Skip to main content

[I originally wrote and published the material below this paragraph on DailyKos a year ago 2014-11-26]. The new report by the Office of the Child Advocate of CT (Shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School) confirms that he had been dangerously thin and malnourished for a number of years, but still doesn't discuss the possible psychological problems this malnourishment can cause, or the psychological problems that can result from vitamin D and B12 deficiency (as described in the comments below).]

Adam Lanza, the perpetrator of the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school, at the time of his autopsy, was 72 inches tall and weighed only 112 pounds. If he was anorexic, what bio-psychological effects might this have had on him?

Was Adam Lanza, the shooter in Newtown, anorexic?

Background on the Newtown State Attorney's Report

I just read the Newtown CT State's Attorney report on Adam Lanza and the Sandy Hook shootings. It is, of course, very upsetting. It's a cold report, with almost no empathy expressed for anyone, which makes it even more disturbing.

It sounds like Adam Lanza's social isolation in the last few months of his life was near total. The report says that he was barely even talking with his mother on the other side of his bedroom wall; mostly communicating with even her via email. They don't think he even talked with anyone on his cell phone. Maybe he talked with a person at the movie theater with whom he engaged in marathon Dance Dance Revolution sessions. The report claims he broke off communication, including even email, with his father 2 years before, and his brother as well.

He was apparently obsessed with mass shootings, including Columbine, and made a spreadsheet chronicling them. He played many very violent video games.

The home was an arsenal, bristling with multiple guns and other weapons. The report didn't discuss his sense of masculinity. This factor of school shootings has too often overlooked (see for example, "School Shootings The Result Of Crisis Of Masculinity, Gun Culture, Professor Argues" , and "What the News Isn’t Saying about Men’s Violence Against Women" ). In particular, it is seldom remarked upon, including not in the most recent report, that the adults that Lanza shot, including of course his mother, were all women. The Newtown massacre was also a case of femicide.

As someone who works in the field of school-violence prevention (and the promotion of constructive conflict transformation), there's a lot more I could say about these and other aspects of the report, but for now I want to examine one detail that startled me as I read the report tonight.

Was Adam Lanza Anorexic? If he Was, Did his Anorexia Fuel his Violence?

One detail I found bizarre, but I haven't seen in any of the news reports on Adam Lanza yet. On page 27 of the report (p. 31 of the pdf), it says that Lanza at the time of his autopsy was 72 inches tall and weighed only 112 pounds. If this is accurate, Adam Lanza had a body mass index of 15.1. The wikipedia page on BMI says, "A BMI nearing 15 is usually used as an indicator for starvation and the health risks involved, with a BMI less than 17.5 being an informal criterion for the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa." . A BMI this low is far below 19, the 5th percentile curve (the lowest line) on this growth chart (http://pediatrics.about.com/...).

The report also says that Adam Lanza made what might be described as obsessive demands about food. (In a chilling choice, most of the report refers to Adam Lanza only as "the shooter.")

The shooter was particular about the food that he ate and its arrangement on a plate in relation to other foods on the plate.
Certain types of dishware could not be used for particular foods. The mother would shop for him and cook to the shooter’s specifications, though sometimes he would cook for himself.
(page 30 of the report, p. 34 of the pdf).

Apparently, there is a high correlation between people with autism spectrum disorders, which characterized Adam Lanza, and those suffering from anorexia (according to Wikipedia a study in Sweden found 23% of those with anorexia are "on the autism spectrum."  The same wikipedia page says a study done in the UK found a high degree of traits overlap as well, including "poor executive function, autism quotient score, central coherence, theory of mind, cognitive-behavioural flexibility, emotion regulation and understanding facial expressions."

Because of my peace activism, I'm also familiar with the Minnesota Starvation experiment, conducted on US Conscientious Objectors to WWII, which found that

prolonged semi-starvation produces significant increases in depression, hysteria and hypochondriasis as measured using the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Indeed, most of the subjects experienced periods of severe emotional distress and depression.
The study also found an increase in social isolation and "self-mutilation."

Anorexia is increasingly being understood as a biological disorder itself. And anorexia may be a risk factor for overtly violent suicide, at least among girls. According to Sarah Luczaj, a therapist from the UK, in an article entitled, "Just How Strong is the Link between Anorexia and Suicide?" girls suffering from anorexia are more than 50 times more likely than healthy women to attempt suicide. It is worth quoting Luczaj at length on this subject:

It brings a whole new level of violence and desperation to the picture. These people, usually women, cannot stand their existences anymore and want to put an end to them quickly and forcefully. There seems to be active self hatred at work.

