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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

When Autists Become Monsters

(This post is my final one regarding the terrible events of last week)

It is not politically correct to criticize the disabled.

But sometimes disability is mental illness.  Rarely, thank God!

According to some information to date, dangerous and deadly mental illness resulted in the horror inside the walls of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012.

From Salon in March of 2009:
The monster inside my son

For years I thought of his autism as beautiful and mysterious. But when he turned unspeakably violent, I had to question everything I knew.

On Feb. 14 I awaken to this headline: “Professor Beaten to Death by Autistic Son.”

I scan the story while standing, my coffee forgotten. Trudy Steuernagel, a faculty member in political science at Kent State, has been murdered and her 18-year-old son, Sky, has been arrested and charged with the crime, though he is profoundly disabled and can neither speak nor understand. Sky, who likes cartoons and chicken nuggets, apparently lost control and beat his mother into a coma. He was sitting in jail when she died.

This happens to be two days after my older son’s 21st birthday, which we marked behind two sets of locked steel doors. I’m exhausted and hopeless and vaguely hung over because Andrew, who has autism, also has evolved from sweet, dreamy boy to something like a golem: bitter, rampaging, full of rage. It happened no matter how fiercely I loved him or how many therapies I employed.

Now, reading about this Ohio mother, there is a moment of slithering nausea and panic followed immediately by a sense of guilty relief.

I am not alone.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

Andrew started life as a mostly typical child. But at 3 and a half he became remote and perseverative, sitting in a corner and staring at his own splayed hand. Eventually he was diagnosed with high-functioning autism, a label that seemed to explain everything from his calendar memory and social isolation to his normal IQ....
Read the entire essay HERE.  Relate the contents of the essay to Adam Lanza, who according to the information to date, had a form of autism.

Violence on the part of autists, particularly murderous violence, is extremely rare — certainly no more frequent than among the rest of the population.

There is some evidence that Asperger's Syndrome bestows benefits:
Hans Asperger, the German doctor who discovered the syndrome, would agree with Kennedy's assessment. He believed that "for success in science or art, a dash of autism is essential. The essential ingredient may be an ability to turn away from the everyday world, from the simply practical and to rethink a subject with originality so as to create in new untrodden ways with all abilities canalized into the one specialty."
The human brain is mysterious and complex, perhaps unfathomably so.

We rightly grieve for the slain children and school personnel at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

But I also find myself saddened for Nancy Lanza and her son.  I will not demonize them.

I will, however, ask this question: Why is the medical profession, particularly the mental-health profession, so often unable to help families in a crisis such as the crisis in the Lanza household?

Consider the concluding words from the first link in this posting:
A fellow academic and writer, Steuernagel [slain in 2009 by her autistic son], too, insisted on finding beauty in autism. Her legacy includes an editorial about Sky’s loving nature and relevance, how he led her through life along “a trail of sparkles.”

Mine, I decide, must be in part to break the silence about autism’s darker side. We cannot solve this problem by hiding it, the way handicapped children themselves used to be tucked away in cellars. In order to help the young men who endure this rage, someone has to be willing to tell the truth.

So here it is.


  1. FYI....

    Ever since news broke of the December 14 horror in Newtown, Connecticut, I have been researching the event.

    It's not been morbidity driving my research. Rather, for most of my life, I've been intensely interested in neurology and abnormal psychology.

    Had my family had enough money to finance my education in the field of neurology, I'd likely have become a neurologist instead of a teacher.

    I'm worn out with hearing that gun ownership was the cause of the horror in Newtown. I think that the problem was something else entirely -- as I tried to explain in this post.

    I have to wonder how many other households are going through a similar crisis. God forbid that the medical professionals and others should deny the importance of some of the matters addressed in this post.

    PS: As far as I know, nobody has yet claimed for burial the bodies of Nancy Lanza and Adam Lanza.

  2. Thank you for bringing some perspective to this.

    You may be interested in this as well. It's another heartbreaking story: I am Adam Lanza's Mother

    We cannot just pull people off of the street and lock them up for acting weird, but we must do more.

    We always hear after the fact that 'everybody knew he was strange, a ticking time bomb, etc.'

    Where was the intervention? This is a public hygiene issue, and this is an area where I have no problem with my tax dollars going to help parents coping with this. And sometimes that may mean locking up someone who displays violent tendencies coupled with irrationality.

    I would also like to know how many of these mass shooters were ever on psychotropic drugs or ADD/ADHD medication.

  3. There needs to be a frank and honest disscussion among mental health professionals. Tooo many times these mass murders are by people with a history of mental illness and they are often on a drug treatment program. It is time for the profession to admit they don't know as musch as they think they do and sometimes their treatments are putting society at risk.

  4. Silverfiddle,
    I read somewhere in all my research over the past few days that Adam Lanza was on medication, medication that was counter-indicated for anyone on the autism spectrum. I haven't yet been able to confirm the information.

  5. Conservatives on Fire,
    It is time for the profession to admit they don't know as musch as they think they do and sometimes their treatments are putting society at risk.

    No kidding!

    I do know of a few successful methods for helping those on the autism spectrum, but the mental health profession has, thus far, refused to recognize those methods.

  6. Hi AOW.
    "I'm worn out with hearing that gun ownership was the cause of the horror in Newtown. I think that the problem was something else entirely -- as I tried to explain in this post."
    I totally agree with you , the prob was not the gun.

    Adam Lanza's mother had been increasingly concerned over her son's well-being in the weeks before the tragedy, telling a friend just a week before that he was "getting worse" and that "she was losing him," the New York Daily News reported. That report makes no mention of Asperger's syndrome, but it cites Adam's uncle who said he was taking an anti-psychotic drug called Fanapt. The Atlantic points out that several diagnoses have been bandied about in the press, including autism, Asperger's, and "personality disorder."

    Adam Lanza was said to be taking Fanapt. Fanapt (iloperidone) is used to treat schizophrenia. It is an antipsychotic medication.
    Fanapt Psychiatric side effects including restlessness, aggression, and delusion have been reported frequentl
    y. Hostility, decreased libido, paranoia, anorgasmia, confusional state, mania, catatonia, mood swings, panic attack, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia nervosa, delirium, polydipsia psychogenic, impulse-control disorder, and major depression have been reported infrequently.

