that your approach to mental illness is at odds with those who are actually qualified.

  77. says

    So far all I’ve gotten in response is some emotional raging, and some red herrings

    Emotions: it’s what’s for dinner.

    I will be patient with you, abdiel, since you asked almost nicely.

    So let me just tell you a story.

    I knew a serial killer once. Go read that: I’ll wait here.

    There was obviously something wrong with Morin. Were I to diagnose him almost 30 years post-mortem from my armchair here I would venture something along the lines of a personality disorder. He hated young women, had a vile and explosive temper, etc.

    He was also incredibly charismatic and persuasive, very skilled at figuring out what people wanted to hear and telling them just that. Not just people: injured animals trusted him seemingly instinctively. His superpower was empathy, including being able to completely turn it off.

    So let’s agree for the sake of argument that his mental illness “caused” him to murder women. It’s still a useless exercise, because in order for that to be relevant, we’d have to assume that

    1) He could have been diagnosed successfully without looking for help on his own, unlikely given how adept he was at talking his way into and out of almost anything, and

    2) he could have been treated so that his illness no longer posed a threat.

    Neither of those possibilities were (or are) all that possible.

    In the end, I can speculate that my former acquaintance was NPD, or sociopathic, or whatever pigeonhole I decide he can be wedged into most easily. But it doesn’t tell me a goddamn thing about what happened.

    I might not have made this connection so readily if not for the Marc Lepine thread clusterfuck down the page a ways, but to me the whole “mental illness” trope serves primarily as a way of washing our hands of this violence as a society. Lepine was a MaDmAn!1! and it’s unfair to compare him to regular misogynists. Jared Loughner was a CRAZYPERSON, and it’s unfair to compare him to the grumbling wingnuts with basement arsenals and paper Obama targets.

    It’s all about othering. The murderer likely othered his victims so that he could kill them. We other him so that we can sleep at night, not having to face the similarities between Breivik and our Deaf Smith County Gun Club and Republican Beer Hall.

    That’s the only feasible argument on a mass scale. Sure, if someone is clearly rage-filled and delusional and in need of treatment, it’s completely fair to keep him away from the gun shows with prejudice. But otherwise, it comes down to:

    Why did he kill them all?
    Because he’s mentally ill.
    How do we know he’s mentally ill?
    Because he killed them all.

    Which is useless.

  78. yubal says

    Raven.

    Same is true for Canada. They have fringes on the society and they have guns. They still don’t kill each other that often.

  79. abdiel says

    Okay, I don’t see how that contradicts any of what I’ve been saying. I’m wasn’t claiming a diagnosis, merely saying that it was highly probable that this guy did have some sort of history of mental illness, and that it is a factor requiring consideration. I never said anything about it being the sole cause. I was accused of committing a straw man, but I think the other side if more guilty of that than anyone here :/.

    Stress, bullying, or whatever alone are not going to cause someone to go on a violent rampage. Everyone experiences stress, everyone gets bullied. But what social sciences like psychology do today is try to identify some of the many factors that can make someone dangerous. These factors, compounded, are often referred to as mental disorders.

    And let me guess – confirmation bias couldn’t possibly be a factor here, right? No doubt an expert armchair analyst of your credentials is beyond all criticism here, so I’ll go and sit quietly in the corner. See, abdiel, the difference between actual psychologists and armchair psychologists is that real psychologists recognize that there are many factors that go into all behavior and decisions – emotional, cognitive, and environmental. The fact that we lack the scientific means to point to one thing and say “this – THIS is what drove this person to kill” – does not automatically lead to “unspecified mental instability did it”. Actual psychologists also recognize that committing a crime in itself isn’t any sort of criteria for any kind of a diagnosis and that the process is a bit more rigorous then screaming “MENTAL ILLNESS” hours after a shooting incident has been reported somewhere. But, then, seeing as you consider such possible factors as culture and stress to be lazy thinking I’m not surprised that your approach to mental illness is at odds with those who are actually qualified.

  80. ladyatheist says

    The shooter had Aspergers and other mental issues, according to current reports.

    Mental illness runs in my family, so I agree that most people with mental illnesses are not a danger to others, but I disagree that it’s not likely for a mass murderer to have a serious mental illness. If people in normal mental states would commit these crimes we’d have many, many more of them.

    1 in 100 people have schizophrenia, therefore there are 3 million schizophrenics in the U.S. and there aren’t 3 million mass murderers. Aspergers is even rarer, but still too prevalent to explain mass murder on its own.

    It takes a perfect storm of mental illness plus specific triggers to create a mass murderer. Check out the quotation from “Howe the Mind Works,” left by Lord Victor “Bones” Bishington in the comments section of my blog post on mass murder: http://ladyatheist.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-causes-of-rampage-killing.html

  81. abdiel says

    That’s horrible. i’m sorry you had the misfortune of knowing someone like that.

    A mental illness diagnosis, such as anti-social personality disorder, shouldn’t serve in an explanatory capacity. Its just a helpful way of identifying certain trends among the most violence-prone offenders. It doesn’t say why they do what they do. It just categorizes people prone to certain behaviors. I wasn’t trying to argue anything contrary to that.

    Emotions: it’s what’s for dinner.

    I will be patient with you, abdiel, since you asked almost nicely.

    So let me just tell you a story.

    I knew a serial killer once. Go read that: I’ll wait here.

    There was obviously something wrong with Morin. Were I to diagnose him almost 30 years post-mortem from my armchair here I would venture something along the lines of a personality disorder. He hated young women, had a vile and explosive temper, etc.

    He was also incredibly charismatic and persuasive, very skilled at figuring out what people wanted to hear and telling them just that. Not just people: injured animals trusted him seemingly instinctively. His superpower was empathy, including being able to completely turn it off.

    So let’s agree for the sake of argument that his mental illness “caused” him to murder women. It’s still a useless exercise, because in order for that to be relevant, we’d have to assume that

    1) He could have been diagnosed successfully without looking for help on his own, unlikely given how adept he was at talking his way into and out of almost anything, and

    2) he could have been treated so that his illness no longer posed a threat.

    Neither of those possibilities were (or are) all that possible.

    In the end, I can speculate that my former acquaintance was NPD, or sociopathic, or whatever pigeonhole I decide he can be wedged into most easily. But it doesn’t tell me a goddamn thing about what happened.

    I might not have made this connection so readily if not for the Marc Lepine thread clusterfuck down the page a ways, but to me the whole “mental illness” trope serves primarily as a way of washing our hands of this violence as a society. Lepine was a MaDmAn!1! and it’s unfair to compare him to regular misogynists. Jared Loughner was a CRAZYPERSON, and it’s unfair to compare him to the grumbling wingnuts with basement arsenals and paper Obama targets.

    It’s all about othering. The murderer likely othered his victims so that he could kill them. We other him so that we can sleep at night, not having to face the similarities between Breivik and our Deaf Smith County Gun Club and Republican Beer Hall.

    That’s the only feasible argument on a mass scale. Sure, if someone is clearly rage-filled and delusional and in need of treatment, it’s completely fair to keep him away from the gun shows with prejudice. But otherwise, it comes down to:

    Why did he kill them all?
    Because he’s mentally ill.
    How do we know he’s mentally ill?
    Because he killed them all.

    Which is useless.

  82. abdiel says

    What I’ve been saying, expressed much more coherently.

    The shooter had Aspergers and other mental issues, according to current reports.

    Mental illness runs in my family, so I agree that most people with mental illnesses are not a danger to others, but I disagree that it’s not likely for a mass murderer to have a serious mental illness. If people in normal mental states would commit these crimes we’d have many, many more of them.

    1 in 100 people have schizophrenia, therefore there are 3 million schizophrenics in the U.S. and there aren’t 3 million mass murderers. Aspergers is even rarer, but still too prevalent to explain mass murder on its own.

    It takes a perfect storm of mental illness plus specific triggers to create a mass murderer. Check out the quotation from “Howe the Mind Works,” left by Lord Victor “Bones” Bishington in the comments section of my blog post on mass murder: http://ladyatheist.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-causes-of-rampage-killing.html

  83. abdiel says

    Wanted to apologize if I came off as a troll, I just think stressed-out/bullied people have it rough enough without being singled out as potential mass murderers. Those may be factors involved but they aren’t in any way decisive.

  84. Ichthyic says

    It’s all about othering. The murderer likely othered his victims so that he could kill them. We other him so that we can sleep at night, not having to face the similarities between Breivik and our Deaf Smith County Gun Club and Republican Beer Hall.

    We all have a sense of self identity that is unique. We ALWAYS will “other” anyone who is not us. this does not necessarily mean it is bad, in fact, most of us will deal with this shooting by “othering” the shooter.
    It’s a natural way to cope with this.

    Chris, did you not have to spend a considerable amount of time othering Morin, once you found out the damage he had done? What other choice IS there?

  85. mesh says

    Stress, bullying, or whatever alone are not going to cause someone to go on a violent rampage. Everyone experiences stress, everyone gets bullied. But what social sciences like psychology do today is try to identify some of the many factors that can make someone dangerous. These factors, compounded, are often referred to as mental disorders.

    Historical environmental contributors in and of themselves are not part of the diagnostic process. Diagnosis is determined by behavior. The only way the past can be any way relevant here is through a trauma induced by an event, but that isn’t the same thing because an experience does not necessarily lead to trauma. The problem with your argument is you make it sound as though these factors only play a part in mental illness and that “sane” people should be assumed to be hermetically sealed from such influence as culture and stress until proven otherwise because in the case of “sane” people, well, that’s just a lazy explanation.

    abdiel, allow me to illustrate how circular your argument is.

    I just don’t see any evidence that people without severe ASPD or psychopathy ever decide to brutally murder little children

    Okay, so “mental instability” might be a better term for people like Cho. Kehoe was from before modern psychology even existed. The rest obviously did have some kind of disorder (except for Harris, I have no clue of who that is).

    Your argument is completely unfalsifiable because as long as you take it upon yourself to be the sole arbiter of “mental instability” and “some kind of disorder”, you will inevitably shuffle all mass killers into the category of “mental instability” and “some kind of disorder” every time. There is no evidence in existence that could possibly convince you otherwise because you’ve already reached your conclusion that any mass murderer is automatically mentally unstable!

    What I’ve been saying, expressed much more coherently.

    Ummm, no… what you’ve been saying is that it’s safe to assume mental illness in all cases of mass murder because No True Sane Person would ever do such a thing and any other consideration is just being lazy. The fact that he had a history of mental illness does nothing to justify your armchair analysis because you didn’t know about it before, but that didn’t stop you from reaching your conclusion.

  86. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    The shooter had Aspergers

    I’m extremely skeptical.

    Aspergers is even rarer, but still too prevalent to explain mass murder on its own.

    Also the overwhelming majority of murderers do not have its symptoms, and there’s little logical relationship between the symptoms and acts of lethal or serious violence, especially planned ones.

    I have a “FUCK YOU” at the ready but I’m holding back for the moment..

  87. consciousness razor says

    I just can’t stand it when people use these lazy generalizations about “the culture”, “stress”, or “society” to try and explain violent deviant behavior like this.

    Those can be lazy, but it’s no more lazy than “that sort of person is mentally ill.” (Can you stand the kind of person you are?)

    They’re all entirely real causes of behavior. They’re just different because they’re taking different things into account. Guess what? Many could be true at the same time or none of them.

    We have basically zero evidence right now, so we can admit our ignorance of what the causes of this were, or we can make wild guesses based on practically nothing.

  88. abdiel says

    Well yes, I think a lot of social sciences rely on unfalsifiable premises. Much of psychology is relative, with whoever the majority is, being defined as “healthy”.

    Also I never claimed to know anything so please cut that shit out. I suggested it was highly probable he had a history of mental illness (I didn’t even present an argument, merely an assertion) and for some reason you decided to contest that.

    Your argument is completely unfalsifiable because as long as you take it upon yourself to be the sole arbiter of “mental instability” and “some kind of disorder”, you will inevitably shuffle all mass killers into the category of “mental instability” and “some kind of disorder” every time. There is no evidence in existence that could possibly convince you otherwise because you’ve already reached your conclusion that any mass murderer is automatically mentally unstable!

  89. Ichthyic says

    Much of psychology is relative, with whoever the majority is, being defined as “healthy”.

    Indeed, the AMA uses this very reasoning to claim that religious delusions are not delusions… because so many people are religious.

  90. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Also I never claimed to know anything so please cut that shit out. I suggested it was highly probable he had a history of mental illness

    Will you make up your mind?

  91. mesh says

    So… you were demanding evidence to contradict an argument you weren’t making? Yeah, I’ll leave you to contemplate that.

  92. says

    Chris:

    I knew a serial killer once. Go read that: I’ll wait here.

    There was obviously something wrong with Morin. Were I to diagnose him almost 30 years post-mortem from my armchair here I would venture something along the lines of a personality disorder. He hated young women, had a vile and explosive temper, etc.

    He was also incredibly charismatic and persuasive, very skilled at figuring out what people wanted to hear and telling them just that. Not just people: injured animals trusted him seemingly instinctively. His superpower was empathy, including being able to completely turn it off.

    I was caught by a serial rapist and serial killer once. Three women survived. I’m one of them. I went through two years of trials with this man and endured decades of parole hearings*.

    This man is intelligent, high functioning in society, physically attractive (nope, they don’t look like monsters. Never do.), charming when he chooses to be and has a disarming sense of humour. If you met him at your local watering hole, you’d think he was a great guy, nothing wrong there, no sir!

    At the first parole hearing, he stated that if he were allowed out, he would go right back to raping women, making absolutely sure he made no mistakes. (Mistakes as in leaving anyone breathing.) He explained that he knew he should have carried a gun for this purpose, but he felt that guns were crude and they weren’t his preferred method of killing, not intimate, you know.

    This man has been examined by teams of psychiatrists. He’s been profiled up one wall and down the other. He doesn’t fit into any handy boxes with convenient labels. He simply enjoys degrading, humiliating, torturing and destroying women. He’s yet another example of someone who functioned well in society and got away with murder for a long time because there wasn’t anything noticeably wrong with him. Do I think something is wrong, somewhere, in his wiring? Yep. However, whatever that thing is, it doesn’t show to most people or in his interactions with others. It didn’t interfere with his ability to work or get along with co-workers, neighbours, etc.

    We don’t have magic wands to reveal the bad wiring or seriously fucked up desires some people have and there’s no convenient labeled box to stuff them into, either.

    *I showed up for them for over two decades. Last time, I decided I couldn’t do it anymore. I sent letters, affadavits, all that jazz with a lawyer now. Asshole will probably outlive me.

  93. consciousness razor says

    I suggested it was highly probable he had a history of mental illness (I didn’t even present an argument, merely an assertion) and for some reason you decided to contest that.

    1) What is this high probability? Where did this suggestion/assertion of yours come from?
    2) How many murders in the US are committed by people with a history of mental illness? Any idea at all? If someone is murdered, what is the probability they were murdered by someone with a history of mental illness?
    3) People who have “a history of mental illness” covers a lot of fucking people. How very fucking specific and helpful of you. Which fucking kinds of mental illness are supposed to count, and which aren’t? All of them?

  94. says

    Ichthyic:

    What other choice IS there?

    Facing the fact that what some people like to do as a hobby or sexual outlet results in death and outside of that, they are pretty much just like everyone else.

  95. abdiel says

    The topic of this discussion was mass murderers and mental illness. I was not talking about regular homicide. Or terrorist crimes, or violent religious crimes.

    How many murders in the US are committed by people with a history of mental illness? Any idea at all? If someone is murdered, what is the probability they were murdered by someone with a history of mental illness?

  96. ladyatheist says

    Serial killers and mass or spree killers have completely different psychologies, so I don’t understand how this thread has gotten into serial killing. Serial killers are usually sociopaths because it takes a sociopathic personality to get away with it. Spree killers and mass killers are much more varied.

    When someone is under 25 years old, it’s entirely possible that the first outward “symptom” of a mental illness is a killing spree. My brother’s “prodromal” period before he was obviously schizophrenic lasted a couple of years. He was paranoid but able to keep his delusions secret for quite some time. He shared some of them with me, which was when I realized something was wrong, but until that time he may have seemed a bit strange and a classic “loner” but not mentally ill. He eventually lost his job, became homeless, and was so out of control he got kicked out of the Y for disturbing the other tenants. (My family has no idea what’s become of him now, but he’s not a mass murderer, we know that).

    So… a “history of mental illness” really means a history of people knowing that the person has a mental illness. When the killer commits suicide, if nobody knew they had delusions or deep depression, nobody ever will know.

  97. says

    I was trying to say this in the other thread. RED FUCKING HERRING. Mental illness is not the same as violent.

    And as so many psych experiments have implied, humans of all stripes can easily become violent in the right (wrong?) circumstances. Culture and personal decisions and millions of other factors are part of any murder, from the adultery turned shooting to the tragedy this morning, these people are almost never a “madman” hallucinating or being TV sociopaths.

    Really pisses me off after every shooting. First the god botherers, then the NRA, then politicos pop up and blame mental illness despite the lack of any evidence or evaluations thereof. Even most of the people who dare speak about gun control start blabbing about keeping guns out of the hands of the “mentally ill.” Several people mentioned how that was stupid, since if I had to go into some national database to get my diagnosis and by extension my medication, I certainly would not have gotten the help I needed.

  98. says

    And what the hell is a “sociopath?” Antisocial personality disorder? They aren’t serial killers any more often than any other group of people. Are serial killers by definition sociopaths? They have such vastly different psychologies from one another, based on circumstance as much as anything else. Sociopath is a pop psychology term with no real diagnostic meaning.

  99. consciousness razor says

    The topic of this discussion was mass murderers and mental illness. I was not talking about regular homicide. Or terrorist crimes, or violent religious crimes.

    Therefore, because that’s the topic* and because you’re not making some other claim, it is highly probable this guy has a history mental illness?

    Don’t you need to do a little bit of math to get a probability? And then, maybe — I don’t know, I’m kind of just guessing here — tell us what that number is after showing your work?

    *The topic is actually this: don’t do that thing which you’re doing right now.

  100. abdiel says

    That’s an excellent point, and actually does refute a lot of what I’ve been say saying :P. Another mistake I made was using the term “psychopath”. That’s not really a medical term anymore, been outdated for like 30 years. I was lazy to use such a convenient term.

    Serial killers and mass or spree killers have completely different psychologies, so I don’t understand how this thread has gotten into serial killing. Serial killers are usually sociopaths because it takes a sociopathic personality to get away with it. Spree killers and mass killers are much more varied.

    When someone is under 25 years old, it’s entirely possible that the first outward “symptom” of a mental illness is a killing spree. My brother’s “prodromal” period before he was obviously schizophrenic lasted a couple of years. He was paranoid but able to keep his delusions secret for quite some time. He shared some of them with me, which was when I realized something was wrong, but until that time he may have seemed a bit strange and a classic “loner” but not mentally ill. He eventually lost his job, became homeless, and was so out of control he got kicked out of the Y for disturbing the other tenants. (My family has no idea what’s become of him now, but he’s not a mass murderer, we know that).

    So… a “history of mental illness” really means a history of people knowing that the person has a mental illness. When the killer commits suicide, if nobody knew they had delusions or deep depression, nobody ever will know.

  101. says

    Serial killers and mass or spree killers have completely different psychologies, so I don’t understand how this thread has gotten into serial killing.

    I introduced the topic. Is that okay with you, or should I run comments in my own thread past you first?

  102. John Morales says

    [meta]

    abdiel:

    The topic of this discussion was mass murderers and mental illness.

    ‘Is”, not “was” — and, specifically, it is the employment of the “mental health” gambit (which you are essaying) to rationalise away the need to do something to help prevent such events by scapegoating those who do have mental health problems.

    In passing, I note you have conspicuously avoided responding to my #21.

  103. says

    Ichthyic @111:

    Chris, did you not have to spend a considerable amount of time othering Morin, once you found out the damage he had done? What other choice IS there?

    Not a bad point.

  104. abdiel says

    At this point you are just being a troll :P.

    Therefore, because that’s the topic* and because you’re not making some other claim, it is highly probable this guy has a history mental illness?

  105. says

    don’t understand how this thread has gotten into serial killing.

    Because of assholes like yourself, who can’t be arsed to move themselves away from the convenient little boxes they have shoved everyone in, smugly content with continued stigmatization of those with mental illness.

    The stories related which serve as illustrations to our points have obviously gone sailing atmospheres over your head, but hopefully, they’ll reach others.

  106. Ichthyic says

    Not a bad point.

    it’s also not meant to be rhetorical; if you, or anyone, can figure out a better way, I’m all ears.

    maybe there is a better way, and we just haven’t really explored it.

  107. consciousness razor says

    At this point you are just being a troll :P.

    Nope. I’m waiting for you to admit your claims are based on nothing. I might be nice after that.

  108. abdiel says

    Which I granted in my first post. Also, what is there to reply to in #21? You were wrong.
    specifically, it is the employment of the “mental health” gambit (which you are essaying) to rationalise away the need to do something to help prevent such events by scapegoating those who do have mental health problems.