There is a certain prevalent image of the character type of a young woman suffering from anorexia which stresses her perfectionism, desire to fulfill expectations, to be a good girl, to the extent where she forgets her own basic needs entirely and starts to be trapped within her own rules. It is a picture of passive “femininity” taken to a lethal extreme. I would say that there is important insight here but the image overlooks a kind of violence, the sheer force involved in anorexia.

I don't know if the same holds true for boys and men who suffer from anorexia, but in the militaristic culture in which Adam Lanza apparently immersed himself (the report also says he was considering joining the military), boys and men are expected to channel their rage outwards. It appears that Adam Lanza channeled his rage in both directions.

This is gruesome to speculate about, so you might want to stop reading here, but it's possible that Adam Lanza weighed more before the attack because he might have lost a lot of blood from his self-inflicted gunshot wound. But even if the autopsy weighed him after he lost all his blood, apparently blood only weighs 7% of body weight, meaning that Adam Lanza would have weighed a maximum of 120 lbs before his attack, with a BMI still well into the anorexic range at 16.3.

I know this is all speculation, but if it is an angle into trying to understand this seemingly unfathomable crime that might help us come closer to understand, and maybe in the future better prevent, these crimes, then I believe it is an angle worth investigating.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (18+ / 0-)

    Every relationship of domination, exploitation, or oppression is by definition violent. Dominator and dominated alike are reduced to things - the former dehumanized by an excess of power, the latter by a lack of it. And things cannot love.-Paulo Freire

    by samdiener on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 03:56:48 AM PST

  •  I hope someone with some knowledge (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries, worldlotus

    about these subjects can chime in, and that discussion of this is somehow useful.

    Dick Cheney 2/14/10: "I was a big supporter of waterboarding"

    by Bob Love on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 04:05:32 AM PST

  •  What a fucking waste of time. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IndieGuy

    My comments are coming from a place of love.

    by Rich in PA on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 04:27:14 AM PST

  •  There's really little left to do but speculate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kkjohnson

    At least in trying to understand any motive.

  •  B12 deficiency can promote psychosis. (5+ / 0-)

    If not that, poor mental function.

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 04:39:20 AM PST

    •  And vitamin D deficiency is observed (6+ / 0-)

      to correlate with teenage onset schizophrenia. Whether that is a cause or an effect is unknown.

      It's not rocket science that this kid was delusional.

      Did he hear voices? Was he inside a fantasy bubble? WTF with wanting to kill grammar school kids? No way to know.

      One clue is a video game "School Shooting" that showed up in the home.

      Most likely: paranoid schizophrenia.

      And that's the easy call in part because the paranoid schizophrenics process video games (and paint ball) differently from non-sufferers. America has 50,000+ paranoid schizophrenics.

      This kid Lanza got no psychiatric care. Same as the Deeds kid in Virginia.

      We're idiots. We're too busy spending insane sums on aircraft carriers and tax giveaways for us to finance basic in-patient care for people who are delusional. Even people experiencing waking dreams, waking nightmares.

      And we leave military weapons sitting out for anybody to use for any purpose they want. It's this SCOTUS's idea of "freedom" and "liberty."

      (One more reason to turn Republicans in Whigs ??? ASAP? For me, you betcha.)

    •  A Study To Support This (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      murrayewv, petral

      Thanks, dadadata,

      That's fascinating and scary.

      According to the abstract of the paper: "What are the psychiatric manifestations of vitamin B12 deficiency?" by Hector M, Burton, JR.,
      Division of Geriatrics, Francis Scott Key Medical Center,

      Psychiatric symptoms attributable to vitamin B12 deficiency have been described for decades. The earlier reports are for the most part in accord with more recent ones, despite being diagnostically less specific in psychiatric and hematologic terms. These symptoms seem to fall into several clinically separate categories: slow cerebration; confusion; memory changes; delirium, with or without hallucinations and/or delusions; depression; acute psychotic states; and (more rarely) reversible manic and schizophreniform states. While there still remain abundant hematologic, psychiatric, neurologic, or nutritional reasons for obtaining a serum vitamin B12 level, its use in the investigation of the etiology of a patient's dementia seems unjustified. However, acute or subacute changes in a demented patient's mental status, specifically a clouding of their consciousness, may make such testing advisable as part of the complete workup of their delirium regardless of a normal hematologic picture.