    The Babysit of Adam Lanza:

    "His mom, Nancy, had always instructed me to keep an eye on him at all times and never turn my back or even go to the bathroom or anything like that, which I found odd, but I really didn't ask," Kraft told KABC. "It wasn't any of my business, but looking back at it now, I guess maybe there was something else going on."
    What emerges here is a 'kid' who NEVER should have been around Guns.

    I hate to say it but this massacre could have been prevented by proper medical care instead of 'homecare'.

  7. We cannot just pull people off of the street and lock them up for acting weird,

    Why NOT?

    That's what we USED to do.

    I think that is EXACTLY what we need to start doing RIGHT AWAY.

    If we started scooping up the weirdos and putting them away, maybe a lot of other potential weirdo would thin twice before 'acting out" their crazed fantasies.

    Did yo ever read The Excuse Factory?

    I forget who wrote it, but it provides an ESSENTIAL explanation for the reason we have mollycoddled whole generations of misfits, morons, malcontents and malefactors to the detriment of normal decent contributing human beings.

    HINT: You can lay the blame at the feet of a whole raft of aggressive, self-righteous Jewish Psychologists who were highly vocal in their advocacy of the notion that extreme permissivism is the ONLY way to raise a child properly and that punishment of any kind is child abuse.

  8. So sorry about all the typos. My fingers are full of arthritis, and I just can't type accurately anymore. If blogger permitted us to go back and revise our responses, I would do so. I am often appalled at what I see whenever I post these days.

  9. Virtually every Cop, Lawyer, Doctor and politician should be locked up as psychotic. How about Jesse Jackson? [Sr. & Jr.] NO FIRE-ARMS for them. How about Marion Barry, former Mayor of DC? Should he be on a list to be taken away to the laughing Academy? What about the OBESE? Gamblers? How about people who speed 60 in a 40 MPH zone? They ARE obviously the most dangerous psychotics you will ever meet. A blink away from mass murder behind the wheel.

    I vote to forcibly medicate everyone with a law licence... we could even have camps on the outskirts of cities: "Arbeit Mach Frei."

  10. @FT I'd highly disagree on locking them up. Why? Because for years it was thought I had Aspergers (I don't in the end). I'm still a bit of a 'weirdo' thanks to my life... and to me, locking up them all seems terribly cruel for one, and misdiagnosis were VERY common for another.

    ON TOPIC: I'm not surprised by this. When nothing makes sense, or one acts like a little child, violence is likely (and seriously, little kids do this sort of thing. They're just way to small to hurt anyone). Why people don't speak out about it I don't get. Maybe it fear of the draconian English insane asylums. Maybe because very few experts exist. These disorders need to be better know, researched and treated, that's for sure. For now, I don't know. If the parents would have the sense to lock up their kids that do need it, that are that violent, maybe this wouldn't happen. If we had half a clue of how to help them, maybe we can prevent a repeat. Or maybe if the culture had a clear- not blind, or bigoted- view of these problems, we could work on helping them.


    PS most drugs have a side-effect of angry outbursts, they are rare but do happen. Ritalin comes to mind, but I know their others. If he was on one like that, it may have been the last ingredient.

  11. Wildstar,
    You bring up an important point:

    for years it was thought I had Aspergers (I don't in the end). I'm still a bit of a 'weirdo' thanks to my life... and to me, locking up them all seems terribly cruel for one, and misdiagnosis were VERY common for another.

    First, let me way that you are not a weirdo. A bit quirky? Yes. But so are many people, particularly those who are highly intelligent.

    As for misdiagnosis, yes, that is often a common problem. Psychiatry and psychology are not exact science, and even the experts have so much to learn. As I mentioned in the body of the blog post, The human brain is mysterious and complex, perhaps unfathomably so.

    You are absolutely spot on when you say that a medication may have been the last ingredient. Psychotropic drugs are, well, neuro meds; they CAN do much good, but they can also develop side effects, particularly over time. Neuro meds do alter how one perceives the world and other people.

    Before you and I met, I had quite a disconcerting experience with Lyrica. Yes, it kept me out of a wheelchair, but after a period of somewhat more than a year, I decided that I couldn't live with one of the side effects: no matter how hard I tried to do otherwise, I said EXACTLY what I thought. Tact flew completely out the window!

    I've been off Lyrica for some time.

    I don't remember much from the period of time that I was on Lyrica -- that's how much Lyrica affected my neurons and memory.

    (continued below)

  12. (continued from above)

    You mentioned: If the parents would have the sense to lock up their kids that do need it, that are that violent, maybe this wouldn't happen.

    It is well nigh impossible for parents to lock up any child under the age of 14 -- unless, of course, the child has committed a publicly-violent act. It is impossible for parents to commit a child over the age of 18.

    I also want to clarify something with you....

    Asperger's Syndrome very, very rarely produces violence in an Aspy. Adam Lanza, if he did indeed have merely Asperger's, is an anomaly for which we may never have an adequate explanation.

    I do not fear Aspies. In fact, just the opposite! I find Aspies insightful, creative, and quite compliant -- particularly if their parents provided both structure and religious upbringing.

    For a time, I did think that YOU had a mild Asperger's. You clearly do not now. I'm not sure that you were ever an Aspy, but even if you WERE, you came out of it. Bonding -- and all that. I don't want to say anything more personal in a public forum.

    Can Aspies come out of it? I've seen it happen on a few occasions.

    I've had the privilege of working with several successful Aspies. Very successful Aspies, I must say.

  13. Will said:

    What emerges here is a 'kid' who NEVER should have been around Guns.


    Here is part of a comment that I left today at another blog....

    By taking her son to the gun range, Nancy Lanza was trying to connect with her son, trying to bond with him.

    What kind of therapist didn't tell her that the idea of such mother-child bonding as a cure for autism is now outmoded -- and has long been outmoded?

    Did nobody tell her that bonding with a child on the autism spectrum should be subject to some tabus because autists are wired differently?

    I read this morning that papers from the Lanzas' divorce proceedings indicate that the Lanzas had a therapist for Adam.

    What kind of therapist didn't tell her that some on the autism spectrum obsess over things to the point of those things taking over their lives?

    Why didn't a therapist tell her that autists often have trouble discerning fantasy from fact?

    Why didn't an expert in autism tell her about tactile sequencing, which can work miracles for those on the autism spectrum?

