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Mental Health And Murder

Mass shootings, Sandy Hook, and how we care for troubled minds.

Stuffed animals and a sign calling for prayer rest at the base of a tree near the Newtown VIllage Cemetery in Newtown, Conn., Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. Six-year-old student Jack Pinto, who was killed Friday when a gunman opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School, is scheduled to be buried at the cemetery Monday afternoon. (AP)

Stuffed animals and a sign calling for prayer rest at the base of a tree near the Newtown VIllage Cemetery in Newtown, Conn., Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. Six-year-old student Jack Pinto, who was killed Friday when a gunman opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School, is scheduled to be buried at the cemetery Monday afternoon. (AP)

It’s important to say right off the bat that we do not know the whole story with Adam Lanza, the young man at the terrible center of the terrible killings in Newtown, Connecticut. Reports have raised questions about his mental health before massacre and suicide. We’ll wait and learn.

But mental health issues have clearly been key in mass shootings at Virgina Tech, in Tuscon with Gabby Giffords, at Aurora, Colorado’s movie theater. To look at mental health is not a substitute for looking at guns. It’s not to stigmatize. But it’s also not to ignore.

This hour, On Point: mental health and our drumbeat of mass killings.

-Tom Ashbrook


E. Fuller Torrey, research psychiatrist specializing in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He’s the author of several books, including “The Insanity Offense: How America’s Failure to Treat the Seriously Mentally Ill Endangers Its Citizens.”

Pete Earley, author of Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness.

Patricia Rehmer, commissioner for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for the State of Connecticut.

From Tom’s Reading List

Huffington Post “The world has been shocked by the terrible tragedy in Newtown, Conn., where a shooting in a primary school has resulted in the loss of 20 young children and six adults, in addition to the shooter and his mother. Our thoughts and hearts go out to their families, friends, and community, as well as to the professionals involved.”

Salt Lake Tribune “Chaffetz, R-Utah, traveled to Newtown to appear on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, just two days after a young man killed 20 children and six adults at the town’s elementary school. The shooter, Adam Lanza, also killed his mother prior to the school shooting and took his own life. Friends and acquaintances describe him as troubled.”

Bloomberg “Twenty children and six adults were shot to death on Dec. 14 by a man with an assault rifle at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The suspect, Adam Lanza, 20, killed himself at the school with one of the two handguns he also was carrying. He shot his mother, Nancy, earlier at their nearby home, Connecticut state police said.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dale-Kramer/100001688331802 Dale Kramer

    How. 1. Educating 2. Minimize Benzos 3. Understanding and therapy 4. it is all of our fault.

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  • cosmogeny

    How about the mental health of a mother with such a son having lethal weaponry available to him.

    • brettearle

       Parents often live in denial.

      • DrewInGeorgia

        We ALL live in denial.

  • Phylax_L

    I wrote this yesterday on Gun Control But I believe that it matches today’s show better. When I listen to the news, almost every day some one says “We will hunt them down and we will Kill them” Officials, Presidents, you name it. With this it is made legitimate, some one hurts you and you kill him for this. What do you think will derive from this? Isn’t it normal that you can kill some one? This is common American Language and no one even thinks in blanking it out like an indecent word. A mental week Person listening to this can be turned into a weapon and with the circumstances this Person becomes a Victim him self.

  • AC

    how is some one officially diagnosed? what are the warning signs to look for early in life, and then when there is an escalation of the condition before an irrevocable choice is made? if you do think someone capable of mass murder, what kind of possible therapy is there and could they really ever be trusted to ever be alone and live a normal life after?
    how do suicide bombers (or kamikaze, etc…), presumably reasonable at first, become coerced into agreeing to commit mass murder? does that mean we are all capable of this kind of maddness deep down, and if so, where is the line drawn? or is this something you only see in battle/war?
    there is some speculation that the growing number of mass attacks by single assailants with knives, hammers and cleavers happening in China has a correlation to the fact that their quality of life is becoming more like the wests, does that have anything to do with anything? also, they are given the death penalty w/o a second thought, what do you think of this?
    what is the history of these types of attacks? I read a book on the history of certain killers, finally accepted by law enforcement as ‘stranger killers’ before they were finally dubbed ‘serial killers’ – is the only difference the fact that they ONLY kill strangers, or is there a correlation between the two types? why do the types like Lanza kill themselves as part of the ‘plan’?
    what on earth can you say or do if confronted by one in a rage????? is there an appeasement mechanism the average person can learn?

    • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

      Sometimes religion has little to do with suicide bombers. Terrorists have abduct the entire families of suicide bombers who are presented with option of blowing themselves up or watching their entire family die.

      • AC

        that sounds like a phillipino movie i saw a bit a go…..

    • AC

      criminey, i’ve got a lot of questions!!

      • Flytrap

         At least their good ones.

      • DrewInGeorgia

        That’s what we need AC, at least you don’t think you have all the answers.

    • brettearle

      Forensic practitioners will look for patterns.

      But I will be bet that you cannot easily predict and you cannot easily generalize.

      But scientists need to and want to do this.  That IS understandable.

      That is their work.

      The more we TRY to look at patterns the more we will ALSO stigmatize the INNOCENT.

      • 1Brett1

        Yes, I agree with this comment. One of things I hate in these tragedies is when people like Clint Van Zandt are promoted as “experts,” FBI profiler types who appear on news shows as “experts.” They spend more time showing off about how good they are at seeing patterns and at speculating on what could possibly be in the mind of a criminal that they do such a disservice to any real analysis. Van Zandt seized on the mention of the shooter having Asberger’s the other day. He kept saying things like, “and Aspie will do this…” or, “an Aspie will think that…” It was appalling. If this man is considered an “expert” by FBI standards, it makes one wonder about the FBI!!

    • 1Brett1

      Your first question is a tricky one with a lot of vague and differing outcomes possible. What is considered “official”? (This would be a good starting question.) The only concrete answers I can think of are: if someone commits a serious crime, and after an arrest a psychiatric clinician makes a diagnosis, that’s official. If someone seeks mental health services help and deeply expresses a detailed desire to severely harm oneself or others, that becomes official. If someone repeatedly shows signs and symptoms of a disturbance that causes repeated environmental disorder, enough so that others legally seek help, resulting in having a person’s competency taken away in a court of law, that’s official. If a child in school shows such disturbance, enough so that a diagnostic label is attached to that child, that becomes official. Otherwise, it’s a little murky…that whole “official” thing.  

      Your second question is even trickier. There is a lot information available of what to look for if one suspects another of mental illness, so I won’t spend time on that, but with some illnesses (schizophrenia, say) the condition may not show up until the person is in his/her twenties. Other illnesses may not seem that serious or be apparent;  folks around people either don’t wish to intrude on another’s innermost thoughts or may see a problem but not see enough of a reason to intervene because it doesn’t seem serious enough to warrant such intrusions. There usually is an accompanying slow deterioration associated with a lot of mental illness; it can manifest initially as something prompting mild concern, only to later degenerate into a very serious condition. Then the question becomes: at what point is intrusion appropriate without unnecessarily maligning someone or ruining his/her reputation, so to speak. Do we act in the antecedent phase of trouble? Also, where is the demarcation line between being proactive and being intrusive?

      Your other questions don’t have clear-cut answers either, but they are great questions that our society needs to spend much more time examining and analyzing. 

      Your last questions have answers that require training, mental health crisis-intervention training. I would like to see all educators at least be highly trained in this area.

      • brettearle

        Why couldn’t excessive zealotry arise out of this incident?:

        Indeed, I am concerned that, soon, the slightest pang of outwardly displayed anxiety, by someone, will be met with serious suspicion.

        NEVER underestimate how noticeably frightened people are capable of becoming.

        • 1Brett1

          I’m trying to find something truly to respond to in your replies…and it may just be the way you’re expressing them…I’m not sure what you mean by “excessive zealotry”? I also see your second paragraph as a little overly simplifying how hysteria gets sparked. If past history is any indication in current society, people spend more time ignoring signs of trouble or dismissing them than they do pointing fingers too quickly at someone who appears a little off kilter.

          Read my comment about crisis intervention above. And I think I might need to clarify the “antecedent phase.” Intervention doesn’t have to be extreme, intrusive, overly zealous, or involving force; it can be gentle but encouraging, persistent but respectful (and, again, encouraging) if handled correctly and done early enough.  