      Every relationship of domination, exploitation, or oppression is by definition violent. Dominator and dominated alike are reduced to things - the former dehumanized by an excess of power, the latter by a lack of it. And things cannot love.-Paulo Freire

      by samdiener on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 05:53:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am a 30 y.o. male (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    waterstreet2013, vc2, Victor Ward

    and have never weighed more than 124 lbs in my life.

    Maybe he was just a crazy loner who for whatever mental reasons cut off contact from society all the while having easy access and even encouragement to use firearms.

    "These are established professionals that have a liberal bent, but ultimately most of them if pushed will choose professional preservation over cause, such is the mentality of most business professionals" -BoA/HBGary/CoC

    by LieparDestin on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 04:49:13 AM PST

    •  How tall are you? n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MKSinSA, waterstreet2013

      The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain, is floating in mid-air, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life. Jane Addams

      by Alice Olson on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 05:05:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not claiming that thin = murder (3+ / 0-)

        I hope it is obvious that I'm not saying that everyone who is thin, or everyone who is anorexic, commits or will commit mass murder.

        I'm saying that perhaps anorexia, plus, autism spectrum disorder including a lack of empathy, plus a rehearsed and practiced militarized masculinity, plus misogyny, plus extreme social isolation, plus access to firearms, plus Adam Lanza's own traumas and pathologies, plus his choices, all could cumulatively provide a better picture for understanding (not excusing) the factors that led to his choosing to commit these horrible crimes.

        Every relationship of domination, exploitation, or oppression is by definition violent. Dominator and dominated alike are reduced to things - the former dehumanized by an excess of power, the latter by a lack of it. And things cannot love.-Paulo Freire

        by samdiener on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 05:34:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  And "crazy" is not a technical term. (0+ / 0-)

        Read through any text book that covers Abnormal Psychology. This was a mature field thirty years ago, so if you see a $1 text book from 10 years ago it'll have the basic content.

        The main personality disorders and mental illnesses are easy enough to understand. Treatment, not so much.

        There's application of these areas of psychology in politics. You'll see elected Republicans work to induce paranoid fantasies, more days than not. In the Red States, that's half their job.

        One half is at least sane.

        Abortion and Reagan.

        They have two core anchors for their vote appeals: opposition to abortion and the fantasy that Ronald Reagan was a Perfect Man. Pretty much all of their voters accept these anchors as articles of faith.

        The other half ain't quite sensible.

        Paranoia.

        Beyond the twin anchors, it's fearmongering scams. Go through their public statements: it's slogans pushing one paranoia-inducing hoax after another.

        This can't be good for America's mental health.

        D'oh.

  •  I don't know about anorexic but he was on (0+ / 0-)

    SSRI's Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors as were some other famous mass shooters.

    http://www.ssristories.com/...

    https://www.madinamerica.com/...

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/...

    http://www.naturalnews.com/...

    There are too many reports of SSRI's being tied to social outbursts to ignore. Adam Lanza? I don't know the specifics but he was under treatment -

    http://digitaljournal.com/...

    "WAR IS PEACE FREEDOM IS SLAVERY FOX NEWS IS JOURNALISM"

    by FakeNews on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 05:29:20 AM PST

  •  The shooting occured at an elementary school (0+ / 0-)

    76% of public school teachers are women. That number is even higher at the elementary and early childhood education levels. It's probably not all that significant that in a building where all or nearly all of the adults were women that the only adults he killed were women.

  •  did the drugs cause the violence, or were they (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, Dave in Northridge

    given the drugs because they were potentially violent to begin with? i have no idea, but that's an impressive list of killers

    Sarah Palin is a disgusting racist pig.

    by memofromturner on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 05:44:44 AM PST

  •  And Charles Whitman had a brain tumor (0+ / 0-)

    All this is pretty much collateral knowledge, no? I HOPE you weren't trying to deflect attention from what Adam Lanza actually DID, because if you WERE, I really won't have anything to say to you ever again.

    •  As I wrote in a comment above: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      petral, Villanova Rhodes

      I'm saying that perhaps anorexia, plus, autism spectrum disorder including a lack of empathy, plus a rehearsed and practiced militarized masculinity, plus misogyny, plus extreme social isolation, plus access to firearms, plus Adam Lanza's own traumas and pathologies, plus his choices, all could cumulatively provide a better picture for understanding (not excusing) the factors that led to his choosing to commit these horrible crimes.