    In passing, I note you have conspicuously avoided responding to my #21.

  109. abdiel says

    I thought I said that already, or does assertion not mean what I think it means?

    Nope. I’m waiting for you to admit your claims are based on nothing. I might be nice after that.

  110. says

    As an illustration of just how normal a person willing to kill for fun can appear to be, I’m going to tell a story. There’s a big fucking trigger warning on this one.

    The man who tried to kill me in no way appeared to have anything “wrong” with him mentally or emotionally. He was very charming. He was a comic book geek and a hipster. He was the sort of guy you’d be very likely to run into at a convention and also be very likely to like. This should stand at odds with the way that he methodically and ruthlessly tore down any faith young women had in themselves, but he did it in such an engaging way. He made it a joke, as he pointed out that it as just a little bit unbelievable that every single girl showing up at that crisis center claimed to be raped and most of them multiple times. He made it a joke when he pointed out how stupid you were. He made it oh-so-endearing as he told you how wrong you were, but it was okay because he could look past that.

    Sure, there were warning signs, but he didn’t have them flashing in neon. He didn’t talk to voices in his head. He didn’t have any beliefs or attitudes that would be unusual to find in any young straight white man across America. I suppose a religious bigot might consider him a threat since he was an atheist, but that’s obviously not generally a warning sign, is it?

    Except for the fact that his jokes and his charm and his oh-so-friendly insults culminated in ripping a woman’s clothing off. He laughed when he did it. No, no, these aren’t the acts of a violent monster, you silly girl! See? We’re all just having fun here.

    I don’t recall any jokes when he started the choking, nor any charm at that point.

    Yet when would someone have been able to tell he was a rapist? What mental illness was written across his face that would tell the world he was going to try to kill me?

    How would “better mental healthcare” have stopped him before that point? What in the world would they be looking for? Nothing he believed or did was “crazy”. He was simply willing to take certain cultural assumptions further than most.

  111. Josh, Exasperated SpokesGay says

    Oh my. I’ve been outdone by real life. From a news report:

    Beth Israel, a neighbor of the Lanza family whose daughter went to elementary school with Adam, said she recalled the suspected gunman as a “socially awkward” teenager.

    “He was kind of a loner and shy. He didn’t look you in the eye,” she said.

  112. consciousness razor says

    I thought I said that already, or does assertion not mean what I think it means?

    “Assumption” is a bit more specific, but assertion works. Since you’ve filled this thread up with it, it seems you think this is actually the case, even though you openly admit you think that for no particular reason.

    Do you think you should believe things for no particular reason? Do you think you should say negative shit about people with mental illnesses, even though you openly admit to having no reason to think they’re true? Do you think it’s fair to say that being upset about someone else doing that and insisting on better is “trolling”?

    P.S. It’s much easier to follow a conversation, if quoted material comes before your responses to it.

  113. says

    “He was kind of a loner and shy. He didn’t look you in the eye,” she said.

    Uh huh. They *always* are.

    :eyeroll:

    It never ceases to amaze just how much people manage to ‘see’ in hindsight. No, of course he wasn’t a perfectly normal teenager, with all the normal angstiness of that life period, nope. Now he’s the ever dangerous shy loner!!1!

    Just imagine what she’d be saying if there was a news story about how he was a savvy geek with great business sense who just made his first million bucks.

  114. abdiel says

    Erm, have you read any of what I’ve typed up till now? I never did any of that. Show me one quote where I talked shit about people with mental illnesses. Where are you pulling this shit from?

    Also I haven’t quite figured out what the endquote tag is supposed to be so I have to put it at the end to keep my post from being 1 big quote :3.

    Do you think you should believe things for no particular reason? Do you think you should say negative shit about people with mental illnesses, even though you openly admit to having no reason to think they’re true? Do you think it’s fair to say that being upset about someone else doing that and insisting on better is “trolling”?

    P.S. It’s much easier to follow a conversation, if quoted material comes before your responses to it.

  115. John Morales says

    [OT + meta]

    CR, re the response preceding the quotation, it’s uncanny how Christtester was the only other person with that little foible that I’ve noticed here.

  116. says

    WMDKitty:

    Where might one find help with this socialization/life lessons thing?

    This is exactly what we’re opining about – there are no easily obtainable, accessible to all resources for people. Everyone is stuck floundering about on their own, muddling through as best they can.

    Right now, I’d say the best bet, resource-wise, for a lot of people is internet communities, like this one. We aren’t without our problems, but the Pharyngula Horde has always been ready, willing and able to offer help and assistance of all kinds to anyone in need.

  117. says

    Caerie:

    How would “better mental healthcare” have stopped him before that point? What in the world would they be looking for? Nothing he believed or did was “crazy”.

    Yep, same with my would be murderer. Same with Chris’s former friend, too. So, that’s three of us in this little thread.

    You never know how many there are and you never know when you’re talking to one and there’s no easy way to spot them. No easy box to stuff them into, no easy way to label them.

  118. consciousness razor says

    Show me one quote where I talked shit about people with mental illnesses. Where are you pulling this shit from?

    Look, if you’re so willing to go straight from “mass murderers” to “people with mental illnesses,” I’d say that’s pretty fucking suggestive of a negative opinion of people with mental illnesses.

    I really doubt it, but maybe you have a high opinion of mass murderers. Who knows?

    Also I haven’t quite figured out what the endquote tag is supposed to be so I have to put it at the end to keep my post from being 1 big quote :3.

    Ah. I’ll help, since I’m no troll:
    <blockquote> QUOTE </blockquote>

    To close any tag, you just add a “/” for the closing tag like that (but some like “a href” just need “/a”).

  119. Ichthyic says

    “He was kind of a loner and shy. He didn’t look you in the eye,” she said.

    Five bucks says Cuttlefish could make a fantastic poem out of that.

  120. ladyatheist says

    The evil flower said: “Because of assholes like yourself, who can’t be arsed to move themselves away from the convenient little boxes they have shoved everyone in, smugly content with continued stigmatization of those with mental illness.

    The stories related which serve as illustrations to our points have obviously gone sailing atmospheres over your head, but hopefully, they’ll reach others.”

    My response 1) calling me an asshole gets you negative points
    2) What boxes are you talking about? I grew up with mentally ill family members so uhh what?
    3) I ignored the off-topic stories about serial killers, so they didn’t go over my head, they just weren’t worth my time, as I’m not really interested in serial killers

    and then to this “Right now, I’d say the best bet, resource-wise, for a lot of people is internet communities, like this one. We aren’t without our problems, but the Pharyngula Horde has always been ready, willing and able to offer help and assistance of all kinds to anyone in need.”

    … if you want to make Phryngula a helpful community, you could start by not calling people assholes

  121. abdiel says

    Look, if you’re so willing to go straight from “mass murderers” to “people with mental illnesses,” I’d say that’s pretty fucking suggestive of a negative opinion of people with mental illnesses.

    Again, where did I do that?

  122. Ichthyic says

    Look, if you’re so willing to go straight from “mass murderers” to “people with mental illnesses,” I’d say that’s pretty fucking suggestive of a negative opinion of people with mental illnesses.

    it seems a common attitude in most places I’ve lived, that mental illness is always categorized as “different” than any other illness, and almost always with an added negative connotation.

    Would anyone expect someone in a wheel chair to try and run them down, because they have a physical illness/disability?

    If I break my leg, and am using crutches, would you expect that I would then be likely to randomly beat someone to death with those crutches?

    If I have a cold or the flu, do people conclude I am now an evil person, liable to commit morally grave ills to society?

    I don’t really completely understand why there appears to be a qualitative difference in people’s minds between mental illness and other types of illness; maybe it stems from it being a later edition to scientific medicine, but it’s most certainly there, and creates destructive bias against progressing our treatment of mental illnesses.

  123. mikeyb says

    What’s gonna happen to deal with mental health or gun control afer yet another horrific tragedy

    notafuckingthing

    If a guy went to an NFL game and gunned down 10,000 fans on live television what would happen

    Bob Costas might right another column ringing his hands about gun violence
    and then what would happen

    notafuckingthing

    there is a price for living in dumbfuckistan run by nra barbarians

    totally fucking unnecessary and depressing

  124. says

    Ichthyic @158

    “Would anyone expect someone in a wheel chair to try and run them down, because they have a physical illness/disability?”

    I’m in a wheelchair. Manual for around home and travel via car (it folds up), motorized for outdoors-y stuff. I’ve had people be like, “whoa, don’t run me over”. Sometimes jokingly, sometimes… I really couldn’t tell if they were joking or serious. Either way, I’m not the type to run someone over. Really. I’ll swerve to avoid worms and bugs. The “Speed Racer” jokes and comments about “don’t get a ticket,” “can I get a ride?” and the like? I can seriously do without. (They get really old after 31 years of constant repetition.)

  125. consciousness razor says

    Look, if you’re so willing to go straight from “mass murderers” to “people with mental illnesses,” I’d say that’s pretty fucking suggestive of a negative opinion of people with mental illnesses.

    Again, where did I do that?

    Christ, have you been asleep? Let’s start at the beginning:

    But is anyone here really denying that some sort of psychopathy/ASPD was involved? There was no ideology/religion involved in this crime. What else would you call it?

    I just don’t see any evidence that people without severe ASPD or psychopathy ever decide to brutally murder little children (again with the exception of religious/ideological motivations, and even then only if soem sort of church/terrorist group is directly involved).

    First of all I wouldn’t call anyone who abuses their children “mentally healthy”. Also, there is a huge difference between a child abuser and a mass murderer. The two involve very different kinds of people.

    I suppose this implies mass murderers are worse and even less “mentally healthy” than child abusers, thus you would apparently say they all must have some super-duper bad mental health issue.

    Provide a good journal citation supporting the claim that mental health isn’t decisive a factor in non-political, non-religious, mass shootings and maybe you won’t be such a hypocrite. Until then everything I’ve said up till now is fairly self-evident. I really don’t get why you people are trying so hard to contest this point. It’s embarrassing, for you.

    If I am wrong about this I would like to know, I but most of the literature I’ve read does seem to support the notion that these kinds of crimes (mass shootings in 1st world nations) are committed by people with severe psychiatric disorders.

    I’m wasn’t claiming a diagnosis, merely saying that it was highly probable that this guy did have some sort of history of mental illness, and that it is a factor requiring consideration.

    Also I never claimed to know anything so please cut that shit out. I suggested it was highly probable he had a history of mental illness (I didn’t even present an argument, merely an assertion) and for some reason you decided to contest that.

    Notice that at one point you said this was “self-evident” (!!) and embarrassing for anyone to even contest it (!!!) and initially any other possibility wasn’t even conceivable (!!!!), yet now you apparently never claimed to know any such thing. (???) And that it is probable (????) And that you’re just saying it’s probable but don’t mean it. (??????)

  126. Ichthyic says

    Either way, I’m not the type to run someone over.

    oh sure, you say that NOW… but when you go on your massive murder spree and start splattering people all over the road, they will interview me and I’ll say…

    “Xe was kind of a loner and shy. Xe didn’t look you in the eye,” Xe said.

  127. yubal says

    105 ladyatheist,

    What has his aspergers to do with that? Aspies are awkward but they are also somewhat resistant to bullying and solitude. Aspies are not known to display sociopathic behavior, they are just off the grid a little and always talk about the same sort of things.

    First the Muslims and now the aspies or what?

  128. says

    Too many people who make the no true human or “needs mental illness to do X” argument are confusing psychiatric pathology with personality traits, formed by a mixture of genetic, societal and parental factors. How many psychiatrists interviewed and examined Breivik? And they couldn’t figure out what DSM label to slap on him, if any.

    My personal feeling is that any homo sapiens can snap, when enough adverse factors come together. No DSM diagnosis required. Alcohol and drugs may help to hasten escalation. And at that point, if they have the opportunity to get hold of a gun easily, this is what you may get. If this guy had been required to get a permit and an evaluation, maybe his obvious rage would have been blown over by then.

  129. says

    “He was kind of a loner and shy. He didn’t look you in the eye,” she said.

    Five bucks says Cuttlefish could make a fantastic poem out of that.

    Sucker bet. #fishpuns

    My response 1) calling me an asshole gets you negative points

    Welcome to Pharyngula. Here’s your accordion.

  130. says

    The media seems to be coming to a consensus that it’s autism. Conflation of autism with mental illness seems to be the order of the day. The same happened after the Aurora shootings.

    Well, you know how I feel about that:
    http://autistwriter.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/did-you-doubt-it-for-a-second/

    Someone mentioned upstream about how mass murderers have to other their victims. I’d put forward the idea that in many of these cases society has othered the shooters long before the event took place.

  131. says

    Aspies are awkward but they are also somewhat resistant to bullying and solitude. Aspies are not known to display sociopathic behavior, they are just off the grid a little and always talk about the same sort of things.

    Either go away and find out what Aspergers is, or keep your mouth shut. Comments like this are not helpful.

    Hey, fellow Aspies! *waves* Did you know you were resistant to bullying?

  132. says

    Tielserrath:

    I’d put forward the idea that in many of these cases society has othered the shooters long before the event took place.

    I agree, noisily. It’s good to see you here again.

  133. consciousness razor says

    Hey, fellow Aspies! *waves* Did you know you were resistant to bullying?

    Wait a second. I’m resistant to bullying…. Does that mean? No. Wait. Okay. I’m Spartacus!

    tielserrath: if I recall correctly, English isn’t yubal’s first language. I doubt it makes sense in translation either, but I guess somehow it could get mangled up… a lot.

  134. says

    Rorschach:

    Too many people who make the no true human or “needs mental illness to do X” argument are confusing psychiatric pathology with personality traits, formed by a mixture of genetic, societal and parental factors. How many psychiatrists interviewed and examined Breivik? And they couldn’t figure out what DSM label to slap on him, if any.

    Exactly. This was the point of the stories shared by Chris, Caerie and myself. After the fact, there tends to be noise about “oh, sociopath” or “antisocial personality disorder”, yada yada yada, but all those are is a catch all for the people who defy a handy diagnosis label.

  135. abdiel says

    Razor, you said:

    Look, if you’re so willing to go straight from “mass murderers” to “people with mental illnesses,” I’d say that’s pretty fucking suggestive of a negative opinion of people with mental illnesses.

    charging that I had some sort of prejudice against people with mental ailments.

    What exactly are you trying to say? That because I say that mass murderers usually have some kind of severe psychiatric disorder, I’m must be saying anyone with a mental illness is a potential Seung-Hui Cho?

    By that line of reasoning saying African Americans make up a disproportionate percentage of the prison population is some kind of slur against anyone black?

    If that is what you mean’t, are you really unaware of how bad that line of reasoning is? If you mean’t something else, you should clarify on how saying what I did is a slander against anyone with a “mental illness”.

  136. Ichthyic says

    As long as you aren’t Spartacats. That’s the not-so-secret identity of this Anthony K chap.

    Now that the names have changed to protect the innocent, is there still a line for group sex?

  137. says

    Hi Caine!

    Yes, it’s been rough. Big issue has settled down now and I’m back home.

    Yubal:

    People who have an ASD are not ‘off the grid a little’. They have specific difficulties with social function, sensory overload, and repetitive behaviours or stimming.
    There is usually a heightened sensory and emotional sensitivity (see: Intense World Syndrome), making them less resistant to bullying than non-autistics.
    We may have narrow or specific interests, but some of us don’t talk about them at all

    The type of issues you are describing are those in the new DSM-5 that have been separated from autism because they are a disorder solely of social functioning. Aspergers included some of these by default, but I think ditching Aspergers as a diagnosis was a good idea because now the division is much clearer.

    And now I’m going to stop derailing, just ending with a plea: if you’re going to talk about autism or Asperger’s, please make sure you know what they are.

    /derail.

  138. consciousness razor says

    Spartacus was very resistant to bullying I hear.

    I thought it was apt. :)

    That because I say that mass murderers usually have some kind of severe psychiatric disorder,

    So your claim is now “usually”? Earlier, it was inconceivable that any mass murderer could not have a psychiatric disorder of some kind. Those are very different claims.

  139. mesh says

    Hey, fellow Aspies! *waves* Did you know you were resistant to bullying?

    I had no idea! Good to know that my disorder is also a superpower. Can I communicate with sea creatures, too?

  140. erikthebassist says

    Ok, long thread I’m admittedly skipping most of the comments because this post hit me hard. I’ve been steaming all day long about how the argument is being hijacked by gun control radicals on one hand, and NRA freaks on the other, not realizing that mental health was being discussed at all, at least that was my perception from the people I work with, the news I’ve watched and the stupid fucking facebook posts I’ve read. So I wrote this on FB: (admittedly I’m trying not to turn off the gun nuts here, but I actually do believe less guns = less death and suffering, period, end of story. I’m not convinced the banishment of guns in the US is achievable to any great degree, but I’d love to see it happen)

    Ok here’s my $.02 – Gun control? Not going to stop things like what happened today, but I’m still for rational gun control laws. Why? Because of the 34,000 other people that are killed a year by guns. If responsible gun control laws reduced that number by even 10% it would be worth doing and the 2nd amendment remains intact.

    But here’s the real problem, or at least a big chunk of it: We don’t take mental health seriously in this country. Most of us don’t know the signs, but even if we suspect a loved one of needing help, we don’t step in because a) we’re actually powerless to force them to get help or b) we don’t want to burden them with the stigma society attaches to being “crazy” or c) we’re afraid an intervention will make it worse, because again, we don’t have the knowledge to know what mental health professionals are capable of.

    We don’t spend enough on the science to understand the brain even though we have new and amazing tools to do so. We distrust the pharmaceutical companies so we don’t trust the drugs they sell that can and actually do save lives.

    You can’t keep guns off the streets, this is true. No one can say if this could have been avoided with better laws, but we could certainly take a chunk out of that 34,000 if we tried, just like the automotive industry has done, reducing automobile accident deaths by almost 25% over the last decade.

    There is no one answer, it’s going to take a multi-pronged approach. We can’t lay this tragedy at the feet of any single one of our failings as a society, but if we don’t start looking more closely at the issue and taking steps in the right direction, it’s only going to get worse.

    My heart weeps, but I’m also pissed and angry and want to just say “Wake the Fuck Up!”

    Maybe it’s because I lost my best friend when I was 22, he shot himself with a borrowed shotgun. I can blame his access to the gun but that would be folly. The real blame lies with every one in his social sphere that wasn’t at least basically informed about mental health issues and how they manifest. A psychiatry 101 class in high school for all of us might have saved his life, and I have to wonder if it could have saved almost 30 lives today if it were ubiquitous.

    I think it’s impossible to argue for the banishment of guns, which I see a lot of people doing. That’s just not a realistic solution to the problem as it stands today. We’d be about as successful at banishing guns as we are at banishing drugs, which isn’t very. In fact, you’d probably take more guns off the streets by legalizing drugs than you would with a gun ban, meanwhile we lock up the mentally ill for self medicating with “drugs” in the absence of adequate health care.

    So yeah, I make the assumption that this person (I won’t speak the name and feed the martyrdom fire) is mentally ill at some level. So I come here and read this post, and the original post linked by PZ, and wonder when it is I’m going to have a thought in my head that isn’t thoroughly demolished and reconstructed by PZ and the commentariat here. Now I have to go back to that post and link this, and admit I was fucking wrong. I hate you people.

  141. says

    So I come here and read this post, and the original post linked by PZ, and wonder when it is I’m going to have a thought in my head that isn’t thoroughly demolished and reconstructed by PZ and the commentariat here. Now I have to go back to that post and link this, and admit I was fucking wrong. I hate you people

    I probably ought to wait until later to tell you PZ didn’t write the post, sounds like.

  142. says

    Tielserrath:

    Yes, it’s been rough. Big issue has settled down now and I’m back home.

    I’m happy to hear this and so very relieved that you’re alright. ♥

    It’s not at all a derail to clarify Asperger’s and autism, especially given some of the nonsense dropped about in this thread.

  143. erikthebassist says

    and yeah I just fucking realized Chris was the OP, I’m such an ass, sorry Chris, skipped the byline to the original blog post! spent most of my time having my stupid ideas get corrected in my head over there, my bad, sorry!

  144. Agent Silversmith, Honey Powered says

    Blaming an act like this on mental illness is the secular equivalent of “The devil made them do it”. While mental illness is real, it doesn’t act in loco diabolis. Positing it is a non-explanation.

    All we know is that Lanza was willing to perform this heinous act, and made the decision to carry it out. Overcoming the innate inhibitors against going through with it might require a lot of rage and self-justification, but it doesn’t require organic brain dysfunction.

  145. bad Jim says

    Apologies for stating the obvious, but one of the motives for ascribing mental illness to mass murderers is that it prescribes a neat solution to the gun control issue: make sure that people like them can’t get a gun, or detect the problem so that they get therapy before they get a gun. The chief problem with that neat solution, even if the diagnosis were correct, is that we have no way to do it.

  146. consciousness razor says

    By that line of reasoning saying African Americans make up a disproportionate percentage of the prison population is some kind of slur against anyone black?

    Let’s make this analogous to the situation we’re actually in.