          • brettearle

            If you think that people are not overly fearful, overly angry, and overly anxious these days, about a lot of different things, then you are living on another planet.

            9/11, the Catholic church scandals, and the economic crisis of our country have truly made people overreact about any number of things….whether it’s not allowing adults, into amusement parks, without being accompanied by a child; or being publicly reprimanded for not coughing into your forearm or elbow…..[especially if your cough might have nothing to do with a communicable illness].

            That’s ONLY a part of it.

            Everybody is talking about a breakdown in communication, between people.

            It was even underscored by the private citizens of Newtown–who weren’t affected, directly, with loss of life.

            Wake Up.

          • 1Brett1

            A) I was asking you a question about what you meant by “excessive zealotry.” You seem unclear about that, your reply seems more like ranting.

            B) Your statement, “I am concerned that, soon, the slightest pang of outwardly displayed anxiety, by someone, will be met with serious suspicion.” was what I was mostly responding too, and that (I thought) pertained to this incident/mental illness and violence (NOT issues like the Catholic Church scandals, 9/11 or being rude by coughing  and sneezing on people instead of into your sleeve).

    • Flytrap

       The takeaway, the ACLU won’t let you lock those folks up and they will not let you keep your guns; the NRA will let you keep your guns and lock those folks up.

      • nj_v2

        ^ Troll

        • Flytrap

           Are you a skinny, 20-something with a lousy job, decent fixie and a fat girlfriend?

  • Allen W

    Let’s talk about the closing of two mental health hospitals in Connecticut in recent years. There are limited beds for those who need in-patient care. The problems with insurance coverage for mental illness which forces some prematurely into out-patient care. The changes in HIPPA which means that parents may not be able to get information about young adult children who develop mental health problems at college or soon after turning 18, or who refuse treatment or are randomly compliant with medicines.

    Let’s talk about the rise in prisoners with minor to serious mental health issues and the mis-use of the criminal justice system as the way to “treat” folks who are mentally ill to the point of violence. As I recall, Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown is Connecticut’s facility for the treatment of adult male offenders with significant mental health issues — the location is coincidence, I’m sure, but it speaks to the problems of mentally ill folks who are incarcerated when they could not get treatment in the community.

    • brettearle

      More accessible, and more effective, mental health services will certainly help.

      But can society force those who have not yet become violent to accept treatment or detention?

      I THINK NOT.

  • DeboraLI

    Hello there. I’m trying to listen to this segment but can’t find a link or a way to do so. Is this program going to be aired today? I also cannot find it on the list of programs to listen to today (?!?!)

  • Patrick Lenhart

    Tom, please ask your guests how we can connect mental health disorders, or signals of mental health disorders, of dependents directly connected to a person seeking to own or currently owning a gun to the right of that person to own a gun. …………………………………………………………………………..More broadly, should there be an ongoing annual comprehensive criminal and mental background check for a gun holder and their dependents?………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..Personally, until people chose to acknowledge and fight against the mental health effects of real or virtual war, divorce, sex, violence and drama …. this will continue.

    • Chelsea Smiley

      Mental illness does not mean that someone is more likely to be violent. Past violence is a greater indicator of future violence than mental illness. Should people with mental illness have fewer rights than others?

      • Patrick Lenhart

        If you or your dependent have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder or show signs of a mental health disorder then you bet your sweet bacon you shouldn’t have the right to own a gun.

        If you can’t think straight then you don’t have the right to drive a car, least of all, own a gun.

      • brettearle

        This a tricky and fine-honed point, I think.

        It’s a good point.

        Nevertheless, you can’t expect the public to be comforted by someone owning a gun who has been diagnosed with a major mental illness.

        I also would not be comforted by knowing that someone owns a gun–who does not have a major mental illness but has anger management issues, instead.

        Both categories are a cause for concern.

        While I think that the mentally ill have the right to protect themselves, you can’t convince me that they don’t become violent, sometimes, too–regardless of whether it’s part of their diagnosis. 

        • Patrick Lenhart

          One of the first arguments to come out of this event was the need for more background checks, which clearly wouldn’t haven’t prevented this event. Unless, that background check had identified the dependent of the gun owner as having a mental disorder; therefore, identifying a potentially unstable situation involving a gun and allowing law enforcement to step in and remove this household’s right to own a gun. This would be a significantly more intrusive, yet effective, way of performing a background check.

          Would this solve the issue and make you more comfortable? As a matter of degree, yes, you could feel more comfortable.

          I am asking Tom to pose the question because background checks have repeatedly come up as a countermeasure that could potential reduce the possibility of gun disasters.

          Having said all of this, background checks are merely a band-aid. As I mentioned, until society chooses to acknowledge and fight against the mental health effects of real or virtual war, divorce, sex, violence and drama …. this will continue. In other words, it is a more subtle and fundamental mental problem of society as a whole (sorry for generalizing), beyond the reach of a background check.

  • 1Brett1

    It’s a lot easier to buy a gun than it is to seek out appropriate care for a mental health problem. It’s also easier to demonize and marginalize a whole group of people within our population as part of a (“isolated incident from an errant lunatic”) dismissiveness than it is to thoroughly assess and analyze the best way to bring access to mental health services to any community. 

    Let’s continue to go with the easiest way of handling this problem, a way we already “deal” with this problem; and, let’s continue to do this over and over while expecting different results…Isn’t that the true definition of insanity?

    • brettearle

      Problem is, Brett….let’s face it:

      We CAN reduce the problem.

      But we are NOT going to totally stop it.

      What’s more, I think that there are societal factors going on that will sometimes supercede attempts at mental health deterrents.

      • 1Brett1

        Saying we can’t STOP ALL problems doesn’t really have much value as it reduces discussion to a black and white helplessness.

        And, yes, these problems are complex and many factors are interwoven; but, you see, today’s show is on the mental health services aspect of these problems. Yesterday was the gun control laws aspect. Tomorrow may very well be cultural acceptance of violence, who knows? But today is about mental health discussion.  

        • brettearle

          I don’t agree.

          Saying we can’t stop all problems makes us more realistic, less messianic, and helps us to resist embarking on blind crusades.

          Maybe you weren’t suggesting that my statements were implying a cultural acceptance of violence.

          But if you are suggesting that, then you are part of the problem and not part of the solution.

          You would be jumping to excessive and poorly-thought-out conclusions.

          One NEEDS to be realistic.

          We must assess what the parameters are for us to intervene–SO THAT PEOPLE’S RIGHTS ARE NOT SHATTERED IN THE PROCESS.

          In no way, am I condoning an acceptance of violence.

          • 1Brett1

            I wasn’t suggesting that you condone an acceptance of violence; I do find that very interesting that you somehow get some impression of that in any of my comments. I’m suggesting an analysis of a problem and perhaps through this (as well as some techniques I’ve been aware of over the years) we can begin a conversation of better solutions. 

            What, if any, solutions do you see as having any desirable effect?

          • brettearle

            “I do find that very interesting that you somehow get some impression of that in any of my comments.”

            First, you tried to explain that I definitely said you were implying that I condone a cultural acceptance of violence.

            I stated CLEARLY that you might be or you might not be.

            It is you who inferred too much.

            What more, your quoted comment above–especially with the word, “interesting”–is indeed, passive aggressive and subtly manipulative……and surely subtly provocative

            ….as if it suggests that we must ascribe a subtle or deeply-rooted motive to my point.

            Indeed, you object to any number of my comments–because it is in fact you who ascribes too much psychological interpretation to people’s comments and motives.

            This is the VERY thing that you are objecting to, in some of my comments.

            Ladies and Gentlemen….

            watch this individual demonstrate a PURE form of
            psychological projection.

          • 1Brett1

            Whew, talk about a chip on your shoulder…you at least had the thought cross your mind that I might think your were suggesting an acceptance of condoning violence or you wouldn’t have mentioned it (and I find that interesting as there was nothing in my statement to suggest such); I simply told you I didn’t think that…whatever

    • Flytrap

      It’s easier to buy a gun b/c of the 2nd Amdt and harder to commit someone b/c of the 4th Amdt.  Whose standards of mental health are you going to use?  Traditional “American” values?  Secular humanist values?  Rural or urban values?  In our multicultural society, it’s increasingly difficult to establish what the norms are.  One groups’ determined go getter is another groups bully.  How do you square that circle?

