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The shooter at Sandy Hook is being reported as having had Asperger's Syndrome - an autistic spectrum disorder that has only had a relatively small amount of cultural exposure, so if it turns out to be correct, this would be how most of America (and the world) is introduced to it: As a dangerous mental illness associated with psychotic acts of violence - which is about as far from the truth as one could possibly get.  Speaking as someone who has Asperger's, this could add an additional (though by no means equivalent) layer of tragedy on top of an already fathomless horror if this monstrous act came to be how people with this disability are defined in the popular imagination.  The discussion should rightly focus mainly on gun control, but I'm disturbed by the tenor of some of the media statements I've seen when the subject turns to mental health, and would hope it's not a sign of a potentially damaging misconception being created.

Obviously the shooter was insane - there's no other meaningful way to define the mental state of someone who murders people at random, let alone little kids.  It's not possible to know what kind of chaos or hatred was swirling around in that mind that produced these actions, but one thing is 100% certain for me: It had nothing whatsoever to do with having Asperger's, if indeed it is the case that he had that condition.  Maybe the isolation and difficulty communicating deprived him of social supports that help other people cope with life, but I can't comprehend an autistic-spectrum disability being the actual cause of such actions.  

For me personally, I have always sensed the inherent wrongness of violence precisely because of the unconventional way my mind works - I've sometimes felt guilty about swatting flies and felt like I could empathize with them; I can empathize with almost anyone or anything, and it's precisely because I'm largely denied the easy, almost subconscious social communication that connects most people.  So instead of having a strong bond with a few people while being cut off from everything else like most people are, I tend to feel more broadly connected to the world and have a sense of responsibility for how it develops despite just being an ordinary citizen with no special resources.  But I admit that's just me, and is not necessarily broadly applicable.

Asperger's does not determine the content of your character - it simply channels whoever you are into unconventional and sometimes highly enlightening pathways.  If it is indeed the case that the gunman had this disability, then he was a psychotic who happened to have Asperger's, not someone who was psychotic because of that condition.  I hope very much that this is not how people are first introduced to the disability, because there couldn't be a starker departure from its actual nature.  I'm not saying it makes people benevolent, because obviously having trouble forming social relationships is not the easiest beginning from which to build a happy and creative life.  

But there is nothing in that kind of mind - nothing - that promotes violence or hatred.  Quite the opposite: Even changes in how they do certain things, such as altering a routine too drastically and too quickly, can feel violent and frightening.  My case is relatively moderate, so I only feel that way when things are really thrown out of whack - and even then I hide the way it makes me afraid because, you know, I'm still a man and would be embarrassed for people around me to know that I'm viscerally afraid just because I'm (for instance) moving to a new apartment or something.  It's normal for people to be anxious in such situations, I'm sure, but I actually feel fear - just an undirected, existential horror at such a major change.  Fortunately there is a rebound effect, and the next day after being afraid like that I'm usually very happy and energized.  

Moreover, not all of the difficulty communicating is internal - part of Asperger's is often that our emotions don't naturally show on our faces, so people may think we act stilted, robotic, or unemotional even when we have very profound feelings.  This is perhaps the most frustrating part of the Asperger experience, because people think you're not feeling when you may be feeling even more strongly than they are.  And when you tell them how you feel, they may think you're being insincere because the emotions you describe in words aren't showing up on your face.  I'm not expressionless though - I do have natural expressions, and I'm accustomed to translating my emotions into expressions to the extent that it's almost automatic (but not quite).  

Still, in moments of intense emotion where I can't pay attention to showing how I feel, my face may be blank.  I can't be certain, but I think my face looks exactly the same when I'm ecstatic and when I'm terrified beyond words: I've actually had trouble in the latter case, because I've been in medical emergencies where I wasn't quite able to convey the urgency of the situation because I was basically quaking in fear inside myself while my face looked maybe slack or dull.  Ironically, this also means people give me a lot more credit for emotional strength than I actually deserve - in a moment of danger, I could be on the verge of pissing myself and the only thought running through my head is "Ohfuckholyshitshitshit" but other people might remember me as being calm and composed simply because I didn't react.  

When the situation actually calls for quick reaction, that's when the reality is more obvious, because "deer in headlights" is my natural response to sudden, unexpected anything: It takes a little time to process things, and that's why extreme violence is (I would guess) probably even rarer among people with Asperger's than people without it, even in rage.  Personally, I've never even broken something in anger - it takes too long for an emotion to trigger an action, and by the time it could happen, such impulses have dissipated too much.  It's the same thing as described in the last paragraph where I fail to react even when it would be prudent - whether the origin of the impulse is internal or external, my nervous system is like a huge bureaucracy that only lets through actions that either make sense or are at least innocuous.  

Anyway, hopefully this ramble was unnecessary and the media will put the focus where it belongs, on gun policy, rather than doing what they always do (sigh) and seizing on some irrelevancy to change the subject.  But if it does turn out the guy had Asperger's, and if the media does act on its baser instincts by emphasizing that rather than fostering a substantive gun policy debate, I would hope the above comments are enlightening and useful to someone.

Originally posted to Troubadour on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 09:32 PM PST.

Also republished by KosAbility, Parenting on the Autism Spectrum, Barriers and Bridges, Mental Health Awareness, and KOSpectrum.

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    by Troubadour on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 09:32:30 PM PST

  •  Excellent diary, Troubadour. (112+ / 0-)

    Republished to KosAbility.

    "Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." ~ Desmond Tutu

    by KelleyRN2 on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 09:42:48 PM PST

    •  Very true and excellent Troubadour ! (30+ / 0-)

      We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

      by Vetwife on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 04:09:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm sending this diary to a friend whose son (52+ / 0-)

      has Aspergers. He's in high school and his "lack of emotion" is making things very difficult for him -- when he is overwhelmed, he panics and flees, but to the teachers he just looks "bored and lazy". I believe that Troubsdour's words may help her explain her son to the school -- and honestly, may help her understand her son a little better since he is unable to articulate any of this...

      And, Troubadour, you are correct to be worried that people will unfairly focus on Asperger's. a few years ago, a 14 yr old boy was murdered at our high school. The boy that stabbed him had Asperger's and that is where the focus remained. No one seemed to dig deeper to understand what else was going on with him that could explain why he waited in the bathroom with a knife to kill the first person who walked in, just to see him die. Local autism groups wrote as many articles as they could, trying to undo that impression, but I can tell you that for a lot of people in town, Asperger's was and remains a "dangerous" condition.

      My friend's son has rejected his Catholic upbringing in favor of Buddhism. He recently added Shinto and his Mom asked how he could be both. He explained that Buddhism is about death while Shinto is about life. He is trying to understand the world at large when understanding individually remains difficult.

      Excellent diary. I will share this and I'm glad that you are republishing, Nurse Kelly. This deserves a wide readership so we can all be educated... Beautiful.

      It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America. -- Molly Ivins

      by theKgirls on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 05:24:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unfortunately for Troubador, those with (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sethtriggs, Dirtandiron, a2nite

        autism do make threats in front of mental health workers, ie bomb school, hurt someone, but in the past the threats have not been taken that seriiously because they are from someone with autism. These kind of threats from Those on the Autism spectrum will be taken more seriously from now on.

        •  The chances of actual violence (10+ / 0-)

          are no different from what they were a week ago. Anyone who routinely deals with people on the spectrum should know that.
          If the shooter had been black, or gay, we would see the absurdity of pegging an entire group based on the actions of one person.

          Stay fired up: now is the time to focus on downticket change! #Forward

          by emidesu on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 08:01:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Really? (10+ / 0-)
            If the shooter had been black or gay, we would see the absurdity of pegging an entire group based upon the actions of one person
            You must have missed my front page diary 2 weeks about all the young innocent Black men killed unnecessarily because of cultural assumptions about the violence and dangerousness of young Black men.  One of those young boys was a 15-year old with Asperger's who police had interacted with nearly a dozen times before.  Still didn't stop them from shooting him dead though --based upon the inherent dangerousness of a young Black boy wielding (according to police, anyway; as is always the case actual witnesses tell a different story) a butter knife.

            If the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary had been Black, we would not be having any cultural hangwringing over his mental illness AT ALL.  Instead, we'd be railing about what the majority of law-abiding Black people "need to do" in order to "curtail violence" in our communities.  So I get a little bit irritated about the fact that, once again, our attempts to "understand" what might have motivated a white mass murderer to kill 20 innocent cildren become Exhibit #1 in how much we're able to humanize perpetrators UNLESS they just happen to be young Black men (as too often, they are not)--in which case it must have been their fault somehow, just for being born Black and male in a world that sees them as an existential threat.  

            Don't mean to pick on you, but this has been on my mind ever since yesterday.  I applaud the discussion about the demonizing of mental illness inherent in the fact that the media has been focusing on the Asperger's diagnosis of yesterday's shooter, and the discussion about how our nation has failed the mentally ill this past 3 decadses but abhor the fact that it is only happening because he was not Black.  (A fact that anyone truly honest will admit.)

            •  Can you picture a Daily Kos diary (0+ / 0-)

              about how being black has nothing to do with becoming a mass murderer? Mass murderers, and especially those who kill children, disturb us in a way that few other criminals do. The last black mass murderers I remember were Beltway shooters John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, and there was a great deal of focus on their backgrounds and what might have caused them to kill. In fact, there have been articles in the past few months on Muhammad's alleged sexual abuse of Malvo, for instance:

              There is a lot of racism and there are a lot of poor assumptions made. My presence here has been light in the past few weeks, so maybe I missed your diary, but I was aware of the story. Police are very poorly trained and treatment of people of color and people with disabilities is particularly poor. But there is no logic in associating race or mental illness generically with much of any kind of behavior, really.
              And I haven't been watching MSM much at all because while Israel was bombing Gaza, they were talking about who said what mean thing about who, and they have clearly been virtually useless in shedding light on the influence of weapons manufacturers on our government, and frankly I'm sick of their distractions. So I haven't heard them try to connect violence with Asperger's and I'm not sure why they would try to do that but I also don't understand why people would let the MSM hold more sway over their beliefs than personal interactions and reliable sources.

              Stay fired up: now is the time to focus on downticket change! #Forward

              by emidesu on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 05:16:43 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  kkjohnson, unfortunately, your comment is biased, (3+ / 0-)

          and totally uninformed in regards to autism.  In addition, Asperger's is a form of gentile genius, unfamiliar to your prejudice.

        •  It's not due to their Aspergers, just as wearing (0+ / 0-)

          purple doesn't determine if you're going to kill.

          Most folks with autism don't make threats. I don't where you're getting that inaccurate impression.

          Any threat to kill coming from anyone should be taken seriously. Aspergers, autism are no more likely to kill than anyone else.

      •  She should get him an IEP (22+ / 0-)

        My son has Asperger's and has had an IEP since he was in preschool. He's covered by the ADA and all his teachers know about the Asperger's. When he starts getting into an emotional spiral he goes straight to the Autism Support teacher and they work together to get him back on track. He's doing so well in seventh grade. He's got friends. He also does acting which helps tremendously with the emotional stuff.

        A working man robs a bank and it's a federal manhunt. A banker robs a working man and gets a bailout.

        by Grassroots Mom on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 06:16:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Be careful with IEPs. (15+ / 0-)

          I had had one briefly in high school - though not with a spectrum diagnosis, since somehow the geniuses at that school had missed the fact that I was a textbook case - and they basically used it as an excuse to cut me off from education.  So always be cognizant of what kind of people would be implementing the IEP if one is pursued - i.e., it's good to have some kind of personal awareness of the officials who would be involved.  If they're authoritarian bureaucrat types, they will not use the process to benefit the student, but use it to do whatever is most convenient for themselves.  Still, even with such people, good results can be wrested from them if you're diligent.

          In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

          by Troubadour on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 06:35:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  504's - less official, but enforceable--can be (8+ / 0-)

            a good alternative for those who are wary of a formal IEP.

            Teachers and administration are usually extremely willing to make 504 adaptations when they are made fully aware of a student's needs.

            Wonderful diary BTY, Troubadour.  Should be required reading for every educator.

            If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

            by livjack on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 06:41:57 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The greatest asset a child on the spectrum has are (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              raincrow, Troubadour

              their parents.  Nothing can be started without their signature, and as long as they are there to advocate for the child, an IEP doesn't have to be a mess.  It is up to the parent to approve everything and an IEP has due process to back it up.  Whatever the case may be, the IEP is for the bet interest of the child and it is only as strong as the childs advocates/parents.

          •  Thanks so much for the Diary (7+ / 0-)

            A new acronym for me, possibly others, IEP:


            In the United States an Individualized Education Program, commonly referred to as an IEP, is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In Canada and the United Kingdom, an equivalent document is called an Individual Education Plan.

            An IEP defines the individualized objectives of a child who has been found with a disability, as defined by federal regulations. The IEP is intended to help children reach educational goals more easily than they otherwise would. In all cases the IEP must be tailored to the individual student's needs as identified by the IEP evaluation process, and must especially help teachers and related service providers (such as paraprofessional educators) understand the student's disability and how the disability affects the learning process.

            When someone is impatient and says, "I haven't got all day," I always wonder, How can that be? How can you not have all day? George Carlin

            by msmacgyver on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 09:34:45 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Yes please! As a teacher I can attest that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          raincrow, Troubadour

          if we know what's up with a child we can better tailor our interactions. Most of us try very hard to differentiate for every single child but with 140 students it certainly helps for me to get a head's up regarding an individual's particular strengths, challenges, triggers, that I can adjust my teaching.
          In my experience kids with Asperger's have been some of my favorites (not that I have favorites!) because of the honesty of their interactions and statements. Several of my best actors and presenters have been on the spectrum.
          If it turns out that Lanza was impacted by some sort of developmental issue we all need to reinforce that it isn't any one aspect of a person that makes them do bad--not their color, religion, mental ability, or political persuasion.