    Did nobody tell her that upbringing in religious faith is of great help with those on the autism spectrum?

  14. FT & Roger,
    The difficulty, of course, is deciding who the dangerous ones are. Everyone that is "a little weird" is not a danger to himself or to others.

  15. I do want to recommend to others here informationabout John Elder Robison, himself as Aspy and a very successful one. Excerpt from Wikipedia:

    Robison was born in Athens, Georgia, while his parents were attending the University of Georgia. He is the son of poet Margaret Robison and the late John G. Robison, former head of the philosophy department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. After John Elder's birth, the family lived in Philadelphia, Seattle, and Pittsburgh, where his brother Augusten Burroughs (born Christopher) was born. In 1966 he and his family settled in Amherst, Massachusetts where he spent most of his childhood.

    Robison dropped out of Amherst High School in the tenth grade, to join the Amherst-based rock band Fat. Robison would later receive an honorary diploma from The Monarch School in Houston in May 2008. “It is unconscionable to me as an educator,” said Dr. Marty Webb, founder and head of The Monarch School, “that someone of John's intelligence, competence and life achievement is walking around without a high school diploma.” Monarch, dedicated to providing an innovative, therapeutic education for individuals with neurological differences, has collaborated with Robison on the development of teacher guides for his best seller, Look Me in the Eye as well as the sequel, Be Different.

    Several years later, his ability to design electronic circuits allowed him to work for Britro sound company. He later became a sound adviser for Pink Floyd and KISS, for whom he created their signature illuminated, fire-breathing, and rocket launching guitars. He subsequently designed electronic games at toy maker Milton Bradley. Robison then worked for Simplex Time Recorder, Isoreg Corporation and Candela Laser of Wayland, Massachusetts. He later managed J E Robison Service Co. from his backyard. He became successful from the venture, the business being one of the largest independent Land Rover, Rolls-Royce and Bentley specialty shops in the country, and becoming one of only 20 four-star service agents for Robert Bosch GmbH of Germany.

    Of course, not all with Asperger's are like Robison. He found his niche and learned to connect with other people. His story is certainly amazing and uplifting -- and perhaps Nancy Lanza thought that her son Adam could somehow become like Robison if only Adam could find the right path (She was thinking of moving to Washington state, where there was a college that "specialized" in Aspies).

  16. @AOW heh, thanks.
    Sounds rough... I know meds can help, but oh boy side effects...

    So parents can't? Hmm. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing honestly...

    Okay, thanks for the clarification. I've looked it up, but not very well apparently. I may have come out of it- heck, I went from extremely dyslexic to barely at all, so who knows. The mind is strange.


  17. Wildstar,
    You know what? I was in a state of euphoria when I was on Lyrica. That side effect was so pleasant and powerful. But I wasn't myself -- the self that I wanted to be, anyway.

    So, I live with pain (low level, thank God!), pain which is kept to a dull roar by another medication that doesn't have the terrible side effects I was experiencing with Lyrica.

    I WILL say this for Lyrica: while I was taking it, I was pain free and could complete good physical therapy, which has gone a long way to making my back more normal.

  18. The truth is that we seldom if ever
    hear mental health care providers
    placed under any scrutiny. The profession has produced a series of quacks, molestation scandals and lives that are not really improved.
    You hear about every sort of professional ethical lapse. When was the last time you heard social workers under scrutiny other then when child protective services fail.

    The comments about Jewish psychologists are something that is
    hopefully a slip of the tongue.



    Thumbnail Review at Amazon.com:

    In "The Litigation Explosion", Walter Olson exposed the irrational incentives within the legal system that have made America the world's most litigious society. Now Olson has trained his considerable investigative talents on another aspect of the legal system: employment law.

    "The Excuse Factory" goes right to the heart of the increasingly absurd American workplace, showing how Kafkaesque employment laws make it nearly impossible to fire even the most incompetent and unmotivated workers. Employers have become understandably nervous about firing someone lest it open them up to a lawsuit, no matter how frivolous. They would rather tolerate bad employees than remove them-- a choice that has profound implications for the future of business, the American economy, and our collective mental health.

    From the merely annoying, like the chronically late secretary, to the extremely dangerous, like the alcoholic airline pilot, Olson shows how the legal system coddles those who least deserve it. In the name of protecting victims of discrimination with laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1991 Civil Rights Act, we have made it tremendously difficult just to get people to do their jobs.

    Olson gives eloquent voice to this mounting workplace crisis. As the corporate environment degenerates to the lowest common denominator, the frustration and anger among the majority of workers who do pull their own weight is palpable. Enshrining mediocrity in the workplace imposes high costs on society -- costs reflected in lost jobs, lost wages, reduced safety, and rising aggravation.

    "The Excuse Factory" will spur outrage and spark a national debate about the role of government in the workplace. Olson's expose is certain to shake up the legal industry, rattle government regulators, and cause thousands of workers and managers to nod in vigorous agreement.

    [FT’s NOTE: These same principles apply equally to Public Education. And once again I look to the brand of Child Psychology that became popular in the 1940’s as a likely root cause of this weakening of discipline and of personal responsibility.]

  20. I personally know excellent Jewish doctors and Jewish psychologists.

    But, overall, I have to say that I'm less than impressed with the professions of psychology and psychiatry.

    How often do we hear about so-called experts in both of those fields declaring that a person is not a danger to himself or others, then that person goes right out and proves that he IS a danger to himself or others.

    Psychiatrists and psychologists would do well to remember this little adage: "You don't know what you don't know"!

  21. FT,
    a whole raft of aggressive, self-righteous Jewish Psychologists who were highly vocal in their advocacy of the notion that extreme permissivism is the ONLY way to raise a child properly and that punishment of any kind is child abuse

    And not only Jewish psychologists, either.

    With regard to Adam Lanza, if it is true that he suffered from [link worth your time] the neurological anomaly of not being able to feel physical pain -- yes, that can happen, or so I've read numerous times over the years [See THIS about the congenital condition] -- dealing with him as a child must have been difficult in the extreme on many levels.