  • 1Brett1

    In every mental health facility I’ve ever worked, one has to pass a crisis intervention training before one can officially carry out one’s duties. In every one of these techniques (by the way, whole cottage industries crop up around certified crisis intervention techniques), there is a common denominator: a person is least likely to respond to intervention when he/she is at the height of his/her crisis, which gives rise to the idea that working within in the antecedent phase of a crisis is optimal to either minimizing or averting a crisis. Once a person is in full crisis mode, to stop this, restraint of some degree is the only intervention. When we’re talking about an armed individual shooting at innocent people, it’s too late for anything other than disabling the killer in some way. 

    We need to be better trained as a society to recognize this “antecedent phase” and to understand an array strategies that could be implemented in this “antecedent phase.” There also needs to be easy access to available services and to information regarding recognizing signs in this “antecedent phase” and early intervention.

    • brettearle

      How reliable is a diagnosis in the “antecedent phase”?

      How reliable can the practitioners be in the “antecedent phase”?

      How often will someone–designated erroneously to be in the “antecedent phase”–be therefore unfairly categorized or profiled?

      • 1Brett1

        “Diagnoses” are overrated! Bad practitioners spend all of their time (using the DSM V) to come up with this diagnosis only to have another clinician say, “no, this person suffers from this disorder.” While I think proper diagnosis is important, I was speaking about intervention. Labeling a person is not intervention. Dealing with the troubled person’s thoughts and actions is where true intervention and even therapy lies. And, while medication is a consideration, any psychiatrist who operates on the basis of “this disorder A gets medication B” is not a very good practitioner.  

        • brettearle

          Diagnosis and intervention are intertwined.

          Unfortunately (or fortunately) they must be periodically `co-dependent’.

          If they’re not, then one suffers from a breakdown in uniform strategy and communication–resulting in a disservice to the patient. 

          At the same time, there must be flexibility from both sides to alter approaches and to compromise.

          But I doubt that this happens as much as we would like.

          • 1Brett1

            In psychiatry maybe diagnosis and intervention are intertwined, but you’re reducing everything to “intervention” is a medication. In psychology, say, in terms of, for example, cognitive behavior therapy, one doesn’t have to have a specific diagnosis to receive this; in fact, the best psychologists don’t even mess much with a “diagnosis,” so you’re wrong on that account; they deal more with problems arising from thoughts and actions and those thoughts and actions, which don’t need a diagnosis. The only things where diagnoses are crucial are schizophrenia and severe bipolar. Anything else is a crap shoot of opinion if one doesn’t treat the patient behaviorally. 

      • 1Brett1

        With regard to the tragedy, this young man’s mother could have gotten all guns out of the house temporarily as there were distinct signs of disturbance on his part (this is a kind of antecedent intervention that doesn’t involve “diagnosis”). He supposedly had a diagnosis at some point and was even home schooled as a result. I haven’t heard anything from anyone about the shooter having any ongoing treatment (another kind of antecedent intervention).

        • anamaria23

          However it happened, this troubled young man was able to get his hands on lethal weapons. 
          It seems a long process will ensue to get the proper help for those afflicted.
          In the meantime, we must do all we can to diminish access to killing machines.
          Let us not be overpowered again by the NRA and a spineless congress who tell us that it cannot be done. 
          Other resolute nations have successfully dealt with the  easy access to guns, especially assault weapons.
          We must insist upon it.

          • 1Brett1

            I agree, but today’s topic is the mental health aspects.

  • http://www.facebook.com/irvwestyouthadvocate Irv West

    I work with struggling teens. Well, that is a mis-statement. I can’t work with them anymore, or get them excited about positives in their life that would sustain them during the “down” periods (in my book I call it their “Islands of Strength”), because they come to me drugged on psychotropics. It is cheaper than therapy, more expedient, and immoral. Of course our adult society models chemical mood “adjustment.” We wake up with caffeine, take a calming chemical (perhaps mixed with a mood stabilizer) during the day, then a sleeping pill at night to neuter the other chemicals.

    • William

       When you were working with struggling teens was there a common root or cause to their problem? For example, parents not involved in their lives, bored with school etc?

      • http://www.facebook.com/irvwestyouthadvocate Irv West

        They were each individual with so many factors exerting influence. What I can say, William, is that consistently both the school, mental health services, and parents try to address problems but do close to nothing to build on their “Island of Strength.” When you build on the positve, the negative (pathology) either dissappears or is more amenable to help. Incidentally I still work with my kids. I cannot imagine life without them. Their strength and courage is amazing… inspiring.

  • Wahoo_wa

    The jump to label this horrific event a mental health issue is troubling and reeks of bad journalism.  I thought the rules for journalism included definitively answering and confirming the “who, what, where, when and why”….not “maybe?…and how about…?”  Reminds me of how the Trayvon Martin case was originally reported as a case of white on black violence.  Why can’t we stick to established facts and not imagined, yet unconfirmed speculation.

    • brettearle

      You raise a good point.

      But do you actually believe that Lanza was in his right mind when he became a mass murderer?

      I doubt it.  His actions reek of being deranged.

      Psychiatry might regard him as insane or temporarily insane.

      But the Law might find him to be within the legal parameters of sanity.

      • Wahoo_wa

        Oh I agree.  Personally I think that anyone who murders another person is far from their right mind.  However, I am not a member of the media and even if I were my personal opinion would remain irrelevant. For me it’s a matter of professional standards, ethics and credibility.

      • Chelsea Smiley

        I think you make a really good point. It is impossible to believe a murderer could be in their right mind, but the media needs to be careful about using sweeping brushstrokes that stigmatize all people with mental illness and put barriers between people expieriencing mental health challenges and healing and acceptance. Who would want to believe that they had a mental illness if they thought that would make them a killer?

        • brettearle

          Good points.

          And I am quite concerned about stigmatization.

          Before you joined the Thread this morning, I have commented about this, in a couple of places.

          This incident is going to make anyone who seems odd, or acts odd, become a potential suspect.

          Profiling could very well….GET….MUCH…..WORSE  

  • L armond

    Please note that law enforcement are called to order if they have a domestic situation of their own, weapons removed until situation is addressed at home.  Am sure this varies, but they have help and counseling ‘on call.’ yet avoid it by asking for help from friends and family rather than have their weapon taken away.
    I think the Native American way is the best, and I think the Blackfeet have a site to the methods of defusing situations that works wonders. 
    Mental Health workers are first to be unfunded, and they, too, respond to the pressures of the ‘political climate.’ and are understress.  Always tread carefully amidst State Boards of Community Mental Health, especially in Jim Crow States.

  • casey1986

     Okay, I will dare to go where no one else has dared to go so far. Let’s imagine that this killer were black.  I can assure you that the tone of this conversation would be much different.  Given the tendency in this country to relate crime to race, why is no one wondering why the vast majority of these crimes are committed by white males?   If these killers were black or Hispanic, there would be much discussion about these men exhibiting behavior which reflect their race or culture.  In other words, people would be looking at factors attributable to their race or ethnicity.  Why aren’t white men the focus of similar narratives?  Instead we focus on the mental state of these white men who commit such horrendous crimes.  There is no evidence that Adam Lanza suffered from any mental health issues.  How quick we are to give him the benefit of the doubt.  It’s time for social scientists to study this group the way they have been studying young black males. We need to expand the definition of  “at risk youth” to include suburban/rural young white males.

    • Wahoo_wa

      Please don’t race bait this issue.  It’s entirely unnecessary.

      • casey1986

        Precisely, but we do that every time a member of a minority group commits a crime. 

    • AC

      then what’s the reason this is happening in China lately? a much more homogeneous culture? also in africa?
      i think the issue of ‘mass murder’ is a mental health issue, because it’s irrational. i don’t think any one type of ethnicity is exempt from it’s grip either…..

      • casey1986

        Well then, are white males more susceptible to being criminally insane since the overwhelming majority of these types of crime are committed by them?

        • AC

          can you please cite your data? i would be interested in it…..