        •  Acting experience (in drama class, school plays) (0+ / 0-)

          can be great, as you say. I have known several teens with Asberger's for whom this was really transformative, giving them new skills in managing emotions and communicating emotionally, and also new confidence and a new social role that made their school lives much easier.

      •  That philosophical perspective is very familiar (13+ / 0-)

        to me - the perception of multiple levels of reality, where one set of ideas is good at explaining one aspect of existence but a different set of ideas works better on another level.  Doesn't surprise me at all to hear thinking like that attributed to an Aspie.

        I hope the situation improves in your community, but the best I can advise is that you and your friend not lose an opportunity to educate - or to get in someone's face when they're being willfully stupid and unfair.

        In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

        by Troubadour on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 06:30:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Troubadour, what is truth, or reality? It's in (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the mind of the beholder.  Many are willing to be unfair, and willfully stupid, when faced with the murder of children.

          Thank God for Aspies, we need intelligent analysis of a grim trend toward violence in our society.  

        •  thanks for this diary (3+ / 0-)

          my brother has autism and he and I make video games together for a living and he's the most sweet (and shy) person you will ever meet.  it makes me so angry to see people trying to suggest that the underlying motivations for mass murder could be autism.  my brother was bullied relentlessly from the time he was little.  having autism made HIM a target for violence NOT the other way around.  it makes me furious that once again what makes someone a victim is used to turn them into something to fear and hate and act out in violence against.  

          we are releasing the first game we designed together this week.  it's a jet ski racing game.  zero violence in it.  not even falling off of your jet ski when you crash.  which you really can't even do.  but we made a decision to make a game that was just fun without even a hint of violence.  we've known too much violence in our lives to make being violent something people do for fun.  

          anyway, thanks again.

          so long and thanks for all the fish

          by Anton Bursch on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 02:28:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I am very high functioning (6+ / 0-)

        I wold very much like to devote time and energy to mentoring AS kids, I strongly believe that I could help as an interface with the world, I feel like I understand both sides in a way few others could. But it seems to overwhelming and difficult to get that started. Someday I wold like to be able to help your friend's son and the other kids being buffeted by a world that doesn't understand. is America's Blog of Record

        by WI Deadhead on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 10:50:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  excellent diary and true (55+ / 0-)

    in any case really determining the type of mental illness may be tough. This is the age where some types of psychosis begin to manifest.

    As much as we need to control gun access. We also need a lot more community mental health availability.

    fact does not require fiction for balance (proudly a DFH)

    by mollyd on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 09:51:24 PM PST

  •  Who is saying that (32+ / 0-)

    the shooter had Asperger's?

    A propensity toward violence is not a diagnostic feature or inherent part of Asperger's. If I had to guess, I would wager that someone with Asperger's is statistically less likely to commit a violent crime than a person without Asperger's. I hope this isn't a rumor being spread irresponsibly.

  •  Thanks for sharing your story, troub (42+ / 0-)

    I've had friends with Asperger's and friends who are Asperger's parents.

    Clearly, there was something else going on in this young man's mind. Of course, there's a broad range of symptoms ascribed to Asperger's that may or may not be related, IMO.

    I'm just a depressive with mild OCD, but I can relate to how mental difference will affect one's life in both good and bad ways.

    The question that haunts me about this particular case is why Lanza's mom, a kindergarten teacher, bought those guns. Probably we'll never know...

    Those who do not move, do not notice their chains. Rosa Luxemburg

    by chuckvw on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 09:51:37 PM PST

  •  Thanks for that. (22+ / 0-)

    Very enlightening and important.  America is in the dark ages when it comes to understanding, accepting, and helping those with ANY disorder.

    I really appreciate you taking the time to explain this.  I, too, hope that this isn't a lasting impression.

    Good job.

  •  I made a comment (25+ / 0-)

    in another thread that I was equally uncomfortable with linking mental illness to acts of violence.  There is a lot we still do not know and from my perspective, I find that a lot of these mass killings has some trigger point that pushes a person over the edge of reason.

    T and R for your frankness.

    •  I think I get your point. (8+ / 0-)

      But while not wanting to link any single mental illness to violence, I'd say if you shoot up a roomful of kindergartners, you probably have some serious mental illness.

      Because, no, I can't, as a rational person think of any reason to shoot up a room of 5-year-olds.  There is clearly something beyond "cranky today." I mean, really, does it matter if there is a trigger point? There have to be signs before that. And maybe some are subtle. I don't want to blame everyone who met them. But you don't go from slightly odd to "murdering people" based on Tuesday.

      by Magenta on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:00:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, it's sort of a tautology (7+ / 0-)

        Whatever mental state he was in, it was clearly not a good one. Whether that state was associated with a diagnosed/diagnose-able mental health issue, I don't know. What I do know is that if a person is thinking in the way that this guy was thinking, that person should receive therapy and/or medication. Making that decision shows that he was in a mental state in which one would make such decisions and I think it's fair to say that is a mental state that society has an obligation to define as "in need of immediate treatment".

        "I wish you luck on not hating your parents for mixing up such an unthinkable person." --The frickin´ HP--

        by McWaffle on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:08:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Absolutely. (8+ / 0-)

          We do too little to deal with mental illness in this country.  That, even more than the gun issue, needs to be addressed.

          by Magenta on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:04:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, the gun issue is a far higher priority. (8+ / 0-)

            Thousands of people every year are shot to death, thousands more are wounded or maimed, and entire communities are terrorized.  This has to stop.

            In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

            by Troubadour on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:25:33 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think we can focus on both. (8+ / 0-)

              It might be easier if politicians weren't busting the budget on trillion-dollar wars and giveaways to the rich, but it's been true since Reagan that we don't have sufficient care for the mentally ill (including veterans that fight our trillion-dollar wars). But as you point out, guns are a problem too. Just ask the family of anyone who has been killed not even in a gun crime, but a totally preventable gun accident. Kids get killed in this way too.

              How about gun liability insurance? I have to have insurance to operate my car. Guns are just as dangerous.

              •  That's an interesting idea worth exploring. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                And perhaps one that can be discussed with moderate gun advocates, that won't get their hackles up.

                In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

                by Troubadour on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 05:26:44 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  The stats say guns ~less dangerous, costly (0+ / 0-)

                than cars. For 2010 (the most recent year for which I found full set of stats), roughly 10% more guns than cars (270 M guns estimated vs. 246 M registered motor vehicles), roughly the same # fatalities per year, but in 2010 (last year I could find all stats for) there were 73,505 non-fatal gun injuries treated in ERs, whereas 2.24 million people were non-fatally injured in auto accidents. Estimated costs of firearms impacts $100 B, estimated costs of auto accident impacts $166 B.

                Interesting idea but very difficult to retro-impose considering how many unregistered guns are out there, current laws on reselling without record-keeping, etc.

                YES WE DID -- AGAIN. FOUR MORE YEARS.

                by raincrow on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 03:39:47 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  NOT AT ALL TRUE (0+ / 0-)

              According to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) study published in Jan. 2012


              almost 46 million U.S. adults, 18 and older, experienced mental illness in 2011, and 11.4 million suffered serious (i.e., significantly impairing) mental illness. According to the Natl Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), ~21% of children age 9-17 suffer a mental or addictive disorder, and 4 million of them suffer serious mental illness. The estimated annual cost of health effects, lost productivity, etc., is $300 billion.

              By comparison, the cost of gun-related impacts is ~$100 B; and the number of people killed and injured with firearms or victims of gun crime in 2010 was ~350,000.

              To summarize:

              Mental illness:
              45.9 M adults
              6.9 M children and adolescents
              52.8 M total

                Subset with serious mental illness
                11.4 M adults
                4 M children and adolescents
                15.4 M total

              Economic impact estimate for adults only:  $300 B

              Gun injuries, fatalities, and crime 2010:
              0.35 M total

              Economic impact estimate: $100 B

              But I agree with Leap Year: we can focus on both. Nothing is stopping us but knowledge and political will.


              by raincrow on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 04:07:07 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  A lot of the TV coverage was garbage, (12+ / 0-)

          but I did see one person interviewed who had studied mass killings (it might have been the guy who wrote the Columbine book). He explained that these killers fit a few specific types. One type truly is so divorced from reality that they don't know what they are doing. Another type is calculating and sadistic, and not only knows what they are doing, but derives pleasure, or some sense of revenge, from it. It's not clear yet what we are dealing with here.

      •  It's an unthinkable act, I agree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, sb

        but there is also the culture of violence in this country, coupled with the easy assess to guns that provides the social context of resolving all deep problems and issues and beefs that way.  

        Our local ABC news affiliate on the ground in CT is now reporting that there was nothing in this kid's background that would suggest that he would do such a thing.

        A lot of questions today, little answers coming so far.

  •  I've been thinking about this all day (33+ / 0-)

    since I read a story where the brother talked about Asperger's.  I'm a teacher, and I've worked with lots of Aspie kids--and I agree, that's not ever where I'd even dream of violence.  There are certainly mental illnesses which tend to appear in the late teens and early twenties, which might be more likely--but as the commenter above says, it's too soon to hypothesize.

    I keep hurting for the shooter, too, today--not making any excuses for him, not thinking his actions were justified--but at some point, he was a little innocent boy, too.  Whether this is the result a mental illness or some unimaginable trauma, or whatever--no matter how horrendous and ghastly the result--I mourn for the little boy who couldn't have dreamed that one day he would kill people and die in infamy.  

    What a horrible day.  No one has any answers.

  •  asdf (16+ / 0-)

    Article last week about the use of Asperger's as Dx.

    Asperger's syndrome will be dropped from the latest edition of the psychiatrist's "bible," the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5.

    The American Psychiatric Association (APA) announced on Saturday the changes to its flagship manual that doctors use to diagnose patients with mental disorders. It's the first major rewriter to the DSM in nearly 20 years.

    The familiar "Asperger's," along with some similar disorders, will be lumped together under autism spectrum disorder, "to help more accurately and consistently diagnose children with autism," the APA said in a statement.

    Full details of all the revisions will come in May 2013 when the APA's new manual is published, but the impact will be huge, affecting millions of children and adults worldwide. The manual also is important for the insurance industry in deciding what treatment to pay for, and it helps schools decide how to allot special education.

    It "shapes who will receive what treatment," said Dr. Mark Olfson, a Columbia University psychiatry professor who was not involved in the revision process. More important, he said, "Even seemingly subtle changes to the criteria can have substantial effects on patterns of care."

  •  Asperger's gaining some recognition. (15+ / 0-)

    There have been a number of protrayals of Asperger's Syndrome on the media lately, most notably Claire Danes as the title character in Temple Grandin (I'm pretty sure that HBO ran that miniseries) which won her an Emmy. Her husband, Hugh Dancy, played an Aspie in Adam.

    In the Robert Downey, Jr. version of Sherlock Holmes, directed Guy Ritchie had him play Sherlock as an Aspie, although I didn't see anything specific.

    It's thought that Big  Bang Theory's Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) has Asperger's, but they creative team is not really trying--he makes eye  contact waaaaaaaaay too often for someone with autism, and there are other demands that an actor in a movie or miniseries can handle but would be close to impossible for someone in an ongoing series to maintain consistently.

    The furor over Friday's [10.5] job report revealed a political movement that is rooting for American failure, so obsessed with taking down Obama that good news drives its members into a blind rage. -Paul Krugman

    by Judge Moonbox on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:07:32 PM PST

  •  I read it was a "developmental disorder" (16+ / 0-)

    I saw a comment from my hometown paper (which is a small town in CT about 20 miles from Newtown). They said that in an interview with the shooter's brother, he stated that the shooter had a "developmental disorder" without getting more specific.

    Also, a note to the diarist, I don't know about the general public, but most of the people I know know what Asperger's is. I have a lot of techie/geeky friends, some of whom are at various points on the spectrum. None of them are remotely likely to be violent as far as I can see. I agree that something else must have been going on.

  •  It is not obvious that the shooter was "insane". (18+ / 0-)

    Let me begin by saying this is a good diary which I will tip and rec because you do an excellent job of explaining Asberger's and debunking the notion put forth that Asperberger's syndrome was the underlying cause for the shooting today.

    However, the media and frequently individuals here on daily kos, conflate the legal term "insane" with psychiatric illness. Insanity is not an element of the DSM system because it is not a specific diagnosis. It is merely an indicator of whether an individual could distinguish reality, and knew right from wrong at the time they committed their crime and during the trial. Committing a horrific crime in and of itself is not sufficient to indicate one's degree of sanity.

    It's the Central Limit Theorem, Stupid!

    by smartdemmg on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:15:48 PM PST

    •  You make it seem simple . . . (0+ / 0-)

      Clearly firing a cruise missile into a house full of women and children is "wrong" . . . equally clearly "it's was "wrong" but I did it anyway" is criminal, whether one is instructed by "voices in the head" or some "higher purpose".  Or, some would say, not.  But not which?

      Clearly going to a grade school and killing a lot of kids is crazy.  "Bat shit crazy" is the "term of art" around here.  Is there some point to drawing a fine definitional line between that and "insane"?  Is there a line?

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 07:04:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. (0+ / 0-)

        Frequently after tragedies such as that which occurred yesterday, there is a desire to understand why/how one human could behave his way toward another. One explanation often put forth is that of insanity.

        (I) The person mut be insane/crazy/mentally ill. As a clinician and researcher, I know this to often be false. Many people who commit these crimes are not lacking the cognitive ability to understand their actions. They are angry, disappointed and armed but may not meet criteria for any Axis I disorder or none that is typically associated with an increased risk of violence. Wanting to kill someone is not automatically an indicator of a clinically diagnosable disorder. While you may assume from a layman's perspective that anyone who engages in said behavior is "batshit" crazy or insane, insanity has a specific legal meaning that may not apply here and we have no actual evidence of this man's psychological state at the time of the shootings, just rumors. I would just caution everyone to stop trying to diagnose a person they have never met based on media speculation and rumor.