  22. I'm sorry, Wildstar, when I talk about "weirdos" I am not referring to anyone with an offbeat, eccentric or "quirky" personality. I fall into that category, myself, no doubt, since I have found myself either totally ignored or woefully misunderstood most of my rather long life. ;-)

    What I meant, of course, was individuals who habitually demonstrate tendencies to be persecutors -- i.e. aggressively insolent, vindictive, physically aggressive --, and those who sullenly indulge in morbid preoccupation with unwholesome, unsavory subjects to the exclusion of more salubrious pursuits.

    Chronic complainers, troublemakers and especially BULLIES really ought to be singled out for special attention, and subjected to corrective measures that might lead to possible segregation from the majority.

    An aggressively anti-social child is more apt to grow into a dangerous, destructive adolescent or a criminal adult.

    When I first heard of Asperger's Syndrome it was on Boston Legal, and I frankly thought the term was a coarsely satirical, unusually tasteless joke. (Before I saw it in print I assumed it was spelt Ass Burgers' with all the unsavory vulgar associations that naturally go with such an appellation!)

    I have to say I don't really believe in all the "diseases" that have popped up since I was a child and young adult. We never had such things as ADD, ADHD when I was a child. Behavior of that sort was held in low esteem. Parents were told it was inappropriate. Kids were punished for being "disruptive" on the rare occasions when such behavior manifested itself, and trouble of this sort soon disappeared. It disappeared, because it was simply not tolerated.

    Autism existed yes, but it was exceedingly rare and considered a handicap on a level with deafness, blindness or mental retardation -- something that required the services of a "special" school.

    I TAUGHT at just such a school for a good portion of my life, and believe me it bore no resemblance whatsoever to Hogarth's Bedlam to which I think you referred a while back or to any Reform School or Concentration Camp. It was a beautiful place where great things were accomplished for over 150 years until the LIBERAL PSYCHOLOGIST SET got ahold of us.

    It took just one year to destroy the place completely after that.

    And yes I am bitter about it, because I hate to see perfectly good things mucked up by rotten policies hailed as "Modern," "Progressive" or "Enlightened."

    ~ FT

  23. Interesting article. I know very little about autism, never knew it could take such a violent turn. I agree with Freethinke, however, that we need to bring back asylums and involuntary institutionalization of clearly dangerous types. My psychiatrist cousin does not agree, but tough beans: public safety must be protected. I believe it was the Left who sued to stop asylums, releasing thousands of former mental patients to live on the streets as homeless, or to live with parents who are put in danger by the arrangement. At the very least, we need a vigorous public discussion and debate on how to manage and care for the seriously mentally ill.

  24. needs to be a frank and honest disscussion among mental health professionals. Tooo many times these mass murders are by people with a history of mental illness and they are often on a drug treatment program. It is time for the profession to admit they don't know as musch as they think they do and sometimes their treatments are putting society at risk.

    Still, I think it's a safe bet that these professionals know a lot more than us laymen. The fact that medicine is not an exact science does not mean it isn't useful. Treatments are often hit and miss because everyone's biochemistry and psychology are different. There is no magic pill. Psychiatry is an evolving science. Doctors don't create mental illness and treatments aren't always successful. Still, if I come down with a mental illness, I'd rather be treated by a psychiatrist than by Alex Jones or Lew Rockwell.

  25. Stogie,
    As I mentioned above, I've been interested in psychological anomalies for decades.

    Back in the early 1980s, I met an usual adult individual at a coin club meeting and wondered for a long time what was wrong with him: he rocked, he sniffed everyone's good at the tale, he never looked anyone in the eye, and he walked with a strange gait. Yet, he was an aeronautical engineer, PhD, and made decisions about various helicopters used by the Department of Defense -- clearly, more than competent in his chosen field. A genius, no doubt!

    But his strangeness was disconcerting.

    It wasn't until years later that I realized what was different about him: he was on the autism spectrum.

    Was he ever volatile? No.

    Was he ever a danger to himself and others? No.

    In fact, he spent his weekends either using a metal detector to search for coins or helping the elderly, the latter activity as part of his Christian service.

    He's now retired -- living alone, of course. He couldn't relate well enough to any other person to have a long-term relationship such as marriage. I must say, however, that his man was a good son and tended to his parents in their old age. So, he was able to connect with his own family, at least.

    Last week, Mr. AOW and I got a Christmas card from him. All is well.


    The above individual is the first person whom I personally knew and recognized as one on the autism spectrum.

    The mysteries of autism are legion and have many manifestations, I think.

  26. FT,
    individuals who habitually demonstrate tendencies to be persecutors -- i.e. aggressively insolent, vindictive, physically aggressive --, and those who sullenly indulge in morbid preoccupation with unwholesome, unsavory subjects to the exclusion of more salubrious pursuits

    In my view, parents need to recognize that they must intervene when they're own children belong to any of those groups. In fact, those groups are the ones that seem to be birthing individuals who wreak mayhem -- and I'm not referring only to mass murder.

  27. Stogie,
    Still, if I come down with a mental illness, I'd rather be treated by a psychiatrist than by Alex Jones or Lew Rockwell.


    But I also think that it is absolutely essential to find a good mental-health professional. Do family doctors now make such recommendations to their patients? They used to, but I'm not sure about now.

  28. I think I'm gonna puke:

    They won the campaign handily and even had $14.2 million to spare, but the Obama-Biden campaign is still raising money, this time off the president's comments about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut.

    In email from chief campaign advisor David Axelrod that urges supporters to watch President Obama's moving address to the community of Newtown, Conn., there are two links that open a page with a video player featuring the president's speech and two donate buttons asking for $15-$1,000 for his campaign.

    "The next chapter begins today. Stand with President Obama for the next four years," headlines the donation page.


    No, and the typical Aspergers sufferer is pretty non-violent.

    What was it about this boy that things got so bad he wanted to wipe out his entire past (which is what the pathology indicates)?
    What could possibly have driven him so far? We probably won't know.

    But you are correct, AOW, that the overwhelming majority of people of varying levels are very productive and absolutely not a danger.

  30. @FT Okay then. I guess I see your point- but only as a 'last resort' to prevent what I mentioned.
    Okay, so decent places do exist. My mistake! I've heard too many horror stories- though more for the mental/emotional than autistic disorders.
    With regard to the ADD thing... I dunno. What we do today doesn't help much- honestly I think most ADD diagnosis is just kids being hyper- but I disagree with the old way. People don't fit in a box, and if it doesn't harm (like fidgeting), why punish it?
    Sigh... a balance must be reached on all this... though that be easier said, then done.