    • Flytrap

       If the killer were a minority and culture was brought up, it would be in the context of the wider “white” culture and what drove them to do something terrible.  The assumed underlying cause would be racism, poverty etc. that could be blamed on the larger culture. 

    • DrewInGeorgia


  • Gregg Smith

    I’m sure everyone heard the psychiatrist who called into Rush yesterday. It was very insightful.


    • 1Brett1

      Insightful in what way?

      • Gregg Smith

        It was for me anyway, assuming she is correct. I did not realize the system had so many holes. I had assumed at some point at the end of a vigorous but timely process a person could be forcibly medicated and temporarily confined while their fuse was burning and before they exploded. I am in no way saying this could have been the case in CT. It seems to me even if there was a medical history, a medical diagnoses, a history of violence, 2 psychiatric evaluations and an intimate knowledge of the medication as it relates to the patient then that is something that can be known and reason to take that person immediately into custody. The lack of that ultimate tool poses an unstoppable threat to any community if the talk is mental health.

        • 1Brett1

          There are so many limitations in the mental health field. It frustrating at times. 

          In the first half of the 20th century, the pendulum was in the other direction, eg., forced institutionalization, forced medication, forced sterilization, forced seclusion, forced straight jacket, forced padded cell, etc. That probably prevented tragedies such as happened in CT, but it also wrongfully institutionalized [imprisoned] people who could have been easily managed and could have led normal, productive lives.

          I guess the question becomes, where should the demarcation line be?

          • Gregg Smith

            Hopefully we are better at things now than a century ago. I’m not really qualified to comment on where that line should be but I do think there should be one somewhere. 

          • 1Brett1

            Yeah, I agree in that in all of these back and forth pendulum swings most of the time the default seems to be too much in either one or other extreme, and most standards seem to be set based on a reaction to some old standard.

      • DrewInGeorgia

        Maybe he meant incite-full.

    • nj_v2


      The poor caller keeps trying to make legitimate points, and drug-addled gasbag Limpballs keeps making incoherent rants against “liberals.”

      Flush has no f’ing idea why the G. Pierce Wood facility was closed, yet he’s drooling that it was “liberals” that closed it because patients have “rights.”

      Why does anyone pay attention to this idiot?

      • Flytrap

         Your hostility and narrow minded bigotry is off the charts. 

    • DrewInGeorgia

      And I’m sure everyone didn’t.

  • L armond

    Lawyers of Connecticut should develop a model law so that parents can get signed statements that there is no access to guns in the homes they want their children to be able to play at.   There should be means and methods to protect children in the homes of others.  My experience personally has been with boys being boys.  Mother Nature is not respected by the NRA.  They prefer sophistry and name calling.  Signed releases, etc., and damages and loss of property to those whose domiciles are a danger to living things, and have no forsight, should be part of the law.  Truly wise men and women can get around the NRA and their minions.

    • brettearle

      To recommend contractual agreements for protection– before children visit the homes of other children, in order to play–is an example of outrageous overreaction.

      Why don’t you stay inside all day, and night, and ask a cab driver to deliver you some groceries? 

      If we let the Newtown tragedy enter our psyche to such a degree that we are monitoring, excessively, a number of aspects of our lives, then we might as well be replaced  by computer chips.  [Guess that's happening, anyway.]

      • 1Brett1

        As much as I don’t agree with L armond’s comment, Maybe instead of meeting every comment with a contrary reply, try coming up with some solutions of your own to express? I’m interested in ideas you might have

        You responded to every one of my comments with something negative/contrary (and you’ve essentially misunderstood them all), except the one comment I made asking you for ideas, which you ignored. Just playing devil’s advocate today too?

        • brettearle

          It’s not my fault you can’t handle criticism.

          What’s more, where is it written that anyone ought to have a solution for what may be intractable problems?

          Where is it written that anyone should have a solution, even for problems that can be improved?

          What’s more, pointing out and identifying problems is almost as important as finding solutions.

          You can’t fix problems without identifying them.

          • 1Brett1

            Wow…look, it’s just that your replies are made by reducing the other person’s comment to it’s lowest common denominator and then pouncing. Hey, if you wish to engage on that level, so be it. I was hoping to get more out of you. 

            “…pointing out and identifying problems is almost as important as finding solutions.”

            What problems have you identified in your comments?

      • L armond

        Mr. Earle, I was with parents on two separate occasions when they received the news that their sons had been killed accidentally by their best friends.  This was in the sixties and 80′s.  Now there are means and methods to control for these circumstances.  Banks and Baggers know how to use fine print to their advantage, as do lawmakers. I have always been prepared but aware of my circumstances, and am mostly outdoors.  You however, seem to be of another nature, and we are not intimidated by your Bob Jones University club training.

        • brettearle

          I literally do not know what you are talking about.

          Anyone who recommends contractual arrangements, for home visits, may as well monitor everyone’s thoughts and breath.

          Its not only absurd but it strikes at the very heart of how our society will increase its dysfunction, as the result of the hysteria, in the aftermath of Newtown.

    • Flytrap

       What about stairs, pools, knives, heavy furniture etc.?  Truly wise men go by relative risk and facts.  http://anesi.com/accdeath.htm

  • Chelsea Smiley

    I just want to say that I am worried about all of this linkage of the words mental illness and violence. People with mental illness are more likely to have violence committed against them than to commit violence against others. Further more, the young man in the most recent terrible tragedy had a mental health challenge that is NOT linked to increased violence AT ALL. 
    I agree that any time someone kills there must be something seriously wrong with that individual and that someone who wasn’t “troubled” wouldn’t have done what this young man did, but making people with mental illness scary is not the way to heal from traumatic horrifying moments like this. 
    All of us have a friend or loved one who experiences mental illness. Many people with mental illness do not feel comfortable “coming out” so you may not even know what your friends, coworkers or family members are going through. Please use the media with care and help remove barriers to treatment and acceptance by not spreading mis-information.

    • brettearle

      People with Asberger’s can become violent.

      Are you suggesting that while they may become violent it doesn’t necessarily mean that violence is to be recognized by psychiatry as a manifestation of the illness?

      If so, you may have an excellent point.

      I.E. One’s generic diagnosis might get in the way of probing deeper, as to motive and one’s life circumstances.

      Also, Lanza might have had a personality disorder and/or something else. 

      The same might hold true for other psychiatric conditions, as far as for what I have mentioned above.

      I am only speculating.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    I find it harder and harder to believe that the Republican party and NRA have the interests of the general public at heart. As governor of California, Ronald Reagan began to systematically empty mental hospitals and as President, continued his war on mental health resulting in countless numbers of the mentally ill living on the streets, homeless, including many vets.

    The Reagan revolution was a pretense to make America more ‘competitive’, yet here we are 30 years later, deeper in debt than ever (let us not forget that Reagan roughly tripled out debt; our manufacturing base devastated, jobs being exported to China and India, and the wealthy are getting richer at an ever increasing pace paying record low taxes, lower than Joe Workerbee. Poverty and gun violence are growing, and we have put more people in prison than any country on the entire planet; that’s not per capita, but absolute numbers.

    The next time you see a homeless person screaming at the air on the streets as you pass by; the next time there is a mass school shooting, the next time you worry about the national debt, remember: there’s the fruit of the Reagan revolution – lower taxes, increased spending, the freedom to own a trunk full of assault rifles, and one big party for all on Wall Street and K Street.

    • nj_v2

      Somewhat OT…

      In his own, special, dissembling way, Obummer is forging on with the Reagan Revolution. While crying for the shooting victims, he’s apparently about to screw over countless other families by giving away the farm on Social Security and Medicare in a “bargain” with the Rethuglicons.

      I hope OnPoint does a show on this where full-throated ranting on this will be more appropriate.

      • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

        We’re talking about human suffering. Mental health is a very a serious problem exacerbated by political agendas advertized as good for ‘US’ when in fact the agendas are for the benefit of a select few at great expense to the majority of the People.

        If we don’t fix the political, if we don’t reject agendas like those of the NRA, we we have little hope of improving things like care for the mentally ill. That is far from over the top, it is political and fiscal reality.

  • AC

    well this is interesting; 1927

    ……maybe interesting isn’t the appropriate word…

    • brettearle

       How soon will bombs be as accessible as guns?