        I get that everyone is trying to make sense out of an awful tragedy but it will likely take time to truly understand what happened.

        It's the Central Limit Theorem, Stupid!

        by smartdemmg on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 05:22:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree - I can see no sanity in the actions (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharon Wraight

      of this shooter. There is no diagnosis of Evil in the DSM eithter, but that doesn't mean we don't know evil when we see it.

      There is vigorous discussion about evil & sanity & mental illness. It's an evolving subject.

      Something that doesn't make good sense, makes bad sense. That means someone is being deliberately hurtful & selfish. Look for motives behind actions & words.

      by CA wildwoman on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 06:08:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is certainly everyone's prerogative. (0+ / 0-)

        From a lay perspective you have the option of defining this tragedy anyway you wish. I get that that his actions certainly seem crazy and/or evil but professionally, there is insufficient evidence to conclude he was either insane or experiencing an Axis I disorder that was causally linked to his behavior.

        It's the Central Limit Theorem, Stupid!

        by smartdemmg on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 10:26:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's male-under-35-itis (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, raincrow

    Nuff said.

    •  That is so unfair (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      said female-over-45.

      Is there a mental health component to the shooting and to other shootings as well? Yes, but how do we address that without stigmatizing and harming people with mental health issues? Because I have a friend with a very serious diagnosis and she is the kindest person I know.

      Have most of the shooters been young men? Yes, but am I surrounded by young men who are trying to do good and make the world better? Yes, so that seems like a faulty connection, or at least an incomplete one, to me.

      Guns are what all these tragedies have in common.

      Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. --Mark Twain

      by Debby on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 08:15:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Although the vast majority of mass shooters have been men (I can think of at least two women) they represent a tiny, tiny, tiny minority of men (even late teen/early twentysomething men) and it is a serious logical error to try to attribute their behavior to some traits held in common by all or most men. And it is an even more serious error to assume that it means that we have to make major systematic changes in the way males are raised.

        In a dog-eat-dog world, rabies is an advantage in the short term.

        by ebohlman on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 06:58:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this, Troubador. (8+ / 0-)

    I know a little but not a lot about Aspergers syndrome so appreciate your first-hand description.

    The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

    by SoCalSal on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:26:22 PM PST

  •  It was interesting reading your description of (19+ / 0-)

    your facial expressions or lack there of...Before my son was diagnosed we went through a few years of painful forced family pictures at family holidays. The kind where the grandparents make you get your picture taken even though nobody wants to take a fricken picture....My son would always be uncooperative or end up making some semi sour face....of course this would lead to more damn pictures....everyone disappointed and frustrated of course. This last year when asked to smile for the camera he finally stated, "I don't know how to smile."  I'm not sure what this means. He does know how to smile, he has a beautiful smile. I think it could be that he doesn't know how to smile when he doesn't have something spontaneous to smile about.

    •  I have the same issue, I think for the same reason (13+ / 0-)

      I don't like smile artificially for photos because it always ends up looking really awkward and I feel like an idiot doing it. I can definitely understand "I don't know how to smile". I always end up with my eyebrows way up and I look goofy.

      "I wish you luck on not hating your parents for mixing up such an unthinkable person." --The frickin´ HP--

      by McWaffle on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:45:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Your son is not alone on this one. (15+ / 0-)

      Smiling on demand is something I've never quite mastered. When the photographer says "Smile!" my brain interprets it as "Make an unnatural expression that is totally unflattering, completely out-of-character, and borderline frightening and leaves everyone asking WTF?" Unfortunately I have years worth of very awkward and embarrassing photos to prove my inability to smile on command.

      Not this mind and not this heart, I won't rot • Mumford & Sons

      by jayden on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:02:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Stupid school photo sessions are so damn painful (6+ / 0-)

        Not only is the kid having severe anxiety because he has to go to back-to-school being somewhere he most definately does not want to go back to, but he knows he's gonna have to sit in front of some needling ass that relentlessly tries to get him to smile....they have to take pictures for their lunch cards even if you are not ordering them for yourselves...I'm getting better at telling the guy to just take the damn picture....we don't care about smiling.

        •  We do this all the time with Owen. It comes down (7+ / 0-)

          to being fierce and most of the time his parents and grandparents come off as the people with the problem!

          Just take the damn picture.
          Just take the food away.
          Just leave him alone!

          It has gotten easier in the last couple of years and I believe that is because many people are at least a little aware of what the spectrum means.  And now there are dentists and haircutters who are clued in and helpful!

          "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

          by Most Awesome Nana on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:29:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Sounds familiar. (8+ / 0-)

      I remember in elementary school I refused to participate in mandatory school plays because I felt they were humiliating and undignified, because I saw no connection between my own thoughts and feelings and the silliness we were expected to act out on stage.

      One example: In 5th grade, they had wanted us to act out this little anti-drug message musical, and I just couldn't have cared less about the political content and felt ludicrous being made to be a part of it.  I would mumble through the songs and just stand there while the others were directed to use all this flamboyant body language while singing, and it was kind of like an act of passive resistance.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

      by Troubadour on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:38:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think it's an important theme (8+ / 0-)

        And I don't mean to put words into anybody's mouth, but I think generally the feeling that outwardly-expressed emotions are somehow artificial and make you feel ridiculous is a component of Asperger's. I guess the general sense is "I know how I feel, why do I need to perform some external queue that demonstrates that". But eventually you catch on that others prefer you to do the external queue, so you do, but it's consciously disconnected from the actual emotion. It's not a lie or anything, you have the emotion, but it's just an effort to demonstrate that.

        Maybe the metaphor is like, if you had a set of semaphore flags and had to constantly use them to signal your emotions. It would be easy to forget to use them and then you'd look up and people would be waving their flags furiously and you'd have to think a bit and go "oh wait those arbitrary flag signals mean I need to do MY arbitrary flag signals". And all the while you'd just feel silly and self-conscious for waving flags in the air and have to worry whether you were doing it right and wonder why everybody else just does it without thinking.

        And obviously it's a spectrum.

        I gotta stop ranting about all this and go to bed though.

        "I wish you luck on not hating your parents for mixing up such an unthinkable person." --The frickin´ HP--

        by McWaffle on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:19:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Don't forget (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cardinal Fang

          That all the time everyone else is also waving FAKE flags intended to convey a FALSE message, and expecting/demanding that you also do this, and determine whether or not they're waving the real flag, and react to their fake flags with appropriate fake flags and their real flags with appropriate real flags, and very often they want you to have real emotions and raise real flags in response to their fake ones.  And if you can't figure out all of this for yourself without having somebody explain it to you, then well it's all YOUR fault, because you aren't trying hard enough so you must be intentionally rebellious and not WANT to "fit in" and be Normal which means you're just BAD and need to be punished and ostracized.

          That's what it was like fifty years ago before they started diagnosing autism spectrum and Aspies as opposed to "autistic", which was the ones who sat in a corner and rocked themselves.  And if you just wanted to sit in a corner and rock yourself because it was all so scary and unpleasant, they would hit you a few times and scream in your ear to see if they could get a reaction.

          I'm afraid I DO see how Asperger's could lead to murder.  I've had my own problems and worked with others in the same boat.  We tend to think of violence as being sourced in anger.  But even anger is only fear turned outward.  When everything around you is terrifying and frustrating, sometimes you hit back.

      •  My son refused to attend his Christmas program (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nowhere Man

        two years ago. He doesn't like the feel of unfamiliar dress up clothes. He finds the gymnasium unbearably loud. He doesn't enjoy singing "stupid" songs in front of strangers. When he attended the year before he stood there looking miserable with people wondering where his "holiday cheer" was. Besides this our public school still sings Christian songs and this upsets him because he is not religious. When he skipped he ended up getting a D in music.  All of this has been brought up to the school, except the religious part because we live in a very small community and I bet 99% of the people have no problem with singing baby Jesus songs in a  public school. I haven't wanted to draw more attention to him by pointint out that he is different from them in yet another way. He has a new music teacher and she told him that if he didn't attend this year his grade would be docked.  I asked if he wanted to you you care if your grade is ok then, don't worry about it.  I am waiting to see how his grade is and would like to know what percentage of his grade this concert accounts for. How does she grade this concert for each child? Can she hear each child's singing performace from high in the bleachers? Is she grading them on their ability to do the hand actions? On their performance? On how they act? Is she grading them on their appearance, since it is mandatory to be dressed up? or is she just grading them on showing up? What about all the days he has had to show up in her classroom and sings these "stupid" songs he doesn't want to sing, how much credit is he getting for that? Aaarrgghh!
        He is also having stress about gym. He is not athletic, he is akward and has an unusual gate. He says he would be fine with excercising, with walking or running laps, but he is facing having to learn to play volleyball on teams. He says he sucks at it and does not want to play. He feels it just another public excercise in pointing out that he is inadequate at something.  
        I wish I had a map. I wish I had a compass to point me in the right direction so that I could help him. I feel stuck. I love him, I want him to be happy. I swing back and forth between thinking he needs to learn and figure out how to listen, understand and get along with other people and their wants and wishes and then wanting to tell everyone to just leave him the hell alone.


  •  Parenthood (5+ / 0-)

    Have you seen Parenthood? I think that their portrayal of Asperger Syndrome is part of the problem. They have a character who is borderline psychotic and completely uncontrolled and they blame every thing he does on Asperger's.

    •  I wasn't aware they used the word. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sethtriggs, raincrow

      I've seen the movie, but I don't recall hearing the word Asperger's used in it.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

      by Troubadour on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:41:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think the portrayal of Max is fair (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, cynndara, raincrow

      I wouldn't call it pyschotic.  Some children with aspergers act out because they are experiencing the panic/fear that Troubador talks about.  I know aspie kids that have had episodes like Max, and some with behavior that is worse.

      Furthermore, I know 2 instances where people recognized their kids' school problems because of the show, and then got diagnoses.  

      Dementia, you better treat me good. ~Conor Oberst "Slowly (Oh So Slowly)"

      by NotActingNaive on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 05:41:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not just panic/fear, but frustration (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        plays a big role.  With Asperger's, some proportion of your mind is totally normal or even superior, and depending on how much of it that is, you can sometimes find yourself feeling and acting totally normal...only to be smacked in the face by your limitations at some point, and that can be gut-wrenchingly frustrating and invalidating.

        In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

        by Troubadour on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 06:50:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  A 16-y.o. friend at church is ASD, and he and we (0+ / 0-)

          do our best to process one another's way of interacting, we keep him integrated in our activities to the degree he wishes to be involved, etc. I've had the pleasure of watching him grow into himself, learning to manage his social interactions and great frustration without flying off the hook as often as he used to, etc.

          He's a down-to-earth nice guy, super hardcore gamer, not at all physically aggressive but has a VERY respectable redhead-style temper, a quite good observer of the human condition, very droll wit, who understands he'll need a career that doesn't require a lot of people-on-people interaction: environmental field work, air traffic controller, ?drone pilot?!? -- he and we don't know yet.


          by raincrow on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 04:23:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I have a nephew who has Asberger's (8+ / 0-)

    and agree that it would make one less likely to do this kind of thing.

    I've been greatly upset by the assertions all over the place, here included, that are blaming mental illness for this tragedy. I've been posting comments all over urging people to draw a line between "crazy" and "crazed."

    There's also an avalanche of diaries calling for better and more available help for those with mental illness. I don't know about you, but I've lived in a lot of places and never had any trouble finding free psychiatric care and meds through city, county, or religious organizations.

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. Your diary provides facts that more people -- especially here -- should be aware of.

    It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

    by sboucher on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:39:50 PM PST

    •  I am glad that where you live mental illness (7+ / 0-)

      is treated.  Here in California the mentally ill were turned out onto the streets back when RayGun was the Governor and there has never been effective treatment for the mentally ill since that time.

      "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

      by Sychotic1 on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:55:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Reagan shut down state mental institutions (5+ / 0-)

        and put the mentally ill out on the streets. But it isn't street people doing the killing.

        I guarantee that if you look in your area that you would find psychiatric help available on a sliding scale basis from a government (city, county) or private (churches) source.

        It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

        by sboucher on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:13:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not that easy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The kind of help the mentally ill need isn't always financial.  Sure, a doctor will see them for free, but after the doctor lets them go, what then?  They need a supportive environment, too.  A place to live. They need someone to remind them to take their medication.  They need someone to motivate them to do more than watch television or listen to radio or write or do whatever thing has caught their attention for days on end.  My schizophrenic sister is in a group home, with about a dozen other mentally ill patients of varying ages.  They have a live in house keeper/cook and a live in nurse - and a very strict, supervised medication schedule.  The rest of the time, besides food and medication time, they're allowed to do whatever they want.  Some have part time jobs.  Others have hobbies (my sister paints.)  Many do not have families, or if they do, their families have abandoned them.

          (For my sister, it's her choice to live in the group home, rather than with our oldest sister, because the latter choice is far more restrictive.)

          Mentally ill patients who can afford or can get assistance for their meds will feel better, decide they don't need the medication any more, and stop taking them.  The supportive group home environment my sister lives in prevents her from making that incorrect assumption.

          Actually, this reminds me - I need to send her Christmas present in the next few days.

          The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

          by catwho on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 01:54:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this diary. (7+ / 0-)

    I too hope that the misconception that Aspies are violent, unhinged ticking time bombs will never be formed, and that people will endeavor to enlighten themselves about this condition and other mental disorders.

    The superior man...does not set his mind either for anything, or against anything; what is right he will follow. --Kongfuzi

    by free as a butterfly on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:42:56 PM PST

  •  Thanks so much. I was pissed when I saw (14+ / 0-)

    people were blaming Asperger's of all things. It's nonsensical. Maybe he had some other issues, but there's no way "Asperger's" explains mass violence even a little. Period.