      Every relationship of domination, exploitation, or oppression is by definition violent. Dominator and dominated alike are reduced to things - the former dehumanized by an excess of power, the latter by a lack of it. And things cannot love.-Paulo Freire

      by samdiener on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 06:05:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Take any of these pluses away and we have the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        schumann, wenchacha

        same result except

        plus access to firearms,
        In fact you could double plus everything else, w/o access to firearms, we would have a young man who was committed by his mother.

        Why is it easier to buy a gun than it is to register to vote in most states?

        by 88kathy on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 07:13:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't understand your point (5+ / 0-)

      I personally do not believe in good and evil as inherent qualities. I believe we are all products of our physiology and our environment (which we know can alter our physiology). How does it lessen the horrible thing someone has done to discuss possible factors that might have contributed to the decision to do something no rational person would have ever done?

      Is it wrong that I feel it is a tragedy all the way around? Is it wrong for me to believe that with the right kind of help for Lanza (and I don't necessarily fault people for not being able to figure out what that was),  what happened might have been prevented?

      And how is it wrong to feel that someone who does something horrible and is found to have a brain tumor or schizophrenia might not have been a 100% terrible person who deserves no attempt to be  understood as a human being?

      What Lanza did is one of the most awful things I have ever heard about. I cannot imagine how someone could do something like that. It is so devoid of compassion or humanity. Yet this person was born human. I think it is worthwhile to try to understand what went wrong and what factors might have shaped who he became and what he did.  

      I get that most people feel it displaces the blame to talk about the illnesses or brain tumors or what have you because we should just damn his evil soul and assign all the blame to that, but I find that simplistic and unrealistic. He wasn't born with an evil soul. He was born with a messed up brain that led to a lot of bad choices and circumstances that likely made things worse emotionally and physiologically. It is not an excuse that justifies anything that happened. It is his brain. We are our brains. I don't know how you detach the two.

      **Electing Republicans to the government is like hiring pyromaniacs as firemen. They all just want to see everything burn to the ground.**

      by CatM on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 08:22:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •   Many parents.... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    samdiener, 88kathy, kkjohnson, petral

    of children on the autism spectrum try to treat their children with food therapies- restricting  gluten, thinking the child has food allergies or intolerance.  It seems likely to me that effort could result in a child becoming an adult with very serious food restrictions as part of their mental illness.  And nutritional deficiencies can lead to disordered thinking patterns as discussed in this comment.

    The biggest take home lesson from this investigation should be learning for parents of very troubled children with serious mental illnesses.  These parents are trying hard to protect their children from the world, and if they have sufficient resources, they can keep them home and cave in to their demands.  That is what Adam Lanza's mother did, and he murdered her with the firearms she bought for him.   Some parents are reading these reports and taking different actions.

    A local physician took the 30 firearms from his young adult son and had him committed.   That lasted a year.  When the son returned to the home, hopefully he was at less risk of such an outburst.  Parents of such troubled children need some help from the community.

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

    by murrayewv on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 06:16:47 AM PST

    •  She bought the guns for him. Known as a straw (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jan4insight

      purchase. Not legal. Yet she thought she was fine. No loud admonishment from her gun community.

      Why is it easier to buy a gun than it is to register to vote in most states?

      by 88kathy on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 07:10:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  She certainly was wrong.... (0+ / 0-)

        other parents are hopefully learning from this dreadful mistake.  She sounds like she was intimidated by him or being manipulated by him.  It is sad all around.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 08:51:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Suicide Prevention Hotline (0+ / 0-)

    Along with this (and almost all) discussion of suicide, I should have mentioned this earlier. The US suicide prevention hotline number is 800-273-8255, open 24-7.

    Every relationship of domination, exploitation, or oppression is by definition violent. Dominator and dominated alike are reduced to things - the former dehumanized by an excess of power, the latter by a lack of it. And things cannot love.-Paulo Freire

    by samdiener on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 06:21:42 AM PST

  •  As you said many autistic students (3+ / 0-)

    have an obsession with food. I'm an educator and I've seen it. Also I have a relative who has a grandchild who has it. He will not eat and is obsessed with the texture of food. Some of the autistic students I've had have been overbearing and difficult to handle. They also seem to spend an extraordinary amount of time playing video games. I just thought maybe their parents were letting them play to avoid dealing with their confrontational behavior.