  31. I've seen Evil.

    It exists.

    As a cop I've battled it for years. It exists because it's cheap and easy and satisfying and intriguing and beckoning and forbidden.

    There are those persons to which no one -- NO ONE -- can restore.

    There exist people so evil that they simply deserve to die or be killed.

    Refute that.

    I write as a cop for 41 years and a believer in God.


  32. Asbergers is no longer going to be considered it's own diagnosis.

  33. Psychiatrists and psychologists = QUACKS IMHO.

    Same goes for most of the various "therapists" making a fortune telling people what they think when they are numb-er than the average person with just a cell or two of common sense. It is NOT always because I was, or wasn't, spanked as a kid.

  34. This morning, the Huffington Post has the following information:

    The gunman who slaughtered 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school may have snapped because his mother was planning to commit him to a psychiatric facility, according to a lifelong resident of the area who was familiar with the killer’s family and several of the victims’ families.

    Adam Lanza, 20, targeted Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown after killing his mother early Friday because he believed she loved the school “more than she loved him,” said Joshua Flashman, 25, who grew up not far from where the shooting took place....

    More at the above link.

    I am reminded of THIS TERRIBLE EVENT in Northern Virginia in 2005:

    "On the night before she died, Sheila Cheatham was desperately worried about her son Nathan, saying he hadn't slept in 48 hours and was suicidal because he believed he was in trouble with the law.

    "Billy R. Hicks, a Springfield criminal lawyer who represented Nathan Cheatham in a 2002 drug case, said yesterday that Sheila Cheatham called him Christmas Eve for advice on how to help Nathan, 27, who had vowed to kill himself rather than allow police to arrest him.

    "'She was frightened for him,' Hicks said. 'She said he was suicidal and extremely paranoid because of something that occurred two or three days earlier.' Hicks said he recommended that she seek to have her son committed for psychiatric treatment...."

  35. Thersites,
    That change in the DSM will likely mean that many medical services previously paid for by health insurance will no longer be paid by health insurance.

    The changes in the DSM will likely mean that many services paid for by health insurance will no longer be paid by health insurance.

    On the other hand, the diagnosis of Asperger's has become so frequent that many are saying that Asperger's is a difference and not actually a disability. Clearly, there are degrees of Asperger's.

    The causes of Asperger's? Well, some neuroscientists believe that one case is the marriage of two engineers. More women have recently entered the fields of engineering and computer science -- and choose their mates from those who are studying the same fields. In any case, there does seem to be some kind of genetic link.

    Wikipedia has extensive information about Asperger's Syndrome.

    The story of John Elder Robison is of interest to the discussion that we're having in this thread. I've read two of his books, and they are excellent.

  36. I has occurred to me that Adam Lanza didn't have Asperger's at all!

    Misdiagnosis -- overdiagnosis and underdiagnois -- is frequent with regard to Asperger's Syndrome.

    It is possible that Adam Lanza was mentally ill and/or emotionally disturbed. Most often, schizophrenia appears after age 16. But there are numerous other mental maladies that have early onset.

    Neurological complexities are legion.

    I also must say that evil does exist. I'm not yet convinced, however, that Lanza was the embodiment of evil.

    I DO see Charles Manson that way; Manson had run-ins with the law at an early age, but Lanza did not. Manson really "tipped over" when he started taking certain mind-altering drugs.

    Was Adam Lanza ingesting drugs, legal or otherwise? The autopsy will tell the tale on that matter.

  37. Bloviating Zeppelin,
    Yes, evil exists.

    How does evil overtake a person's soul? That's a critical question to consider, I think.

  38. Wow. Check out this information:

    Due to deinstitutionalization in the 1960s and 1970s, there was less of a need for hospitals like Fairfield Hills [in Newtown, Connecticut]. With the high cost of running underused hospitals, state hospitals around the country shut their doors. In 1995, Gov. John Rowland closed Fairfield Hills and its sister hospital, Norwich State Hospital. All patients that remained were moved to Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown.

    The Town of Newtown rented out the first floor of Canaan House [a psychiatric facility] from the mid-1990s up until 2005; it was home to the town's Board of Education, Planning & Zoning, and Fire Marshall. The Reed Intermediate School is also located on the property.

    The irony is just tragic.

  39. Average American,
    There are different kinds of therapists and therapy. I know enough about two learning-therapy protocols to say that those two programs actually work.

    But therapy for those who have serious emotional troubles? Effective therapists are few and far between.

    As a society, we've somehow become a group of people requiring therapy for everything. That's absurd! Life is filled with difficulties, and, ultimately, each of us mind find our own way to handle those problems. Sometimes, talking about the problems only serves to make us dwell on the problems. That's my view, anyway.

  40. Silverfiddle,
    I've read the essay that you recommended. I believe that situations such as the one described are played out behind closed doors in more homes than we even imagine.

    What to do with situations such as these? What to do if one is a parent in caught up in such a nightmare?

  41. excellent post, very well said.

    I agree totally.

  42. AOW: I really feel for that mother. This is one of those situations where we do need government support. Could you imagine being in such a situation?

    Her son, like the shooter, has serious mental problems that no family is equipped to deal with.

    On the other side of the coin, the ADHD industry rakes in millions making mentally insane mountains out of molehills.

    We had a brush with the mental health establishment years ago, and it it is a very scary place.

    Thank God my wife and I had the courage to tell them all to go to hell (after lots and lots of praying and studying).

    I wrote about it at my other blog:

    Ontological Angst: Abnormal Psychology

  43. I heard on the news this morning that Nancy Lanza had multiple sclerosis. I have to wonder how compromised her physical condition was.

  44. Hardass,
    Interesting post you have about Obama's faked tears!

  45. Silverfiddle,
    Great post!

    I left an extensive comment thereto.

    I hope that others visiting this thread will read what you wrote.

    Thank you so much for alerting me to that essay.

  46. FT,
    Thank you for the link to The Excuse Factory

    That factory, of course, is prevalent in some many aspects of our society -- especially in the education system. **sigh**

  47. I think this kid and many other killers were more than "a little weird"...
    It's a tough call to know when to institutionalize and when not to; I guess we're going to have to err on our childrens' side in the future, not on people who are so obviously antisocial.