    "I wish you luck on not hating your parents for mixing up such an unthinkable person." --The frickin´ HP--

    by McWaffle on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:49:09 PM PST

    •  My brother has Asperger and it has nothing... (17+ / 0-) do with violence.

      If anything Aspergies are not very social but far from aggressive or violent.

      Essentially Aspergies are emotion expression blind, to them it is difficult to perceive the emotional state of others the way color blind people do not see colors but are otherwise normal.

      Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

      by Shockwave on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:02:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right, that's exactly what I'm saying. (7+ / 0-)

        My brother's diagnosed as well, and I would've been (most likely) if it were as commonly recognized in the early 90s as it is today.

        "I wish you luck on not hating your parents for mixing up such an unthinkable person." --The frickin´ HP--

        by McWaffle on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:10:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think people (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        protectspice, FloraLine, raincrow

        need to be careful generalizing from their particular experience with Asperger's and autism.  I work with a wide range of individuals on the spectrum and I will tell you that some are the most gentle  sweet souls you'll ever find, and some are very difficult.  I have recently seen one child go from some self-injurious behavior to more recently attacking others violently and his outbursts ARE related to his Asperger's/autism.  One feature of autism is restricted interests and obsessions--- and he becomes enraged at times if he wants something and doesn't get it immediately.  

        •  The scientific data does not support violent... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Deejay Lyn, raincrow

          ... tendencies among Asperger sufferers;

          The hypothesis that individuals with AS are predisposed to violent or criminal behavior has been investigated but is not supported by data.[1][30] More evidence suggests children with AS are victims rather than victimizers.[31] A 2008 review found that an overwhelming number of reported violent criminals with AS had coexisting psychiatric disorders such as schizoaffective disorder.[32]
          The kid you know may have something else.

          Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

          by Shockwave on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 10:06:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  A lot of it has to do with (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Leslie in KY, raincrow

            timely therapy they have or have not received, home environment, and if they are/aren't on the correct medications. It's not at all inaccurate to imply that certain individuals on the spectrum have more impulsive behaviors than others, for these various reasons, and more.

            •  This is true, but (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Shockwave, raincrow, protectspice

              Even with the best of these, some children continue to be violent.  One teen with high functioning autism would throw chairs at teachers.  Whenever he was frustrated by his own deficits, for eg his dyslexia, he would lash out at the teacher as if it was the teacher's fault he couldn't t read something.  He had a highly involved mom-advocate and aggressive intervention from an early age.  He just could not tolerate making errors, something I have seen in several kids.  Some respond internally by shutting down with anxiety and some lash out.

              •  Oh absolutely, some treatments and therapies (0+ / 0-)

                just don't help certain individuals.  I think the public finds this hard to understand because the media continues to portray Autism as "quirky and/or smart kids", when in fact those are a fairly small percentage of the spectrum.

          •  Tendencies for groups (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Shockwave, raincrow, protectspice

            Do not translate into realities for individuals.  This is not the only child with autism I have worked with who has exhibited violent, aggressive behaviors directly related to their deficits.  That doesn't  mean that as a group .more children with autism are not aggressive--there is huge variation in how the disorder is manifested.  It is well known, for example that many are self injurious.  I had one kid who would bash his head into concrete surfaces or bang his hand on tables to the point of breaking bones.  

      •  In my experience there is autism and there is (0+ / 0-)

        AS and they are two different disorders, regardless of what DSM 5 may say. In fact this has been greatly debated and in the UN diagnostic system they are separate.

        The fact that people with AS generally lead successful,lives but those with autism have great difficulties also supports this. The different treatment methods and outcomes for each also are somewhat supportive.

        Given that initial reports claimed personality disorder I am somewhat skeptical about any diagnosis until I can review a forensic analysis. It is too early for any meaningful diagnosis and this author was premature.

        If... the machine of government... is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. ~Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobediance, 1849

        by shigeru on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 11:24:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  My son ... (9+ / 0-)

    was (is?) on the spectrum with sensory integration dysfunction. I mean, he no longer needs special intervention, but he still doesn't always respond in the ways people might expect.

    I also have a dear friend who although not diagnosed "officially" freely admits to Asperger's. We freaked him out a lot when we had a game night where we jumped in and out of games. We learned that is not funny or fun for him. He needs that processing time, and jumping among three games gives you none. It's funny and ridiculous for us to skip a turn of Monopoly, but sort of more than he can process in given amount of time. We got the "why would you do that?" look.

    But other than my son's propensity to bite a bit beyond expected age, I didn't see anything violent.

    Now, someone can have Asperger's and mental illness that involves violence, but I hope Asperger's isn't brought into the violence. It's a different way of seeing the world than average, but it's not, IME, a violent way of seeing the world.

    by Magenta on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:52:35 PM PST

  •  Thank you thank you thank you (12+ / 0-)

    I have also been concerned with the reporting about the mental health issues as regards "a mass murderer" and also noted the reports that this particular murderer had Asperger's.  I agree with everything you have said!  

    If they are going to interview psychologists, the psychologist needs to do more than toss out "the shooter had Asperger's" and then distinguish that even so, this murderer had a mental health problem aside from the Asperger's so that people don't misconstrue that all people with Asperger's are violent.

    My husband teaches students with Asperger's and finds them not only very sensitive to others feelings, but also nonviolent.  So this reporting disturbs him, too.

    Thanks for writing this.  This needs to be said, read and passed on!

    I would rather spend my life searching for truth than live a single day within the comfort of a lie. ~ John Victor Ramses

    by KayCeSF on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:59:55 PM PST

  •  The shooter had asparagus (18+ / 0-)

    The shooter listened to rock music. The shooter played video games. The shooter was from a broken home. The shooter...

    Who gives a crap.

    You know what? The shooter had access to guns and bullets. Just like the last nut-job who killed dozens and also played video games while listening to rock music.

    The mental disorder isn't the problem. The access to guns is.

    i just baptized andrew breitbart into the church of islam, planned parenthood, the girl scouts and three teachers unions. - @blainecapatch

    by bobinson on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:03:26 PM PST

  •  With mental health... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, Arenosa, blueoasis, CroneWit, Debby

    ...and psychological disorders and the like being so complex and complicated, a lot of people really do like to lump them all together in a giant pile to try to make it all simpler. I've probably done so myself, even with my own mental problems. The mental illness references in the news discussions and on here throughout the day have made me a little uneasy. I don't want to feel like I'm discounting something that could be truly valid -- like the one man Rachel Maddow interviewed tonight who talked about the frequency of depression involved in people who commit acts of violence such as this -- but because I've suffered from depression for ages, it makes me worried that if people start associating depression with violence that they'll expect me to be violent because I'm depressed. So I can totally understand how you would feel similarly with anyone trying to connect Asperger's to this.

    It feels like on here there is one side of the discussion that wants to ignore gun control and focus on mental illness. As much as I'm for more help being available to those who have various mental illnesses, if someone who's mentally ill, like someone who isn't, has less access to a gun, then they're less able to use a gun to kill anyone.

    •  Especially true if we broaden the subject (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, Leap Year, CroneWit

      to any kind of gun-related murder, because massacres don't just occur due to crazy lone gunman.  In Mexico, drug cartels massacre people all the time with American guns - other cartels, innocent people, they don't care who they're killing as long as it makes the point that they are in charge.  Then when people fight back, it's just more shooting and doesn't make the communities safer, same as US inner cities.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

      by Troubadour on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:49:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I work with a person who has Aspergers. (9+ / 0-)

    His reaction to surprising or shocking or sudden events is usually one of amused expression while checking how everyone else is jumping up and down and/or screaming, etc.

    If anything, he is far less emotional and far less reactive than anyone else at work.  He'd be the last person I'd expect to do something violent. He simply doesn't engage on that level from my perspective having worked with him for 10 years.

    I suppose his disengagement from emotion might have another side in not empathizing with the deaths of others, but that certainly wasn't the case today. He clearly "got" the shock and dismay over the shooting.  In fact, that was the main word he used:  "Shocking, shocking."

    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

    by YucatanMan on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:11:52 PM PST

    •  "Disengagement" might not be the right word (10+ / 0-)

      Obviously I don't know the guy, so I could be wrong, but in general I think it's fair to say that Asperger's is better thought of as an issue expressing/interpreting emotions than a lack of emotion. And I think there's some trouble intellectually interpreting emotion as well, but definitely not a lack of it.

      "I wish you luck on not hating your parents for mixing up such an unthinkable person." --The frickin´ HP--

      by McWaffle on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:19:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. (0+ / 0-)

        I believe lack of emotion, or lack of empathy, is technically sociopathy or something similar.  Nowhere near the same thing.

      •  What I meant by "disengagement" (0+ / 0-)

        was not internally within himself, where I have no idea what he's thinking/feeling unless he says something.

        What I meant was, when others are emotional for whatever reason - good or bad - he's "even keeled" - it seems like disengaged from the other people and the feelings they share.

        I know that's just a casual observation of just one person.  As Leslie in KY says just below, there are possibly an entire range of reactions.

        I was simply relating my own personal experience, not trying to diagnose the internal processes of all people, Aspergers or no.

        "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

        by YucatanMan on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 09:40:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  yes, that is one reaction (4+ / 0-)

      but others are different.  When you work with a range of individuals with Asperger's you see the range.  One child is loving and sweet and trying to figure out the world, seeking information on how to be a person.  Another gets enraged because of his obsessions--and when he can't fulfill an obsession immediately he strikes out violently.   I think we need to be careful making any generalizations in any direction.

       Not that it sounds like this shooter had a history of violent reactions, more likely he developed mental illness as a late teen--which is also more common with Asperger's.  For some it may be depression that develops, for some psychosis--and for many, no mental illness.   It is not anything against people with Asperger's to admit this--it needs to be acknowledged so we can provide better community supports, particularly in mental health, to these individuals when it is needed.  

  •  I think this typw of speculation is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    utterly uncalled for. Trying to diagnose a suspect whose name we didn't even know until a few hours ago is not helpful. It will take some time for the possible motives of the suspect to be revealed. Until then,  we should not be playing psychiatrist.

    Here's my take on it - the revolution will not be blogged, it has to be slogged. - Deoliver47

    by OIL GUY on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:35:07 PM PST

  •  I'll be doing as much clinical education (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    as possible because it will come up. People want to have this national conversation and they often start with the doctor, or in my case as the guy who asks you a lot of questions in academic medicine before you see the 'real' doctor.

  •  His Mother Knew He Had Aspergers.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, Debby

    Her first responsibility as a gun owner, was to lock up her guns.....all 5 of them, & make sure her kid never got his hands on them.

    She died from bullets from one of her own guns.  She was killed by her own son.  He made it personal.  He shot his own mother in the face.  The children were killed at close range.

    Evil.  Pure, unadulterated evil.  

    •  It would depend on his level of disability. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, ocschwar

      If he had the mind of a child, that would definitely require locking up the guns.  But if he was an independent adult, then having Asperger's shouldn't have caused his mother to have any particular concern about his having access to her guns.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

      by Troubadour on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:58:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  right - we need to know more about his (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        mental state to understand how much of an obvious threat he was.

        If indeed he had clear anti-social-type personality issues, his mother made a bad call keeping those guns in the house.

        You really wonder why she had them.

        An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

        by mightymouse on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 07:03:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Bullshit (14+ / 0-)

      Speaking as someone who used to be an aspie (the diagnosis no longer exists as of the past couple months) the condition brings zero propensity towards violence.  

      The way it most effected my life was that I always missed it when a chick was hitting on me.  People would later be like "she was totally into you" and I'd have had no idea.  I don't get hints less subtle that, "hey, wanna get naked and fuck?"

      Praxis: Bold as Love

      by VelvetElvis on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:12:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That has definitely happened to me. (10+ / 0-)

        I've been informed I was being flirted with after the fact a number of times. Less hilariously, I think I've also really hurt some people who were interested in me romantically but I honestly never noticed and ended up basically leading them  on. Maybe that girl who asked me to her junior prom was actually interested in me. After the fact, it seems pretty obvious. Things like that.

        "I wish you luck on not hating your parents for mixing up such an unthinkable person." --The frickin´ HP--

        by McWaffle on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:25:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, that's the worst part. (10+ / 0-)

        Missing out on opportunities for sex.  There was this one girl in college who I was into, and she came into my room and laid on my bed while I was working at my desk, and started saying how her neck hurt.  Did I offer her a massage?  Of course not.  I offered her a tylenol.  That one is going to be stuck up my butt for all time.

        In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

        by Troubadour on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:34:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  VelvetElvis, maybe one of us is reading the (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kaliope, Troubadour, mightymouse

        DSM-V draft incorrectly, but my understanding is that the Asperger's term will not disappear entirely but will be listed as one of the formerly-separate diagnoses now under the broad Autism Spectrum Disorders category (along with PDD-NOS and Rett's syndrome).

        In the long run, it will disappear if there's no distinction made between made between children who started speaking early and those who started speaking late. I'm not sure that will happen, however, because parents bringing in their non-verbal children, or else their highly verbal children who just can't seem to learn the rules of the preschool or kindergarten (that's me!) will require different therapeutic approaches.

        And the person who pointed out upthread that Temple Grandin has Asperger's--in fact, she was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism rather than Asperger's because she didn't begin speaking until age 4.

      •  Though I'm neither autistic nor have aspergers... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, mightymouse

        ...I sympathize. I once went on a date and didn't realize it until the dude went to pay for dinner. Of course it didn't help that several times during the dinner he tried to encourage me to flirt with the waiter to see if I could get his number.

