Holmes’ psychiatrist was a flaked out accupuncturist?

Kudos to reader TTCH who flagged this worrisome tidbit in an article about the psychiatrist Holmes’ reportedly spoke with or saw prior to the massacre in Aurora:

ABC News— Fenton was disciplined by the Colorado Medical Board in 2004 for prescribing herself Xanax while her mother was dying, state records show. She also was disciplined for prescribing the sleep aid Ambien and the allergy medicine Claritin for her husband, and painkillers for an employee who suffered from chronic headaches.

Fenton worked for the U.S. Air Force in Texas as an acupuncturist before joining the University of Colorado in 2005.

A 1998 Denver Post article quotes a Colorado acupuncturist named Lynne Fenton discussing how acupuncture could be used to enhance women’s busts.

Let’s keep a couple of things in mind here: I could care less about Xanax or Claritin, it may not be the same lady, and even if it is it’s nowhere near her fault that Holmes donned super villain attire and gunned down dozens of innocent people.

But needless to say, if it’s the same Fenton who practiced boob-jobs by accupuncture, either as a con or because she actually believed it, that is arguably not the ideal mental health professional a seriously disturbed, soon-to-be mass murderer could have come into contact with.


  1. onion girl, OM; social workers do it with paperwork says

    I could care less about the acupuncture (ok, that’s not true, but the conduct trumps the woo); if she DID receive the package before the shooting, Tarasoff dictates that she had to warn the police.

    Acupuncture woo or not, even the best psychiatrists are going to miss something, and if a client is determined to do something (either to himself or others), there’s not really a whole lot we as mental health practitioners can do about it. You can’t keep a suicidal person under observation forever, and even in psych wards, people can figure out ways to kill themselves.

    And you can’t predict and can rarely prevent it if a person is committed to causing harm to someone else.

    But that’s WHY, if there’s even a hint of a credible threat, you have a DUTY TO WARN.

    I don’t give a damn about the woo–if she had a credible threat, written or verbal, she should lose her license and receive the full penalty of whatever state statutes dictate.

    I’ve called the police at least a dozen times in my career, in cases where I thought the threat was probably false–because you don’t take fucking chances that you’re going to get it right. And I will happily take the rolled eyes of a cop who’s annoyed at what will probably turn out to be nothing over a dead client or client killing or harming someone else. You don’t play roulette with risk.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    ABC News– … A 1998 Denver Post article quotes a Colorado acupuncturist named Lynne Fenton discussing how acupuncture could be used to enhance women’s busts.

    ABC News? The same ABC News that already burned its ham-handed fingers on this same story by throwing a spotlight on the wrong James Holmes is now quoting an old newspaper story about “a Colorado acupuncturist named …” without any apparent effort to confirm that they’re looking at the same person?!?

    Stick a spork in ’em, they’re toast.

  3. says

    “Fenton worked for the U.S. Air Force in Texas as an acupuncturist before joining the University of Colorado in 2005.”

    The Air Force pays people to practice acupuncture?

  4. samdobermann says

    I would have thought you would have checked out this ridiculous attribution of the acupuncture history to this professor of medicine. Credentials are easy enough to check. I don'[t know who did the first sloppy work but it is being repeated all over the place.

    Lynne Fenton is the Psychiatry professor in Arora who was in charge of the Student Health for graduate students as well as teaching and supervising Medical students. In fact she received from the Residency class of 2011, the Jay Scully Award (2011) “To an Outstanding Teacher, Advocate, and Friend” and in 2008, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Associate Investigator Award for training in research (2008).

    There seems to be a Lynn (no e) Fenton who has a business in Denver practicing acupuncture — who styles herself as Lynn Fenton MD — although she is not a doctor nor is she a certified acupuncturist.

    Doesn’t it make more sense that the AP/Wash Post is wrong than the University Medical school would have their program headed by a person who claimed to increased bust size by acupuncture?

    Would it have hurt you to spend a few minutes checking than repeating this absurdity?

    Also, Dr Fenton was dinged once for writing prescriptions improperly several times, something that a lot of doctors do but is considered poor practice.

    When a person is developing schizophrenia prior to the first psychotic break it is really hard to figure what is going on and IF, when and how a person MIGHT become dangerous to themselves and others. Many become very devious and know how to seem “normal” when they need to — for short periods of time. As they slip further into psychosis they don’t always make sense. So it is very hard to make any sort of case that the psychiatrist was remiss. We don’t have an easy way to hospitalize someone for observation and treatment which might be protective at this early stage.

    Beside the tragedy of all the deaths, pain and trauma he caused, his life is essentially over. He could have been treated and possibly helped to have a fairly successful life. We have been learning of more and more “successful” people with schizophrenia who got the treatment they needed and the support over the really tough times. Elin Sachs is a law professor who has schizophrenia and “came out” with a recent book. I think it is called “The Center Cannot Hold” iirc.

    Anyway the situation is complex and you don’t help by promulgated the sloppy conflation of the mass media drek. I expected better of you.

    PS. I am not doing a Dr Frist, opinionating in support of an ideology. An informed opinion based on critical analysis of available information plus a little research and experience in the field can educate and possibly open discussion. And perhaps kill off the slurs on Professor LynnE Fenton.

  5. says

    I’d be happy to print a an update and retraction on that, thanks man.

    Update: actually I looked around for a few minutes and all I’ve found are reports mentioning the same possible connection. Do you have an official press release or reputable news article I could blockquote?

  6. ttch says

    According to this story by the Los Angles Times, Doctor of Colorado suspect had been disciplined by medical board (my boldings):

    Fenton, 51, graduated from UC Davis in 1982 and Chicago Medical School in 1986. She completed a residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Northwestern University Medical Center in 1990. After working as chief of physical medicine for the U.S. Air Force in San Antonio, as a physician in Aurora, and later as an acupuncturist, she completed a second residency at the University of Colorado, according to a resume on the school’s website that appeared to have been removed late Friday.

    This message board has a copy of the CV but my Google-Fu wasn’t up to finding the original cached version. It lists among her many “Positions and Employment”:

    Medical Acupuncturist, Mile High Spine and Rehabilitation, Greenwood Village, CO, 2001-2002, and 2004-2005

    Assuming that’s right, it also lists her having a couple of jobs in “Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation” which might have prompted her interest in acupuncture as pain can often be ameliorated by the placebo effect.

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