  48. Silverfiddle's post is spot on. I'm an adult with ADD and have studied the subject extensively. Medication should rarely (if ever) be used.

    As to autism and Asperger? I know little about the subject, but I have read that recent research is showing that the older age of first time parents, both mother and father, are very likely a contributing factor to seeing so much more of this malady.

  49. I don't know what kind of therapy he should have received, AOW but I doubt taking him to the shooting range and sitting him down with video games for the better part of the day was proper treatment.

    His mother had means (1.5 million dollar home) and could have obtained a professional opinion at the very least.

  50. As a teacher, AOW, you have seen these kids throughout your career. My wife has, too. She has related stories where fourth and fifth grade kids had thrown desks at their teachers, and police had to be called to handled them. This is not an unusual circumstance.

    In our school system teachers are often at risk from students, and these are elementary level kids. It seems that there are a few in almost every school. There is a psycho-ed center at one of our elementary schools for the worst of these kids. The reason these kids are in the public schools is 1) private schools won't take them, and 2)the schools are required by law to take care of them.

    We know who these kids are, and have since their introduction into the public school system.

    In concert with Silverfiddle's comment, it's about time the mental health community earned their keep by stepping up with some decent advice on how to identify and separate the dangerous ones from society.

  51. Duck,
    Nancy Lanza apparently stopped taking Adam to the gun range some months ago. If so, we have yet to learn why. Was it her multiple sclerosis or something else that caused her to stop going to the gun range.

    For all we know, she did have a qualified therapist involved. However, it has been my experience that many therapists for those with learning differences emphasize that parents immerse their kids in "normal" activities. Also in my experience, often a professional opinion is worse than useless.

    As for video games, I have read reports stating that Adam was not very involved with video gaming. What was on the computer(s) that he used? We may never know because he effectively destroyed the hard drives. He may have done so because Nancy Lanza's correspondence with people who could help her commit him was on those computers.

  52. Bob,
    Thank you for your comment. Every word that you typed in is so true!

    We know who these kids are, and have since their introduction into the public school system.

    And nothing can be legally done until something terrible happens.

    Now, I have worked with legions who have significant learning differences. I love working with MOST of these students. However, every time that I have encountered a student with the potential of violence, I have managed to get that student removed from the school. Most teachers have only the power to have the student transferred to another classroom; I have been very lucky in that I've always had significant administrative power BECAUSE I have worked in private and homeschool education since 1978. But in the public school system, I had no such power; in part, that lack of power to protect myself and my students caused me to turn my back on the public education system in 1977.

  53. From this source:

    In the days before the massacre, the mother of Adam Lanza was pushing her loner son to leave the Newtown home that provided his refuge from reality, a family friend told the Daily News Wednesday.

    “He sat in his room playing video games for hours and hours,” the friend said. “She thought the best thing was for him to get out of the house and into the world. To interact with people a little bit.”

    But the 20-year-old rejected the idea and stopped speaking to his mother, the friend said. Nancy Lanza and her youngest son hadn’t talked for three days before he fatally shot her Friday morning and then murdered 20 children and six staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    Nancy Lanza had brought her son to a psychiatrist as he became increasingly anti-social — spending endless hours in his room by himself.

    “He was like a ghost,” the friend said.

    When the mother pressed the issue of moving away, “he didn’t want to leave,” according to the pal. “He didn’t understand why she wanted him to go out into the world. She told me she couldn’t reach him — and she was worried.”

    But there was never any hint of violence....

  54. Lost in The Matrix?

    Maybe something like that does happen on rare occasion.

    Meanwhile, from Reuters: Videogames under fire, Hollywood lays low after school shooting

  55. Wow:

    'I am the devil': Former classmate reveals school gunman had 'online devil worshiping page'...

  56. IMO, an aversion to social situations is most likely the result of fewer or impaired amygdalic neuronal connections OR a preponderance of septal nucleic ones (but more likely the former). Drugs cannot alter this condition, only the imposition of habits and routines that FORCE these connections to myelinate can serve to "cure" the condition.

  57. My bad. Too MANY amygdalic neuronal connections and NOT ENOUGH septal nucleic ones to regulate the overload. I stand corrected. ;)

  58. No wonder autism is so difficult to deal with. The amygdalic function mediating septal nucleic connections to the hypothalmus are usually the LAST to form in the human brain. ;)

  59. from the link above (Rhawn Joseph)

    The amygdala maintains a mutually influential and counterbalancing relationship with the septal nuclei as both are richly interconnected via the stria terminalis axonal fiber bundle and both interact in regard to the hypothalamus and hippocampus. In general, the amygdala exerts inhibitory and excitatory influences on the septal nuclei, which in turn exerts inhibitory influences on the amygdala and both exert counterbalancing influences on the hypothalamus via the stria terminalis (see chapter 13).

    For much of the first postnatal year, septal influences are relatively minimal as this nucleus matures and develops at a much later age than the amygdala (Brown, 1983; Joseph, 1992a, 1999b). In fact, the initial development of the septal nuclei is influenced if not triggered by the extended amygdala, the tuberculum olfactorium (Humphrey, 1967), and later, it is only upon the receipt of, and activation by amygdala afferent fibers that the septal nuclei begins to differentiate (Brown, 1983). Moreover, the myelination of the septal nuclei is "extraordinarily protracted" (Yakovlev & Lecours, 1967). Indeed the septal nuclei and septal pathways do not display a significant degree of myelination until around 4-months of age and takes well over 3 years to reach advanced stages of development (Yakovlev & Lecours, 1967).

    These differential rates of septal vs amygdala maturation are exceedingly adaptive. For example, as the inhibiting septal nuclei develops, the indiscriminate contact seeking of the amygdala comes to be suppressed, inhibited, and sufficiently restricted so that a very narrow and intense attachment is fashioned in its place.

    In addition, as the septal nucleus is associated with internal inhibition and oppositional feelings of negativity (Heath, 1976) including rage (Blanchard & Blanchard, 1968; Jonason & Enloe, 1972), the later maturation of this structure likely contribute to the oppositional and defiant childish attitude that emerges around age two: the so called "terrible twos." These behaviors do not promote intimate social interactions and are probably produced secondary to septal influences on the amygdala and hypothalamus as these latter structures commonly trigger rage reactions (see chapter 13).