    You know someone committed murder. Suppose you also know some statistic (which I just invented) that people who commit murder are disproportionately black. That is what you know.

    So when you hear about this murder, you happen upon a thread where people have made a point to say “Hey, everyone, please don’t jump to conclusions that this is a black person. Could be, but we don’t really know.”

    That is when you say, “But is anyone here really denying that a black person was involved?” Does that make any sense to you? Is that the sort of thing you would say?

  147. erikthebassist says

    @189 thanks Caine, another day, another layer of ignorance peeled off this brain of mine. In my humility I appreciate the hugs. In light of the day’s events, I’ll take hugs wherever I can get them.

  148. yubal says

    174, Caine, Fleur du mal

    I didn’t say I am a template. If you are autistic you are target of bullying, just because. You grow up like that. You know nothing else.

    Either you get used to it and develop your strategies or you perish.

    my opinion.

  149. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Either go away and find out what Aspergers is, or keep your mouth shut. Comments like this are not helpful.

    Hey, fellow Aspies! *waves* Did you know you were resistant to bullying?

    There are certain kinds of peer pressure that people on the spectrum don’t pick up nearly as well and thus aren’t as affected by; I suppose this could be a garbled version of that. Or it’s like the “every autistic is a savant” garbage. Either way, really.

  150. says

    Ichthyic (#162) — *snorf* I have considered adding a “cow-catcher*” to deal with the slow-moving humans.

    *(You know, that thing you always see on teh front of old-time-y trains? THAT thing!)

    Tielserrath (#166) — “I’d put forward the idea that in many of these cases society has othered the shooters long before the event took place.”

    What you said, right there, is absolutely correct.

    And at #17 — “There is usually a heightened sensory and emotional sensitivity (see: Intense World Syndrome), making them less resistant to bullying than non-autistics.”

    Interesting. I wonder if it’s linked to Sensory Processing Disorder.

  151. yubal says

    177, tielserrath

    You made some comments about AS and its latest sub-categorizations and stuff going on there, but you know know what? I do not actually care how it is called now 20 years later or if I should go do some test to find my appropriate sub-category on the ‘2012 scale’. I do not even care much about the ongoing debate of what part of spectrum it belongs to and where I fit in. I care about my family, my job and myself and that everything works out fine in the end.

    What disturbed me originally was that, without any sustainable evidence, someone linked aspergers (or hfASD, whatever…) to heinous crimes against innocent children. Just by dropping a line like, “oh, you know, and he had aspergers” (in the sense of :” we can understand now that he was a sicko anyway and why he was able to do that”).

  152. says

    I didn’t say I am a template. If you are autistic you are target of bullying, just because. You grow up like that. You know nothing else.

    Either you get used to it and develop your strategies or you perish.

    Okay. As mentioned upstream, I recognise that english is not your first language. However, you did come in making statements about Asperger’s that were untrue, and there are a number of regulars here who are on the spectrum, who have varying degrees of disability as a result.

    If you are talking about your Asperger’s, then state this before you describe how you perceive it. Don’t start your post with ‘Aspies are…’ . This is likely to get you in trouble the same way starting a post with ‘Women are…’ .

    And finally, if you have a confirmed clinical diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (and are not self-diagnosing based on social awkwardness alone, which is *not* autism), then you really need to do some more reading about it. It’s a complex disorder that affects a lot more than how you interact with people.

  153. Kate Donovan says

    Goodness you are all wonderful. Correct determinations of autism/Asperger’s? No True Human (which I shall promptly steal and credit), logical discussions and branches of stuff I really hadn’t considered at all?
    This cannot be real. It’s a comments section constructed entirely in my head, out of pure fantasy.

  154. abdiel says

    So your claim is now “usually”? Earlier, it was inconceivable that any mass murderer could not have a psychiatric disorder of some kind.

    And now watch me backtrack even further :O. So it took a little while to find, JSTOR wasn’t being very cooperative, but I did finally find some research on the topic, though most sources seem to suggest this topic hasn’t been researched much by criminologists or psychologists due to the low incidence rate of mass homicides. The nature of personality disorders also makes it difficult to determine their onset or significance. So it has not yet been established, contrary to what I assumed, that personality disorders are a significant factor in mass shootings. Gah, I guess that saying about assumptions is right :/.

    But yeah most of the research does suggest the majority of mass murderers are not psychotic, and only 23% had a documented psychiatric history, and 6% were believed to be psychotic at the time of the murders. So psychopathy clearly isn’t a major factor in mass murders, with the exception of that 6%.

    Aitken, L., Oosthuizen, P., Emsley, R., & Seedat, S. (2008). Mass murders: Implications for mental health professionals. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 38(3), 261-9
    Meloy JR, Hempel AG, Mohandie K, Shiva AA, Gray BT. Offender and
    offense characteristics of a nonrandom sample of adolescent mass murderers.
    Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 2001;40(6):
    719-728.

  155. abdiel says

    psychotic ≠ psychopathy

    totally different things

    >_<, bare with me, I'm 26 hours without sleep working on a term paper, and getting ready for my last 2 finals for the semester.

  156. John Morales says

    [meta]

    abdiel, pleading exhaustion and pressing duties garners you no sympathy when it is your own choice to comment right now despite those factors.

    I advise you to get some sleep and prepare for your finals rather than indulge your need to comment here (and doing so poorly due to exhaustion and distraction).

    (Priorities!)

  157. Tony ∞The Queer Shoop∞ says

    Kate @200:
    From your comments, it seems you haven’t seen Pharyngulites in action. You should stock up on popcorn, bc there are some witty, intelligent, snarky, empathetic people who frequent this blog. Too many to name, but awesome people all around. Check out The Lounge where eveyone is friendly and we discuss our lives and interests.
    ****
    Chris:
    Homeslice?? Thou art a strange fellow indeedy.

  158. carlie says

    Where might one find help with this socialization/life lessons thing?

    In my own little sphere, we’ve gotten it from clinical psychologists and social workers, which is why I badly conflated it with the term “mental health care”. But you shouldn’t have to have great health insurance and the ability to do a $20 copay every week or two to learn this stuff. :(

  159. madtom1999 says

    I’m surprised the Gun Lobby hasnt come out with the argument that if the kids had been tooled up this wouldnt have happened – its what they normally seem to do.

  160. says

    We say something is red if it reflects red light. It says nothing about whether it reflects IR or UV or whatever. And why does it reflect red light Because it’s red.

    It’s just a property, and it’s only slightly informative. But it being red doesn’t tell you if it reflects UV or IV.

    Another way of saying it is that coughing is a symptom is sickness. Does it mean it’s caused by sickness? Not always. Coughing is also a symptom of inhaling dust. Dust doesn’t cause coughing, either.

    Same with having a mental illness. Some violence – and I’d say much or most – is the symptom of mental illness. But symptoms don’t mean caused by, merely associated with. Nor is it very useful to say they were mentally ill, since we don’t currently have a way to detect these impulses ahead of time, nor legal avenues. Lots of hurdles here.

  161. kate_waters says

    @ crissa # 208

    Wow. You’re just a clueless, abelist asshole, aren’t you? Did you even bother to read the thread before you pulled that odious pile of garbage out of your ass?

    Your idiocy has already been refuted, long ago.

    I hope you realize what a fucking jerk you’ve been and. Feel sorely ashamed of yourself.

    If you think that most violence. Is perpetrated by the mentally ill then yo’re either willfully ignorant or just a terrible person.

  162. TheBlackCat says

    Suppose you also know some statistic (which I just invented) that people who commit murder are disproportionately black.

    To correct your analog a little, “Suppose you also assume there must be some statistic that people who commit murder are disproportionately black, but never actually bothered to check whether it is true.”

  163. mirror says

    I figure the availability of guns at the wrong time and the paranoia of the gun culture that encourages people to see guns as the great equalizer is the driving force behind these kinds of killings. However, it is also ideological to refuse to examine the obvious poor or collapsed mental state of a person who would do such a thing because you don’t want to take the focus off the guns.

    (I agree the ease of obtaining large clips and assault rifles in red states for use in blue states where they are barred would have once been a much easier problem to solve than the mental states of individuals, but the gun nuts and George Bush let the assault weapons ban lapse and are working as hard as they can to spread weapons throughout or society.)

    Whether somebody meets the definition of sane for standing trial is a shitty definition of mental health. I’ve worked advocating for mentally ill citizens asserting their rights. Sometimes it can get a lot shittier if one doesn’t seek and/or accept help of one kind or another. Sometimes it is better if friends or family or healthcare providers ARE concerned EARLY ON that someone could get hurt. At minimum, we should be having educational campaigns inviting people to examine the wisdom of keeping guns in their homes, but the NRA and the gun nuts really really don’t want people talking about whether guns in the home is safe.

    But maybe I can’t participate in this discussion because I believe that someone who would kill 27 people like this is by definition at least temporarily insane, by common definition. I don’t need a clinical definition to know that something either was wrong or went wrong in this guy’s mental/emotional state.

  164. Beatrice says

    No True Human is an apt name. I have to admit that I often commit this fallacy when it comes to cases such as this one, even though I try not to.

    Thank you all for taking time to write about this (especially to Caine and Caerie who wrote about their horrific experiences) and thoroughly debunk all the wrong arguments. I’m learning.

  165. shawnthesheep says

    Historically, the overwhelming majority of perpetrators of mass shootings have been diagnosed with a mental illness, based on current diagnostic standards. Therefore, I don’t think it’s quackery to presume that the gentleman who shot his mother and then went to the school where she taught to murder her students might have had a mental illness. Clearly, the man’s mental state should be investigated and experts should attempt to make a determination on what mental illness, if any, he might have been suffering from.

  166. John Morales says

    mirror:

    But maybe I can’t participate in this discussion because I believe that someone who would kill 27 people like this is by definition at least temporarily insane, by common definition.

    You may believe that, but you are wrong; the common definition of insanity is ongoing (or chronic) mental disorder or illness.

    I don’t need a clinical definition to know that something either was wrong or went wrong in this guy’s mental/emotional state.

    Neither do I need a clinical definition to know that mental and emotional states that occasion criminal behaviour are not perforce insanity, but rather crimes of passion.

    (You would have it that if I (say) unfairly snap at a friend in a moment of frustration, I am temporarily insane, inasmuch as that is a mental state gone wrong. No, no and a thousand times no)

  167. John Morales says

    shawnthesheep:

    Historically, the overwhelming majority of perpetrators of mass shootings have been diagnosed with a mental illness, based on current diagnostic standards.

    By this unsubstantiated claim, I infer that either you commented without reading the comments prior to yours (cf. abdiel’s #201 not far above) or you dispute the studies cited therein.

    (Which is it?)

  168. Maureen Brian says

    Sorry, shawnthesheep, but it has always proved difficult to produce an accurate psychiatric diagnosis on someone already dead. It is hard enough with live people. Of the information you might obtain from others after the event there is no scientific way to discern what is objective observation, what is hearsay and what is special pleading. And as most of the killers in these incidents end up dead …….

    As others have noted there are other explanations to be tested before we all leap into the warm and comfortingly muddy pool of blaming mental illness.

    I’ll just leave this here but, as ever, avoid the comments.

    http://www.examiner.com/article/connecticut-shooting-white-males-and-mass-murder

  169. davem says

    why do those things happen more often in the USA than in other countries with extremely relaxed gun laws (e.g. Canada)?

    Fear? Michael Moore covered that quite well, I thought. At least that’s why I believe that so many Americans have guns, and are so resistant to losing them. As to the automatic rifle, I think that that’s a culture thing; the ‘Wild West’ extended. And that stupid out-of-date constitution.

    Is there something wrong with the society here? Do we “produce” amok shooters?

    Clearly, yes. But I think that proper gun laws would help greatly.

    If I was of the mind to go out and kill lots of people, I’d have to get myself a gun. I have no idea how to do that. Seriously, no idea. I guess I’d have to find a gunshop on the Internet, drive to it (none in my town, AFAIAA), and ask them how to proceed. Without access to the criminal underworld, I’d have to pop down to my local police station to get a licence to hold a firearm. I’d have a background check done on me. I’d be asked why I needed a firearm (self-defence doesn’t count). I couldn’t buy an automatic weapon of any sort. Then I’d have to show the police that I have a safe place to store it.

    None of this would stop me if I were serious. But I’d have to plan it way in advance. There is no way I could suddenly ‘see the red mist’ and go on a shooting spree. This is not a solution to the problem, but it sure would prevent most shootings.

    According to the Interwebs, gun ownership in the UK is about 1.5% of the population. Even that figure surprises me somewhat. . Shooting sprees have happened in the UK, but we’re making 98.5% of the potential killers work for it, rather than handing them weapons on a plate. Here’s the conditions on a UK gun site:

    Please be aware that UK gun law is very strict and that many of the guns advertised for sale require you to have a shotgun license or firearms certificate that will need to be produced at the time of purchase. In all adverts, we will display the license or certificate that is required to buy each gun.

    I checked out rifles that I could buy, and the web site fell over. Seems to me to be an error in the right direction.

  170. Rodney Nelson says

    From the link Maureen gave in #217:

    Rachel Kalish and Michael Kimmel (2010) proposed a mechanism that might well explain why white males are routinely going crazy and killing people. It’s called “aggrieved entitlement.” According to the authors, it is “a gendered emotion, a fusion of that humiliating loss of manhood and the moral obligation and entitlement to get it back. And its gender is masculine.”

    We see this in the feminism threads. The MRAs complain bitterly about feminism is denying men their proper place at the top of the social pyramid. What they don’t see is how feminism is about everyone, men and women, adults and children. As Bell Hooks in Feminism is for Everyone put it:

    Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. This was a definition of feminism I offered in Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center more than 10 years ago. It was my hope at the time that it would become a common definition everyone would use. I liked this definition because it did not imply that men were the enemy. By naming sexism as the problem it went directly to the heart of the matter. Practically, it is a definition which implies that all sexist thinking and action is the problem…It is also broad enough to include an understanding of systemic institutionalized sexism. As a definition it is open-ended. To understand feminism it implies one has to necessarily understand sexism.

    Sorry for the derail.

  171. iiandyiiii says

    I’m guilty of jumping on the “blame poor mental health care” boat. But I don’t see another solution. I just don’t see how, realistically and logistically, gun control laws would actually help in these cases (in anything but perhaps the very, very long-term- long enough for existing guns to physically disintegrate). I don’t think a law banning guns, or banning particular kinds of guns would have much of an effect if those guns are already common. Banning automatic weapons has actually worked, in general- very few crimes (relatively speaking) are committed with full-auto capable weapons- because there were not very many full-auto capable weapons in private hands before the ban. But a ban or further restrictions on any type of gun that is already very common is IMO going to be, at best, as effective as bans on marijuana and alcohol. Essentially, banning or restricting a product that is very common and with a high demand just doesn’t seem to work.

    I’d be all for bans and restrictions if I thought they’d actually work in America- I don’t particularly care about (mis-)interpretations of the 2nd Amendment, and I don’t really believe restrictions on guns restricts our “freedom”. But I just don’t think it would have much of an effect, were it even politically possible.

    I think this will only change with a big change in our culture, and that’s going to take a while. I’m all for changing our culture, though.

  172. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I don’t think a law banning guns, or banning particular kinds of guns would have much of an effect if those guns are already common.

    You are refuted by reality. Gun control does work, just not fast or dramatically.

  173. carlie says

    abdiel, thank you for #201. Too many people simply leave after their assumptions are challenged, never look it up, and certainly never admit they were in error. Good on you.

  174. iiandyiiii says

    222- I don’t get it. For one thing, I did say that in the long, long term, it might work- no more new guns, and we just have to wait for the old guns to become unusable. But what in that post refutes what I said? Were the number of guns in Australia similar on a per-capita basis as they are now in America (I’m asking because I don’t know- I know that now, Australia has far, far fewer guns per capita, but I can’t find numbers before the Australian laws were put in place)? Why would gun bans or restrictions be any more effective at reducing their numbers than drug bans or restrictions?

  175. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Why would gun bans or restrictions be any more effective at reducing their numbers than drug bans or restrictions?

    You are either part of the solution or part of the problem. If you are afraid to do something that would work, even slightly, you are part of the problem. Which by your inability to have a solution, makes that the case.

  176. iiandyiiii says

    I’m not afraid- I’d certainly vote for and support politicians who advocate more gun control. So if you’re saying that it would have a small but beneficial effect on reducing the number and severity of shootings like this, then I agree.

  177. Nepenthe says

    What the study that I was able to access from 201 actually says, with emphasis added.

    Twenty-three percent (n = 7/30) of the subjects had a documented psychiatric history: at least one psychiatric hospitalization or one visit with a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker. Four of the subjects had been treated with antidepressants, and one was treated with methylphenidate. As a result of confidentialitylaws for the protection of minors, these data likely underestimate the subjects’ mental health treatment.
    We also assessed evidence of psychotic symptoms at the time of the mass murder. Only two subjects (6%) exhibited behaviors that led us to infer the presence of delusions, auditory or visual hallucinations, or loss of contact with consensual reality. Depressive symptoms were suggested in several subjects at the time of the mass murder but were poorly documented, precluding us from suggesting a DSM-IV diagnosis. Sixty-three percent of the subjects who killed in schools (n = 518) had depressive symptoms at the time of the crime. Odd, reclusive and dramatic acting out patterns of behavior–perhaps a prelude to adult personality disorder–were suggested by history in a majority of the subjects. We determined these patterns through our combined psychiatric and psychological clinical judgments and through discussion of the totality of evidence available to us in each case. We did not attempt to determine whether any of these behaviors were diagnosable personality traits or would meet threshold criteria for a personality disorder as defined in the DSM-IV.

    Meloy JR, Hempel AG, Mohandie K, Shiva AA, Gray BT. Offender and
    offense characteristics of a nonrandom sample of adolescent mass murderers.
    Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 2001;40(6):
    719-728.

    Not all smokers get lung cancer, but significantly more smokers get lung cancers than non-smokers. If you encounter a person with lung cancer, they are significantly more likely to be a smoker than a random person.

    But then, I’m one of those self-hating crazy people.

  178. Kate Donovan says

    Tony @205, I concede, this is my first time commenting here, though not my first time wandering through the comments. I should have known better than to expect less.

    Everyone else, but especially Nepenthe, there’s a point I want to reiterate here. I’m not saying Lanza couldn’t have had a mental illness. Statistically, even just looking at the population of the country, he could have had serious mental illness (SMI). But, what I’m saying is that we just don’t know yet, and will probably never know, given that he isn’t here anymore. So I want us to examine why on earth we feel we *have* to decide he did–what makes us see that as the only option for a violent act. I’d say this still were the changes 50-50 that he had one, or even higher.

    Somewhat unrelatedly, all of the search terms leading to the post have been some variation on “lanza mentally ill/borderline/bipolar/schizophrenic”. They’re pretty much making my case for me.

  179. Nepenthe says

    @Kate Donovan

    I understand your point Kate, and I agree.

    There just seemed to be a few posters making the argument that mental illness is not correlated with violence and this study does not back up that claim.

  180. F [disappearing] says

    Caine

    crazy is one of those problematic words, however, the consensus here is that its use is best avoided unless we’re talking about an actual case of crazy, as in insane.

    Yeah, I don’t know about that. Would you really refer to an actual sufferers of mental illness as “crazy”? I don’t find that “insane” works well for that, either. (Although technically and archaically correct, I suppose, as it simply refers to a state of health.) And wouldn’t “disturbed” be objectionable along similar lines, given its usage? Or maybe it is ambiguous enough to be freely used in a variety of ways.

    I think I tend towards the exact opposite, using those adjectives for things and people which are not affected by mental illness, although I best not use them with people who are ableist or otherwise jerks about it for the obvious reasons.

    It is all very problematic, as some people conflate, to varying degrees, problems with thinking, emotions, and behavior which are caused by things completely out of control of the individual (esp. biological), and those which are more the result of beliefs, choice, and bad learning. Problems at extreme opposites of this spectrum or phase-space which I have so poorly defined may both be suitable for treatment by mental health professionals, with potential overlap in the methods of treatment.

    Of course, one can make the case that the average asshole had no more choice in their thinking and behavior than someone whose state is heavily determined by a clinically recognized disorder.

    Fuck, I don’t know what the answer to the omnipresent issue with the use “borderline” words is. I wish there were clear alternatives. The diagnoses-as-insult shit can very well fuck right off, though, along with the rest of slur-speech.

    – This has been sitting in the browser forever while I prod my thoughts and edit bits, so Ima just post it and see what anyone might think about it, if they are so inspired.

  181. Matt Penfold says

    Although technically and archaically correct, I suppose, as it simply refers to a state of health.

    Actually it is a legal term meaning a person who cannot be held responsible for their actions because they are suffering from a mental disorder that prevents them from knowing right from wrong. Essentially it means the person found to be insane would be sent to a secure mental hospital, a non-secure mental hospital or treated in the community depending on the severity of the crime.