    Was he on any medication for anxiety, depression, or ADHD? I've had ADHD students tell me they don't like taking their medicine because they don't have an appetite. They are so thin and undernourished looking. Many of the students I have that are on medication for ADHD, bipolar disorder, anxiety don't take their medicines on a regular basis, and I believe this creates other issues for them.

    •  Sensory processing disorder (5+ / 0-)

      Many people on the spectrum have sensory processing disorder, which for obvious reasons affects what they will eat. My son used to vomit at the smells of certain school lunches. He refused to eat any solid food until almost age 3. And when the doctor said "just don't give him milk or juice, and he will eat be because no kid will starve himself," I found that I cracked long before he did.

      But Lanza sounds like he had OCD that played into his eating habits (probably in addition to sensory processing issues). For example, he was concerned with the appearance of the plates and where on the plates the food was placed. I suppose it could be visual, but it sounds more like OCD to me.

      My son has gotten much better after I learned about Asperger's and stopped fighting with him over food. I also learned to talk to him about food in a way he can relate to. Before he tries anything new, he wants to know what it most closely resembles or tastes like. For example, he decided he might finally try a pork chop last month (at age 15!) if I did not bread it and pan fried it like a steak. I explained the flavor was pretty neutral and the texture was like a dryer steak--the bite feel--than like chicken and less fat running through it. He tried it, tolerated it, but said next time, he just wants steak.

      Anyway, sensory processing disorder  definitely can affect eating. But Lanza's issue, to me, seems to have gone beyond just SPD.

      **Electing Republicans to the government is like hiring pyromaniacs as firemen. They all just want to see everything burn to the ground.**

      by CatM on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 08:04:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wondered something similar (8+ / 0-)

    I am a medical writer, and I have two teenaged sons on the autism spectrum, and the weight issue really jumped out at me. He probably should have been hospitalized for his weight. My boyfriend's 89-year-old grandfather, who is a stooped 6' tall is painfully thin (I can feel his backbone when I hug him), and he weighs 120. Adam Lanza had to look skeletal at those proportions.

    I know that for people nearing the end of life who refuse tube feeding, starvation stops being unpleasant, hunger dissipates, and calmness or  happiness can set in. I do not know about the other mental effects of starvation.

    I do not attribute much to the violent video games. Millions of people play the same games. He was also fond of Dance, Dance Revolution and Mario Brothers.

    What I found chilling is that in fifth grade, he wrote a story about children getting killed and a boy shooting his mother in the face.

    I question whether he had Asperger's or instead was a sociopath or psychopath. For example, he made his mother get rid of the cat. Most Aspies are especially fond of animals. He is described as emotionless and unfeeling. Aspies are not emotionless or unfeeling. They have trouble identifying their emotions or expressing them and may not feel the same emotions, but they do have them and they do have some empathy.

    We will probably never know what happened, but clearly there were warning signs for most of his life that he needed serious professional help that he should have perhaps received even against his will.

    I just can't help but wonder what the mom was thinking. I wondered if she was so desperate to feel a bond with her son (I do know what that is like) and felt his interest in guns was the only thing she could use to get him to relate to her, so she went there even though it is hard to see how she would not have had some misgivings. I think she just desperately wanted to make him happy, not understanding that she would never be able to.

    I have sometimes watched families without asperger's and the way they joke around or casually touch each other and so visibly connect, and wished I knew what that was like--not only to have it, but to want it. I don't know what it is like to have your child tell you they love you or to run up to hug you or even to look really happy to see you. One of them made me something once (I posted about it here), but generally they don't think about those things. And yet I know they love me a great deal, so I don't worry about it. I can't imagine being his mother and feeling like your son doesn't care about you and that there must be some way to reach him. I just think she picked the wrong way and possibly needed to learn to accept it would never happen. Which is easier said than done. Giving up on your dreams for your children is very hard.

    **Electing Republicans to the government is like hiring pyromaniacs as firemen. They all just want to see everything burn to the ground.**

    by CatM on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 07:53:12 AM PST

  •  There are so many things that we do not (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    samdiener, worldlotus

    understand about ourselves and our bodies that this could be a factor in his madness.  I have always wondered about the obsession that some of us have with what we eat and how we go about it.   I wonder when it all starts in our lives and why it prevails on some and not on all.  Interesting catch on this.