        •  I'm never confident in signal interpretation (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          but you can always fly flags that let people know what's what without offending them.  Like, for some reason for a while I just seemed to be irresistible to gay guys, and I had to keep coming up with subtle ways to let them know that I'm only into women without just being rude and presumptuous.  What I came up with was always, always lame and embarrassing.  I'd be like, "So, lotta hot chicks around here, huh?"  Like some awful sitcom skit where the audience takes pleasure in the discomfort and awkwardness of the character.

          And then I'd go make my inevitable self-immolating attempt to flirt with some girl, and only notice her engagement ring and the hard stares of her friends like five ridiculous double entendres later.  By the time I swing Strike 3, I'm ready to crawl into a hole in Madagascar and not come out until the next decade.  I'm sure everyone has these feelings, but thanks to the awesome "gift" of my particular mind, I remember every single moment of every single humiliation, always.  

          In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

          by Troubadour on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 07:11:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  OMG!!! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mightymouse, Troubadour

        This is the story of my life

        The way it most effected my life was that I always missed it when a chick was hitting on me.  People would later be like "she was totally into you" and I'd have had no idea.  I don't get hints less subtle that, "hey, wanna get naked and fuck?"
         Buddy "You know that chick was on you ."

          Me "What chick?"

          Buddy "The one that was shakin' her ass in your face all night. The one that was constantly smiling at you."

          Me "Smiling at me? I thought she was just a nice person"

        Lenin Cat says "In soviet Russia Cat chases Dog"

        by DanceHallKing on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 06:39:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I tipped (0+ / 0-)

      before reading the responses. I don't think because he had Aspergers (or possibly did because at this point, it's rumor, right?) but because she had to know there was something going on with him. I don't buy the "nobody could have guessed." People block things they don't want to deal with. We have to deal with this, somehow.

      Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. --Mark Twain

      by Debby on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 08:37:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks. Great insights expressed by the Diarist (13+ / 0-)

    You've opened a small field of view of an Aspie.

    I particularly liked your take, on conveying urgency among those around you, responding without non verbal cues.

    I've seen my share of those.  Lived my childhood and young adult life, often hearing the question; "are you ok?" "you seem to have drifted off" "are you in there?"

    Into my adulthood, this has been generally misinterpreted as arrogance, and a lack of empathy or caring when in fact it's quite the opposite.

    By the time I realize what's happened, (after I've "played back the tapes") it's too late to turn those impressions around.

    I'll also say, that our society has grown less tolerant and less inclined to accommodate those among the "spectrum".

    If for anything else, I'd hope that it's more clearly established that the shooters Aspergers wouldn't imply causation. But more likely inhibit violence, due to a crushing sense of empathy.  

    Think of the scene in Schindler's list, where he reflects at the end of the war, "I could have saved so many more".  Now imagine the depth of that emotional process streaming, each night as you fall asleep.

    The words of your diary, read as inspirational prose.  Thanks.

    Romney supporters: Do you love your country, more than you hate President Obama?

    by Boberto on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 11:41:21 PM PST

    •  This is spot-on. (10+ / 0-)

      Every unkind, awkward, inapropos, embarrassing, or discordant thing I've ever said that made people feel bad, I remember it like a needle in my mind.  And it's even more intense with lies.  The Asperger mind is born to reality, and that's a lot of why it keeps getting in trouble when it has to figure out how to deal with the webs of lies, corrupt motives, and other people not even understanding themselves.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

      by Troubadour on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:19:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The latter observation is, I think, a great one. (6+ / 0-)

        On a related note, I wonder whether there's any correlation between Asperger's and the lack of supernatural beliefs. I've not seen any hard evidence but my experience has borne it out.

        "I wish you luck on not hating your parents for mixing up such an unthinkable person." --The frickin´ HP--

        by McWaffle on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:30:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Probably. I'm atheist. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kaliope, jardin32, mightymouse, Debby

          When you have such a direct mind, it sees through bullshit like smoke.  I have never believed in God - not even as a small child.  I thought references to them were the same as references to things like Santa Claus and Bilbo Baggins - stories for fun.  When I found out people took it seriously, I thought I was in the presence of madmen.

          In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

          by Troubadour on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:53:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know. Utah has among the highest (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          incidence of Asperger's in the county.

          •  Neither here nor there by itself. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Deejay Lyn

            The Utah gene pool sprang from a very limited set of Northern European strains, so if Asperger's happened to be one of the predispositions, it would become highly expressed in such an isolated community.

            In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

            by Troubadour on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 05:37:55 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I agree that it's probably a founder effect (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              but wouldn't correlate Asperger's with atheism. Rather, devout Aspies would likely have a very literal interpretation of the doctrines of their faith.

              •  The problem with that theory (0+ / 0-)

                is that religious doctrines are riddled with jarring logical fallacies, contradictions, and obvious falsehoods about nature that would feel like torture to a spectrum mind.  Which isn't to say devoutly religious Aspies don't exist, just that I personally can't imagine the mental gymnastics they would have to go through to rationalize it - they can't just turn off their brains like run-of-the-mill fundies.  Probably they just treat it as a matter of routine and identity rather than literal belief, even if they say otherwise to maintain their own place in the arbitrary system they accept.

                And, of course, not all Aspies are as smart as others.  Some might have minds that could be contained by simplistic ideologies.  But I suspect - and admittedly this is unprovable - that everyone with a mind sufficiently influenced by this way of viewing the world understands that any such system is entirely conditional and largely arbitrary.

                In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

                by Troubadour on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 06:22:39 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  LOL (0+ / 0-)

              There speaks the literal and practical Asperger mind (smile).

  •  Blaming Aspergers, video games. (7+ / 0-)

    The media is always looking to quickly throw the blame on anything other than the person who actually did it.

    •  Well, responsible journalism takes time and money (7+ / 0-)

      and the media just don't care about that.  I was disgusted driving home this early afternoon listening to the NPR host and all the people reporting live in Newtown just completely unable to control themselves from speculating about every aspect of the events that were unfolding.  The couldn't contain their frustration with not being able to get a "number" of deaths, and were they children or not.  It was sickening and I turned it off after a few minutes knowing full well that we wouldn't know any of that info for hours if not longer.  And you know what? It didn't make any difference that I didn't know until much later in the day.

      Just disgusting.

      The priest said, "Today's sermon is called 'Liars', but first I have a question. How many of you have read Chapter 66 in Matthew?" Nearly every hand went up. "You're just the group I need to speak to," the priest said. "There's no such chapter."

      by Back In Blue on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 01:46:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Asperger's has been removed from the DSM (5+ / 0-)

    So if this is how people are introduced to it, they are being introduced to a diagnosis that is no longer on the books.

    I used to be an aspie but I'm not any more because aspies no longer exist.  I'm just mildly autistic now.

  •  Honestly (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, Derfel, CroneWit, Debby, flavor411

    as a clinical social worker I hate diary's like this because it is speculation about a diagnosis which doesn't always mean someone is going to harm others.  There are many other factors that could be included into why things like this happen which could include drug issues, abuse issues, and any other number of variable that could have contributed to this happening including a brief psychotic episode.  This was a horrible event which was heart breaking and these are happening all too frequently in this country.

    My guess is when we had actual therapists around to help individuals and insurance companies used to paid for unlimited visits to see a psychologist, social worker, or psychiartrist perhaps there were less incidents of this happening because many times people will seek out help before something like this happens.  I worked in an ER and many times individuals sought help there.  But now insurance doesn't even want to pay for healthcare let alone mental health or therapy sessions.  And just putting someone on medication is not always an answer, sometimes people need help with coping with a trauma or they need to actually talk to someone or sometimes their medication gets really messed up and they need help.  All of that has been cut starting in the 1980s and I really think that is where part of the problem is.  

    Was it Mother's Jones that stated there has been 61 incidents in the last thirty years.  These things have always happened, and they were rare.  But today it is happening more so since they have dismantled community mental health centers where people could get assistance and afford it because insurance cover it.  Or Medicaid covered it.  But by 1996 it was all about profit and not people anymore so insurance companies started to force therapists to treat patients within 20 visits, but that quick approach never worked and was wrong for so many reasons.

    But, please don't speculate because your asking people to judge when no one right now knows all the facts.  You can read the DSM, but once you work in the field you find that a great deal of the time it takes some kind of a assessment to know exactly what is going on with a person.  And a lot of the assessments I did were ten to twenty pages long.

    "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolution­ary act. " George Orwell

    by zaka1 on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:12:58 AM PST

  •  the media is a joke (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, CoolOnion

    he had a psychotic episode and was in a fugue state.  that's what i think.

  •  Having Asperger's is not the same as (7+ / 0-)

    being "mentally ill" in the way we normally think of mental illness. People with Asperger's can also be depressed, bipolar, schizophrenic — just as people without Asperger's (or anywhere else along the autism spectrum). I share Troubadour's hope that people will not jump to erroneous conclusions about what Asperger's means.

    Further investigation and autopsy results should shed more light on what led this young man to perpetrate such senseless slaughter.

  •  Diary Queued to KOSpectrum (6+ / 0-)

    I'm shocked that it hasn't been already.

    Elizabeth Warren on the Senate Banking Committee is a BFD!

    by DownstateDemocrat on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 01:47:21 AM PST

  •  autism and asperberger's have to do with (8+ / 0-)

    impairment  in social learning.

    mental illness has to do with  grossly inaccurate perceptions of reality.

  •  Personality disorder also mentioned. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, mightymouse, raincrow

    This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

    by AllisonInSeattle on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 02:11:52 AM PST

  •  Have we lost the concept of evil? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, CroneWit
    Obviously the shooter was insane - there's no other meaningful way to define the mental state of someone who murders people at random, let alone little kids.
    I can think of another way.  Conflating mental illness with evil doesn't help.  The only mental illness that I am aware of that implies evil is psychopathology.  Now they may say that anyone who is a mass murderer is by definition a psychopath, but in reality the traits of psychopathology are lifelong, and it's too convenient to diagnose after the fact.

    Now perhaps the shooter was indeed a psychopath, a sociopath, and misdiagnosed with Asperger's.  But if that's the case, there has been a severe failure on the part of mental health community, because that means the shooter indeed was tested for mental illness, and the clinician failed to detect the most important mental illness, in terms of community safety.  That means that the process of clinical diagnosis must be improved.

    But to simply brush away the possibility that a man could choose of his own free will and in his right mind to commit terrible crimes seems to neglect reality.  It is comforting to think that only those with mental illness commit horrific crimes, to distance ourselves from it and put it in a box.

    •  Evil is real (4+ / 0-)

      and it's entirely true that

      a man could choose of his own free will and in his right mind to commit terrible crimes.
      But people who commit evil acts of their own free will, acting in their right minds, do so with the idea that they'll get away with it by some metric. The evil acts are, under some interpretation, in their own rational self-interest. They further some agenda, some desire for power or money or sexual gratification.

      A child abuser, for instance, might do unspeakable evil while 'in his right mind'. So might an organized crime lord, or a mastermind of a pyramid scheme, or a torturer or a president who orders torture.

      But a man who walks into a school in broad daylight and murders 27 people? With no exit strategy other than suicide? There's no scenario under which a rational person could believe that he could come out ahead by doing that. A mentally-healthy person - no matter how sadistic and callous - would know that sort of plan would end badly for him.

      A 'sane' person motivated by physical power wouldn't go shoot up a kindergarten class for the same reason that a 'sane' person motivated by money wouldn't try to do a strongarm robbery of a casino, or that a 'sane' person motivated by sexual power wouldn't try to rape a child openly in front of her parents. It just doesn't work. You might get what you want, briefly, but not nearly long enough to enjoy it...and then you'll end up dead or in prison with even less power and no money.

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 05:03:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are tons of diagnoses that cover "evil." (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, pistolSO, raincrow

      Narcissistic personality, sociopathy, psychopathy, etc.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

      by Troubadour on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 05:50:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  sociopathy and psychopathy are equivalent (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, raincrow

        They are two different words describing the same condition, depending on what you think the cause of the condition might be.

        NPD is hardly "evil".  Annoying yes.  Difficult to live with or have intimacy with yes (and I say that as someone who was married to a person with NPD).  But a person with NPD is no more evil than a person with Asperger's or depression or schizophrenia.  The mental illness will affect the expression of any evil tendencies, but the only actual "evil" diagnosis is psychopathology.

        •  I think the total disregard that comes of NPD (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          is often equivalent in effect to outright malevolence.  If your own pettiest whim means more to you than the very life of another person, the extremity of the consequences will only be limited by how much power you have.  As awful as it is, that's really the difference between someone who is merely a selfish prick and a genocidal tyrant - opportunity.

          In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

          by Troubadour on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 06:08:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  on the other hand (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Troubadour, pistolSO, raincrow

            NPD people are generally concerned about their reputations, their prestige.  So unless they are actually dictators and have Kim Jong Il-type powers over their reputations, most narcissists will content themselves with the kinds of selfishness that do not get one universally labeled a monster.  They will take a handicapped parking spot if no one is looking; they won't shoot up a school.

    •  This assertion assumes we can define evil (0+ / 0-)

      So far, it's pretty much like "obscenity" -- nobody can fully define or characterize it, but we know it when we see it.

      Therefore, the concept of evil can't be used in any predictive or curative way, only as an after-the-fact judgment. I would suggest that attempting to understand, model, predict, and treat the causes of behavior that some may perceive as "evil" puts one at much less distance than simply shrugging and saying "that was an evil act" or "that person was evil."