  182. margareth says

    Clearly, empirically, by our standards, Lanza had mental illness. ANYBODY who could shoot a child has a mental illness. Mental illness shouldn’t be used to derail a conversation about sensible gun laws though, nor should it be used to rationalize his behavior or the behavior of any violent sociopath. I agree with Kate in that I do not know his state of mind. But I do know that healthy, well adjusted people don’t open fire in movie theaters, shopping malls and elementary schools. Just as important as any conversation about firearm control is a conversation about why mental health care still carries an 18th century stigma that seems to “justify” keeping it off insurance plans and just as out of reach as it’s possible to be. Yes, by all means discuss gun control. I’ll help you but don’t let that preclude discussing this guy’s mental health. Pretending this person could have been sane is just absurd. Because a mentally ill person could have done the same thing with a knife, ignoring the mental health and the lack of access to care aspects of this tragedy is self defeating. Even if all guns could be removed from this society by magic, there are still knives. There are still rocks. There are still tree branches, all of which have been used in mass killings. Yes, talk about guns. But ignore mental health at your own peril.

  183. Matt Penfold says

    Clearly, empirically, by our standards, Lanza had mental illness.

    You failed to provide any evidence he had ever been diagnosed with a mental illness.

  184. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    If he was like many young men he was probably exposed to scores of images every day in video games – rickk

    Actually, video games have been suggested as one of the reasons for the marked fall in US violent crime rates, along with demographics, control of lead pollution, more imprisonment, declining popularity of crack cocaine… In the case of video games, the proposed mechanism is simple: if you’re indoors playing on your X-box, you’re not out committing crimes.

  185. erikthebassist says

    I still find myself thinking about free will in a causal universe absent some cloud based agent who’s able to have thoughts or take actions that aren’t predicated on the state of their brain at any given moment, which is of course always the direct result of it’s immediately previous state.

    In such a context, mental health becomes less of a cause and more of an effect, and should inform our justice system and laws designed to prevent violent crime. Whatever label people choose to put on the state of a brain that leads to actions like this, I’d prefer a deeper scientific understanding of human behavior to win out and be the ultimate tool used in prevention and dealing with the aftermath of these types of things.

    So, at the end of the day, we don’t and I guess shouldn’t need to use terms like mentally ill or insane to describe his state of mind, since we can’t possibly make any diagnosis, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t develop better models for predicting and preventing such things.

    I am of course speaking of some distant future where neurology has matured to the point that such things can be realistically achieved. While we’re no where close, I still want to see as much research as possible and prudent poured in to the effort.

    I’m not letting gun control off the hook. Given the above, it must be the more pragmatic and shorter term solution.

  186. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Even if all guns could be removed from this society by magic, there are still knives. There are still rocks. There are still tree branches, all of which have been used in mass killings. – margareth

    This is just stupid. It is much, much easier to kill a lot of people in a short time with a gun than with knives, rocks, or tree branches.

  187. UnknownEric says

    If you are autistic you are target of bullying, just because. You grow up like that. You know nothing else.

    Either you get used to it and develop your strategies or you perish.

    Uh, yeah, I did neither. Never got used to it, never got better at dealing with it, still to this day battle a deep distrust of everybody’s motives. But I’m still here. Still kickin’, as they say.

  188. Matt Penfold says

    I would also point out that being mentally ill is not in itself considered sufficient to absolve a person from being responsible for their actions.

  189. bcmystery says

    I’ve read the post, of course, and I’ve read a lot of the comments, but not all. I’m running short of time and wanted to sneak a comment in.

    It’s a bit of a self-indulgent mea culpa. Yesterday after I heard the news I was guilty of what Kate so eloquently asks us not to do. I tweeted, “I have an idea. Let’s fetishize guns and stigmatize mental health issues—what? ANOTHER shooting? Who could have seen that coming?”

    Now, I rather love Twitter, but for all that I know it’s a poor medium for communicating subtlety or complexity, and often it’s WAY too easy to tweet without thinking. In the moment, obviously I knew nothing about the shooter, and the implication he was mentally ill was unfair and unsupportable.

    The thing is, and this is where the 140 characters of reactive irrationality made for a big fail, the thought behind it was more of a “Why do I live in a country where its so easy to get a gun but so difficult, expensive, and shameful for us to get mental health care?” (Which, it turns out, would also fit in a tweet—go figure.) Still, even that is too undeveloped and flippant a thought to cast out so casually.

    I guess the lesson, for me, (one I seem to teach myself over and over but never quite learn) is how easy it is to be irrational and thoughtless despite my best efforts not to be. So I just want to say I’m grateful for the community here, for the discussion which helps me see where my own thinking needs work, helps me check my privilege, and hopefully, grow a little.

  190. Nepenthe says

    Another variable to consider is that, while mental health care access, destigmatization of mental illness, and normalization of receiving mental health care are increasing, mass shootings are also increasing, suggesting that either a drastically different tack would have to be taken on mental health in order to deal with mass shootings or that there’s something else going on entirely.

  191. erikthebassist says

    Another variable to consider is that, while mental health care access, destigmatization of mental illness, and normalization of receiving mental health care are increasing

    Citation?

  192. Pteryxx says

    …okay, I WAS going to link and summarize MoJo’s mental illness discussion from their mass shootings project, but now I’m too damn pissed off by the othering and conflation of illness with evil. What the fuck MoJo, stats or no stats you don’t get to say crap like this:

    Loughner’s mental illness was a powerful undercurrent in the proceedings. “You tried to create for all of us a world as dark and evil as your own,” Kelly said. “But know this and remember it always: You failed.”

    (from November): http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/11/jared-loughner-mass-shootings-mental-illness

  193. margareth says

    You failed to provide any evidence he had ever been diagnosed with a mental illness.

    I very clearly did not say he had been “diagnosed” with anything, just that he must be mentally ill in order to be just capable of looking at small children and firing at them. Nor was it meant to “absolve” or excuse anyone of anything. In fact, if that’s what you got from my comment, your reading skills are clearly and empirically extremely POOR!

  194. Nepenthe says

    @erikthebassist

    Americans’ Attitudes Toward Mental Health Treatment Seeking: 1990–2003
    Ramin Mojtabai
    Psychiatric Services 2007; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.58.5.642

    Results: Participants in the 2001—2003 survey were more willing than those in the 1990—1992 survey to seek professional help for mental health problems (41.4% reported that they would “definitely go” for professional help in 2001—2003, compared with 35.6% in 1990—1992). Participants in the more recent survey were also more comfortable talking with a professional about personal problems (32.4% in 2001—2003 reported feeling “very comfortable,” compared with 27.1% in 1990—1992) and were less likely to say that they would be embarrassed if others found out about it (40.3% reported being “not at all embarrassed” in 2001—2003, compared with 33.7% in 1990—1992). Attitudes of younger participants improved more than attitudes of middle-aged participants. Public beliefs about the effectiveness of mental health treatment and the likelihood of recovery without treatment changed little across surveys.

    This abstract is quite tempting, but I can’t figure out how to access full-text to evaluate it.

    I’m sucking at finding any broad descriptions of mental health care access over time besides this one, which is just a bit out of date.

  195. vaiyt says

    I very clearly did not say he had been “diagnosed” with anything, just that he must be mentally ill in order to be just capable of looking at small children and firing at them.

    Whatever helps you sleep at night, I guess.

  196. erikthebassist says

    Nepenthe,

    Ok, citation for attitudes improving accepted, what about access? I know my access has eroded over the past few years due to increased insurance premiums and the push for higher deductibles. Wherein I used to just have a $25 co pay, I’m now looking at footing the bill myself because my deductibles are so high for the only plan I can afford through my employer.

    Anecdotal for sure but I’m going to take a wild guess this probably the case for most people.

  197. chigau (Chiggers) says

    …he must be mentally ill in order to be just capable of looking at small children and firing at them.

    If they had been high-school students, would he have been less crazy?

  198. Beatrice says

    Oh joy, papers over here have dedicated most of the space about this to murderer’s autism, blaming his mother for having weapons around such a disturbed individual and similar.

  199. Maureen Brian says

    Margareth,

    Can you not see that a definition of “mental illness” so broad and non-specific that it takes in half the population doesn’t actually help here? It includes someone whose adolescent bi-polar diagnosis still labels them 50 years on, all those who are on a maintenance dose of something and completely well, right through to someone who, armed with a sub-machine gun and and completely off his head on, say, prescription meds plus cocaine has lost all touch with reality. Far too broad!

    It also means that instead of providing extra, good, accessible mental health care to angst-ridden teens (and whoever else) we wait until someone shoots up an elementary school and then excuse our lack of timely care by saying, “I always thought he was a bit odd.”

    In truth we are all a bit odd. It tells us nothing except that we are human and that life has ups and downs.

    If you can bring to the discussion any evidence of causation – even correlation would be interesting – between a specific diagnosis, or form of treatment and aberrant behaviour of a dangerous type then we will have something to talk about.

    While we wait for that let us remember that psychiatric diagnosis is an inexact science. The diagnosis you get too often correlates with who your shrink studied with, what he’s been reading lately and what the budget for mental health services is this year. This blog is a safe space for any number of people who have experienced mental health problems, who are on the autism spectrum, who have suffered trauma and are still recovering or who have physical illness which can sometimes produce symptoms mistaken for psychiatric ones. I’d bet you good money that every one of us in this list has at some stage had an incorrect or inadequate diagnosis.

    If we have facts to deal with then this is a good place to do it, as it is to discuss ideas not yet tested. But just labelling people achieves nothing unless we are prepared to match it with political action and research. It takes us straight back to the hangings of witches in the seventeenth century. It is just a distancing tactic.

  200. Hurin, Midnight DJ on the Backwards Music Station says

    I think this particular point made by Abdiel upthread highlights a distinction that I wouldn’t make.

    But is anyone here really denying that some sort of psychopathy/ASPD was involved? There was no ideology/religion involved in this crime. What else would you call it?

    Ideologies and religions are belief systems, and there is evidence that belief systems contribute to mental illness and behavioral disorders. The consistent media idealization of skinny people as beautiful has, for instance, been blamed for enhanced rates of eating disorders.* To provide a second example, cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be effective for a wide range of illnesses and behavioral disorders including PTSD and anxiety disorders, and is more effective than antidepressants in major depression.** This therapy is administered by training a patient to target, and correct irrational beliefs about hirself. It couldn’t work unless a significant component of depression was actually being caused (or at least amplified) by the patient’s belief system.

    In a nutshell, its assumed that the belief that “i am a worthless person who would be better off dead” ought to be treated differently from the belief that “god hates me and the rest of this impure world”, even though both seem to lead to negative emotional and behavioral consequences. I think this is an artificial distinction, made because of societal biases. There are probably mental illnesses in which beliefs play a negligible role, or come as a consequence of a deeper problem (to the best of my knowledge CBT doesn’t work for schizoaffective disorder, for instance) . Even if this turns out to be the case, I think we can expect certain kinds of mental illness to be fostered by beliefs from the cultural, political and religious spheres.

    *http://ap.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleid=50181
    **http://johnjayresearch.org/cje/files/2012/08/Empirical-Status-of-CBT.pdf

  201. says

    Re: 210 kate_waters 15 December 2012 at 5:19 am

    I’m fairly certain I did not say that most mental illnesses had the symptom of violence. Or even many. Or any majority amount. Or any number, really, since it’s a vast definition which would be hard to get any certain number; although logically I know it’s not most, many, majority, or any portion other than one of many tiny portions.

    Of course, if you want to go off on something I did not say, sure, go ahead. But that doesn’t make me an asshole.

    I do not think accepting violent behavior is, or should be, accepted as a norm. Period. It should be the aberration, the outlier, the last resort, the solution least desired in actual reality.

    Defending violent people as not displaying a symptom of pathology is a mistake – just as assuming that even if it were a pathology that makes it okay, or that everyone with a pathology is violent. That’s stupid, and doesn’t even logically follow. Not everyone who is bleeding is doing so out of pathology; but it’s still a symptom we accept as a sign of pathology.’

  202. says

    253 Maureen Brian 15 December 2012 at 12:47 pm (UTC -6)

    Can you not see that a definition of “mental illness” so broad and non-specific that it takes in half the population doesn’t actually help here?

    You’re saying half the population is regularly violent?

    Even if you weren’t, all of the population suffers from disease or injury at some point in their life. Why should mental illness be any different in occurrence rate than physical illness?

    Why should it be so stigmatized that we refuse to treat it when it does happen?

  203. says

    Somewhat unrelatedly, all of the search terms leading to the post have been some variation on “lanza mentally ill/borderline/bipolar/schizophrenic”. They’re pretty much making my case for me.

    *runs off to search on “Lanza misogynist/wingnut/conservative/sexist/hatred/entitlement/MRA/whining” just to even things out*

  204. says

    Re: 232 margareth 15 December 2012 at 10:43 am (UTC -6)
    Aside from the quibble of ‘clearly’ why was this statement given the comic sans treatment?

    What rule did they violate in the conversation?

    What mod is abusing their position in the conversation?

  205. chigau (Chiggers) says

    Crissa #208

    Some violence – and I’d say much or most – is the symptom of mental illness.

    Crissa #256

    I’m fairly certain I did not say that most mental illnesses had the symptom of violence.

  206. Maureen Brian says

    Crissa,

    Had you not jumped out of your skin so fast you might have noted my calling for more and better services and for research.

    One minute people are assuming that everyone who is violent is mentally ill. The next we are accused of suggesting that everyone who is mentally ill is violent. Bollocks, dear!

  207. says

    margareth:

    I very clearly did not say he had been “diagnosed” with anything, just that he must be mentally ill in order to be just capable of looking at small children and firing at them.

    No, he did not need to be mentally ill. FFS, have you bothered to read and comprehend the comments before your idiotic declaration? Hint: the comprehension part is important.

    Did you read Chris’s, Caerie’s and my accounts of encounters with killers? Here’s the thing – we do all have an impulse to set people who commit such acts apart, to other them, to push them away, into some other box. If they stay in the same box as us, it makes us uncomfortable.

    Guess what? Get uncomfortable. That’s reality. After years of facing the man who beat, tortured, raped and almost killed me, I can tell you that while it might be convenient to other, it has no bearing on reality. Outside of his desire to destroy women, he was a perfectly likeable man, no different from most men. That’s the haunting horror of it – most people who cause such damage, they aren’t much different from everyone else.

    You can other all you like, Margareth, you just don’t get to use the umbrella of mental illness to shelter under.

  208. Nepenthe says

    @chigau 260

    Those statements are converses to each other. Stating one does not imply stating the other. Assuming the absurd for illustration, even if every instance of violence everywhere was a symptom of a mental illness, it would not necessarily imply that most mental illnesses have violence as a symptom.

  209. Rodney Nelson says

    True confessions time.

    Once upon a time I spent a year as an infantryman in Vietnam. I was good at the job, considering I went from Private to Sergeant during that year. I killed other human beings and slept soundly afterwards. When my year was up and I returned to The World I didn’t kill people and I still sleep soundly. So the question I have for Crissa is whether or not I suffered from mental illness during or after my year in ‘Nam. Take your time Crissa. I want you to justify your answer whatever it is.

  210. consciousness razor says

    I do not think accepting violent behavior is, or should be, accepted as a norm.

    Who do you think is “accepting” violent behavior “as a norm”?

    Defending violent people as not displaying a symptom of pathology is a mistake

    Who is “defending” violent people?

  211. says

    I typed a long post that got eaten by my failure to log in first. The short of it is that a)there’s lot’s of different things with different causes that are lumped into ‘mental illness’ or ‘crazy,’ but have wildly different causes, effects, and treatments (autism is really nothing like anorexia, and it’s just as silly to put them together as the flu and skin cancer)
    b)pretty much all of the things defined as ‘mental illness’ are pretty much harmless to anyone but the sufferer
    c) A lot more people suffer or have suffered from one or more of these than most people realize or are willing to discuss
    and
    d)Violent crime generally is a result of cultural illness, not mental illness. There are basically three types: Instrumental (mugging, gang wars, etc.), which are treatable economically for the most part. Cultural violence would be things like child abuse, rape, etc, and is really only treatable through changing the culture that tells people it’s ok or even positive behavior, although that definitely includes creating and enforcing strict laws against them. Finally, there’s the type we see here, which I tend to think of as ‘just snapped.’ The cause, as far as I can tell, is a perception of an intolerable world combined with a lack of visible options for fixing it. Note that this category of behavior is not limited to spree killings, or killings at all, but includes the general category of people previously perceived as ‘normal’ removing themselves from society in spectacular and often antisocial ways.
    This las one is not mental illness in any meaningful sens of the term, in the sense that anyone’s brain is malfunctioning; it’s just that the normal, natural reaction of the human brain to hopeless desperation is usually not terribly productive, and often quite destructive. The solution is a more humane society that includes fewer people mired in economic desperation, personal horror and/or untenable ideologies, trapped without options, help, or hope. While making such a society would definitely include reducing the number of weapons and armed people floating around, and also improved access to mental health care, but those are largely tangential to the major changes that would be required to actually fix the problems that result in these kinds of spree shootings.

  212. mesh says

    I do not think accepting violent behavior is, or should be, accepted as a norm. Period. It should be the aberration, the outlier, the last resort, the solution least desired in actual reality.

    The issue people are taking with you here is that you are implicitly using normal behavior as synonymous with moral and abnormal behavior as synonymous with immoral. It does not logically follow that considering cases of violence to be non-psychopathological makes it acceptable, nor that such cases exclude all possibility of psychopathological contributors in all cases. By going from how you think violent behavior should be considered in all cases straight to…

    Defending violent people as not displaying a symptom of pathology is a mistake

    … you conflate morality with mental health.

  213. vaiyt says

    People don’t need to be mentally ill to hurt children. All they need is to see them as less than human, as some “other” unworthy of consideration, or as “acceptable casualties” to achieve some ideal.

  214. says

    I do not think accepting violent behavior is, or should be, accepted as a norm.

    Not the norm. Uh huh. Well, I guess that means there aren’t scores of people being shot every day, no one is being beaten and certainly no sproglets are being abused. Nope.

  215. kate_waters says

    @Crissa:

    You most certainly DID say it.

    Crissa #208

    Some violence – and I’d say much or most – is the symptom of mental illness.

    So all I have to say is this: Off is the general direction in which I wish you would fuck, you lying twit.

  216. Nepenthe says

    The cause, as far as I can tell, is a perception of an intolerable world combined with a lack of visible options for fixing it.

    {{citation needed}}

    [OT]

    Are you the Wikipedian Dalillama? (Feel free not to answer if this is an over the line question.) If so, I spent last night perusing your work on Brasil topics. Kudos. If not, cool ‘nym.

  217. says

    Kate:

    So all I have to say is this: Off is the general direction in which I wish you would fuck, you lying twit.

    Any potentially decent thought runs away from Crissa, xir brain being hostile to thought. They’ll just keep parroting the same crap over and over.

  218. says

    Chris, your posts are awesome, but you’re being very childish and not bothering with reading the comments beyond a few points.

    Perhaps you should get some rest so you can think more clearly. I don’t think any of this with-us-against-us crap is funny.

    Re: 266 Rodney Nelson 15 December 2012 at 1:41 pm (UTC -6)
    Did you? Yes. Are you suffering now? Maybe, but you didn’t say, so I won’t, either. You were under the delusion that your orders were just or authorized. You were under an injury that violence was an appropriate action. Just as you might heal from a scrape, that doesn’t stop the scrape from being an injury. Just as a disease might be externally inflicted, it was inflicted upon you.

    But instead, you’re too busy stigmatizing mental illness as being unusual, something only psychopaths have, that can’t and shouldn’t be treated, only ignored.

    Chris is right, it isn’t useful to just label mass shooters as mentally ill, just as it isn’t useful to have any one symptom be a diagnosis – it doesn’t tell you the cause of the symptom, just that it exists. So it isn’t useful to just label people and mentally ill and write them off as if that were a solution.

    But on the other hand, it is part of the solution. Just as you put guardrails on a ledge, you teach your children not to just jump off them willy-nilly. We as a society need to accept that mental illness and injury occur, and be open to seek and give support and treatment.

    I specifically retain friends who do not get along in society, who are outcast for their injury or condition. Because they’ll never get better if they don’t have that social support, that positive voice pushing them back in the right direction, the peers/mentors/friends who give them social cues of what is right and wrong. I specifically refuse to stigmatize those who have suffered from mental illness, injury, or whatever. Because if I don’t stand for my beliefs – if I don’t stand for a better society – then no one else will.

    It is core to how I operate as an atheist. Only I can control my actions and ethics, and so I should. And that includes not accepting violence as a normal outgrowth of a decision tree.

  219. says

    Re: 276 Caine, Fleur du mal 15 December 2012 at 2:06 pm
    Caine you FUCKING TROLL. You very well know I prefer female pronouns, I present with a female name, and I find your use of third-gender pronouns to be a very offensive slur against trans folk.

  220. Nepenthe says

    I specifically retain friends who do not get along in society, who are outcast for their injury or condition. Because they’ll never get better if they don’t have that social support, that positive voice pushing them back in the right direction, the peers/mentors/friends who give them social cues of what is right and wrong.

    Wow. Have a fucking cookie.

    Do you tell your “outcast” friends that you’re sticking around to “give them the social cues of what is right and wrong”? That you’re apparently friends with them to “help” them? Gosh, I have friends like that and it’s right shitty.