  •  The trouble with this kind of analysis (0+ / 0-)

    is that mental illnesses and eating disorders are already so stigmatized that people are inevitably going to look at things like this and stigmatize the sufferers further.

    If anorexia was part of the Adam Lanza picture at all, it seems kind of obvious that it was one of many symptoms of a larger problem, not a causal factor.

    •  We can't afford to stigmatize... (0+ / 0-)

      ... even if it was a moral approach. I think the report's essential refusal to attempt to understand Adam Lanza's life before the shooting is stigmatizing, and this is an attempt to do the opposite.

      When I first saw the statistic about how emaciated he was, I also thought it was just a strange extra symptom.

      But as I thought about it and read even a few materials on anorexia's biological and psychological impact, I increasingly began to think that if Adam Lanza was anorexic, then even if anorexia was at first just an outgrowth of other psychological processes for Adam Lanza, anorexia (and its power to deepen depression, induce delusions, increase schizophrenic symptoms, lead to psychotic breaks, increase the risk of self-mutilations, and increase the risk of overtly violent suicide attempts) very well might have accelerated and deepened his spiral downward into murderousness.

      Every relationship of domination, exploitation, or oppression is by definition violent. Dominator and dominated alike are reduced to things - the former dehumanized by an excess of power, the latter by a lack of it. And things cannot love.-Paulo Freire

      by samdiener on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 10:17:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But does the causal link go that way? (0+ / 0-)

        Anorexia is certainly linked to higher incidence of depression, delusions, schizophrenic symptoms, psychotic breaks, self-mutilations, and violent suicide attempts.

        I have yet to see anything indicating that it causes any of those things, rather than being cosymptomatic with them.

        •  The Direction of the Causal Link is Pretty Strong (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Batya the Toon

          First, that's the strong implication of the Minnesota Starvation study from the 1940s that I cited above (see also http://en.wikipedia.org/...). They were starving healthy conscientious objectors, and these were the symptoms that resulted.

          Second, there are physiological impacts of lack of food in general and lack of particular nutrients (see my links in both the body of the piece and in the comments above about the impact of vitamin b12 and vitamin d deficiencies). The B12 abstract, for example, mentions that the deficiency can cause, "and (more rarely) reversible manic and schizophrenic states." I understand that it says that it's rare, but the fact that these states can be reversible with a reversal in the blood levels of B12 is pretty powerful causal evidence.

          Every relationship of domination, exploitation, or oppression is by definition violent. Dominator and dominated alike are reduced to things - the former dehumanized by an excess of power, the latter by a lack of it. And things cannot love.-Paulo Freire

          by samdiener on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 10:50:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  His mother- (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight

    --didn't seem to notice that he was both mentally ill and starving to death.  She was, however, able to buy into the prepper delusion and to provide guns for him.  If he had not first murdered  her, what charges might she face?

    •  I think it's too easy... (0+ / 0-)

      ... to blame her. I think of the murdered parents in the Kip Kinkel case (see the astoundingly powerful documentary: The Killer at Thurston High) from Oregon.

      They were desperate to find a way to reach their son, and they tragically offered to get him a gun, apparently because he was so deeply unhappy and it was the object he most wanted in the world. Sure, now, knowing what happened, we just want to reach back in time and say, "Noooooooo. Don't do it."

      But no one wants to believe their son would be capable of something like this, and I can't imagine a parent saying to a kid, "I'm afraid you're going to shoot us or shoot up a school, so no." I could imagine that arguments for getting a gun, "just like x and y and z down the street have, for target shooting. It's an Olympic sport you know," could be difficult for most parents, unless they are fundamentally opposed to owning guns, to respond to.

      Every relationship of domination, exploitation, or oppression is by definition violent. Dominator and dominated alike are reduced to things - the former dehumanized by an excess of power, the latter by a lack of it. And things cannot love.-Paulo Freire

      by samdiener on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 10:29:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Reason for referring to just "the shooter" (0+ / 0-)

    is a belief (not verified, but plausible) that repeated mentions of a mass murderer's name gives them a form of fame that might push some people over the edge. In any case, it can lead to a noxious "groupie' phenomenon; you'd be amazed at the number of tribute sites to the Columbine killers (do a search for "Reb and VoDKa") and of course there was Ayn Rand's public screeds of admiration for William Hickman.

    Unfortunately when smart and educated people get crazy ideas they can come up with plausibly truthy arguments. -- Andrew F Cockburn

    by ebohlman on Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 10:12:09 PM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site