    Destruction of or injury to the septal nucleus eliminates in part those counterbalancing inhibitory influences exerted on the amygdala and hypothalamus. However, septal injury secondary to deprivation and abuse experienced later in development can also induce septal seizure-like activity (Joseph, 1999b). If the septal nucleus is injured or develops seizure-like activity and if the the amygdala is released from septal inhibitory activity, and as the amygdala promotes indiscriminate socializing, there results an extreme desire for social and physical contact coupled with aggressive, explosively violent, and bizarre behavior (Jonason & Enloe, 1972; McClary, 1966; Meyer, Ruth, & Lavond, 1978). That is, since the amygdala as well as the septal nuclues mediates aggressive and social behavior, and since septal destruction of injury results in amygdala disinhibition, the disinhibited amygdala (coupled with septal stressed-induced abnormalities) promotes aggressive, emotionally bizarre behaviors including an extreme desire for indiscriminate social stimulation; some of the same exact behaviors displayed by older infants and young children deprived of maternal contact.

  60. Video game thing... will blog on when I get the time. Quick comment here, though:

    I dead-set refuse to blame violence in VG's/movie/etc for RL murders. If the person is insane enough to believe you can do what is fictional, they are already off the deep end. A massive majority know that fiction, is fiction, and it does not apply to RL. If they truly can't tell... that is another issue entirely. For anyone over 12, that is scratch-head excuse. For kids, well, their parents need to teach them that simple lesson.


  61. Wildstar,
    Those who are truly on the autism spectrum have a difficult, if not impossible, time telling fact from fantasy. They also get "immersed" in fantasy to an extent that doesn't happen with a normal brain.

    Let's face it: an autistic brain is NOT normal.

    I may be wrong, but I doubt that Adam Lanza was insane. I think that he went into a rage and actually had "reasons" for what he did.

    And here's something else....So many so-called specialists think that Aspies should "connec with the computer primarily because Aspies often have a gift in the area of technology. In the vast majority of cases, this "connection" with the computer is fine.

    Adam Lanza was an anomaly, IMO. Maybe he was along the lines of THIS. Now, The Matrix Defense, also listed in Wikipedia, might just be a legal strategy. But it might not be, either.

    The human brain is mysterious and unfathomable. As a society, we don't know what we don't know.

  62. Wildstar,
    Please take time to read what FJ has posted above. Both he and I have long been interested in brain matters.

  63. FJ,
    Some researchers have found that those with addictions have "problems" with their amygdalas. Which came first, the drugs or the abnormal wiring? That's really the unanswerable question -- at least, with the scientific knowledge to date.

    I should also mention that some with senility and/or stroke damage to that region of the brain can be violent. I can't prove so, of course, but I suspect that such was the case with my homicidal grandmother and grandfather. They both died long before any kind of MRI's came along.

  64. Wildstar,
    I dead-set refuse to blame violence in VG's/movie/etc for RL murders

    Not full blame, but maybe partial blame?

    The kind of technology and special effects that we have today are so new. Do we really know all of their effects? I don't think so.

    Let me give you another example or two.

    For a long time, the world viewed tobacco use and cocaine use as health-promoting. Seriously. Look it up. Now we know better. But early on? Nope.

    Here is a conundrum, however: nicotine has been shown to help certain individuals with Alzheimer's and the like because nicotine helps to increase concentration.

    As for cocaine, well, it was once successfully used in dental procedures -- not to mention in Coca Cola.

    I think that something similar is happening with technology and special effects. There are good outcomes and bad outcomes. Can we predict which individuals will have bad outcomes? Not completely, but we do know that the age at which one is exposed to certain things and the brain differences of certain individuals will more likely lead to bad outcomes -- not usually as horrific as what Adam Lanza did. Thank God!

  65. This comment has been removed by the author.

  66. AOW oh, I know they can't. And thus, they should not be exposed to it. For normal people though, they can and do so. But I'd agree, exception do exist. People have 'weak-points' mentally.

    I read it... can't follow it very well. Bookmarking for later re-read.

    In the end... the brain sure is mysterious, huh? Reminds me of what McCoy once said- even with the medical tech of the future, the brain is still a mystery.


    PS because I posted at the same time as you:

    I will give partial blame, definitely. (said so in my blog post.) And certainly, different people have different reactions, depending on a myriad of thing. There are some bad outcomes that are well-known, namely, don't let little kids see it, for the higher percentage. But I will not call it evil. Most things have good uses, in moderation and with proper restraint (like drugs. Hey, many are medicines in VERY small doses). Cocaine is still used- NovoCAINE anyone? Just... there is a time, and place, and some people should NEVER have it. If a person has a history of drunks, don't drink, that sort of thing.

    AND I'm rambling again!

  67. Well AoW, certain vitamin deficiencies (B) have been known to cause myelination problems... so one cannot completely discount the efficacy of certain drugs... but I'm certain that bathing the brain in seratonin and/or dopamine is NOT a viable solution to a neurochemical disorder. For every neurological process involves a chemical and countervailing chemical inhibitor (affecting re-uptake).

  68. Wildstar,
    No parent wants to believe that a child is dangerous -- or brain-compromised enough not to be exposed to normal activities.

    Parents' instincts should govern responsible child rearing. But so often, parents rely on the so-called experts, who have less-than-perfect and less-than-reliable ideas as to how to handle abnormalities.

    Clearly, many Aspies may benefit from AS -- or, at least, so it seems. I think that it is well documented that some geniuses have ties to AS.

    But, like anyone else, some Aspies may tip over into true mental illness and a very few into dangerous mental illness.

    What we are discussing is a complex matter about which little is really known at this point.

    BTW, I have no certification in special ed. That lack of certification sometimes serves as an advantage for me. Remember the old saying: "Garbage in, garbage out"!

  69. FJ,
    bathing the brain in seratonin and/or dopamine is NOT a viable solution to a neurochemical disorder


    There may be a halcyon time (Remember the film Awakenings?), but re-uptake receptors always seem to adjust at some point.

  70. Remember mass murdered Charles Whitman?

    An autopsy conducted upon the body of Charles Whitman—approved by his father—was performed at the Cook Funeral Home on August 2. The autopsy discovered a glioblastoma (a highly aggressive and invariably fatal brain tumor) in the hypothalamus (the white matter located above the brain stem). This tumor would have proven fatal by the end of the year in which Whitman died.