    My opinion of you went from “misguided” to “asshole” in three seconds. That might be a record. Have a gold ribbon with that cookie.

  221. says

    Re: 260 chigau (Chiggers) 15 December 2012 at 1:18 pm (UTC -6)
    Re: 74 kate_waters 15 December 2012 at 2:02 pm (UTC -6)

    Read chigau’s comment again. Carefully.

    Nowhere did I say most mental illness has the symptom of violence. I still didn’t say it, chigau’s quote doesn’t have me saying it. I’ve read it many times.

    I said most A was B.
    I also did not and emphatically deny that most B is A.

    Most humans have brown/black hair. Most brown/black hair is not on humans.

  222. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Much of psychology is relative, with whoever the majority is, being defined as “healthy”.

    Indeed, the AMA uses this very reasoning to claim that religious delusions are not delusions… because so many people are religious.

    Actually, that’s not quite it. They say that delusions – which are not their own diagnosis – are to be used as diagnostic of a disorder only when that delusion is not one common to the community in which the person undergoing diagnosis lives, and/or is not expressed in a way that community would recognize as a common understanding or experience of the delusion being considered.

    There are good reasons for this. When someone says, “god talks to me” – we do not consider that a delusion diagnostic of mental illness. Often times this is a way of expressing things like, “I look at the natural world and I see almost endless beauty. I wonder, how could I be so lucky as to just stumble into such infinite beauty. In those moments, I conclude that It’s less self-centered to believe that I’m the luckiest person alive than it is to believe there’s a sky-mommy who takes a personal interest in me-and everyone else.”

    How ever, when someone expresses, “God talks to me. I hear his voice in my left ear every wednesday night. Left ear. Left ear. He makes me hate my left ear because I can never live up to what he wants me to do,” we are unlikely to conclude that the same fundamental delusion, “god talks to me” is being experienced in the same way.

    There is a general sense that delusions of the first type, given how they fall into consistent cultural expressions within communities but that are highly inconsistent between communities are not in fact symptomatic of the disorders the APA is attempting to diagnose.

    If the proposed symptom is not actually associated statistically with the given illness, then it is not diagnostic of that illness.

    Now, as a separate issue, there have been proposals to create different diagnoses for people who express culturally acceptable (in nature and expression) delusions. But those diagnoses haven’t come to pass. I remember one psychologist with whom I’m acquainted saying that *if* the APA created such a diagnosis, they would lose the trust of the larger community who really, really believes it’s okay to experience and express such delusions. The APA and the practices of psychology and psychiatry exist in a context, and getting too isolated fromt hat contxt would prevent them from doing what they consider to be valuable work in the larger community.

    Of course, it would also cost them their livelihoods, so take that how you will. But the APA does think about these issues and they have some reasonable justifications for how they use the term delusion and when they apply it as diagnostic of something and when they don’t.

  223. says

    Re: 279 Nepenthe 15 December 2012 at 2:11 pm (UTC -6)
    Keyword: Retain.

    Do you ditch people who behave poorly; have bouts of depression or mental illness? I do not. If they were worth of being friends and acquaintances before, they’re still worthy of it. I call them on their bad behavior – what friend wouldn’t do that? I stick by them in their ailment – what friend wouldn’t do that?

  224. Ze Madmax says

    margareth @ #232

    Clearly, empirically, by our standards, Lanza had mental illness.

    Whose standards? What empirical evidence are you basing your claims on?

    ANYBODY who could shoot a child has a mental illness.

    Evidence suggests otherwise, unless by “mental illness” you mean “doing stuff without a reason I can understand,” which is rather unhelpful from an evaluative standpoint.

    Mental illness shouldn’t be used to derail a conversation about sensible gun laws though, nor should it be used to rationalize his behavior or the behavior of any violent sociopath.

    And yet, that is EXACTLY what you are doing. You’re saying he MUST have been mentally ill as a way to explaining his behavior. You’re RATIONALIZING IT THROUGH MENTAL ILLNESS.

    I agree with Kate in that I do not know his state of mind.

    This is the one sensible thing you’ve said so far. Probably should have avoided saying anything else.

    But I do know that healthy, well adjusted people don’t open fire in movie theaters, shopping malls and elementary schools.

    Again, how do you know this. Because if your criteria for “healthy” is “doesn’t go on shooting sprees,” then you’ve gone beyond circular reasoning and into Möbius strip territory.

    Just as important as any conversation about firearm control is a conversation about why mental health care still carries an 18th century stigma that seems to “justify” keeping it off insurance plans and just as out of reach as it’s possible to be.

    Hey, TWO good points. Color me impressed.

    Yes, by all means discuss gun control. I’ll help you but don’t let that preclude discussing this guy’s mental health.

    Why not?

    Pretending this person could have been sane is just absurd.

    Two words: Timothy McVeigh. AFAIK, a perfectly “sane” individual who nevertheless went on to commit the biggest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.

    Because a mentally ill person could have done the same thing with a knife, ignoring the mental health and the lack of access to care aspects of this tragedy is self defeating.

    As mentioned above, are you aware that something like this happened in China recently? Guy starts knifing people in a school, 22 injured. Deaths? Zero.

    Even if all guns could be removed from this society by magic, there are still knives. There are still rocks. There are still tree branches, all of which have been used in mass killings. Yes, talk about guns. But ignore mental health at your own peril.

    This shows you either didn’t read or didn’t understand Kate’s post.

  225. consciousness razor says

    You were under the delusion that your orders were just or authorized.

    So believing something false is by itself sufficient for “mental illness”? Or does a false belief also need to be pathological in some way to count as as an illness or a disorder?

    Does “pathological” just mean somebody, somewhere, somehow suffers because of it? Could you have a true belief which is “pathological” because you act on it and others suffer as a result? Or is it only unethical actions based on true beliefs which are like that?

  226. says

    Crissa: you are done in this thread. This is a polite notice, but it is your final warning.

    You will note there is other disagreement going on in which I have not intervened. This is not about disagreement. It is about your behavior.

    If you can manage to change the way you argue you’re welcome in my other threads. But your participation in this one is over. Please do us both the favor of withdrawing voluntarily.

  227. kate_waters says

    Hey Crissa:

    Seriously, though, fuck off. You don’t get to come into someone’s living room, shit all over the rug and then act offended when you’re told to stop shitting on the rug.

    I mean it, too. FUCK OFF. You’re a liar and a troll.

  228. kate_waters says

    Sorry, Chris. I was typing as you posted that.

    Thanks for putting and end to that, though. Ableism I can sorta take, since I’m sadly used to that kind of thing from friends and family… but to lie about it so blatantly as if everyone here was either blind or stupid? So. Not. Cool.

  229. says

    If you can bring to the discussion any evidence of causation – even correlation would be interesting – between a specific diagnosis, or form of treatment and aberrant behaviour of a dangerous type then we will have something to talk about.

    Well, there’s Conduct Disorder, the symptoms of which are almost entirely a list of violent or otherwise harmful crimes. And the closely-related Antisocial Personality Disorder, which also requires that the diagnosed individual “regularly disregard and violate the rights of others.” We don’t know whether this individual met the diagnostic criteria for either, although I wouldn’t be surprised to later discover that he did. My point is that there definitely are disorders that mostly apply to people who consistently and purposefully harm other people. Of course, most mental disorders are nothing of the sort.

  230. Nepenthe says

    I know she isn’t to respond, but she can read this

    Do you ditch people who behave poorly; have bouts of depression or mental illness?

    You dumb shit, I am a person who “behaves poorly” (as if that in itself were a symptom of mental illness) and has bouts of depression (which is itself a mental illness, you mental midget). And, as I said, I have friends who sanctimoniously “retain” me for my own good. They, like I imagine you are, are often extremely shitty friends.

  231. consciousness razor says

    You mean you don’t regard them as moral paragons and Saints? How shocking.

    They must have SUMTHIN RONG in the head.

  232. says

    Nepenthe@275
    I’ll see what I can do. Honestly, that’s more in the nature of a working hypothesis for me, rather than something I’d consider proven, though. I stand by my contention that such events are not in themselves indicative of mental illness in the normal sense, though. Granted that e.g. Loughner clearly is suffering from a severe mental illness, individuals such as Wade Michael Page, Ian Stawicki, Alvin Watts, and many more have no documented history of diagnosed mental illness, nor any indication that that they were suffering from any symptoms of same. In many cases there are indicators of ideology and/or desperation in the course of the acts, though: Page shouted racial slurs while he shot up a Sick temple, Andrew Engeldinger had just been fired when he shot up his former workplace, etc. This suggests to me that that’s a good place to start looking when the question of ‘why’ comes up.

    PS: No, I’m not a Wikipedia editor, and I know very little about Brasil, but thanks.

  233. Nepenthe says

    @Caine

    I may believe that I’m the a terrible piece of slime that deserves to be squished*, but even I don’t think that someone achieves beatitude after tolerating a phone conversation with me. Surprising, I know.

    *Yes, I’m aware that this is a delusion.

  234. Ichthyic says

    Caine you FUCKING TROLL. You very well know I prefer female pronouns, I present with a female name, and I find your use of third-gender pronouns to be a very offensive slur against trans folk.

    One of these days I’m gonna have to start a business selling Clutching Pearls for visitors to FTB.

    I’ll make a fortune!

  235. says

    Ichthyic:

    One of these days I’m gonna have to start a business selling Clutching Pearls for visitors to FTB.

    I’ll make a fortune!

    You had better cut me in, as I seem to be responsible for much of the clutchin’.

  236. kate_waters says

    @Nepenthe:

    And, as I said, I have friends who sanctimoniously “retain” me for my own good. They, like I imagine you are, are often extremely shitty friends.

    I think I just had me one of those “epiphany” thingys.

    Thank you for putting that so eloquently. That’s really how it is with those people, and I think I’ve always just been too apt to blame myself and my badly working brain.

    You know, I had a man in my life for 17 years. When I had a “Major Depressive Episode” (cue the drama button) which was the culmination of years of untreated PTSD and finally sought treatment after spending two weeks locked in my apartment crying almost constantly, unable to work, go outside or even speak to anyone he essentially turned his back on me because I was suddenly taking medication to make myself not be locked in my apartment and unable to function. He told me “When you’re off the drugs we can talk again, but for now I just can’t handle you being crazy.”

    It hurt so much, and it still hurts that if I’m medicated he won’t have much to do with me. (We’re not together anymore, and haven’t been for a few years, but we still talk regularly.) As long as I’m not on the meds I’m “not crazy”… but on the meds I’m “crazy”. It’s so fucked up and just so awful. Because no matter if I’m on the meds or not I’m still someone who has depression, anxiety and PTSD.

    I’m not a stupid person, by any means, but I’ll be fucked if I didn’t, just now, clue in to the fact that he’s a gigantic asshole for treating me as though he ought to “tolerate me”.

    Shit. Now I have to go write a long, drawn out email to someone I love very much, telling them where to go, how to get there and what they can do with a porcupine once they arrive.

  237. chigau (違う) says

    How did “clutching ones pearls” get started?
    I can understand fainting as a stress-response but grabbing one’s jewelery?
    [On previewing, I think I may have a notion.]
    [Should _one’s_ have an apostrophe?]

  238. Esteleth has eaten ALL the gingerbread! Suck it! says

    Well, I see that “autistic sociopath” is gathering force as the go-to explanation.

    *sigh*

    I cannot tell you how happy it makes me as someone on the autistic spectrum to know that there is a rising societal consensus that I am a sociopath.

    It makes me feel just peachy.

    Also:

    ANYBODY who could shoot a child has a mental illness.

    Can I have “No True Human” for $500, Alex?

  239. says

    How did “clutching ones pearls” get started?
    I can understand fainting as a stress-response but grabbing one’s jewelery?

    It’s one of those gendered insults that masquerades as a class-conscious putdown about “being real.”

    [On previewing, I think I may have a notion.]
    [Should _one’s_ have an apostrophe?]

    Yep.

  240. says

    kate_waters
    That’s deeply fucked up, and you have my sympathies; that guy is being an asshole to a stunning degree. Roommate’s ex and family pull the same kind of shit, but I really can’t conceive of how someone could treat someone they love that way.

  241. says

    Kate:

    As long as I’m not on the meds I’m “not crazy”… but on the meds I’m “crazy”. It’s so fucked up and just so awful. Because no matter if I’m on the meds or not I’m still someone who has depression, anxiety and PTSD.

    Hmmm. Seems to me that you taking meds and making an effort to gain control back equaled “she doesn’t need me anymore” in his eyes. All of a sudden, you aren’t needy, you’re capable of doing things, going places, making decisions…whoops, his ‘place’ is gone and so is whatever emotional need of his which was being fulfilled. (Saviour? Saint? Super Good Guy™?)

    I have had PTSD since I was young and all the nastiness which goes with it. I get to deal with hypervigilance and being hypnophobic and oneirophobic every day. Naturally, these things don’t make me a delight to live with, but I’m very lucky in my partner, who has rolled with the punches for 33 years now.

  242. says

    Chris:

    It’s one of those gendered insults that masquerades as a class-conscious putdown about “being real.”

    Men just wear their pearls on the inside. It’s interesting, if you’ve ever seen the pearl clutch move in real life, that men put their hand to the exact same place, as if they were wearing a strand or three of pearls.

  243. kate_waters says

    @ Nepenthe:

    I do, and thanks.

    @ Caine:

    Blargh. You might be right *and* crap another epiphany. Blargh.

    @Dalillama

    Thanks for the support and understanding. I hope your roommate’s family wises up.

    Now… enough about me. Sorry to derail. Just had to get that out there to Nepenthe, because holy crap that was like suddenly seeing in colour after everything being black and white.

  244. kate_waters says

    @ Caine:

    Well, I used to know a Vietnamese guy who really *did* have his pearls on the inside. (Yeah, he had had pearls inserted under the skin of his penis. I don’t think he clutched at them when offended, though.)

  245. Maureen Brian says

    Kate,

    That sounds horrendous. Any number of virtual hugs here for you if you want them.

    I can relate. I had to firmly detach myself from my mother, to whom it far more important that I appear “normal” than that I feel well and function!

    Esteleth,

    You know you is ultra cool. As for those guys over there ………

  246. says

    Kate:

    Now… enough about me. Sorry to derail. Just had to get that out there to Nepenthe, because holy crap that was like suddenly seeing in colour after everything being black and white.

    It’s not a derail, Kate. It’s all pertinent as to how we view people and how we treat one another.

  247. jackiepaper says

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Chris, you got me right in my creepy, internalized, prejudices with this. Thanks also to the Horde for …well…just being the Horde.
    I should have known better. I spend the holidays around alot of firearm enthusiasts. This was a nice break from the usual for me.

  248. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    For mass murderers in general, the literature does not reflect a strong link with serious mental illness.15

    quote from http://jaapl.org/content/38/1/87.full
    foot note 15 refers to:
    Aitken L, Oosthuizen P, Emsley R, et al: Mass murders: implications for mental health professionals. Int J Psychiatry Med 38:261–9, 2008

    For full context it goes on to say that such individuals may be retroactively diagnosable with certain conditions, such as depression, that can be “serious mental illness” they are not associated with schizophrenia.

    Instead, diagnostic of mass murders and particulary the type of mass murderer becoming known as the “pseudocommando” are 3 things:
    1. suspicion/distrust of others
    2. externalization of fault
    3. grudge holding.

    a history of being a loner was to some degree more prevalent, but this appeared to be a result of 1 and 2, rather than an independent trait. A tendency toward rigidity or obsession was also seen as common enough to be of note.

    Please note that we ask our drill sergeants to be rigid, are accountants and lawyers to be obsessive, our detectives to be suspicious. As for externalizing fault – “I sin because Eve was too weak to tell the snake to f* off” – might be considered somewhat common, and grudge holding ain’t exactly rare.

    These aren’t pathologies. Nor is the combination of them recognized as a pathology.

    I just thought this was the appropriate place for this information.

  249. says

    Crip Dyke:

    These aren’t pathologies. Nor is the combination of them recognized as a pathology.

    I just thought this was the appropriate place for this information.

    It is, and thank you.

  250. says

    Men just wear their pearls on the inside. It’s interesting, if you’ve ever seen the pearl clutch move in real life, that men put their hand to the exact same place, as if they were wearing a strand or three of pearls.

    Sure. But we don’t call it “chest-clutching” or “sternum-clutching.” The subtext of the phrase, especially when aimed at a male interlocutor, is “YER a GURL hur hur.”

  251. says

    It’s not a derail, Kate. It’s all pertinent as to how we view people and how we treat one another.

    What Caine said, Kate. I’m touched that you shared that difficult realization with us, and sorry you had to deal with that.

  252. Esteleth has eaten ALL the gingerbread! Suck it! says

    You know you is ultra cool. As for those guys over there ………

    Yeah.

    Because “You are one of the good [group], you aren’t like them” is reassuring.

    Really!? Why would you think that is remotely appropriate?!

  253. says

    Chris:

    Sure. But we don’t call it “chest-clutching” or “sternum-clutching.” The subtext of the phrase, especially when aimed at a male interlocutor, is “YER a GURL hur hur.”

    True. The image of the pearl wearing, veddy veddy prim and proper woman being shocked into a pursed mouth and full clutch is an enduring one. One, I think, that tends to reinforce the notion that not only are women the arbiters of what is socially acceptable, it’s our damn job to see that social niceties are being observed.

    That, and of course, what you said. Hairy, sweaty, ball scritchin’ men don’t become shocked or prudish over anything. Ever. Nope.

  254. says

    Hairy, sweaty, ball scritchin’ men don’t become shocked or prudish over anything. Ever. Nope.

    Never.

    And not to change the subject, but are you going out wearing THAT, Caine? You march upstairs this instant and put on some CLOTHES, young lady. Etc.

  255. kate_waters says

    Shucks… thanks Chris and Caine…

    I just find that there are times that the Horde can collectively make so much sense it’s overwhelming, and sometimes, like today, it really kicks me in the brainpan and gets those ol’ think meats cranking into gear.

    Honestly, and I really really really mean this:

    The Horde is a thing of beauty. Like a herd of cats. In a yarn factory. On catnip.

    .

  256. kate_waters says

    @Chris:

    Panties? PANTIES? Nuh-uhn, mister. That’s totes sexist with the implying that only women get their undies in a bunch.

    Unless you actually wear panties. Then you should just carry on and forget I said anything.

    :P

  257. Ichthyic says

    . The image of the pearl wearing, veddy veddy prim and proper woman being shocked into a pursed mouth and full clutch is an enduring one.

    next up:

    readers analyze: “The fainting couch”

  258. Ichthyic says

    The subtext of the phrase, especially when aimed at a male interlocutor, is “YER a GURL hur hur.”

    funny, I’ve never used it in that way, nor ever heard it before you mentioned it.

    *shrug*

    if you’re gonna criticize it, you better offer a good substitute, because you know there is a need.

  259. says

    Ichthyic:

    next up:

    readers analyze: “The fainting couch”

    Ooooh…the societal demand on women to wear corsets in pursuit of a deformed figure (to please the men, natch), that damned hysterical uterus, the vapours, drama, how do fit female orgasms in here, more drama, Southern Gothic…

    All manner of goodies!

  260. ckitching says

    I wonder how much of the blame for these little debates of “crazy versus guns” could easily be placed on the American cult of “Rugged Individualism”, where it’s a sign of weakness to seek help, regardless of how much you need it. It certainly contributes to both the stigmatism of mental illness, and also the glorification of gun culture. And blaming either of these certainly allows people to avoid analysing their potentially corrosive beliefs about “individualism at any cost”.

  261. says

    Speaking of, I have a book titled Must Women Suffer Everlastingly? by James Hegyessy, M.D., D.O., N.D., OPHT. D. – Osteopathic Physician. Published in 1910. There’s a portrait in the opening plate, along with this, handwritten: “My faith in the physical redemption of woman by correct living is perfect and constant.”

    He’s very hot on the absolute evils of corsetry.

  262. says

    if you’re gonna criticize it, you better offer a good substitute, because you know there is a need.

    Monocle popping?

    Women with monocles. Is this the latest vagary of fashion?

    I looked again at the eyeglass, and saw beneath it, to my amazement, not Mr. Chamberlain’s trousers, but a lady’s black skirt. It had come at last. Having robbed us of our collars and hats and neckties and waistcoats, woman was assailing us in our last stronghold but one.

  263. says

    funny, I’ve never used it in that way, nor ever heard it before you mentioned it.

    Believe that’s one of those “fish not noticing the water they swim in” things. I used it for a long time before I had it pointed out to me.

  264. says

    “On matters of female progress, I consult a maiden aunt”

    “Really, however, if the two monocles are anything more than a coincidence, it is time for us to assert our common manhood.”

    Goodness, what a pearl clutcher. (And I’ll just bet maiden aunt wore pearls.)

  265. Esteleth has eaten ALL the gingerbread! Suck it! says

    Can’t say how happy I am that shit about how someone is okay, unlike others of their group, is acceptable rhetoric around here.