      Yes, there are more ways to be a mass-murder than just using firearms–but I think that firearms will be the WMD of choice for the foreseeable future.

      • AC

        lol, i meant the era and his personal history, and his psychological mindset
        i’m not that interested in the mechanical question on this issue, i’m much more interested in the eosoteric question. i hate not being able to understand the why of things….
        but this puts the question of media/games etc too violent as the reason in doubt + highlights how difficult it is to trully define, we grapple to fix it but can’t….

        • brettearle

          Your ‘lol’ belies a disregard for how significant the evaluation of a delivery system (your so-called mechanical question) is for devising a strategy against those capable of mass violence.

          • AC

            but that was yesterday’s show, why would i not care more about the mental illness part today? how do you propose to stop it when you can’t even define it and catch it in time? why does it happen at all, all over the world in every society? course, i was focusing on mass murder in general when the show was focused on lack of resources and failure within the system expected to deal with it, so i misunderstood the show premise also…

      • Flytrap

         Oh, that’s right, you need a permit for propane tanks, nails, ball bearings and gasoline. 

  • NrthOfTheBorder

    I don’t know about the rest of you but I’d like to hear more about why is it that some people are so compelled to cling to their guns.

    Why is it that any talk of reasonable gun control sets off a firestorm of protest from the gun lobby and their ilk?  

    Is it possible to have a national obsession with guns ?


    • http://www.facebook.com/john.m.cogswell John M Cogswell Jr

      The United States is the most drug addicted nation in the world.  For me, all it takes is someone trying to enter my home with me, my wife and two toddlers sleeping inside to make me grateful that I have a firearm to hold on to while I wait for the police to respond.  It’s that simple, for me.  Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, and no- I did not have to fire, thank God.

      • http://www.facebook.com/john.m.cogswell John M Cogswell Jr

        But I do feel we need to find a compromise to make us safer.  Outlawing all guns only makes anyone with a gun an outlaw.  And criminals are not concerned with laws, to begin with.

        • DrewInGeorgia

          Nobody is talking about outlawing all guns.
          Settle down. The Gun Control discussion was yesterday, wrong thread.

          • http://www.facebook.com/john.m.cogswell John M Cogswell Jr

            Thank you!

          • Acnestes

            I am.  Everything but single shot flintlocks, as the Founding Fathers intended.

        • Mike_Card

          And when badges are outlawed, only outlaws will have badges.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Hey, some of us already don’t need no stinking badges!

          • nj_v2

            Just for the record…

            That’s the common, condensed, but never uttered, version of the actual lines.

            “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Who is saying to outlaw all guns? Cite, please.

    • brettearle

      Guns represent a false and inflated sense of power, not simply protection.

    • Phylax_L

      it’s a fact!!

    • Wahoo_wa

      “Is this a particularly American phenomenon?” would be a good question.

      • NrthOfTheBorder

        Maybe it’s an American phenomenon because it’s gotten out of control. I

        t’s as if the country has given into an irrational premise that reasonable regulation would lead to a total ban. Then, as guns proliferate so does the fear of [other] people with guns – and there you have it. 

    • Acnestes

      I think a lot of it is a holdover from the settlement of the American west.  Not the same as Canada where the Mounties pacified the west and then the settlers followed.  The Wild West disappeared a long time ago but the mindset didn’t, so you might say that in a sense America has a case of arrested development as far as guns go.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      This show is on Mental Health.

      • NrthOfTheBorder

        Good point. But [some] mental illness leads to gun violence which in turn raises questions about gun control. 

        I wonder how the culture impacts the mentally ill who choose to use guns.

        • DrewInGeorgia

          I’ll try again. Gun Control is yesterday’s thread, there are over 600 comments waiting for you to interact with them on yesterday’s thread.

          • NrthOfTheBorder

            Fair enough.

    • Bluejay2fly

      She (Mother of the Conn school shooter) was a survivalist who stock piled guns. Ironically, she could not see her own demise at the hands of her own demented lifestyle. She, her son, and many others would still be alive if she obsessed on gardening or something less paranoid and violent. I own and like military weapons and banning them would punish collectors like me. Remember semi auto pistols are just as deadly in mass shootings so nothing short of banning all handguns (except revolvers) and semi auto rifles would prevent this tragedy. Since the USA has over 200 million guns it would be easier to focus on school security than to disarm an unwilling population of that magnitude. 

    • peterlake

      Sure, it’s possible.
      So what?
      I’m as obsessed about the other amendments in the Bill of Rights as I am the Second Amendment.
      Which ones don’t you like? (Besides the Second, of course.)

  • http://wh.gov/IVp4 Yar

    Prevalence and Age-of-Onset of Mental Disorders
    Unlike most disabling physical diseases, mental illness begins very early in life. Half of all lifetime cases begin by age 14; three quarters have begun by age 24. Thus, mental disorders are really the chronic diseases of the young. For example, anxiety disorders often begin in late childhood, mood disorders in late adolescence, and substance abuse in the early 20′shttp://www.nimh.nih.gov/science-news/2005/mental-illness-exacts-heavy-toll-beginning-in-youth.shtml

    Before you set sail for a long trip you take a maiden voyage to test a ship’s seaworthiness.  This is part of the concept behind my push for two years of public service. We must launch our children into a safe society.   To take care of our own we must also care about others. Please talk about how requiring public service has helped our nation in the past and how it can help us now.  I beg you to make it part of the discussion.  The merits will become apparent once the subject is given voice.
    Jobs, skills, education, public health.

    This is not as far in left field as your caller yesterday.  The one that claimed the Russians are hiding in the hills.  If she had served two years when she was young, maybe she would have the help she needs.  At least we would know who she is, and an idea of her illness.  You can’t really test a person without putting them to work.  Part of our economic stagnation is that companies don’t want to make that initial investment to test youth.  So we send kids to school longer and longer, and many never learn how to work.  
    It is easy to make a profit on the talented, yet what should society do with the leftovers?  This is the friction between capitalism and socialism.  Sometimes it ends in tragedy.We can do better.

    • peterlake

      Regardless of the merits, forced public service is involuntary servitude and I believe that went out of fashion in 1864.

      • http://wh.gov/IVp4 Yar

        You should never tell your child to make his bed?

        • DrewInGeorgia

          Your child, sure. It’s the ‘someone else’s child’ part that makes things tricky.

          • http://wh.gov/IVp4 Yar

            That is why they are all our children.
            Read the words of our President.

            But we, as a nation, we are left with some hard questions. Someone once described the joy and anxiety of parenthood as the equivalent of having your heart outside of your body all the time, walking around. With their very first cry, this most precious, vital part of ourselves — our child — is suddenly exposed to the world, to possible mishap or malice. And every parent knows there is nothing we will not do to shield our children from harm.

            And yet, we also know that with that child’s very first step, and each step after that, they are separating from us; that we won’t — that we can’t always be there for them. They’ll suffer sickness and setbacks and broken hearts and disappointments. And we learn that our most important job is to give them what they need to become self-reliant and capable and resilient, ready to face the world without fear.

            And we know we can’t do this by ourselves. It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize, no matter how much you love these kids, you can’t do it by yourself. That this job of keeping our children safe, and teaching them well, is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community, and the help of a nation. And in that way, we come to realize that we bear a responsibility for every child because we’re counting on everybody else to help look after ours; that we’re all parents; that they’re all our children.

            This is our first task — caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.

          • DrewInGeorgia

            I agree and as I have said in the past I admire your efforts especially if Required Service is primarily Humanitarian in nature. I was just commenting on the difficulties of implementing it.

          • http://wh.gov/IVp4 Yar

            I see it as humanitarian, I see our current path of exploitation as inhumane.  We have slavery and won’t even  prepare for the aging society we are becoming.  We live in willing ignorance.  How bad must it get before we change?  We would rather dispense a pill than give a person meaningful work.  And all for profit of someone other than the individual.

  • L armond

    There was at one time a tradition of observing and respondint in the medical professions.  This is now ‘verboten’ as is all conversation that doesn’t fill in a blank, and the whip snappers are over all functionaries.  I think of Harry Stack Sullivan,  a Russian One of WWI, Vyakovsky or similar, and most recently to my experience, Pavel Siminov, and his ‘Information Theory of Emotions.’ which was disparaged in the US because of the introductory obedience to the code of the system at the time.  Now we have machines, no great minds to follow in the US, so what is new.  We are all Goya, Too.  