      There are quite a lot of Kossacks, myself included, who have suffered or continue to suffer from mental illness. My own journey has given me quite the window on impulsive, destructive, nihilistic, and irrevocable acts. I don't find so much distance between myself and Lanza as you might think; my guess is that I've simply been blessed with much better impulse control and likely more empathy.


      by raincrow on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 05:14:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) (10+ / 0-)

    released such a good statement on this yesterday:

    “Our hearts go out to the victims of today’s shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut and their families. Recent media reports have suggested that the perpetrator of this violence, Adam Lanza, may have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, or with another psychiatric disability. In either event, it is imperative that as we mourn the victims of this horrific tragedy that commentators and the media avoid drawing inappropriate and unfounded links between autism or other disabilities and violence. Autistic Americans and individuals with other disabilities are no more likely to commit violent crime than non-disabled people. In fact, people with disabilities of all kinds, including autism, are vastly more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators. Should the shooter in today’s shooting prove to in fact be diagnosed on the autism spectrum or with another disability, the millions of Americans with disabilities should be no more implicated in his actions than the non-disabled population is responsible for those of non-disabled shooters.

    Today’s violence was the act of an individual. We urge media, government and community leaders to speak out against any effort to spuriously link the Autistic or broader disability community with violent crime. Autistic Americans and other groups of people with disabilities persist in facing discrimination and segregation in school, the workplace and the general community. In this terrible time, our society should not further stigmatize our community. As our great nation has so many times in the past, let us come together to both mourn those killed by acts of heinous murder and defend all parts of our country from the scourge of stigma and prejudice.”

    If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Bishop Desmond Tutu

    by AnnieJo on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 04:15:45 AM PST

  •  Thanks for starting this conversation (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deejay Lyn, Troubadour, CroneWit, raincrow

    I, too had the same horrified reaction to the report.  If the shooter did have Aspergers, I fear a media witch hunt for all things Autism/Aspergers.

    Society has come to accept individuals with autism as vital contributors to our communities; an attitude built over several decades by the work of parents, educators, individuals with autism, and psychologists. We'll need to work collectively to quell any negative media narratives to dispel myths and fear about individuals with autism/aspergers.

    Thank-you for starting this conversation.

  •  I started wrong-footed yesterday on this topic (9+ / 0-)

    Then as conversations continued into the evening I realized that we have no reliable means to assess the mental well-being of every person in the room... and no way whatsoever to track changes in mental health in real time.

    So now I am wondering if mental illness, in terms of gun regulation and public safety, might be a red herring.

    As I see it,  the empirical issue of the moment is the possession of firearms in inappropriate public places.

    And those are things we can remedy much more easily.

  •  Impossible to Diagnose This Person (6+ / 0-)

    From such a distance, with zero information about him.

    My takeaway from all of this is:

    There are too many people out there who a threat to themselves and others when they possess a gun. We should make it harder to obtain guns and limit the circumstances where they can be carried.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 05:14:35 AM PST

  •  That was the mainstream media latching onto (4+ / 0-)

    a buzz word they've been hearing a little about in the last couple of years and running with it into territory where they have no business going.

    It gets tiresome.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 05:16:48 AM PST

  •  Thank You (5+ / 0-)

    Thank you for writing this diary. I have a nephew with Asperger's and he is the light of my life. He is smart, creative, compassionate, and loving. He will walk a mile in heavy traffic to come over and make me tea when I am feeling ill. He calls me daily to check and see if I am feeling better.

    Whatever warped this young man to cause him to kill it wasn't the Asperger's.

    "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

    by michelewln on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 05:28:14 AM PST

  •  Out of of a population of hundreds (4+ / 0-)

    the odds are pretty high that you'll see at least one person with an ASD.

    Sadly, there are a lot of mass murderers. Turns out one of them may have had autism/Asperger's. I'm sure a couple of them were gay. Most of them probably played video games. Some of them were probably lactose intolerant. Some of them probably liked rock climbing.

    The only traits that might matter are the ones that occur at a statistically-significant higher or lower rate of prevalence in mass murderers than in the general population. Being male and under 40, for instance, seems to be important. Having access to guns is important, although China's experience seems to indicate that the effect of restricting firearms access is more one of harm reduction than one of deterrence. Certain forms of mental illness (notably depression) may be important. There are probably other factors. But ASD? Not so much.

    "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

    by kyril on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 05:33:07 AM PST

  •  Asperger's syndrome dropped from psychiatrists'... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deejay Lyn, Troubadour

    handbook the DSM..."

    DSM-5, latest revision of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, merges Asperger's with autism...

    Asperger's syndrome is to be dropped from the psychiatrists' Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders, the American publication that is one of the most influential references for the profession around the world.

    The term "Asperger's disorder" will not appear in the DSM-5, the latest revision of the manual, and instead its symptoms will come under the newly added "autism spectrum disorder", which is already used widely. That umbrella diagnosis will include children with severe autism, who often do not talk or interact, as well as those with milder forms...

    The aim was not to expand the number of people diagnosed with mental illness but to ensure those affected were more accurately diagnosed so they could get the most appropriate treatment, said Dr David Kupfer, the University of Pittsburgh psychiatry professor who chaired the revision committee...

    Whether this change will result in better diagnosis and treatment, with more resources available is yet to be seen.

  •  Not the 1st time Asperger's has gotten bad press. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, raincrow

    A few years ago, a 16 y.o. boy with Asperger's murdered a 15 y.o. boy in cold blood in a bathroom at my town's high school.  A lot of the early speculation on the motive focused (unfairly, IMHO) on the fact that the murderer had Asperger's.

  •  Thanks for this. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deejay Lyn, Troubadour

    I have noticed this morning how the topic of conversation in the media is turning toward the shooter's alleged autism/Asperger's/personality disorder, and have been uncomfortable with that turn.

    We have all got to remain compassionate and objective, to try to understand what really happened here, and sort out how to prevent it happening again, and pinning a quick label on the shooter for expediency's sake is not helpful in promoting that.

    Thanks for sharing your insights with us.

    [-5.38,-6.77]"One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors."-Plato

    by mamamarti on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 05:45:44 AM PST

  •  As a parent, the CT story is crushingly sad. But (4+ / 0-)

    as parent of a child on the autism spectrum, I'm suddenly afraid that it's about to get much, much sadder, should this aspect of the story pan out as true.

    If the focus is suddenly on "can we trust the growing number of ASD people in our midst", I will become suicidal, I swear.

    The POINT of this story is that here we have a child (barely a man) who needed a lot more help than he was getting, and for reasons unfathomable to me, was allowed by his caregiver to know about and get access to a sizable cache of weapons. And those are both problems we can all here agree are epidemic in this country: routinely turning our backs on those who need help, and allowing frighteningly easy access to guns

    Tragedy upon tragedy...

  •  It is possible... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... that the shooter had been misdiagnosed earlier in his life?

  •  Thanks, Troubador, for this diary (4+ / 0-)

    My relative with asperger's is similarly the opposite of violent and feels a connection to all creatures.  

    When he was 8 or 9, he cried and begged me to stop when I was squashing slugs in my garden.  To this day, he traps and moves spiders out of the house.

    Dementia, you better treat me good. ~Conor Oberst "Slowly (Oh So Slowly)"

    by NotActingNaive on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 05:53:45 AM PST

  •  As if I didn't have enough trouble. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, Deejay Lyn

    I've been telling folks all my life I have Asperger's, simply to prepare them for any little nonverbal tics I may have.  I've been in therapy for the better part of 20 years to help deal with it.

    That one diseased maniac may have just became our spokesperson really fucking frosts my cookies, as if I wasn't angry enough at this triumph of right-wing ideology leading directly to the blood of 20 children.

  •  My 2 cents (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, Deejay Lyn

    This shooting wasn't caused by Asperger's or by the new moniker, Autism spectrum disease. It was caused by the availability of a .233 repeating rifle, the Bushmaster, used extensively in Vietnem. It's a military killer. The ad that came up when I went to investigate on the net described this gun as perfect for home defense. It can be fitted with bullets that do not penetrate the walls of your house but only go as far as the first thing it hits. Thus, a person protecting his/her home will not inadvertently shoot their loved one sleeping in the back bedroom. This sounds like false advertising to me.

    Anyway, let's get real. Associating this dead killer with a neurological disease, if he had one, is off the point. It plays right into the idiots that want to arm the teachers.

    Kids live in a stew of violence day in, day out. It's relentless. American boys and young men act out the violence with the kind of guns they see in the media. Combine that model with easily available killer weapons and you get Newtown, Aurora, Columbine, Virginia Tech.

    The subject is gun control, not gun rights. Those little kids had rights that trump the rights of gun owners.

    “The quality of owning freezes you forever in "I," and cuts you off forever from the "we.” ― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

    by Miss Pip on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 06:23:09 AM PST

  •  Don't let them cut Medicaid in grand bargain... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 07:11:36 AM PST

  •  My first introduction to Asperger's Syndrome (6+ / 0-)

    was via a child my son had befriended in grades school about six years ago.  This would have been when they were both in first grade and, as it turns out, this boy and his family lived only a few blocks from where we lived at the time (since then both his family and mine have moved to new houses in the same community).  My son has always been commended for making friends with a lot of people, so I didn't originally think anything of this.

    Several months into that particular school year, this boy's mother pulled me aside and expressed heartfelt gratitude for my son being a friend to her son, and started to explain that her son had Asperger's, as a way to explain his behavior.  To me, this boy is the first thing I think of when Asperger's Syndrome is mentioned, and I see nothing violent or scary in the term's being brought up in conversation (this boy and my son are still friends -- in fact, he went to a function sponsored by this boy's church just last weekend).

    My first though when some of these details started to come out was not about what "brand" of mental illness was involved but on what "brand" of medication this person was either on or had suddenly stopped taking.  In my estimation, this is an event at the intersection of a poorly regulated (and overly coddled) pharmaceutical industry, a grossly underfunded mental health care system, and the violence extant in today's "gun culture."

    -9.88, -7.44 Social Security as is will be solvent until 2037, and the measures required to extend solvency beyond that are minor. -- Joe Conanson

    by wordene on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 07:13:09 AM PST

  •  Asperger's does not preclude other problems. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, raincrow

    But it does make them less likely to be detected.

    Manic depression?

    Whatever else. The wallflower behavior typical of Aspies makes it less likely that they get help for any other problems they might have.

  •  I was furious when I saw your tagline but/ (4+ / 0-)

    I have Aspergers, and knew that the correlation is bunk, and that people parrot and the more it's said the worse the belief will be

    I think you are correct, we're more likely to be bystanders, but really I wanted to say thanks

    PS-There's a colloquialism that autistics and Aspergers are not empathetic, that can be so wrong, witness this diary


  •  Thank you for informing the public about (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deejay Lyn, raincrow

    Aspergers! Good diary.

    Liberal (from Webster's Dictionary): tolerant of views differing from one's own; broad-minded

    by 50sbaby on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 07:32:33 AM PST

  •  Wouldn't cause violence, by itself. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deejay Lyn, raincrow

    I believe it was something else in his past, and the Asperger's was incidental to his terrible act.  

    You're right, people with Asperger's obviously don't need the stigma.


    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 07:38:38 AM PST

  •  Useful (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 07:55:48 AM PST

    •  Interesting (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Horace Boothroyd III, raincrow

      Trans people also often have to learn to live a "performance" of emotions and gestures the cis world deems "appropriate" for their apparent sex. This can lead to outcomes resembling Asperger's: e.g. a need to reverse-engineer cis minds in order to be able to fake what they consider to be "natural" gendered reactions. Like Aspergers, the need to do so much extra conscious information processing from a very young age can produce high intelligence.

      I suspect that Aperger kids, like transkids, often become whizzes at manipulating their parents into blindness toward their differences. My favorite distraction for adult homophobic radar was to distract them with cognitive issues that were easy for me, but kept them tied up in knots, like a computer thrashing from an overloaded cpu.

  •  "They" are saying a lot of stupid things (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deejay Lyn, raincrow

    I was watching Up with Chris Hayes this morning. David Cullen, author of Columbine was talking about how people built up false narratives about the Columbine tragedy based on misinformation that circulated immediately after the shootings.

    Case in point:  I have heard over and over during this rolling news cycle that the shooter's mother was a kindergarten teacher at the school.  Maybe not.
    School's superintendent Dr. Janet Robinson told "Today" that there was no Nancy Lanza in their database

    That could be a whole different narrative, couldn't it?

    We don't know whether Adam Lanza had Asperger's or not.

    I hope not because I don't want to see people with Asperger's being stigmatized.  (My personal take having taught students and having cousins with Asperger's is that, while they may have difficulty falling into casual social rhythms, they are far from lacking empathy.)

    Still, we don't know much at all about Adam Lanza or his family.  Let's not circulate what may be false information and facilitate the creation of false narratives.

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 08:08:27 AM PST

  •  Hey mom's with guns. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    So this mom had a clue that her son had issues.
    She had these gun's legally inside her home, with her son who had issues.

    Might this be a good day for other mom's with angry teens to think twice about keeping their guns.

    Just sayin.

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 08:10:54 AM PST

  •  I understand the American Psychiatric (0+ / 0-)

    Institution is removing the Asperger's diagnosis from the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM5).  Evidently they intend to regard this condition in the future as a part of autistic spectrum disorder.

    I mention this just as a point of interest.  FWIW, I have an old college friend with Asperger's.  I was just talking to him yesterday.

  •  My son is 20 and autistic. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This tragedy is not about autism.

    "Love One Another" ~ George Harrison

    by Damnit Janet on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 09:15:12 AM PST

  •  I have noticed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deejay Lyn

    the determined Media shift toward mental illness as opposed to the proliferation of guns in this country.

    Allowing our so-called Media to control the spin does nothing--really---as always---- to remedy this problem.

    While mental illness is an issue---and a huge one---the bigger issue---at least for me---- is the availability of guns---and the ease with which gus can end up in anyone's hands.

    Mental illness or not: no guns---0no gun related deaths.