  266. says

    Esteleth:

    Can’t say how happy I am that shit about how someone is okay, unlike others of their group, is acceptable rhetoric around here.

    It isn’t. If you’re upset about Maureen’s post, you read it wrong. Perhaps because it didn’t have sarc tags or anything.

  267. Esteleth has eaten ALL the gingerbread! Suck it! says

    Maybe it is that the past day or two there has been way more non-sarcastic shit along really hurtful lines floating around, and Horde people saying mind-boggling shit in general.

    Glad to know that the reason I had to step away from my computer and have a fucking panic attack is that I read an unlabeled statement that could have been taken either way as a personal attack rather than as a sarcastic joke.

  268. says

    Esteleth:

    Maybe it is that the past day or two there has been way more non-sarcastic shit along really hurtful lines floating around, and Horde people saying mind-boggling shit in general.

    Yes, we’ve been afloat in idiots lately, it’s been wearing on everyone. I think the Horde has been handling it well, for the most part.

    Glad to know that the reason I had to step away from my computer and have a fucking panic attack is that I read an unlabeled statement that could have been taken either way as a personal attack rather than as a sarcastic joke.

    I’m very sorry you had a panic attack and feel so deeply hurt. Given the direction of the thread by the time Maureen posted (which was mostly about fuckwitted people and their deep need to other), I don’t suppose she thought tags were necessary, especially in light of her saying how she had to get away from her mother, who always tries to other her.

  269. Esteleth has eaten ALL the gingerbread! Suck it! says

    Bah. I knew I was emotional and extra-fragile today, given that I made the mistake of reading the news and various fuckheaded “analysis.” I shouldn’t even have come online today.

    I’m heading out for a bit.

  270. says

    Probably not coincidentally with the week’s news, Neuroskeptic has an interesting post up today:

    Neither medication nor psychotherapy is effective in improving the prognosis for youngsters considered to be at high risk of developing psychosis, according to a major study just published.

    So even if you do decide to conflate antisocial violence with psychosis, now there’s a bit more evidence that that doesn’t help us figure out how to prevent it.

  271. Esteleth has eaten ALL the gingerbread! Suck it! says

    I hope you treat yourself in a most decadent manner.

    *hugses*

    Thanks. I’m going to take a long shower (and hope my water heater holds out) then study for my stats exam.

    Sorry about spilling my shit on the rug.

  272. says

    Esteleth:

    I’m going to take a long shower (and hope my water heater holds out) then study for my stats exam.

    Maybe it’s just me, but that doesn’t sound like treating yourself. At least have some ice cream. Or chocolate. Or booze. Or something.

    A nice, hot shower does sound good, though…

  273. Esteleth has eaten ALL the gingerbread! Suck it! says

    Booze, chocolate, or ice cream would require a trip to the store.

    And going to the store would require putting pants on.

    *shrug*

  274. says

    Esteleth:

    And going to the store would require putting pants on.

    *shrug*

    I hear ya, I’m wearing a shirt. Well, if I could, I’d show up at your door with Green & Black’s organic cocoa and whip you up a very decadent cuppa hot chocolate. Of course, to do that, I’d probably have to put pants on.

  275. says

    Chris:

    My dad, still working at 78, has written code for a living since the 1950s. Then he’d come home and relax by reading code.

    Some people. *shakes head*

    :D

    Sounds like your dad has had a very interesting career. Lot of changes since the ’50s.

  276. says

    Sounds like your dad has had a very interesting career. Lot of changes since the ’50s.

    In 1998 or so my ex- and I took him to the Smithsonian, and he gamely followed us through the Natural History museum obviously not being very interested. Then we went next door to the American HIstory building, which had an exhibit of ancient computers on the first floor, and it was like he’d mainlined espresso. He’s not the kind of guy who touches things in museums, at all, but he parked himself in front of a system 360 with an arm draped over it, drawing a crowd of museum visitors as he explained how it worked, what it could and couldn’t do, and (to my mild chagrin) how he’d taught me to operate the thing when I was three years old.

  277. makeinu says

    Also could people please stop talking about these tragedies as though they were some kind of epidemic?

    No.

    No we fucking can’t. Because it doesn’t matter how much it’s declined, ANY incident like this, even one, is too fucking many.

  278. makeinu says

    At the first parole hearing, he stated that if he were allowed out, he would go right back to raping women, making absolutely sure he made no mistakes. (Mistakes as in leaving anyone breathing.)

    And this is why I cannot support completely eliminating the death penalty. Is it used wrongly far too often? Yes. But I cannot countenance burdening society with the lifetime support of an animal, nay, a monster, that will never be allowed to walk the streets again because they’re too dangerous to society.

    We have no problem with putting down a dog that routinely attacks people, but if that dog walks on two legs? Nah, he’s too special to kill. That just makes us “one of them”, whatever the fuck that means.

  279. Pteryxx says

    for y’all’s information, Stephanie Zvan points out a post series about mass killers and mental illness over at PLOS blog Neuroanthropology, and it is a massive trove of references, links, and information.

    Zvan: http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/12/15/in-a-violent-context-2/

    These aren’t questions with easy answers. Nor are the kinds of questions we should be asking ourselves with regard to mass violence, whether in the presence of clear mental illness or not. Violence is not anything like an inevitable outcome of of mental illness, even extreme paranoid schizophrenia. Also, there are commonalities to those who do commit mass violence that do not match the patterns we see in mental illness itself. Then there’s the fact that our society maintains certain kinds of delusional thinking that can fuel violence but are so prevalent we don’t consider them a mark of mental illness.

    Daniel doesn’t necessarily have answers. Neither do I. But I do recommend reading his post and some of the information he links to. The questions implicit in that information are worth thinking about instead of simply explaining away with a label.

    http://blogs.plos.org/neuroanthropology/2012/07/24/inside-the-minds-of-mass-killers/

    and previous discussion from last year:

    http://blogs.plos.org/neuroanthropology/2011/01/09/jared-lee-loughner-is-mental-illness-the-explanation-for-what-he-did/

    http://blogs.plos.org/neuroanthropology/2011/01/15/jared-loughner-has-a-violence-problem-not-a-mental-health-problem/

    Semi-random sample from the trove: discussion citing a study of people who attempt assassinations.

    Although the lay person may think that any person who commits an act of political assassination is, by definition, mentally disturbed, a 1999 Secret Service study of 83 people who made assassination attempts against public figures in America found that only one-third had ever received a mental health evaluation, and fewer than one-fifth had been diagnosed with a mental health or behavior disorder prior to the attack…

    The Secret Service study rebuts the common notion that there is a “type” or “profile” of a kind of person who commits such an act. Some are the stereotypical loners, and some have many friends. Some did well in school, and others did not. They were male and female, young and old.

    No profile, no type of person, can fit all the attackers, and any profile would include far too many people who are not dangerous, the researchers found. In short: Profiles don’t help law enforcement prevent attackers, but do tie up law enforcement resources…

    The Secret Service did find that the attackers shared behaviors in common. The researchers are saying there is not a type of person, but there is a type of action, such as acquiring a weapon, and communicating their intentions (though not a threat) to others. Time after time, in the days after such attacks, the news emerges that the shooter had described the plans to others, who often took no action to alert anyone. This is similar to school shootings, in which the young people commonly warn others what is coming, without making a direct threat to the school, the Secret Service found in a later study.

  280. says

    Makeinu:

    And this is why I cannot support completely eliminating the death penalty. Is it used wrongly far too often? Yes. But I cannot countenance burdening society with the lifetime support of an animal, nay, a monster, that will never be allowed to walk the streets again because they’re too dangerous to society.

    While I have mixed feelings about it, I’m against capital punishment. It costs less to house a prisoner than to apply the death penalty. It’s very costly to apply and with decades of appeals being processed, it’s rather pointless. Also, a single innocent person being put to death is much too high of a cost and too many have met that fate already.

    Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand the impulse to see someone dead. That said, it doesn’t solve anything. Personally, I feel that life in a cage is a much harsher punishment than death. Death is easy, you only have to die once. Life in a cage? That’s every. single. day. That caters to the vindictive aspect of me.

    What bothers me more is a system which did not allow for life without the possibility of parole sentences for a very long time, resulting in people being granted parole hearings when everyone knows they aren’t ever going to have it granted. There are many things with need fixing in our justice system, but I don’t think killing people is going to help.

    nay, a monster,

    This goes against a point I went to some pains to make upthread. He’s not a monster. He’s a human being who has desires which go against most of the rest of us. He isn’t other. He’s one of us.

  281. Ze Madmax says

    makeinu @ #355:

    But I cannot countenance burdening society with the lifetime support of an animal, nay, a monster, that will never be allowed to walk the streets again because they’re too dangerous to society.

    So you’re okay with killing innocent people just so society isn’t “burdened” by the cost of supporting dangerous individuals? Because that’s what you are saying: you find it acceptable that the (very fucking fallible) judicial system be allowed to make a non-reversible decision regarding an individual’s life. And if for whatever reason (and there are a FUCKTON of reasons) you zap, poison, hang or shoot an innocent individual, hey, whatever, we’re saving some good money here!

    Not to mention the way it is currently set (in the U.S., at least) it is actually MORE expensive to have an inmate on death row than it is to have xe locked away for life. Because of the fact that between judgment and execution there’s a long string of appeals and other legal processes which cost money to do. And if you want to get rid (or limit) the appeals process for death penalty cases, guess what: you would increase the chances of killing an innocent person.

    But hey, as long as we don’t “burden” society, it’s all good.

    We have no problem with putting down a dog that routinely attacks people, but if that dog walks on two legs? Nah, he’s too special to kill. That just makes us “one of them”, whatever the fuck that means.

    Lo and behold, a clear example of dehumanization at work: It’s always easier to rationalize killing people when you strip away their humanity. Because the death penalty isn’t about killing people. Is about putting down animals. Fucking disgusting.

  282. Rodney Nelson says

    I know that Chris has shut Crissa off but I have to reply to her #277

    Did you? Yes. Are you suffering now? Maybe, but you didn’t say, so I won’t, either. You were under the delusion that your orders were just or authorized. You were under an injury that violence was an appropriate action. Just as you might heal from a scrape, that doesn’t stop the scrape from being an injury. Just as a disease might be externally inflicted, it was inflicted upon you.

    Many if not most soldiers don’t kill people because they’re following orders. We kill (or in my case killed) other people because they’re trying to kill us. The motto of the infantry: “Do unto others before others do unto you.” There’s a popular myth that front-line soldiers are divided into two groups, stone killers and distressed existentialists. While there are some of each in the infantry of every army, they are distinct minorities. Most infantry soldiers are pretty normal folks who are literally doing a job which happens to involve killing others. There’s a famous quotation attributed to the prolific author Anon which describes war as “long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of terror.” Angst isn’t a common trait of the common soldier but fear is.

    But instead, you’re too busy stigmatizing mental illness as being unusual, something only psychopaths have, that can’t and shouldn’t be treated, only ignored.

    I’m not sure how Crissa determined this was my opinion. I don’t stigmatize mental illness. Both my wife and daughter suffer from depression severe enough to require therapy and medication. I’ve been diagnosed with a personality disorder. I’m quite aware from personal experience that mental illness is fairly common, much of it is amenable to treatment, and it’s not a moral failing to suffer from it.

  283. makeinu says

    Points taken. I really should get a knee-jerk strap.

    I know the justice system is deeply flawed. I know there’s an enourmous possibility that any potential death penalty case is likely to catch the wrong person. And a single innocent dying is beyond unacceptable.

    What bothers me more is a system which did not allow for life without the possibility of parole sentences for a very long time, resulting in people being granted parole hearings when everyone knows they aren’t ever going to have it granted.

    That’s what really bothers me as well. I’m human, and so I have a vindictive streak as well, so I can understand the whole “lifetime in a cage” as a punishment, I just don’t necessarily agree with it as the most suitable. Isn’t that dehumanizing as well? We don’t call them animals, but we treat them as such. We, as a society (speaking only of America, here, I don’t have enough experience with other systems to judge), are largely perfectly accepting of the fact that prisons are places where we lock up those “others” who aren’t like us. Where we don’t really care how they live, and in fact begrudge them any real effort to rehabilitate them and return them to society. I mean, prison is the one area where certain jokes are still acceptable in huge swathes of so-called “polite society”.

    He’s not a monster. He’s a human being who has desires which go against most of the rest of us. He isn’t other. He’s one of us.

    Perhaps I shouldn’t have used the term monster or animal. I don’t view the death penalty as putting down animals, except to note that, in certain cases (this being one, Manson being my favorite other), these people set themselves aside from others in a way that makes them very dangerous to society. They set themselves above society, viewing others as animals there for their own amusement, abuse, destruction, what have you. Do we, as a society, owe them better treatment than they would give us? I don’t think so. Maybe I’m alone in that thought.

    I don’t know, but my visceral reaction is that if you’re not going to allow them parole, ever, because of the nature of their crimes, then where do you draw the line? Sure, life without the possibility of parole is a far better option, as it revictimize the victim or the victim’s surviving family by forcing them to relive the crime at a parole hearing, but do we still leave them with the option of appeal? When is enough too much?

    Sorry for the threadjack…

  284. consciousness razor says

    They set themselves above society, viewing others as animals there for their own amusement, abuse, destruction, what have you. Do we, as a society, owe them better treatment than they would give us? I don’t think so. Maybe I’m alone in that thought.

    I wish you were. Does being no better than them seem like a good idea somehow?

  285. Rodney Nelson says

    Ze Madmax #359

    Not to mention the way it is currently set (in the U.S., at least) it is actually MORE expensive to have an inmate on death row than it is to have xe locked away for life.

    It costs about $90,000 per year more to keep an inmate on death row than is spent on regular prisoners. To put that in perspective, it costs approximately $60,000 per year to send an undergraduate to Harvard.

  286. makeinu says

    One clarification before I shut up.

    When the nature of the crime is such that the death penalty is on the books as a possibility, and they admit not only that they committed the crime but that, if released, they would do so again, shouldn’t the appeal process be negated and the death penalty applied?

    That’s where I stand.

  287. John Morales says

    [totally OT]

    makeinu:

    We don’t call them animals, but we treat them as such.

    That’s a deep societal problem entirely due to anthropomorphism — people are animals, yet we treat animals like animals but don’t treat people like animals.

    (Or, to rephrase less elliptically, ‘treating as an animal’ is an euphemism for ‘mistreating’, which it should not be)

  288. consciousness razor says

    When the nature of the crime is such that the death penalty is on the books as a possibility, and they admit not only that they committed the crime but that, if released, they would do so again, shouldn’t the appeal process be negated and the death penalty applied?

    Why? They could stay in prison. The choice isn’t between “set them free” or “kill them.”

  289. says

    Makeinu:

    Isn’t that dehumanizing as well?

    Yes, it is and there’s little point trying to pretend otherwise. However, prison does not need to be dehumanizing. Might as well say that I’m pro-rehabilitation and prison reform. There are many ways in which prisons could serve their function while *not* dehumanizing and helping to better those who find themselves in one. Cell dogs comes to mind – training dogs for the disabled or training ‘problem’ dogs for adoption, done by prisoners. In prisons which have such programs, it’s always overwhelmingly popular and prisoners will do whatever they need to in order to meet requirements and get a dog. It’s been shown to have a very positive effect on those who participate, it ups their probability of parole and it reduces recidivism. Go figure, eh? ;)

    Our prisons are overcrowded, fucked up messes, due in large part, to draconian drug laws. They don’t need to be this way. I think it’s better to work on improving things all the way around. That’s how you end up with less people in prison.

    Sure, life without the possibility of parole is a far better option, as it revictimize the victim or the victim’s surviving family by forcing them to relive the crime at a parole hearing, but do we still leave them with the option of appeal?

    Since the advent of “life without the possibility”, there are no parole hearings. There are no appeals. The one process which requires the maximum amount of time and appeals is a death penalty sentence. A person can remain on death row in excess of 20 years before their appeals run out.

  290. John Morales says

    [semi-OT]

    makeinu:

    When the nature of the crime is such that the death penalty is on the books as a possibility, and they admit not only that they committed the crime but that, if released, they would do so again, shouldn’t the appeal process be negated and the death penalty applied?

    Leaving aside virtue-ethical considerations, your question is predicated on the hidden premise that that rehabilitation is not possible, the which itself is predicated on the assumption that people can’t change their nature.

  291. says

    Makeinu:

    When the nature of the crime is such that the death penalty is on the books as a possibility, and they admit not only that they committed the crime but that, if released, they would do so again, shouldn’t the appeal process be negated and the death penalty applied?

    No. Appeals can be voluntarily waived by a convicted person, you know. A number of death row inmates did choose to do that in order to die quickly. However, why not simply opt for “life without” instead of the death penalty?

  292. makeinu says

    @Johm Morales

    That’s a deep societal problem entirely due to anthropomorphism — people are animals, yet we treat animals like animals but don’t treat people like animals.

    I don’t think that’s OT at all. It’s very topical. It’s why I have a problem with the concept of dehumanization; humans aren’t better than other animals, but our very language is predicated on the concept that we are.

    Also, for me, it’s not a hidden premise that, in some cases, rehabilitation is not possible. When a person is unrepentant for their crime, they cannot be rehabilitated for it, because rehabilitation is predicated on repentance. You can’t get “better” if you don’t see a problem with what you did.

    @Caine

    Thanks. I wasn’t aware that life without parole eliminated appeals as well.

  293. says

    Makeinu:

    I wasn’t aware that life without parole eliminated appeals as well.

    This is assuming there wasn’t a problem with the trial, attorneys, jury or other problem, which could be the basis of an appeal. That, of course, is an important right for all to retain.

  294. makeinu says

    This is assuming there wasn’t a problem with the trial, attorneys, jury or other problem, which could be the basis of an appeal. That, of course, is an important right for all to retain.

    On that point, I will never disagree.

  295. John Morales says

    makeinu:

    When a person is unrepentant for their crime, they cannot be rehabilitated for it, because rehabilitation is predicated on repentance.

    Which is why I noted that is itself predicated on the assumption that people can’t change their nature.

    (I have personally deeply changed some aspects of my nature since I was a teenager, so I know that proposition is at least not an universal truth)

  296. consciousness razor says

    Also, for me, it’s not a hidden premise that, in some cases, rehabilitation is not possible. When a person is unrepentant for their crime, they cannot be rehabilitated for it, because rehabilitation is predicated on repentance. You can’t get “better” if you don’t [AND CANNOT EVER] see a problem with what you did.

    There’s your hidden premise. People do change, so it’s not a foregone conclusion that if they don’t “repent”* now, they never will and will never be better.

    *Not a word I would normally use.

  297. says

    CR:

    People do change, so it’s not a foregone conclusion that if they don’t “repent”* now, they never will and will never be better.

    Yes. I think of Wilbert Rideau. He should have been allowed parole *long* before he was granted another trial and finally allowed out of Angola.

    I think Patricia Krenwinkle should be allowed parole, along with Leslie Van Houten.

  298. consciousness razor says

    CR @375, I don’t understand what it is you are asking me.

    The use of “an” before a word starting with a vowel, rather than “a.”

    It doesn’t matter. It’s no major crime, and I’m sure you will repent for it soon enough.

  299. consciousness razor says

    when I learnt English.

    Nonpossible. This is a nonverb, except in fictional places like England. When Americans invented English, we created the myth about England (much like Romulus and Remus) to make ourselves seem important. Which of course we are.

    (It surprises me it surprised you)

    It surprises me that I hadn’t noticed it before, if you’ve been doing it consistently.

  300. Esteleth has eaten ALL the gingerbread! Suck it! says

    when I learnt English.

    …you are not a native English speaker?

    I learn something knew every day!

  301. Pteryxx says

    the way I was taught, when the written vowel’s pronounced as if there were a ‘y’ there, then use ‘a’ instead of ‘an':

    ‘an oophemism’ vs ‘a yoophemism’ more or less

    *(an ‘y’ ?)

  302. Esteleth has eaten ALL the gingerbread! Suck it! says

    I was taught similarly, Pteryxx. And it is “an ‘y'” because the name of the letter does not start with the voiced ‘y’ sound.

    Because.

    I say we just go the French route and call it i grec

  303. Esteleth has eaten ALL the gingerbread! Suck it! says

    but, but a ‘y’ is pronounced starting with a ‘w’ sound… *headexplodes*

    A breath ‘w’.

    Welcome to English.

  304. Tony ∞The Queer Shoop∞ says

    Bzzzt!
    Sorry John, you’re wrong.
    As a representative of the greatest, most fantastic, awesomest country in the world-‘Mericuh-it is my duty to inform you that it is ‘a euphemism’.
    /jk

  305. makeinu says

    Regarding a previous comment questioning why this happens in the US moreso than in other countries, here’s an article at the Washington Post that may shed some light.

    Interestingly, Switzerland has half the per-capita gun ownership rate, yet one-quarter the gun-related murder rate of the US.

  306. Esteleth has eaten ALL the gingerbread! Suck it! says

    Maybe part of that is that Switzerland has mandatory gun safety lessons, makeinu?