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Note all the Gun Control discussion when the topic is Mental Health. What does it say about our collective Mental Health when we cling to our personal ideologies regardless which side of the issue we’re on and despite heartbreaking tragedy?
    We have a National Obsession with Ourselves.
    This is the whole problem, we’re all ‘mentally ill’.

    • 1Brett1

      Thanks, Drew. There are so many aspects to these problems, but mental health services are today’s topic.

  • Wahoo_wa

    Well at least it appears that Tom reviews the comments.

  • Jillian Nowlin

    While the United States has to have a serious discussion about effectively aiding those with mental health disorders and their families, I’m fearful that we may start demonizing everyone with mental health issues because of a select few with severe and violent mental health disorders. The CDC says that 1 in 10 adults report depression and this doesn’t account adults that don’t report depression or even children and adolescents that fall under the radar.  Additionally, a greater number of adolescents are engaging in self-harm acts such as cutting more than ever before. We already stigmatize those with mental health illness which is what I believe prevents people from seeking help.

    As an American society, I don’t think we’re doing nearly enough to address how we’re providing support for those and their families with mental health issues. And I don’t think we’re doing nearly enough to address the mental health issues of children, teenagers and young adults, especially young men. And I fear it will only get worse if more young people grow into adulthood with serious debt and poor job prospects. We’ve become a society so consumed with things and money and when there’s a problem in our lives we run to seek out more things. This is what we’re teaching our children and young people and I believe that’s leaving a serious void for outlet of feelings and how to deal with our feelings in a healthy way. We need to start addressing these issues with compassion and greater understanding as a community of people rather than with attitudes of accusation and individualism.

  • RRRyanPawlet

    Also let’s not ignore our propagandizing of violence through excessive violence in movies AND video games that desensitizes even the healthiest children!

    • AC

      i just mentioned this because i posted a wiki profile of a man who killed a lot of people and children before killing himself in 1927; and he lived in a rural area 
      ok -the amount of exposure to this may be a variable, but unfortunately, i don’t think it’s so easy to pinpoint one outside factor….

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Yes, it’s everybody’s fault but our own.
      Don’t like it? Don’t watch it.

  • viacarrozza

    Please ask the guest about the mentally ill going OFF their medications…

  • 228929292AABBB

    Three of the many difficulties with this approach are that – 1) diagnoses are extremely common among children now, no one wants to say they’re a bad parent and the behavior of children is far more often attributed to a nebulous ‘condition’ so your target population is enormous 2) all boys draw and fantasize about massacres, sadly.  Even the nicest boys draw EVERYTHING with a turret on it, so again your target population is enormous and 3) (I am someone who works with children receiving mental health services) the quality of mental health services and frankly the quality of practitioners at the lower end of the health care scale is utter crap.  As long as anyone with a pulse and a troubled past can get an LCSW these programs will do as much harm as good. 

    That’s not to say I disagree with this approach, just that if we’re serious about it it’s a massive effort, not just ‘making existing services more available’.

  • kokyjo

    agreed.   All of us are mentally ill.   Separating the mentally ill from the mentally healthy is a futile attempt to focus our energies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

    Psychotic, antisocial people make other people sick, injured & dead. If one subscribes to the Darwinian philosophy that the fittest (ie: most heavily armed) are society’s winners then it follows that lesser armed victims of violent psychotics are all losers, right?

    The NRA wants us all to accept this as fact. The USA is riddled with psychosis. It’s trained in from birth. “Be a winner, get a gun.” How sick, sad & lazily pathetic. I have lost all faith in the American people at this point. All a non-violent person can do is avoid contact with other people. That gives the gun-toting bullies even more power to kill us all as their addled whims dictate.

  • 1OnPointFan

    Regarding the question of vicarrozza, I have heard many stories of young men who were diagnosed and perscribed, but refuse to take their meds.  What about that?

  • Jian Sun

    It’s a common mistake of psychologists to say people with mental health issues can be violent – they cannot tell the difference precisely because they think the violence is NOT violent. Keeping weapons away from these people are a no brainer. However it takes guts for Americans to challenge the Constitution. Rule of law is absolutely right but the law can change.

  • http://feedmedaily.blogspot.com/ Julia

    Many people vying for the gun lobby have maintained that ‘more guns, less violence.’ This stance is horrific to me. As someone dealing w Major Depression and food addiction, there have been many times when suicidal ideation has plagued my mind. Had guns been readily available to me, that ideation may have escalated. I know my parents have been ravaged by worry b/c of my illness. I’m luck to have adequate mental healthcare, but still feel as though it is a handicap not to be mentioned. 

  • B Holbrook

    Treating mental health is like treating obesity.  Necessary, but not sufficient.  What are the underlying issues that drive these behaviors?  

    We live in a culture with very few appropriate outlets for anger.  Workplace politics, taboo subjects, and societal norms brew resentment and rage.  These violent acts are merely externalization of thoughts that are typically repressed.  Isn’t what we’re labeling as “mental health” in this context, the inability to suppress these thoughts?

    • Jillian Nowlin


  • ToyYoda

    is there a connection between violent outbursts and child abuse?  What about if the child is abused AND mentally ill?

    • Chelsea Smiley

      child abuse can create trauma and does cause stress in a child’s life. This can increase risk factors and decrease protective factors. Note – an increased risk for mental illness does not mean an increased risk for violence. Most children from abusive homes do not go on to be abusers.

  • brettearle

    To mandate treatment for the mentally ill, before they ever become violent, is walking down a very slippery slope toward a serious violation of individual liberties.  

  • Dugboy

    There appears to be evidence of links between SSRI drugs actually helping cause the killings — by turning depressed but nonviolent kids into persons who are more suicidal and disassociated from reality –capable of putting 11 bullets into a child.  See online lists of the number of shooters who were on SSRI’s.  Please at-least touch on the subject.

    • L armond

      True, but goes unreported in the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy of FDA.  Drs. do not report the reptile brain taking over, and the patients describe it well, and it can not be doused with alcohol.  The FDA and their sponsors set this response up and take the parents of these young adults on a choo choo train ride.  Form to report should be online, so one can pull it up in Dr.s office, and send from the right location.  Public Health Psychiatrists don’t have the time, and perhaps they would be ‘punished’ by their drug providers.  Anyway, they might be on pins and needles.  The PTSD victims suffer this same problem with reporting their reactions, which are freequently what they need when on point.  But that response isi ‘educated’ in the soldier, or marine.  And there is ‘adult oversight’  This does not pertain in the ‘drug pushing FDA’ rackets.  They are marketers first and always.

    • 1Brett1

      That’s also a problem of monitoring. If someone has thoughts of suicide/homicide/violence/increased depression in taking such medication, not only will it crop up soon after medication has started but it would be cause to discontinue medication. If someone continues to take such medication if these feelings begin to manifest themselves/increase, or takes them intermittently, that would be an inappropriate use of the medication.

  • Gromet32

    What do you do when you think someone is off, mentally ill but not necessarily violent at least currently? You can’t force them to go to the doctors. Do you call the police? Do you call an ambulance?  What do you do? How do you get them evaluated? I worked as a college residential life professional and the onset of mental illness happens a great deal in the 18 to 25 age range. A college roommate will approach me about their roommates’ odd behavior and then I can check in with them and contact the college mental health services which can do a more through assessment and contact parents. However, outside in the greater community I don’t know what the options are.

  • http://www.facebook.com/UnfoldingStoryPictures Zee Zarbock

    Hello to Pete Early from Carol “Zee” Zarbock–the still unfinished mental health documentary person you know. The economy took out my documentary and it is still on hiatus! :-(  So glad to hear your son’s doing better! Please email me at zee@ziamar.com if you have a moment. I’m hoping we might come out of hiaitus soon.

  • AC

    how do you judge between mental ill rage or if a person is snapping momentarily from anger and just needs a couple of hours to cool off?

    • 1Brett1

      Good question. Hopefully, this said person has a support system around him/her who knows him/her well, so that spotting the difference is not the total task of strangers having no rapport with the person. Also, the difference between a well-trained competent mental health professional and a mediocre/poorly-trained/ incompetent one can be staggering…You’d be surprised (appalled?)