    "If it were up to me, I'd take away the guns."--Cheryl Wheeler

    by lyvwyr101 on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 09:55:43 AM PST

  •  Aspie here (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deejay Lyn, raincrow

    I am well into my adulthood and about 5 years ago I happened across a self-diagnostic test for AS. I am pretty clearly on the spectrum. I can very much identify with the extreme empathy, my son teases me for removing spiders, box elder bugs and other critters instead of squishing them. (Except silverfish, centipedes and flies - those I am willing to kill. But not without a twinge of guilt.)

    I know I am "odd" and appear as such to others. I usually enjoy my oddities on a strictly private and personal level. But I try to project "normal" as much as possible.

    I don't really have anything to contribute right now, I just wanted you to know that I am here and I share your fears of being further marginalized through fear and misunderstanding. is America's Blog of Record

    by WI Deadhead on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 10:48:29 AM PST

  •  Thanks for this one (0+ / 0-)

    It is so frustrating when people/the media want to just slap a label onto tragedy, saying "It's because he had [diagnosis of the moment]" when nobody, NOBODY can know what the source of that kind of rage might be. Why don't we just admit it: some people go off the deep end, and there may be a thousand reasons behind it and a thousand places where someone could've intervened, but nobody saw it coming... nor COULD they have seen it coming. The only person who has all the insights into all the triggers is they guy who PULLED the trigger. And he's dead. And even if he left a 20-page memo detailing his thinking... well, his thinking is filtered through a mesh that allows for actions like mowing down innocent 5-year-old kids, so it's not what I'd call trustworthy and objective.

    People want to know why it happened. And they're frustrated because they won't know, ever, why it happened. I sure wish they would understand that we don't really need to know WHY it happened, from the internal view. We need only to stop enabling it.

  •  Lets imprison all people with Aspergers, or (0+ / 0-)

    perhaps we should euthanize them?

    Clearly something must be done, but it must NEVER NEVER NEVER attack the sacred rights to have guns that fire 100 bullets per second available much easier than it is to get my ADD medication.

    What I started this comment with was cruel, but the line we will hear from the 2A fetishists is that this doesn't count because this kid had Aspergers.  It never counts and nothing can be done that will make it so that these high capacity weapons are harder to get, most of all nothing should ever be done to require that those that choose to own weapons must get training, get licensed and have their weapons registered (remember something about "well regulated" in the 2A?)

    Even crueler than my comment is that within a few days this will blow over and any call for sensible gun regulation will be met with attacks from the NRA and their hacks.

    Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

    by DefendOurConstitution on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 11:07:53 AM PST

    •  My truncated comment (0+ / 0-)

      For some reason, my final point after "We need to stop enabling it." was omitted from my comment above.

      That point was, "We need to go after the guns, NRA be damned."

      I am unsure why the point was omitted, but perhaps the gun lobby is stronger than I thought. /sarcasm

  •  I'll give you odds on the bet (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that Adam Lanza did not have Asperger's.  Socially awkward and withdrawn and bright does not mean Asperger's by default.  It can also be some kind of dissociative disorder.

    We still don't know why he went to the school with the guns.  His mother didn't teach there, according to the latest reports, and he might have attended there as a child.  Possibly he thought they did some damage to him as a child which made him the way he is.  That's not uncommon in paranoid schizophrenia.  

    I hate to make schizophrenics bear the burden instead, which could be equally unfair, but I don't buy the Asperger's diagnosis yet.  Asperger's has been so popular a diagnosis in recent years it's almost faddish.  

    •  Doesn't really matter what he "had", does it? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Deejay Lyn

      What difference does the diagnosis make, when it all comes down to it? The diagnosis didn't punch holes into 27 other people. The bullets fired from the guns did. The guns that were LEGALLY owned by the first individual to die by them.

      One of my husband's dearest childhood friends is a paranoid schizophrenic. He wouldn't hurt a fly. So let's suppose the shooter WAS a schizophrenic, or even a paranoid schizophrenic. What makes the difference between the one being gentle and the other being violent?

      It truly does not matter what mental disability, disorder, diagnosis, or what have you is identified in this killer. He killed as many as he did because he had access to sophisticated weapons designed to kill humans at a rapid pace. If he'd been armed with a kitchen knife, he still could've killed a few people, but nowhere near as many as he did.

      •  I think it makes a big difference (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        why he did it.

        •  Agree 100% (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          We have 310M people and 270M guns, and less than 10 people per year (usually less than 5) go on this kind of killing rampage.

          Guns are every-freaking-where in this country, but from year to year, fewer than 1 in 31 million to 62 million people pick up guns and use them to commit this kind of crime. Therefore, the ready availability of guns cannot and does not explain WHY people go on killing rampages.


          by raincrow on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 04:40:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  The media is being irresponsible: he had other (3+ / 0-)

    conditions as well:

    Yesterday, the media misreported on almost every single facet of this case, from the shooter's identity to which relatives he'd shot. It was an egregious breach in intelligent journalism.

    Lanza probably did have either Asperger's or Autism; that hasn't been clarified very well. But the point is that, at the same time this was reported, it was reported that he had OCD and a personality disorder.

    As my link above contains links to back up, personality disorders are well known to cause violent behavior. Also, they are not infrequently misdiagnosed. Schizoid personality disorder, for example, can easily later be diagnosed as schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is, of course, connected with violent behavior if someone is delusional or paranoid. That's not even in contest. Neither is the fact that those who are sociopaths, which are those with some types of personality disorders, obviously prone to violence. In fact, these are the sorts of conditions you tend to find in serial killers. So yeah, maybe this was his problem? Anyone?

    The focus on Asperger's to the exclusion of these other reported and diagnosed disorders are part of the media's three-ring circus. If they were doing their job, they'd pay attention to the fact that his family's friends said he was a "sociopath."

    His Asperger's could be something like schizoid or avoidant personality disorder that was misdiagnosed as well.

    I'd like to hear from his doctor before the media runs its mouth.

    I strongly feel mental illness of a certain kind was at play here and helps explain this case. But not looking at which type is NEGLIGENT. Sort of like saying his brother, who was at work and is completely innocent and hadn't seen this guy in two years, killed all these kids.

    Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

    by mahakali overdrive on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:17:09 PM PST

  •  If the shooter was brown, Asperger or not, He will (0+ / 0-)

    be called terrorist by the MSM.

    "Rick Perry talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans." --- James Carville

    by LaurenMonica on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:29:52 PM PST

  •  He certainly had mental problems (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If he is also in the Asperger's spectrum, that is about as relevant to his shooting spree as the color of his eyes is.

    "Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex." - David Frum

    by Glinda on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:34:03 PM PST

  •  however, this is an opportunity to help (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    mental health budgets have been slashed for decades and getting people with mental issue help should be a priority.

  •  Troubadour, most excellent description (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foucaultspendulum, raincrow

    of life as an Aspie I've ever read.   I can go down the list and say "Yep, yep, yep!"

    For years I've been lauded as the one who can maintain her coolness when all around are falling apart and been amazed that people see me that way.   I know it's because I've just shut down inside so I can process what HAS to be done....I'll process later through flashbacks for a few days.  

    And when I see clips on youtube or tv of people jumping out of the way when they see a car skidding toward them?  I shudder, because I too would be just standing there, frozen (and calm) while the car hit me.

    Thanks for your work on this diary!

    "Because inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened." -Terry Pratchett

    by revsue on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 01:21:28 PM PST

  •  Thanks for the excellent diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's sad that our media and our country is so ignorant.

  •  Mental health AND gun policy (0+ / 0-)

    There will definitely be a very strong "mental health" component to the shooter's story AND IT SHOULD BE ADDRESSED. Show me a psychologically healthy person who has ever gone on a killing rampage.

    Btw, I've listened to hours of NPR, NBC, and CBS tv and radio coverage last night and today, and have been very encouraged by the LACK of mention of Asperger's, almost all of the discussion focusing on the possibility that Lanza had a personality disorder (and, as is the case with Asperger's, most of us with personality disorders are not violent).

    As for gun restrictions and education, I agree we need changes, especially for cities; with respect to securing firearms in the home (Lanza used his mother's unsecured guns); expanding the ability of courts to remove firearms from homes in which domestic violence, severe psychological disorder, drug addiction, etc., are present; and especially purging the nation of firearms dealers who, along with traffickers of military weapons, supply the majority of guns used by criminals. But we are a nation of 310,000,000 people who own upwards of 270,000,000 guns, and we generally have 1? 3? 5? batshit crazy spree killings per year. I can find in that no indictment of private gun ownership.

    For sheer ubiquity and numbers of victims across millennia, cultures, class, sex, faith, education, and age; and lasting psychological, economic, familial, and institutional damage; the abusive/negligent parent and the misused penis are still by far the most devastating instruments of human destruction. Having grown beyond the reach of my parents, I remain FAR more afraid of being harmed by misused penises than misused firearms.


    by raincrow on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 03:04:54 PM PST

  •  I just read Asperger's is taken out of new DSM. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have a friend with Asperger's.  He is annoying.  And he's my friend. I have met three people with Asperger's, none of them dangerous.

    I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted. - Mae West

    by CherryTheTart on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 07:34:13 PM PST

  •  there is empathy with autism spectrum (0+ / 0-)

    just not the kind that is based on identification with fellow humans, or mimicry, there is something of transidivism that functions differently in autism, it's a pattern thing.

    Clearly this poor fellow was psychotic, it was someone's wishful thinking that he was autistic.  It's always these ages, just barely adult and unable to get the human thing, and so the fears begin and then the ideas of reference.  Usually most kids are accepted by peers in the earliest ages, even kids that aren't clean or come from very different families - kids don't usually start getting mean in first grade.  

    But I heard one report that his troubles were worse in those early grades, before he probably learned to keep away and when his thoughts started getting wild, then he really had to keep away.  

    He must have had a very bad time those last months leading up to his act, he must have heard voices telling him just exactly what to do, and he must have fought them, and then just became what the voices demanded.  For a kid, maybe that was the worst evil his brain could imagine. Or he could have had ideas of reference about children being his tormenters, based on a time when some really had been.

    Anyway it's unspeakably sad and can't be Autism spectrum, that's just impossible.  Autisics are awkward but they don't identify with anyone enough to want to harm them.  The whole point is the lack of identifications with other humans, and the social problems/misunderstandings that come from that wire not being in the right place.    

    "oh no, not four more years of hope and change?" Karl Christian Rove

    by anna shane on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 04:15:32 PM PST

    •  Use of psychotic in comments (0+ / 0-)

      I just want to make sure that people understand what psychotic means. It means the person is hallucinating. It does not necessary mean the person is violent. At this point I do not know how people can be sure this person was psychotic. Has anyone come forth with reports of a diagnosis and incidents of hallucinating?

      "At stake are not just the details of policy but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country." -Ted Kennedy

      by G from Chicago on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:20:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  psychosis is a structure (0+ / 0-)

        it's a diagnosis and it does not always include hallucinations.  Also, you can get hallucinations with drug abuse and there are some very imaginative neurotics who hear things. Most hallucinations are a sign of organicity.

        One can't be sure of course, but there are clear clues. One is the fellow's age, it's the usual age of first break and it's usually when the delusion is first being formed that violence is more possible.  There is also the fact that he also 'killed' his computer.  

        One could read Vicktor Tausk's essay on 'the influencing machine.'  Voices were telling him to do bad things, and he knew how.  It's ideas of reference that is only psychosis.  

        "oh no, not four more years of hope and change?" Karl Christian Rove

        by anna shane on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 02:56:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I was one of those who focused on mental illness.. (0+ / 0-)

    ...and I hope what I wrote didn't disturb you. I hadn't even heard about the Asperger's rumor yet, and I know enough people on the spectrum to understand it's irrelevant to the case. I do think that we need to address, not merely how people who are determined to commit violence get weapons, but how people get to the point of being determined to commit violence in the first place. The reason I chose to focus on mental illness is that it is so overwhelmingly much easier for someone with difficulty dealing with even normal problems to go get a gun and commit suicide-by-mass-murder than it is for them to obtain the help that would keep them from feeling the need to commit suicide-by-anything; and I believe that needs to be addressed from both ends. By making guns more difficult to obtain by people with clear problems handling them sanely and responsibly, but also by making mental health care easier to come by, for the patients who are willing or the families who are (in juvenile's cases, at least, and in cases of extreme disability) responsible for them.  

    Because, unlike you, I don't assume that violent psychosis is necessarily any more of a character issue than Asperger's. They're very different disorders, certainly, but violent psychosis is still a disorder -- and I don't think it's productive to blame someone for being sick. I do blame them for choosing to handle their sickness by shooting children instead of by getting help, but if I'm going to do that, then I have a moral responsibility not to put up deliberate systemic roadblocks in the way of their ability to obtain that help. That's all I was getting at.

    •  Urban myth (0+ / 0-)

      There is no diagnostic entity as "violent psychosis". Of course, some people who are psychotic become violent in some way sometimes (usually defensively, under the paranoid delusion that they're in danger), but people who are psychotic are far less likely to be the perpetrators of violent crime, including multiple murder, than the general population - in fact, they're far more likely to be its victims. Among people in prison (or prison hospitals) for murder, very, very few of them are psychotic.

      The kind of homicidal maniac you think you're talking about doesn't exist until he (and he's almost invariably male) does the deed. All kinds of people have problems with their aggression, and certain mental disorders, not just psychoses, are certainly associated with such problems. But just because someone "has problems with his aggression" doesn't mean they're about to kill someone, and the overwhelming majority never do. And usually there is simply no way to predict this with the kind of reliability to be able to do anything about it.

  •  Thanks for a very enlightening post (0+ / 0-)

    I already understood that Asperger's wouldn't explain this event, but I found your post very helpful in gaining a bit more insight into Asperger's.