  307. John Morales says

    makeinu:

    Interestingly, Switzerland has half the per-capita gun ownership rate, yet one-quarter the gun-related murder rate of the US.

    Well, yes — which supports the hypothesis that per-capita gun ownership rate is proportional to the gun-related murder rate, and even quantifies it the constant of proportionality to be roughly ½. ;)

    (i.e. fewer guns, more than fewer gun-related murders)

  308. Esteleth has eaten ALL the gingerbread! Suck it! says

    I’d say it’s more down to the fact they have a sounder society altogether.

    That too.

    I asked a Swiss acquaintance of mine about the “AK-47 in the closet” meme.

    It was confirmed, largely, with the caveat that carrying it around casually, or casually saying that one was going to use it is culturally taboo.

  309. says

    Esteleth:

    I asked a Swiss acquaintance of mine about the “AK-47 in the closet” meme.

    It was confirmed, largely, with the caveat that carrying it around casually, or casually saying that one was going to use it is culturally taboo.

    There you have it. The cultural difference answers for a great deal. Even the thought of those things being culturally taboo would enrage a percentage of Americans.

  310. says

    I’m still waiting for the USA to start having a discussion about why it is almost always white guys who commit those mass murders (or never women). That might point them in the right direction to prevent some shootings in the future, even if they can’t get themselves to get rid of their guns.

  311. makeinu says

    Actually, I found it interesting more from the perspective that it’s as high as it is. Finland has approximately the same per-capita rate of gun ownership as Switzerland, but half the gun-related murder rate.

    This, and Switzerland doesn’t allow storage of ammunition in the home with the weapon, at least for their militia-assigned weapons, as far as I understand.

    The sad truth is that, in the US, guns are far too prevalent for the solution to ever be “fewer guns”.

    Here’s the problem I have. Cars, built and designed to move people, require registration, licensing, insurance, and training to merely own, much less operate, on the basis that they’re dangerous. Guns, built and designed to kill people, largely don’t require any of that, with the exception of regulations that vary from state to state primarily aimed at concealed carry permits. And the argument from the pro-gun side always seems to come down to “More guns” and “Background checks and all that are unconstitutional”. It causes me great cognitive dissonance.

    Now ask me if I would, were I currently living in the US, own a gun.

  312. John Morales says

    [meta]

    makeinu:

    The sad truth is that, in the US, guns are far too prevalent for the solution to ever be “fewer guns”.

    I know what you meant to express*, but what you wrote is equivalent to writing “The sad truth is that, in the US, there are too many guns for the solution to ever be “fewer guns”.”

    * It is too late to limit acquisition of guns, they’re already out there.

  313. chigau (違う) says

    makeinu #400

    Now ask me if I would, were I currently living in the US, own a gun.

    This gave me pause. [and my mind went in several directions]
    I live in Canada and my household has several long guns.
    If I had easy, legal access to more kinds of guns…
    I’d choose accuracy over power.
    —-
    [underdog?]

  314. Amphiox says

    Here’s the problem I have. Cars, built and designed to move people, require registration, licensing, insurance, and training to merely own, much less operate, on the basis that they’re dangerous. Guns, built and designed to kill people, largely don’t require any of that

    In addition to those things on the user end, would that gun manufacturers were subject to the same sorts of safety regulations that car manufacturers were, and their products subject to the same sort of testing.

    We might have had stuff like guns for small game hunting (or ammo) calibrated to muzzle velocities that would be sufficient for that purpose, but low enough to not be usually lethal to accidentally shot humans. Triggers that would not fire unless the owner inserts a key (thus you’d have to steal both weapon and key to work it, and the owner can keep to two separate), or passes a fingerprint scan, or enters a password. “Smart” or “safety” triggers that use AI algorithms such that they could be set that if the target in the sight fits a human profile, the gun would not fire.

    And that these and other safety features that would at least reduce the number of accidental gun deaths if not the deliberate gun violence could be mandated to be part of every gun sold in the country.

  315. says

    Amphiox,

    At least some of that “sci-fi” stuff you’re talking about already exists at least in principle. Further, all it takes to make it less likely to experience mass-murders on the current scale is to revert to more primitive technology. Restrict civilians to revolvers and shotguns and bolt-action revolvers with a maximum capacity of 4-6 rounds, and while you don’t eliminate murder you take away the high body counts. Add restrictions on the availability of guns in general, and over time you absolutely reduce the number of gun crime incidents.

    This isn’t fucking rocket science.

  316. makeinu says

    @John Morales

    Yes, that is better worded. There are too many guns in the US already for any solution to be “let’s make sure there are fewer guns around”. The corollary, however, that more guns would make us all safe, i.e., that the Aurora, CO theater massacre or this one could/would have been stopped necessarily if someone on scene had been carrying, is not provable, not to my mind. It might be a valid assertion, but as I’ll note below, it’ll take some serious convincin’.

    @chigau

    “underdog” indeed. Long story, been using it as an online handle for a long while.

    As for the gun ownership comment, I have long been opposed to the idea that I would ever have a gun around my house. However, I have been spoiled by the privilege of living in Japan for the past (nearly) eight years, under the protection of the US/GoJ SOFA agreement, and during that time, been simultaneously subjected to rather thorough and repeated weapons handling and weapons safety training. In light of what I know of the US from growing up there, and having the confidence to know how to handle a weapon properly, I would not now return to living in the US without a gun in my house.

    Not likely a handgun, mind; terribly ineffective as a deterrent. Shotguns are much more effective, not least because of the visceral terror that the sound of a round being chambered has if you’re not expecting it. For those that haven’t heard it outside of TV or movies, it’s loud, and very recognizable.

    BTW, one of the top weapons handling safety tips? Never, ever, fire into a crowd. Ever. Police officers, arguably heavily trained in weapons handling, average (according to some studies) less than 30% hit ratio (hits to shots fired) when not being shot at. When under fire, that ratio drops to ~18%. These numbers drop further under conditions of poor lighting. Turns out, it’s hard to hit a target you’re aiming at when it’s dark and you’re ducking. Who knew? :eyeroll:

    Given those numbers, would you trust the average civilian (for lack of a better term) to do better?

    You know what does work? OC spray. That shit hurts even when you know what it will do and are expecting it!

  317. says

    The problem with suggesting this criminal had mental health issues is first and foremost that it thereby relieves him of his responsibility, at least in a legal sense – i.e. he’s not legally responsible for his actions because he was mentally ill and suffering from some type of episode or whatever, such that he didn’t have the ‘mens rea’ which makes him culpable and subject to proper punishment, etc. I always get angry that people are so quick to suggest mental health issues any time a human commits some atrocious and violent act – why can’t we just accept that there are atrocious and violent people out there who – if caught in the act – should be locked away from society for the rest of their awful lives? Why give them an ‘out’?! No way! It’s such a cop-out for these arseholes and the more ‘we’ do this, the more society will accept these ‘defences’ and, accordingly, ‘juries’, and these crimes will keep being committed and the people who commit them will keep getting away with it. No more ‘he must be crazy’ decisions. How about ‘he must be an arsehole’ – works better for me.

  318. Matt Penfold says

    The problem with suggesting this criminal had mental health issues is first and foremost that it thereby relieves him of his responsibility, at least in a legal sense – i.e. he’s not legally responsible for his actions because he was mentally ill and suffering from some type of episode or whatever, such that he didn’t have the ‘mens rea’ which makes him culpable and subject to proper punishment, etc

    Actually it doesn’t do that at all. A person can be mentally ill and be held responsible for their actions. The key test is whether a person understood at the time that what they did was wrong. If they did, they are considered responsible for their actions regardless of any diagnosis of mental illness. It is only when mental illness prevented a person from knowing what they did was wrong that they are not held responsible. Simply being mentally ill is not sufficient to pass that test.

  319. mesh says

    Exactly. The high burden of proof necessary to establish that a mental illness completely compromised their moral judgment is just one of the reasons that the insanity defense is rarely used and rarely successful. Hell, if the crime was premeditated or some effort was made to escape or cover it up that in itself can cause the entire case to crash and burn at the starting gates. Next is the fact that most people don’t understand the insanity defense and think it to be nothing more than a “cop-out” or a loophole; its employment alone can be enough to convince a jury that the defendant is trying to escape justice and “relieve himself of responsibility”. And finally, as I believe has already been well-established in this thread alone, the majority don’t understand mental illness at all. The fact that a mentally ill person can appear quite lucid throughout the proceedings can easily be enough to make a jury hostile to the psychiatrist attesting to their condition. Even if they accept it as true there’s the prevalent stereotype that mental illness + murder = sociopath.

    And that’s why the insanity defense is invoked in less than 1% of all felony cases and carries only a 25% success rate.

  320. Pteryxx says

    Bleargh… and of course it’s Louie Gohmert, “my” representative from Texas. *hurk*

    (I don’t dare write the jackass; I don’t want him and his staff knowing where I live.)

  321. Gregory Greenwood says

    From the link in makeinu’s comment @ 411;

    GOP Rep.: More – not fewer – guns the answer

    Because even easier access to weapons designed solely to kill people will result in fewer deaths. Somehow.

    That is Teaparty ‘logic’ for you.

    Had Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung kept a gun in her office, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, argued today, the Newtown, Conn., shooting Friday that left 20 students and six faculty members dead would have had a far less tragic result.

    So, he is seriously saying that it is at least in part the deceased school principal’s fault that this tragedy happened because she failed to do her best Rambo impression in a sufficiently action-heroine-esque style for Gohmert’s liking?

    What a complete and utter arsehole.

    “I wish to God she had had an M4 [carbine rifle] in her office locked up and so when she heard gunshots… she takes his head off before he can hurt those kids,” Gohmert said of Hochsprung – who was among those killed – on FOX News Sunday.

    Because a civilian with no significant training blazing away with a fully automatic rifle in an confined space full of children couldn’t possibly go wrong and simply make a bad situation worse.

    Gohmert is not merely an immoral arsehole; he is clearly a spectacularly stupid immoral arsehole.

    It worries me that America’s political culture is so toxic and infested with religious inanity that such a nauseating jerk can even be elected to such high office.

  322. chigau (違う) says

    Why do those who advocate for ‘everyone having a gun’ so seldom mention the hundreds of rounds that must be fired to become competent?

  323. Ichthyic says

    Gohmert is a spectacularly stupid immoral arsehole.

    yeah, that does about sum it up.

    I wonder if redistricting will get him re-elected.

    again.

  324. says

    Chigau:

    Why do those who advocate for ‘everyone having a gun’ so seldom mention the hundreds of rounds that must be fired to become competent?

    Because ‘Have Gun = Instant Hero of Specific Competence’.

  325. Tony ∞The Queer Shoop∞ says

    chigau:
    And why do those same advocates not think beyond ‘givethemagun’?
    Is the average citizen trained for this type of situation?
    What guarantee is there that the teacher or principal won’t be too terrified to confront the shooter?
    In the Aurora shooting, how would even someone experienced with firearm be able to remain calm and find the shooter? What about the screams and the frantic attempts to escape that could interfere with any attempt to aim at the shooter?

  326. Pteryxx says

    Gohmert knows to get his face (and yap) on Faux News at every opportunity. It’s free advertising, down here where just about every restaurant, waiting room and doctor’s office has a TV broadcasting Faux News every waking moment.

  327. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    Because ‘Have Gun = Instant Hero of Specific Competence’.

    I have read somewhere on this blog that shooting a gun feels just like shooting a gun.

    I wonder if that troll ever goes for the rebound.

  328. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    Gohmert knows to get his face (and yap) on Faux News at every opportunity. It’s free advertising, down here where just about every restaurant, waiting room and doctor’s office has a TV broadcasting Faux News every waking moment.

    While Al Franken avoids going on national shows, he will only appear on local broadcasts.

  329. katenrala says

    weapons designed solely to kill people

    This kind of comment get’s brought up a lot, and I’m just directing this as a general thing, I often see many using similar as an argument against guns, but guns being designed to kill people are their point, is the major selling point of them, and is in fact an argument for them.

    In hunting weapons and more defensive weapons, lethality is the point too.

    I think gun violence and easy access to powerful and fairly cheap weapons (a low cost but still quality ar-15 runs $700-$800 and depending on state law, nearly everyone can get one too) is the best argument against guns and their proliferation

  330. Gregory Greenwood says

    katenrala @ 423;

    This kind of comment get’s brought up a lot, and I’m just directing this as a general thing, I often see many using similar as an argument against guns, but guns being designed to kill people are their point, is the major selling point of them, and is in fact an argument for them.

    In hunting weapons and more defensive weapons, lethality is the point too.

    I don’t think that most forms of hunting or target shooting require ownership of fully automatic weapons such as the M4 Gohmert wishes the principal was carrying in the case of this tragedy. Such weapons have no purpose other than to kill people, and so it is legitimate to ask why any civilain needs to own such a weapon, and still less how the more widespread ownership of such weapons would somehow result in fewer gun deaths as Gohmert asserts.

  331. katenrala says

    @424

    What the hell does Gohmert have to do with my general observation that people use the phrase “guns are designed to kill” and it’s varieties as an argument against guns and why I don’t think it’s a good argument?

  332. Gregory Greenwood says

    katenrala @ 425;

    I was referring back to my original comment back @ 415, and explaining why the observation that guns of this type are solely designed to kill is relevant in the context of Gohmert’s statement that that comment was addressing.

    That said, I think that the point that most of these types of guns clearly are designed solely to kill people – afterall, how many forms of hunting or target shooting require the use of fully automatic assault rifles? – is valid. Why does any civilian really need to own such a weapon? Why should these types of weapon be so readily available, especially when we know that they have taken so many lives, and it is reasonable to suppose that they will take many more in the future?

    Why do you feel that the fact that people demand the right to own a device specifically designed to kill their fellow humans is not a problem, especially given the sheer level of gun related deaths in the US?

  333. katenrala says

    @ Gregory Greenwood 426

    If you thought I was addressing you specifically in my post @423- I wasn’t, hence no cite and the “general” thing.

  334. Ichthyic says

    but guns being designed to kill people are their point, is the major selling point of them, and is in fact an argument for them.

    uh, the point is brought in when people start making comparisons between things like guns and cars.

  335. vaiyt says

    but guns being designed to kill people are their point, is the major selling point of them, and is in fact an argument for them.

    because “we want less people killing each other, so let’s make sure MORE people get people-killing tools” is an argument, all right… not sure if it’s a very bright one…

  336. katenrala says

    @430 yaiyt

    When did I say “let’s make sure people should get people-killing tools?”

    I said killing is the point of guns. You’re making shit up to state I made any argument for more guns in more hands.

  337. makeinu says

    @419 Tony Morales

    In the Aurora shooting, how would even someone experienced with firearm be able to remain calm and find the shooter? What about the screams and the frantic attempts to escape that could interfere with any attempt to aim at the shooter?

    Refer back to my post @409:

    Never, ever, fire into a crowd. Ever. Police officers, arguably heavily trained in weapons handling, average (according to some studies) less than 30% hit ratio (hits to shots fired) when not being shot at. When under fire, that ratio drops to ~18%. These numbers drop further under conditions of poor lighting. Turns out, it’s hard to hit a target you’re aiming at when it’s dark and you’re ducking. Who knew?

    An armed “hero” in the theater in Aurora, CO, would have certainly resulted only in further deaths and injuries. Especially given that the assailant was in body armor. There’s no reason to believe that had the principal been armed in this shooting the result would’ve been any different.

    @katenrala

    Yes, killing is the point of guns. More accurate to this particular rock-brained assertion from an idiot politician is that such weapons as he proposes would have fixed the situation are weapons of war. They are battlefield weapons, designed to lay down suppression fire. They are not merely designed for killing; they are designed and intended for indiscriminate killing and maiming (why kill one when wounding removes three from the field), because the assumption on a battle field is that every person in the direction you’re firing is an enemy.

    Hardly a deterrent weapon for such a horrific situation. One that, in fact, only increases the danger level to bystanders.

  338. says

    Also, I just want to say to everyone that I’m rather sickened by this thread being turned into yet another gun argument. There is already a thread for that, so if anyone wants to continue going on about guns and gun control, please fucking go to the thread which is for that exact purpose:

    NEWTON MURDERS.

  339. chigau (違う) says

    Caine #434
    I’m hoping this thread is head for dead.
    There is something about discussions that drift to ‘mental illness causes violent behavior’ that leave me feeling enervated.
    It just feels so futile sometimes.

  340. says

    Chigau:

    There is something about discussions that drift to ‘mental illness causes violent behavior’ that leave me feeling … enervated.

    Yeah, I know the feeling. However, blaming such acts on mental illness is the actual topic of this post/thread.

    It just feels so futile sometimes.

    Yes, it does. All too often, really.

  341. chigau (違う) says

    Caine

    mental illness is the actual topic of this post/thread

    Yes.
    I almost forgot.
    And here we are alone until the Other Hemisphere has its morning coffee.

  342. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    For mass murderers in general, the literature does not reflect a strong link with serious mental illness.15

    Though it does point to **some** (p < 0.3) of them having mild-moderate depression and other mental health problems that occasionally are serious in others but were rarely so in the mass murderers.

    This info is upthread for those who wish to discuss what the thread is about: the “no true human” fallacy and crazy-blaming.

  343. ChasCPeterson says

    comparisons between things like guns and cars.

    Indeed, a stupid comparison.
    More better (w/ apologies to Louis):
    guns and penises
    cars and penises
    also guitars and penises, though that’s irrelevant.

    hth.

  344. says

    Chris:

    I just found someone whom I had thought was not a moron flogging this on Facebook. Sigh.

    Wow. That’s an impressive amount of fail. Somehow or another, he didn’t manage to blame women, though. I’m rather surprised by that.

  345. Ichthyic says

    just found someone whom I had thought was not a moron flogging this on Facebook. Sigh.

    that’s all over facebook, from what I have seen, and most people quote it as coming from Morgan Freeman, which is total bullshit on top of bullshit.

    in fact, the link you earlier posted to Snopes has already scoped it as false.

  346. Ichthyic says

    It just feels so futile sometimes.

    go check out the thread cuttlefish posted on this.

    I argued for hours with someone who, in that thread, was pushing the idea that all killers, since she can’t imagine a motive, must be mentally ill.

    I tried and tried and tried.

    I don’t really feel anger; I think it’s just exactly what Chris was talking about – this is part of the “othering” process for a lot of people.

    which is why I asked her if she would, in fact, be okay if she NEVER found out exactly why this mass-murder happened.

    I guess not.

  347. chigau (違う) says

    He shot his mother in the face.
    I think he was angry.
    I do not think he was “crazy“.
    [despite oooooh MOTHERS and oooooh CHILDREN]

  348. says

    Ichthyic:

    I argued for hours with someone who, in that thread, was pushing the idea that all killers, since she can’t imagine a motive, must be mentally ill.

    :Reads:

    Just the same as Margareth in this thread. “I can’t imagine why someone would do this, so mentally ill!”

    Given the level of emotion generated by simply discussing these matters, it’s hard for me to understand how so many people can easily handwave emotions being the motivator for such violence. Yes, people can get that angry. Yes, people can get that despairing. Yes, people can get that frustrated. And on it goes.

  349. consciousness razor says

    Just the same as Margareth in this thread. “I can’t imagine why someone would do this, so mentally ill!”

    Given the level of emotion generated by simply discussing these matters, it’s hard for me to understand how so many people can easily handwave emotions being the motivator for such violence. Yes, people can get that angry. Yes, people can get that despairing. Yes, people can get that frustrated. And on it goes.

    Yeah, it does. I don’t know why people latch onto the idea, except for self-protection and “othering” as has been pointed out so many times already. I mean, they have to know “healthy” people have emotions and don’t always deal with them or their problems the right ways. Don’t they? If not, where the hell have they been?

    Maybe if the media didn’t take this route every fucking time, people wouldn’t jump to it so quickly. But I’m probably being too optimistic.

    I’ve got an idea: we can get lots of news outlets to start saying murderers/assorted-bad-guys are possessed by demons. It makes for a better story anyway, so people would eat that shit up, and at least we wouldn’t have to worry about splash damage on any of the innocent, nonviolent demons.

  350. says

    CR:

    I’ve got an idea: we can get lots of news outlets to start saying murderers/assorted-bad-guys are possessed by demons. It makes for a better story anyway, so people would eat that shit up, and at least we wouldn’t have to worry about splash damage on any of the innocent, nonviolent demons.

    And it would help the economy by giving the exorcism business a boost. Win all the way around.

  351. Ichthyic says

    Maybe if the media didn’t take this route every fucking time, people wouldn’t jump to it so quickly. But I’m probably being too optimistic.

    I’m bettting the media do it because writers are part of the media, and self-protection bias as we have seen, is very very common.

    I’m realizing it’s so common, I am finding it hard to even be angry at the people employing it.

    it’s like being angry at a creationist for employing projection as a defense mechanism.

  352. consciousness razor says

    And it would help the economy by giving the exorcism business a boost. Win all the way around.

    Yes. Then, when we sell the Vatican, we can distribute all that money to the poor. Because Jesus.

    This could work.

  353. chigau (違う) says

    My first choice of after-retirement-career has (up to now) been chocolatier.
    Exorcist is now quite tempting.