  • http://www.facebook.com/norma.s.roche Norma Sims Roche

    Let’s not forget about bullying. Mightn’t a kid who could otherwise keep it together snap under the frustration and humiliation of relentless bullying? I hope the bullying prevention efforts that are starting to show up in schools will play a role in making us all safer.

  • ianway

    Ah yes, the problem with the epidemic of killings by guns in this country is the 1% of the mentally-ill who are violent, and if only knives instead of guns were available the violence would be the same!  What a diversion of the national outrage people are for once and properly feeling about our servitude to the death industry. I think it’s a sign of our collective mental illness that we are unwilling to see the obvious fact that the outrageous level of murder of people in this country is a direct result of the ready available of weapons whose whole purpose is to tear through human flesh efficiently and effectively.  We are so entranced with weapons we cannot even consider the reality in front of our eyes and quickly shift the emphasis to something else.  This is the very definition of “delusional.”

  • Jian Sun

    Here is a challenge for your moral principle – Is it better off for everybody to commit abortion when parents are informed that the fetus is mentally ill?

  • http://www.facebook.com/magyar641 Michael Sawyer-Todd

    In the 90s Michigan closed most of its best in the country state mental hospitals, turning most of the patients onto the street. They were basically then picked up and put into our prison system.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/XOXKE3SOOSOO4USMQCJHD5JBDA Mo

    As a member of a family that has dealt with mental illness (Asperger’s,
    Bi-Polar) I would like to point out a couple of points that haven’t been
    broached. A high-functioning person with mental illness has very few options for
    treatment. Even with clear bi-polar with documented related episodes of
    psychosis, to enter the mental health system or to be adequately medicated, one
    must have a few things that come with great difficulty for someone with such an

    A job and the health insurance that comes with
    it. High functioning mentally ill people have great challenges in the work
    place. They often don’t even know that their ill and face a growing frustration
    with the roadblocks that poses at work, often ending up temping or working
    infrequently, thus not covered by insurance and unable to seek reasonable
    mental healthcare options.

    Social stigmatism. Why would anyone willingly seek
    the stigmatizing treatment of a stigmatizing illness when they a). are dealing
    with the very real and natural denial of such a realization and, b). the life
    sentence of a documented illness that is far more likely to land (especially
    males) in jail than in appropriate care.

    Thus, we have created a gauntlet to getting help for folks
    who are dealing with distorted reality and self-awareness and the periodic
    psychosis that goes hand in hand with many mental illnesses – which is what
    eventually lead them to “fight back,” which is how people experiencing mental
    illness often view a lifetime of bullying, dismissal and punishment for
    something that they can’t help.


    Then add ready access to weapons of war intended only in
    their design to kill as many as possible and we have the current state of the
    American mental healthcare system.


  • Robyn H

    the worst thing we can do is not talk about mental illness.  we stigmatize ppl w/ mental illness when we DONT openly discuss how common it is.  my domestic partner is bipolar.  for 20yrs of his life he thought he was just a jerk.  he didn’t know why he couldn’t hold a job or keep relationships with friends & family (who all treated him like he was simply a bad person). if he had not found a person who understands mental illness and helped him come to terms and then get treated for his illness, he may very well have ended up homeless or violent–especially towards himself.

    and unfortunately, from my experience, ppl who understand and can identify mental illness are incredibly rare. I was the first person in 20yrs to recognize his condition and what could be done to help make him realize the amazing person he is!

    • citizen2001

      Would you please describe the treatment that helped your friend?

    • citizen2001

      Would you please describe the treatment that helped your friend?  My brother has been searching for help for decades.  All he got was severe Parkinson’s disease from long term medication.

  • leslie412

    Even if one receives treatment in a facility, those institutions are very, very similar to prison.  Cold showers, almost no psychiatric care whatsoever (it took a full week for a doctor proper to see me while I was there, and he barged into my room at 5 am for no more than five minutes), no time outdoors, rice porridge for every meal- this was 6 years ago, not decades ago.  Our mental health perspective needs to change as well- to become actually healthy.

  • Charley Harvey

    Tom, we need to face the fact that we live in a very TOXIC Culture. The proliferation of violent games, movies, Gansta posers have lowered the bar for when and where violence is an appropriate response. Beyond that, the NRA justifies gun “solution”. These are the vulnerable among us, and this Toxic culture has put us all at risk

    Charley, a truck driver from Asheville NC

    • DrewInGeorgia

      The TOXIC culture is not a result of violent games, movies, or Gangsta posers. These things are the symptoms, not The Disease.

  • Robyn H

    thank you–well put

  • AaronNM

    If we had national, universal coverage, of which mental health would be a part, cradle to grave support would be part of the mix. I believe a lot of the stigma surrounding seeking treatment, either for one’s self or for one’s child, would dissipate and increase the chances of screening those kids with severe disorders.

    Also, and this is key for me, people who DON’T have a diagnosed condition, such as anger management, would have opportunities to get treatment. Since anger and impulse control drive most gun-related crimes (primarily in the home) it seems that we have a better chance of reducing incidents, large and small, by revisiting a national solution.Of course it must be complemented with a concurrent review and action on gun control – that goes without saying.

  • weblizard

    Please ask Ms. Rehmer about the upcoming budget cuts in CT!  I spoke with a public counselor yesterday- they’re getting big cuts, so even more people who need treatment will be left to their own devices…

  • Lifeline123

    I normally love this show, but I’m appalled, Tom, that you’d invite  E. Fuller Torrey, of all people to speak on this issue. He is notorious in the recovery community as an anti-advocate. Not to mention his absurd (career-serving) conflation of what’s happening in these mass shootings with schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. Hey Torrey, have you seen these guys’ diagnoses or even read the literature?? You can do better, Tom.

  • AC

    didn’t men used to have their wives ‘involuntarily committed’ when they wanted new wives? i have no idea where i heard that. not sure i believe it either….

    • Mike_Card

      I have heard or read the same.  For some reason, it seems to me it was more prevalent in Europe until maybe a hundred years ago and it further seems that it was done in Asia until more recently.

    • 1Brett1

      In Victorian times, back in the days of that patriarchal society, it happened; and, it continued in some lesser form up through the 1940s. In Victorian times, there were two mental illnesses: melancholia and hysteria, and women were the ones “diagnosed” with these. Mood swings from a difficult menstrual cycle: hysteria! Post-partum depression: melancholia! …And so on. There were also those purely greedy machinations, too: unhappy marriage yet wanting to keep the wife’s wealth: commitment to a sanitarium!

      • AC

        i’m pretty sure i would have been unfortunate and committed if i lived then, my hubby tells me i’m crazy all the time….:<

        • 1Brett1

          No swooning couch for you! Straight to the sanitarium! ;-)

    • 1Brett1

      While not very comforting, it was a marginal improvement over medieval times: “she’s mad due to demonic possession/a troll living in her stomach! To the dungeon goes she!” ….”Yes, me-lord!” Which may have been a marginal improvement over, “to the executioner’s axe for not bearing me an heir!” …”Yes, me-lord!” 

      History hasn’t really cut women much of a break, I’d say…

      • AC

        among the working classes, too? i wonder….

        • 1Brett1

          No, if a woman had nothing and she was married, she was too valuable as a cook, cleaner, child bearer, etc. If she became beset with a mental health issue, she was probably treated a little better than a woman of means or position. If she wasn’t married, she was a servant; or, if she had some issue with mental wellness, she was either sent to a nunnery, cast out as a trollop (then locked up in some way), or otherwise cast aside…man, I’m depressing myself.

          • AC


  • Leah Foster

    I think we need to address gender. No woman has gone on a rampage killing strangers; many of them children. Could socialization of our boys and men be part of the problem? 

    • AC
    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      Yes. The statistics clearly show that males are responsible for 99% of all random mass shootings. Females, when they snap, aim for people they know & have some personal grudge against. The gun lobby & female gun owners may scream as loudly as they like that both men & women are equally responsible for these atrocities but that just proves how utterly insane they are. It is simply not true that women kill others indiscriminately like men do, not now & not ever before in human history. 