  71. A little more information about Charles Whitman:

    this lesion "conceivably could have contributed to his inability to control his emotions and actions." Forensic investigators have theorized that the tumor may have been pressed against the nearby amygdalae regions of his brain. The amygdalae are known to affect fight/flight responses. Some neurologists have since speculated that his medical condition was in some way responsible for the attacks, in addition to his personal and social frames of reference.

  72. To hell with understanding. Just take them out and shoot them.

    Locking them up costs too damned much money. Killing them would be kinder all the way around.

    There are a lot of thing you just can't do anything about. curing insanity is one of those things.

    --------> Katharine Heartburn

  73. Interesting read:

    The media has yet to discuss the real issue regarding Adam Lanza, the failure of the educational system and what might have prevented the massacre of 27 innocent people in Newtown, CT.

    More at the above link.

  74. Will,
    Fanapt, sometimes prescribed for schizophrenia, does have numerous side effects, among them the following:

    Psychiatric side effects including restlessness, aggression, and delusion have been reported frequently. Hostility, decreased libido, paranoia, anorgasmia, confusional state, mania, catatonia, mood swings, panic attack, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia nervosa, delirium, polydipsia psychogenic, impulse-control disorder, and major depression have been reported infrequently.

  75. I had read the Charles Whitman diagnosis before... have you seen some of these (the "socialization" effects) that can result in mass murder and sex killers?

  76. Thersites,
    Are all those items in the link you left separate books?

  77. Thersites,
    I've been reading the material at that link you left. Grim. To say the least.

    I have no doubt that "socialization" effects can reap the whirlwind. Not in all cases, but certainly in a few -- such as those criminals mentioned.

    But I also think that organic brain damage can result in similar effects. Your thoughts on that?

    And another thing....Is it possible that organic damage (or differences, if you prefer) sometimes -- quite rarely -- reaches a tipping point that we then call psychosis or another mental illness?

  78. @ Thersites,

    I note the following in the conclusion:

    If maternal input is lacking or abnormal, then all aspect of limbic system functioning can also become abnormal including sexuality and even speech.

    All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. Know what I mean as related to the above excerpt.

  79. I wrote this in answer to a man who asked about Gov Reagan closing down mental hospitals in California, but it applies to any other governor who had to exit the mental health business. The roots of the current problem go all the way back to the Eugenics Movement that spawned the Holocaust and Planned Parenthood.

    "It is true Gov Reagan did gut funding for state mental hospitals, but was forced to do so by court decisions ruling that the mental health patients could not be confined without patient consent or due process. Previously, people could be detained and institutionalized for any number of reasons and often for no good reason.

    In an attempt to find a alternatives to the eugenics movement that contributed so much to the Holocaust, a federal mental health study was begun in 1955 resulting in the 1963 Mental Health Act as part of John Kennedy's New Frontier. From this came multiple court decisions emancipating the mentally ill from the vagaries of the law and the shame of families with mentally ill members. Because the decisions were Federal and states are always trying to save local money, the Federal gov't then became the funding agency of first resort while states cut back on local funding. The Federal budget was not large enough to cover all the new fiscal demands of the new found mental health gold mine limited the resources to the states. (Lesson for ObamaCare.)

    While Reagan was governor (1967-75), a Federal court ruled in Jackson v. Indiana (1972) that due process required the commitment for mental health treatment also required adequate and appropriate treatment must be provided - the mentally ill could no longer be warehoused for the safety of themselves and society, they must be treated in preparation for release to the general population and several lower courts recognized the due process right of the mentally ill. In that same year, Gov Reagan signed the Lanterman–Petris–Short Act effectively doing what the O'Connor v. Donaldson ruling would do nationwide in 1975. The LPS bill had bipartisan support and was widely lauded by the left as a civil rights masterpiece. The ACLU argued for the end of forced institutionalization of harmless insane people. Ronald Reagan argued just the opposite, but was compelled by the courts to release the harmless mentally ill without any guidance on what harmless meant after hospitalization and medication. It was, in fact, assumed that the mentally ill, when returned to sanity, lucidity, and reality, would voluntarily continue their treatment and medications never wanting to go back to crazy. Boy, were the experts ever wrong.

  80. As President, Ronald Reagan repealed the Mental Health Systems Act by signing the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 consolidating ADAMHA's treatment and rehabilitation programs into a single block grant enabling each State to administer its own allocated funds. The repeal of the community mental health legislation and the establishment of block grants, the Federal role in mental health services changed once again from funding to providing technical assistance in increasing the local providers capacity for mental health services to a population of growing mental health concerns because of the continued redefining of and addition to mental health disorders.

    Once the funding responsibilities of States had been taken up by the Federal government and the States having found other uses for the money formerly used for the mentally ill, States were reluctant and loathe to finding new State funding or dropping other programs to re-fund moribund mental health programs. And now we're stuck with mentally ill people without help, without the wherewithal to request help, and a society so increasingly frightened of the mentally ill they are threatening to disarm in the face of danger and at the same time take to the streets with pitchforks and torches to chase down and slay the monsters among us. What a fine mess good intentions have left us."

    AOW, I have a cousin not much younger than myself who has been mentally ill for as long as I can recall. As a child he would beat his head against walls and his family thought it was cute as did schools and doctors. Eventually after many years in and out of prison and mental hospitals, and not being able to find adequate help, he took control of his life the only way he knew how - with a screw driver in his hand, he faced two police officers in an alley who shot him 7 times. He survived, but since that time almost 30 yrs ago, he has been in prison for psychiatric care. It's where he wanted to be -- or dead. He's been diagnosed as autistic and schizophrenic and had been before such diagnoses had been possible.

  81. From what I understand violent behavior is not unusual for people with autism, but it usually takes shape of a tantrum, as is in the story above, not per-planned murder. Lanza's case is rather atypical in this respect.

  82. Edge,

    Adam Lanza was a anomaly. Of course, that statement is of no consolation to the bereaved in Newtown.

    Every Christmas for their lifetimes is forever ruined!

  83. Indigo,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to provide the above information.

    I will be using your comments in a post on January 7. People need to understand what a mess the experts have wrought!


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