  •  Enlightening and Useful (0+ / 0-)

    Dear Troubadour,
    Thank you for your piece. I find your detailed post to be very interesting as I have a grown son who is Autistic. He's
    a bit further down on the Autism Spectrum Scale than Asperger's, but is still high functioning. He lives with me and has for most of his life, but I've never known how he felt as he's never expressed himself. I don't know that he's
    able to articulate his feelings, except anger if I rush him to get ready to go somewhere. I've learned to build in plenty of room so that he can take lots of time to get ready. He was only diagnosed with having Autism about 7 years ago by an excellent therapist, after a lifetime of exploration by me and misdiagnosis by other doctors.  Especially interesting is what you said about having a blank expression on your face regardless of what is going on, and describing that your emotions have to go through a barrage of bureaucracy before they surface. This gives me a much greater understanding of my son. Thank you again.

  •  Excellent and timely post! (0+ / 0-)

    He may well have had Asperger's Syndrome. He may also have had athlete's foot, a much more common disorder. Of course, neither disorder has anything at all to do with becoming a killer, but, just for the record, it's almost certain that more killers have athlete's foot than Asperger's. I'd be surprised if the NRA didn't funded a huge foot hygiene campaign: "Guns don't kill people, but itchy feet can spread to your trigger finger. Wash your feet and see your doctor before it's too late!" And, in the name of responsible shooting, Desenex will be prominently displayed in gun shops right alongside the high-capacity magazines.

  •  Great realtime example of Asperger insensitivity. (0+ / 0-)

    While your points have validity, to be so worried about what people will think of you at this moment, and to think it's the right time to tell people to "not look at me" so to speak shows an astounding level of selfishness and total lack of awareness of how others are feeling or reacting and processing the tragedy.

    Regardless of what has been said in the media, whatever people's thoughts may be about the tragedy, very few are thinking about starting a which hunt to stop other insane people who may also be Asperger.

    To think that jumping in front of the story of so many children gunned down to tell everyone DON'T blame Asperger folks is somehow the smart, timely and right thing to do, hmmm.

    It comes across as a crass attempt to use the story to focus some of the attention on you and your issues, and that does take the cake for being unable to understand how other people feel and respond appropriately.

    •  Great realtime example of insensitivity (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ebohlman, MsAnimated

      Johnny, methinks the realtime insensitivity we're witnessing is more yours than his.

      •  Every member of a minority cringes (0+ / 0-)

        when somebody who commits an atrocity is claimed to belong to that group, because lots of people hold minorities collectively responsible for the misbehavior of their members (while treating the positive accomplishments of their members as exceptions to the rule) and often propose collective punishment as a response.

        Writing in all lower-case letters should be a capital offense

        by ebohlman on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:29:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The mental state of the shooter (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hoi Polloi

    The mental state of the shooter cannot be responsible for the event. If weapons were not freely circulating in our homes, streets, even schools and all other institutions the event would not have happened.

    The true culprit is the crazy implementation of the second amendment that was devised when people where living in a hostile wilderness and has not been changed at all in its interpretation and implementation now we live in an urbanized society and the weapons that are circulating under the table, over the table, in front and in back of the table, in all streets and institutions are making that urban social environment a wilderness but the bears are human, the predators are human, the preys are human too. Our neighbors are deadly tigers and wild cats and we provide them with the firepower they need to be as deadly as they possibly can.

    Are we now insane enough to commit suicide on a grand scale?


    •  Thanks for saying this (0+ / 0-)

      I keep hearing and reading about how the shooter had a mild form of autism, Asperger's and now an article where an uncle said he was using Fanapt. As far as I know this is not a drug used for autism, but the list of side effects associated with the drug are alarming.

      None of this information changes the fact the young man had access to his mother's guns, she had trained him how to use them and how to be safe with them, everything the NRA insists will prevent tragedies from happening.

      •  Let's not drift too off track (0+ / 0-)

        Fanapta is an antipsychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia. Its side effects are usually mild, severe side effects quite rare, and "becoming homicidal" is not among the side effects. Autism and schizophrenia are two different disorders. While people with Asperger's (a milder form of autism) may also be schizophrenic, they are more commonly misdiagnosed to have schizophrenia. Finally, people with schizophrenia are not more, but less likely to become murderers than the general population (and more likely to be the victims of violent crime).

        The point of all this is that neither mental health nor pharmacology have anything to do with the gun violence in the U.S., which is an outgrowth of Americans' perverse love affair with guns and shooting, and the huge resistance to passing sane, much stricter, gun control laws.

  •  As mother of a mildy Aspie 23 year old, I greatly (0+ / 0-)

    appreciate Troubadour's post.  So much of what he says resonates that I'll pass it on to my son and others.  As with all mental (and human!) conditions, Apserger's can have co-morbidities.  These almost certainly were in action in the Lanza case.  In general, Aspies are gentle souls with, as you point out (but much literature from the 80s and '90s contradicted), great empathy.  In my experience, even those Aspies lacking in empathy generally compensate for it with strict rule following.   Thank you again for a fine post.

  •  Asberger's Syndrome (0+ / 0-)

    I had a male student who was believed to have the syndrome, and he had an intense interest in guns, the military, and all wars throughout time.  It was fostered by his older brother, but he had memorized all details of uniforms, dates, etc.  He was unhappy socially and had outbursts - we had to call the police at one time.  It was a very small school that did not offer participation in theater, though he actually wrote a play for me!  It could not be put on at the school because it was about how the world began, sort of a spoof...  At any rate, I do think he might be driven to shooting, and that's why I think it's important that students like him are given better outlets.

  •  Mom of ASD son (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks troubadour, so glad to read your post. So many different topics raised here. Yes, there is so much misinformation out there. We just don't know what Adam Lanza suffered from, what possessed Nancy Lanza to allow her troubled son access to dangerous weapons.

    My son repeatedly talked about the tragedy of the little children. He has empathy, it's just a little difficult for him to express it. ASD is a wide spectrum with multiple manifestations of symptoms.  It is a neuro developmental disorder more than a mental illness, although meds can help with some symptoms. My son is not very literate so it so nice to read posts from other ASD sufferers. It helps me get a perspective I don't always get to see.  

    There are so many questions, and so few answers. I'm glad this is a forum for airing them all!

    I don't like to commit myself about heaven and hell-you see, I have friends in both places.-Mark Twain

    by viking crone on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 03:38:49 PM PST

  •  They're also reporting he was a white male. (0+ / 0-)
  •  The Corporate Media get's it wrong always (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If it isn't Aspberger's its because the person is too quiet. Or played too many video games. Or listened to Heavy Metal etc. It seems that the Corporate Media always wants to blame something instead of focusing on the issue at hand which is the wild proliferation of guns under the guise of a badly interpreted 2nd Amendment.

    -Alberto Pupo The Blog Of Progress

    by Alberto Pupo on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 08:28:23 PM PST

  •  It is humanity calling out for a better way (0+ / 0-)

    Einstein: You can't solve a problem on the level on which it was created.  

    As long as we are only talking about situation criteria, like weapons and diagnoses, or raising taxes or cutting expenses, we are not going to solve the myriad of life-threatening problems that are facing our world.

    Please hang in here while I build some context related to this situation and spectrum individuals in general, and after that as I propose what is appropriate for all, whether it be someone on the spectrum with either mild or severe indications, or any other person or life on this planet.

    In the newly published book by Joseph Chilton Pearce: The Heart-Mind Matrix: How the Heart Can Teach the Brain New Ways to Think, he explains how research has found that the optimal development of the first and subsequent levels of the brain, maturing in a looping forward and backward fashion for ongoing mutual enhancement of the sequence of reptilian, mammalian, etc., happens only in the presence of nurturing (love). When love is present, the brain develops fully in its multiple intelligences to randomly explore and select appropriate responses as it integrates and incorporates what it learns from the environment.

    Recently an Alaskan Aleut Elder, speaking at an educational forum in Berkeley, shared that when a child is raised with love, left free to explore in the security of the tribal environment and community, multiple intelligences develop fully.

    I was a teacher and am now an educational consultant. I taught in the elementary grades and each year in my mainstream classroom there was an average of 15% of kids on the ADD - autism spectrum.  Within two years of working with these and the other kids in the class, I saw the kids on this spectrum as being different in an amazing way, showing the use of multiple intelligences. As a summary of the situation for Linkedin, I wrote (and added to here):

    Many, many kids are being deprived of the education they deserve for special learning differences.  ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, Asperger's syndrome, autism, and possibly even bi-polar disorder is an increasing population of individuals whose learning differences are due to a right brain orientation, an orientation shared by a very large number of the great individuals throughout history. These individuals today, not doing well with the world's linear processes, have been and are thought to have "disorders" or "deficits." My definition of ADD: Attention Differently Directed.

    Right brain intelligence is an open, wide exposure to subtle, incoming, unfiltered information, creating great sensitivity, empathy, or gut connection, intuition, out-of-the-box thinking, passion to make a contribution, love of music, art, movement, language, engineering... and often extraordinary talents, such as replication. Many in previous generations were "educated" fully away from these inherent inclinations. For current individuals, this orientation is hard wired.

    While this right brain reception allows for connection, insight, and creativity, the sensitivity of this very subtle open perception can cause stimulation overload and overwhelm, since these individuals lack a left brain filter, also making it difficult for them to read the nuances of social interaction. This orientation can also be accompanied by a lack of small and/or large muscle coordination since these are governed more by the left brain.

    Right-brain oriented individuals are struggling and reacting to our left-brain driven world. Our world over-focuses on linear thinking.  Having forgotten our relationship with the earth, we create unsafe and invasive chemicals and drill for oil with no thought of the consequences for life in the Gulf.

    Linear thinking skills, not working in conjunction with the connection and inspiration of the right brain, can divide, categorize, and then manipulate, skills often misused to dominate, or acquire for personal gain. Over focus on personal gain is an attempted correction for a sense of lack caused by the disconnect from our right brain...also the domain of peace, contentment, connection and well being. ( See the talk by Jill Bolte Taylor).

    Misunderstood by most in the world, many of the behaviors of these spectrum individuals are adjustments and responses that allow them to attune to the fullness, peace and creativity of their right brain, some deflecting their attention away from this invasive world ("Attention Deficit Disorder"), or even spinning, flapping and word repetition as an insulation from overwhelming outside change and stimuli, putting them in touch with a connection and intelligence within.  

    Additionally, I'd like to point out, since it is the right brain that connects us empathically, spatially and inspirationally to the world and beyond, it is thereby our heart connection as well.  MyWebsite is, where all this is described in great detail in my paper. (Let me also mention here the connected work of those at HeartMath, Pearce above, and others, who are speaking of this all also in terms of the heart's intelligence as it can guide our brain's functioning).

    My terminology was developed to describe what I saw happening with these spectrum individuals.  Brain study and description of function is a complex realm, and may refer in different terms to what I am describing.  Also, HeartMath and centering practices, such as meditation, yoga, being in nature, can all contribute to the production of calming serotonin and engage the parasympathetic nervous system, which harmonizes and enhances all the body's organs and systems.

    These could be used to support these individuals who, I believe, are already oriented to their heart/brain connection.      

    End of context, now what:

    No matter what person on this spectrum (and not mattering what level of
    involvement with indications or "symptoms"), the very first and fundamental treatment should be love and acceptance, and a letting go of expectations that they should become predominantly like this world.

    Knowing how to be polite and appropriate if possible, is good to learn in order to find a place in the outside world or any community, but it is the guidance of love, again, that will encourage this happening.

    Kim Peek, the real Rain Man who inspired the movie, felt a new acceptance and belonging as his reputation spread due to the movie. As a result, he became more open, reaching out emotionally and in conversation with nearly all he met, greeting them with loving words of admiration, and astounding all with his mental abilities.  

    All need to fit in where it is inspiring and comfortable for them and their talents, whether it be heading a pharmaceutical company, pushing to find solutions for the world's illnesses, (and letting someone else to the logistical and PR work), following their passion, even fixation, to work with animals (Temple Grandin), or thriving with live-in staff and similar others in a community such as Camphill.  

    A friend has run a camp for Asperger's individuals the last two summers in Tahoe, and she says the most important aspect is acceptance. With this the young adult campers relax, and move into skills such as socializing, learning to ride a bike, and organizing and packing a back pack requiring gear and supplies for four nights on the trail...all things that before had been much more difficult.  

    And, by the way, if this world were working, maybe we would say they all need to try to become like everyone else.

    Each human is here, whether on the spectrum or not, to be free to learn with multiple intelligences and draw from within, supported by love, to find their gift and passion no matter how large or small it might seem to our left brain world, which has myopic vision and thinking so can miss what's really important...much like it was not the adults who saw the Emperor wore no clothes.

    What is important?  Being connected, feeling like we belong, loved, secure so we can source individually and together from our right and left brain working together.  We must honor the whole brain and how it was made to relate in connection to others and this earth, able to access many facets of intelligence, gathering inspiration, insights to then bring answers into fruition with the help of the left brain, finding solutions for the needs of all on the planet and the planet itself.

    I believe spectrum individuals are here to help us return to a balance in how we access our full intelligence, most of them in connection with a particular style of learning and thinking which has been neglected by our world.  And, as we also accept them and all children as they are, WE drop our own singularly left brain agendas, and enter our own connective intelligence, and balanced brain abilities, helping to recognize we do all belong in one world community together, ready to be serviced by the full breadth of human intelligence.

  •  Aspergers and autism until DSM 5 (0+ / 0-)

    and in the UN diagnostic system are different disorders. It,is rare for people with Aspergers to act out violently and certainly less so than severe autism sufferers. There is also the issue of comorbidity as any of these folks can have PTSD and misdiagnosis in which personality disorders or psychoses are mistaken for autism. Given the poor condition of mental health treatment in the US this is also likely.

    In the current incident the blame maybe should be with two things; mental health treatment deficiencies and a mother who apparently left lethal weaponry within reach of a severely ill person.

    If... the machine of government... is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. ~Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobediance, 1849

    by shigeru on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 11:16:14 PM PST

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