  354. says

    I think a lot of people get so invested in the ‘mass violence = mental illness’ because they are terrified of finding themselves feeling empathy or compassion towards the killer. They don’t want to know why someone did such a thing, they don’t want to know what they were feeling, because it might be something they could identify with, and with that comes the realization that the killer really was one of us. That they might well be capable of doing something similar, given the right circumstances.

  355. says

    I think a lot of people get so invested in the ‘mass violence = mental illness’ because they are terrified of finding themselves feeling empathy or compassion towards the killer. They don’t want to know why someone did such a thing, they don’t want to know what they were feeling, because it might be something they could identify with, and with that comes the realization that the killer really was one of us. That they might well be capable of doing something similar, given the right circumstances.

    I got some nasty blowback over the serial killer post linked upthread that was pretty much about exactly that.

  356. Hurin, Midnight DJ on the Backwards Music Station says

    nightshadequeen

    Please, for the love of all that is good, Ms Long, stop painting your son as a potential spree killer just because he has a mental illness.

    I was pretty sure that she was painting her son as a potential spree killer because he has a history of violent rages in which he threatens her with weapons.

    From the article:

    I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

    A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan—they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

    That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

    Its very true that not all mental illnesses predispose people to violent behavior, but its hyperskepticism to deny that specific kinds of violent symptoms are a sign of potential violence. Similarly, if you have a person who is prone to extreme emotional episodes, out of proportion to the situations they are dealing with, these are specific symptoms of certain mental illnesses . For instance…

    Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED), as operationalized in DSM-IV, is characterized by recurrent episodes of serious assaultive acts that are out of proportion to psychosocial stressors and that are not better accounted for either by another mental disorder or by the physiological effects of a substance with psychotropic properties.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1924721/

    I’m all for exercising caution, and trying to avoid othering people with mental illnesses. On the other hand I remember a certain “David Mabus” who was obsessively threatening people in the skeptical/atheist movement and how no one seemed to have a problem deducing that his issue was something potentially diagnosable, or using legal resources to try to get him treated. I see that as a different approach from jumping to the conclusion that “Mabus clearly has Autism, and people with Autism are often weird and dangerous like Mabus”, or even offering less loaded armchair diagnoses without evidence or a professional opinion.

  357. says

    I was pretty sure that she was painting her son as a potential spree killer because he has a history of violent rages in which he threatens her with weapons.

    And doing so under her own name to the entire English-speaking Internet and attaching a photo of her child.

    The kid’s a very bright 13-year-old. It will take him approximately 45 seconds once he has Internet access to find out his mother told the entire world that he’s a horrible monster, and that the entire world stopped to listen; that he got the attention of the entire world by pulling a knife on his mother.

    She just increased the likelihood of the outcome she fears.

    I am not at all interested in trashing her, because I have no idea what I’d do in her shoes. But I do know that Huffington Post better make sure their liability insurance policy is paid up.

  358. vaiyt says

    I said killing is the point of guns. You’re making shit up to state I made any argument for more guns in more hands.

    Oh, great, another genius who thinks they can play the selectively oblivious game when people can easily read what was said just above.

    but guns being designed to kill people are their point, is the major selling point of them, and is in fact an argument for them.

    is in fact an argument for them.

    an argument for them.

  359. vaiyt says

    Okay, maybe you were trying to say that people want to get these guns precisely BECAUSE they kill people, but then your argument becomes a strange sort of non-sequitur. The post you were responding to was questioning the practical necessity of having a gun made to kill lots of people as fast as possible as an argument for restricting their availability, and as a counter to the typical argument about multiple uses of guns.

    Just because a lot of people want guns made to shoot at advancing infantry, it doesn’t follow that they should be able to get those guns.

  360. Hurin, Midnight DJ on the Backwards Music Station says

    Chris Clarke

    And doing so under her own name to the entire English-speaking Internet and attaching a photo of her child.
    […]
    She just increased the likelihood of the outcome she fears.

    I agree. If she was going to make her story public, she should have been more vigilant about masking her son’s identity. I hope none of his classmates read Huffpo.

  361. Ichthyic says

    I’m all for exercising caution, and trying to avoid othering people with mental illnesses. On the other hand I remember a certain “David Mabus” who was obsessively threatening people in the skeptical/atheist movement and how no one seemed to have a problem deducing that his issue was something potentially diagnosable, or using legal resources to try to get him treated.

    because he was exhibiting clear signs of a personality disorder, long before he was arrested.

    you fail at comparisons.

    just so you know.

  362. says

    FWIW, I riff on mesh’s brilliant trope at Coyote Crossing.

    Thank you for that, Chris. I hope the No True Human Fallacy spreads far and wide. I hope to hell it makes people think.

  363. says

    Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED), as operationalized in DSM-IV

    A joke. (A bigger joke: the DSM-5. We live in a wretched, ridiculous culture.)

    ***

    And doing so under her own name to the entire English-speaking Internet and attaching a photo of her child….

    It’s awful. What were people thinking promoting this? That poor kid.

  364. says

    Chris:

    FWIW, I riff on mesh’s brilliant trope at Coyote Crossing.

    Thank you. I do hope that this fallacy gets wider attention.

    Over the past few days, I have over and over and over again heard how “dangerous” the mentally ill are. I’ve been told repeatedly how dangerous people with PTSD are, too, just to round things out from blaming autism, I guess.

    It’s always nice to be othered right to my face.

  365. says

    There are well-funded ideologues like E. Fuller Torrey who’ll jump all over this with calls for “involuntary treatment” (AKA, forced incarceration and drugging for the “mentally ill”).

  366. Hurin, Midnight DJ on the Backwards Music Station says

    A joke. (A bigger joke: the DSM-5. We live in a wretched, ridiculous culture.)

    Not an argument.

  367. Hurin, Midnight DJ on the Backwards Music Station says

    because he was exhibiting clear signs of a personality disorder, long before he was arrested.

    So was the kid in the article.

    A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan—they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

  368. Hurin, Midnight DJ on the Backwards Music Station says

    The difference is that one of these two people was an adult; the other is not.

    I was first diagnosed with major depressive disorder at 14. Should my psychiatrist have ignored my abject misery, failure in school, and threats of violence and self harm on the grounds that I had not yet reached the magic age in which US citizens are given their full bill of rights?

    Kids can have problems too. I had very serious problems as a kid, and they needed to be addressed, for my good and for the good of people around me. Three attempts have been made to treat me. In the first case I was taken to a psychiatrist who gave me a diagnosis, put me on prozac and prescribed visits to a social worker. SSRIs actually seemed to cause more problems for me than they helped, but instead of trying other consensual therapies my parents sent me off to a hell hole where I was coerced into surrendering my identity, accepting a new age ideology based on recycled ideas from synanon and lifespring and submitting every behavior and quirk of mine to brutal feedback from peers and “counselors”* (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CEDU). Finally at age 25, after several apparent recoveries and relapses I was treated with CBT, which was much more helpful to me than other therapies had been, and which continues to enable me to cope, and live a reasonable approximation of a healthy life.

    The latter of those three outcomes is the one I want for the kid in the story you posted (and others like him) and I don’t think it can happen if people are going to reject the idea that problematic emotional states and behavioral patterns can reflect underlying illnesses. If people don’t view mental illnesses rationally, and look at evidenced based treatment methods, then religious, legalistic, and pseudo-scientific “alternatives” will be forthcoming. If people had been there to insist that there was nothing wrong with me as a 14 year old, my behavioral problems would likely have seen me incarcerated. The fact that my parents did not insist on an academically valid treatment method caused me 18 months of “emotional growth” cult hell in Northern Idaho. I can accept that people on this thread have problems with psychology and psychiatry, and don’t want the mentally ill stigmatized. I don’t have a problem with those stances for obvious reasons. But don’t deny problems that are readily apparent, and don’t delude yourself about the medieval “treatment options” that stand as alternatives to our flawed mental health system.

    *most of whom did not even appear to be college graduates, much less qualified to administer therapy.

  369. rq says

    A response to comment 448’s article that a friend posted, for what it’s worth. I don’t know if it’s made the rounds yet.

    Chris
    Your comment back at 352 is completely off the topic of this thread but such a good read. Thank you for sharing that. :)

  370. rq says

    … Apparently it’s still too early to make sense: that’s a response whose author I do not know but whose article was posted by a friend of mine.

  371. Beatrice says

    rq,

    That story is apparently being published around the world – it even found its way into the papers here.

    Honestly, I feel much more compassion for the son than for the mother. Especially after reading some other takes on it (with excerpts from previous blog posts from the woman):

    http://sarahkendzior.com/

  372. rq says

    Beatrice,
    I haven’t checked to see if it has been published here (the one @448), but, if the speed of our media is any way to judge, they just might miss the bandwagon.

  373. says

    Hurin:

    I was first diagnosed with major depressive disorder at 14.

    Your personal experiences don’t qualify you to decide ‘this person, that person, but not that one’ are mentally ill. You seem to have completely missed the point of this post and of the No True Human Fallacy, which you are seriously indulging in.

    Yes, kids can have problems. However, automatically taking the word of the adult in the matter as proof of such is seriously problematic. As always, there seems to be much more to the story.

    When I was a kid, my mother started having me locked up and doing stints in an institution when I was 7 years old. Why? Because my father was a schizophrenic and she was constantly afraid I’d be the same. Well, that was the excuse, anyway. Generally, it was because of acting out which was rather mild in my case, given the abuse I had been enduring for years at the point. (Acting out as in refusing to make my bed and things like that.)

    If you listened to A (mother) tell it, you would have nodded your head sagely and said something fuckwitted like “kids can have problems too.”

  374. Beatrice says

    Her posting her article under her real name, accompanied by her son’s photo and then changing the name in the story, to give an impression of protecting his privacy, I guess, is what makes me suspicious.

    I am not going to argue about the way she treats her son, since I don’t have experience in dealing with violent children, but I have to say that the part where she just turns her car and drives him to a mental hospital because during his latest outburst she had told him that another suicide threat will land him in there… that just rubbed me the wrong way.

    I am also reading her other posts in that light. Anyone mentioning those is being accused of not recognizing hyperbole and taken woman’s humorous posts seriously. After all, doesn’t every parents occasionally want to throttle their kid? But when you have someone “joking” about calling the parole officer (?!) and leaving the kid to the state, and then you have them actually trying to find a way to have their child committed… that’s a bit different.

    A great take on the privacy issues in this story: http://www.disabilityandrepresentation.com/2012/12/16/no-you-are-not-adam-lanzas-mother/

  375. says

    Beatrice:

    Anyone mentioning those is being accused of not recognizing hyperbole and taken woman’s humorous posts seriously.

    That really bothered me. It’s hardly a secret that, yes, parents occasionally have fantasies about doing dark and nasty things to their kids, but that is not how I read this woman.

    Given how defensive most people were, it’s kind of upsetting that there’s an automatic “talking about one parent = all parents” dynamic going on. I’d hope parents would be more willing to recognise problematic parenting.

  376. Hurin, Midnight DJ on the Backwards Music Station says

    Your personal experiences don’t qualify you to decide ‘this person, that person, but not that one’ are mentally ill.

    My experience refutes nightshadequeen assertion at 472 that mental illness is probable in the case of Mabus, but not in the case of Michael, because one is an adult and the other is a kid.

    Childhood mental illness is a thing.

    Psychologists and psychiatrists use various criteria to decide that “‘this person, that person, but not that one’ are mentally ill” and they standardize and publish their diagnostic criteria. You can look at those criteria and decide based on the available facts whether your particular case warrants professional attention.

    You seem to have completely missed the point of this post and of the No True Human Fallacy, which you are seriously indulging in.

    The No True Human fallacy, as I understand it, suggests that people consign mass murderers to the status of subhuman and uses the label of mentally ill as a stand in for that. This is done in order to protect one’s image of humanity.

    -I have not generalized violence as a trait common to all or even a majority of mentally ill people
    -I have not argued that all or a majority of violence is the result of mentally ill people who have not been treated
    -I have not in any way suggested that mentally ill people occupy a morally inferior position to people who do not have mental illnesses. Or that they are in some way less human. I’m one of them for fuck sake.

    I’m making a specific argument here, which is that behavioral symptoms are a valid part of a psychological diagnosis, and that the appearance of disturbed behavior can be used to make that assessment. Here is the same example of that I produced above, this time from the ICD-9 (since I’ve been informed by SC that the DSM is “a joke”).

    Explosive personality disorder

    form of behavior which leads to self-assertion; it may arise from innate drives and/or a response to frustration; may be manifested by destructive and attacking behavior, by covert attitudes of hostility and obstructionism, or by healthy self-expressive drive to mastery.
    Tendency to display unpredictable and rapidly changing emotions or moods.
    Disorder characterized by discrete episodes of loss of control of aggressive impulses that may result in serious assault or destruction of property.
    Short description: Explosive personality.
    ICD-9-CM 301.3 is a billable medical code that can be used to specify a diagnosis on a reimbursement claim.
    http://www.icd9data.com/2012/Volume1/290-319/300-316/301/301.3.htm

    If one of your family members or friends is suffering from behavioral issues that resemble that, or something else published in diagnostic material that psych professionals use, then it isn’t a No True Human to assume it might be a psyche issue and to attempt to get that person help. Similarly it wasn’t a No True Human fallacy to assume that the behavior exhibited by Mabus, might be diagnosable and treatable.

    Honestly, I don’t understand why this would not be viewed as a more compassionate approach than allowing someone who had developed concerning behaviors to persist in them without any assistance or intervention.

    Yes, kids can have problems.

    Thank you, I agree.

    However, automatically taking the word of the adult in the matter as proof of such is seriously problematic. As always, there seems to be much more to the story.

    I’ll happily concede that point. I assumed that the descriptions she was giving were in good faith, and accurate, but its true that I have no reason to trust the author in this case, and that suspicious things about it have have been noted and examined on this thread. I wrongly latched onto a piece of rhetoric which I felt was helping me make my point.

  377. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Explosive personality disorder is not an illness.

    It is a **diagnosis** but not an illness. Personality disorders it is sometimes noted, “are included in the [DSM/ICD] which lists mentall illnesses/disorders” as an argument to assert that PDs are mental illnesses or that when the APA uses “disorder” they must inherently mean “ill”.

    This is decidedly NOT true. I repeat what I said on another thread, b/c it has become useful here:

    =======================
    Personality disorders, for those who don’t know, are diagnosed by conscious behaviors alone and are NOT considered mental illnesses. They exist so that when someone clearly is repeatedly violent and then gets evaluated, the diagnostitician has something to say other than “no mental illness”. in other words, they don’t wanna say, “That person’s just a shit-for-empathy douchegabber” so they diagnose “personality disorders” – problems with your personality, not your brain.

    If you shoot other people, there’s a good chance that a diagnostitician would find that you have problems with your choices, and thus your personality (your tendencies in choice-making) is faulty. But it doesn’t indicate mental illness at all. The journalists saying he probably has a personality disorder know jack-all about violence, the APA, the DSM-4, the definition of “personality” in psychology and psychiatry, or pretty much anything else relevant or they might think for 3 seconds and not include that worthless piece of information.
    ==========================

    There is a reason that these are diagnosable, and therapy for these is not generally available under insurance in the US (though more frequently is outside of the US in urbanized countries). It may, of course, be available under any given insurance plan, but the reason for the lack of consistency is that you don’t need a mental illness to act like a jerk. You just have to believe that for you the benefits of being a jerk outweigh the consequences. That could come about b/c you have a mental illness and can’t perceive the consequences. But it can also come about b/c one is raised so that you don’t get what you need unless you are forceful and it can also come about b/c you’ve lived among people you hate for so long, alienating yourself from the people around seems no trial.

    The reason to offer paid therapy? The rest of us don’t want to live around violent jerks. It’s not for that person’s benefit, it’s for ours.

    So your understanding of PDs sucks.

    ==============================
    Meanwhile, on your main point of behavior being used to diagnose mental illness:

    Sure.

    Of course behavior is used in differential/ diagnosis of mental illnesses – especially in children (which the APA defines by pre-adolescence not age of majority) by virtue of a lesser ability to communicate certain things to the diagnostitician that might,, nonetheless, be relevant in diagnosis.

    GID in children has a diagnostic criterion of “consistent cross-gender play”. The play is the behavior. We’re using it to diagnose whether the mental process of the child is such that the self-conception is of a different gender than one would statistically predict based on the apparent sex of the child. Moreover, we’re looking to see if that mental process is stable. We’re looking to see if it is not possible for the child to maintain a self-conception of the gender seen as matching the apparent sex.

    The key here is the consistency – what they’re using behavior to get at is the “not possible” part. If you’re imaginative and playful, and enjoy playing with trains in your empire-waist gown and playing with your easy-bake oven while wearing an american football uniform & pads and riding a motorcycle wearing hot, tight leathers…but you also enjoy playing with trains in your t-shirt and board shorts and playing with your easy-bake oven wearing a practical courduroy jumper with winter tights under an apron and riding a motorcycle wearing, um, hot tight leathers… then you won’t get diagnosed with GID b/c you clearly don’t feel compelled to express only gender non-conforming behaviors. There is no reliable way to know what such a (clearly precocious on a motorcycle) 5 year old actually has the inability to relate to oneself within the confines of established gender roles.

    But see here: in mental illnesses, and the reason I went to great lengths on this, behaviors are key to proving that there **isn’t** a mental illness. They aren’t nearly as key to proving that there is one.
    ================================================

    Further example.

    A person has shot 4 people in the past 16 months. 2 died, 2 were hospitalized with critical injuries but did survive. Does this indicate mental illness?

    What if you were told that the person lived with someone who sold drugs and defended herself when a violent gang came to steal drugs and money and all the shooting took place within 5 to 10 minutes, that there was no indication that she initiated any violence, and that when shooting started she hid, only shooting those who came into her hiding place?

    Is she explosively violent now?

    On the other hand, what if she comes to you and says that at the time it happened she felt like she was outside herself watching a movie of her body acting without her?

    Is she mentally ill now?

    What if she says that she often feels like she is outside of herself, watching a movie of her body, but this is the one that bothers her and makes her want to seek help, b/c she doesn’t feel like she made a conscious choice to pull the trigger and is worried that she is therefore prone to violence.

    does her lack of choice make her more likely to have explosive personality disorder?

    Do you know?

    Do you have any idea of the questions you would ask to find out? Which of the facts above have importance in the diagnostic process, according to the DSM/ICD and why?

    If you don’t know, maybe you shouldn’t try to assert that you’ve got some expertise in diagnosing mental illness from behavior.

    And, further, if all you’ve got is evidence of a personality disorder, then all you’ve got is evidence that the person makes choices that other people don’t like. That alone is not evidence of mental illness.

    Your gingerbread has been eaten, Hurin.

  378. nightshadequeen says

    Apologies for being unclear, Hurin; by that statement, I meant that it was inappropriate for Ms. Long to compare her son, publically, to a mass murderer. Because he’s a minor. There’s a hellishly large difference between asking for help and what she did.

    Markuze was an adult. He’s the one who posted thousands and thousands of words to this blog. In a way, he outed himself*. “Michael” didn’t out himself. He’s a minor. His privacy matters.

    (*IMO – I feel like in the best of worlds, Markuze’s exact illnesses shouldn’t have been leaked either; but I feel less strongly about this, because see a) not a minor and b) he was actually [redacted]. “Michael” is a) not actually a mass killer and b) a minor)

    Yeah, “Micheal” probably needs help. A lot of help. But conflating his illness with mass murder isn’t going to help.

    I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother.

    These men are not the same person.

  379. Ichthyic says

    So was the kid in the article.

    Hey, Hurin.

    let me know when you run into someone sending death threats to people they don’t like because of their Aspergers.

    idiot.

  380. Hurin, Midnight DJ on the Backwards Music Station says

    Crip Dyke

    Personality disorders, for those who don’t know, are diagnosed by conscious behaviors alone and are NOT considered mental illnesses. They exist so that when someone clearly is repeatedly violent and then gets evaluated, the diagnostitician has something to say other than “no mental illness”. in other words, they don’t wanna say, “That person’s just a shit-for-empathy douchegabber” so they diagnose “personality disorders” – problems with your personality, not your brain.

    This is actually something I didn’t understand.

    Do you have any idea of the questions you would ask to find out? Which of the facts above have importance in the diagnostic process, according to the DSM/ICD and why?

    If you don’t know, maybe you shouldn’t try to assert that you’ve got some expertise in diagnosing mental illness from behavior.

    And, further, if all you’ve got is evidence of a personality disorder, then all you’ve got is evidence that the person makes choices that other people don’t like. That alone is not evidence of mental illness.

    Your gingerbread has been eaten, Hurin.

    Indeed.

    I’m a layperson, and I have no specific expertise in that regard. I’m probably wrong about most of what I have said on this thread, on account of at least one major misconception I seem to have been carrying around, so I’m going to do some more reading and not post on this topic for awhile.

    I’m conceding the argument, and I apologize if I’ve offended you or anyone else here.

    Nightshadequeen

    I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother.

    These men are not the same person.

    I agree.