I Am Adam Lanza's Mother
Posted 17 December 2012 - 02:11 AM
After a tragedy like the one in Newtown, people understandably want to know why someone would act with such extreme violence. Researchers have spent years trying to figure that out with mixed results.
Joining me now to talk about this case is NPR science correspondent Jon Hamilton. Jon, thanks for being here.
MARTIN: There's a tendency to think that someone who does something like this simply has to have some kind mental illness. Or has gone through a psychotic breakdown. I mean, doesn't someone who engages in this kind of violence have to be deeply disturbed in some way?
HAMIILTON: Disturbed, that's a slightly different description in the necessarily mentally ill. Now, in fact, when you look at people who have committed mass murders, many of them have some sort of history of mental illness. But if you look at it the other way, if you look at the large group of people who have some sort of mental illness, you know, it's not clear they're more likely to be violent. And certainly not clear that they're more likely to commit mass murder.
As for, you know, that people often bring up the question of the psychotic break. You know, that somebody snapped. You know, what that means is you have scattered thoughts. You may be hearing voices in your head. You have no sense of what's real and what's not. And that would make it pretty hard to carry out an organized plan to obtain weapons and ammunition, go to a specific place and methodically kill a lot of people.
MARTIN: If in fact, he had a form of autism, could that have been a factor?
HAMIILTON: Well, first off, we should say again that we don't know whether Adam Lanza had autism. And if he did, there really aren't scientific studies showing that people with autism are somehow more likely to commit mass murders, or any other kind of murders. But autism can be a factor in a person's view of the world. And it's a problem that can be associated with feelings of despair, of alienation, anger, and kids with autism are often treated quite cruelly by their peers.
MARTIN: So from a psychological point of view, what do we know about what prompts someone do to do something as horrific as this?
HAMIILTON: Well, people have been carrying out mass murderers for centuries. And researchers have been studying those people for almost as long, trying to come up with some kind of a profile of mass murderers; some way to identify somebody who is likely to commit this sort of crime. And for the most part they failed. I mean, yes, mass murderers tend to be young and male and angry and troubled. But think about how many young people fit that description in this country.
More of the discussion here
Posted 17 December 2012 - 08:45 AM
but we need to take a freakonomics/moneyball approach.
you mention better health care esp for the mentally ill. yeah i agree with that but consider this and this is what i mean by empirical evidence.
of those 60 mass murders, 43 were white male's per panthro's article. of those 43, how many of them saw a doctor or were never diagnosed?
did they get help or meds? what kind of meds? no meds? did they ever go to jail or work a job and make their own money to purchase weapons?
that 43 is what we need to deconstruct. what if 100% of them did in fact recieve mental health care? then what? or what if it was 0?
a blanket macro approach is not going to solve this. that is why i used the comparatives of drunk driving. look at the scope and #'s of that. 10's of thousands die every year. thats a fact. but the sample size of offenders is all over the place and reaches every single state. the demographics and race are all over the place.
so look at how those #'s went down and take those lessons learned and apply them to solving the mental illness/mass murder issue. take a loss mitigation approach and go from there.
Posted 17 December 2012 - 05:10 PM
Posted 17 December 2012 - 10:31 PM
If they all had access to mental health care then that cant be an issue. We need to drill down into this to lower these #'s.
Posted 17 December 2012 - 10:36 PM
A high percentage of the mass murders are done by the mentally ill.
Just Being mentally ill does not mean you are capable of mass murder....but the inverse is true
Posted 18 December 2012 - 10:48 PM
There is no single factor that can explain what happened. Everything lined up...hopefully we can knock future events off course