  • AnnMarieToyle

    THANK YOU for stressing the fact that mentally ill people are more likely to be victims that be perpetrators of crime.

  • Unterthurn

    Guns need to be removed from American households, because nobody is going to catch every mentally ill person. If one becomes momentarily “enraged” or “crazy” or “whatever” and they cannot get their hands on a weapon so easily then one life saved is already a win win situation.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      guns, guns, guns, guns, guns, guns, guns, guns, guns, guns…

      The show is about Mental Health!

      • NrthOfTheBorder

        Drew. Come back in a couple of months…I mean when this tragedy has faded.. then you can be literal in insisting on such a conversation be only about MH. 

        Or, call  the station and insist John & guests stay on topic!

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

        It’s about mentally ill people- diagnosed or undiagnosed- with OPEN ACCESS to guns.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/J2E5WCCXCATY6OYFURYWT2WU74 NicholasO

        Its a direct connection to this tragic event!

        • DrewInGeorgia

          It’s a direct disconnect from this tragic event.

  • Maureen O’Neill – Davis

    I have an 8-year old with attachment-rooted, early childhood trauma-based, depression and PTSD and more. The State of CT is a joke when it comes to services for the mentally ill, especially relative to children and their needs and the needs of their family. I know. I’m going through it right now.

  • http://twitter.com/mkaly mkal

    I am from East Africa where there is zero mental health care but you never hear of gun mass killings and that is because of strict gun access laws. People that are mentally ill over there may have access to a machete but its easy to deal such a person than someone holding a semiautomatic rifle. I would argue that yes we need to treat the mentally ill but the main issue here is the an abated access to guns period.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    1. “Starve the beast” class warfare is decreasing public mental health resources. Redistribution of wealth to the top is decreasing the % of jobs that provide good health care and increasing stress. Let’s not hypocritically talk about the importance of mental health while continuing to follow policies that damage it.

    2. Don’t let anything divert the discussion from the plague of guns.

  • OnpointListener

    Could guardianship and other laws play a role here?

    Could a treated mentally ill person give a power of attorney to a primary caregiver that would allow the caregiver to make the medical decision making.  At the time the power is given, a physician should be present attesting to the then current competency of the person.

    And what about guardianship laws.  Once a person gets into trouble and is clearly not competent, can’t the caregiver seek to be appointed as guardian for the person>

    • KarenOmaha38

      Yes. This is an option….but it is a very very difficult and (often) lengthy process. There is also a question about liability as this progresses also.  While the guardianship would allow you to compel ongoing treatment (therapy, diet, exercise, counseling, medication compliance — whatever it may be), it also doesn’t give you physical control of an adult (of legal age) human being. 

      In my particular situation, becoming the guardian of my very mentally ill adopted brother means I may bear some liability (in a civil/litigious sense) when he commits his next crime.  He will commit another crime. While I do not know what it will be, I know that he is not capable in his state of mind to have the presence and forethought to avoid it. Particularly if he becomes particularly manic, feels entitled, desperate, or enraged.

      Further, he is a physically large human being. As a guardian, I can order his prescription and bring it to his residence.  But, part of the nature of some (I’m careful not to generalize) mental illness, is that often when they are most in need of assistance they do not believe there is a problem with their behavior, actions, thoughts or impulses. Therefore, unless he is forced, he does not usually take his medicine because he cannot reason why his actions may be dangerous, unacceptable — or at best, will not help him remain employed, functioning, with housing, or otherwise.

      When medicated, he still has difficulty — but he is much more likely to function in a way that at least allows him to participate in relationships and society in a productive or non-harmful manner.  I also think it’s *very* important for people to distinguish intelligence from mental illness. A discussion of one of these capacities is not the discussion of another.

      The bigger issue is treatment. Access. Availability. Affordability. Community Awareness. Laws and funding that recognize and support families and individuals so that they can maximize the potential of the mentally ill individual to participate in society, form meaningful attachments and relationships, avoid becoming victims of crimes or the perpetrators of them.

      This young man in the Sandy Hook massacre has some unfortunate hallmarks of mental health difficulty…. and this means that someone recognized his difficulties sooner than later.  That’s the good news.  The bad news, is that as a 20 year old, he was no longer minor, and we do not know that he was compelled by anyone or anything to seek treatment on his own, or at the very least work with professionals on an on-going basis to help him recognize how very serious and dangerous his impulses or ideas (as he planned this event) were.

      I hope this tragedy is the start of a conversation that is long overdue.  Gun control is critically important, but this is only part of the solution. 

  • Wahoo_wa

    The more I hear this father speak the more I am convinced that mental health issues are better addressed separately from the raw emotion and shock of a violent event.  Especially considering there is no proof the assailant was mentally ill at this time.  Tom is doing more harm than good.

    • jefe68

      So committing mass murder is normal?
      The shooter showed no empathy towards 6 year old children. He just shot them and then shot them again.

      • Wahoo_wa

        I neither imply that conclusion, nor do I state that conclusion explicitly.  The shooter’s mental health has not been evaluated by a competent professional.  I only suggest that the idea of a professional journalist jumping to conclusions and whipping up an audience into an emotional frenzy is poor judgement at best.  I see two issues here that both deserve to be addressed…actually three..mental health, the tragic events in Connecticut and gun legislation.  I expect journalists to stick to the facts when addressing these issues.  Mental health has not been determined as a factor AT THIS TIME.  

  • yingyangyou

    As a former psychiatric care provider within psychiatric hospitals, private and public, in the 1970s/1980s, I witnessed the dismantlement of state psychiatric facilities by politicians who saw this process as a land and money grab. Vast tracts of land have been sold and developed where psychiatric patients and homeless people once found relatively humane refuge. Those who now beg at stop lights in cities once had the option of living in a treatment environment until they could become more independent. Those hospitals were not perfect by any means. However, they offered a roof and three meals a day with whatever current treatment was available. If they were badly run, it was because politicians and colluding psychiatrists did not provide the funds or proper safeguards to keep them operating properly. In today’s Libertarian environment, it is fashionable to say that being homeless in a shelter and on the streets is a better life state than living in a state hospital. This is ludicrous and inhumane, but a convenient philosophy for those who do not want to accept taxpayer responsibility for anyone but themselves.

    • Mike_Card

      I lived in the bay area during the time of Reagan’s forced closure of state institutions, while he was Governor.  Most patients ended up on city streets.

      • nj_v2

        C’mon, Mike, Rush sez it’s those vile “liberals” that closed those facilities!

        • Mike_Card

          Well, Rush was the king of Sacramento radio, so I guess he probably knows more than I do.

  • AC

    i wasn’t prepared to deal with committment (voluntary or non) as an issue…i’m torn….

    • DrewInGeorgia

      One thing that helps me think about the commitment conundrum is the role of Preventive Care. If we had Universal Health Care a majority of those who are in desperate need of treatment would get the needed help before it becomes necessary to have them committed.

  • LorMiller

    Tom, the attribution of Asperger’s comes form Adam’s older brother Ryan, according to mature news reports. Why would he pull that diagnosis out of his hat?

  • JennaJennaeight

    How about the mental health of Nancy Lanza?  It’s premature to jump to conclusions, but I sensed some real paranoia and suffering on her part.  I read that she was a divorced mom living on her own, a believer in an imminent apocalypse who took up gun collection and training and included her troubled son in what she may have felt was an empowering, practical new skill.  Mental illness has infinite degrees of functionality and severity

    • jefe68

      Wait a minute, it’s not fair to call the late Nancy Lanza paranoid. I’ve not read one thing that is credible that can support this accusation. 

      She was upper middle class and had a very generous alimony settlement that was in the six figures plus she kept the house. I do think she made some bad choices in terms of keeping and collecting guns in conjunction with his obvious mental health issues.

      But to accuse her of the things you are here without concrete evidence, and by that anything you read in the media, is wrong.

  • kokyjo

    We are all “sick” in some ways and do not know that we “need” treatment.   This is the human condition.  What kind of treatment is the question.  As a therapist and former mental health worker in the Vermont Corrections system, the treatment that we all need is deep Care, Respect, Autonomy, etc.  I hope we don’t have to take on a Mental Health diagnosis in order to receive these and other experiences of human compassion.  We are all in constant TREATMENT and we are TREATING each other day in and day out.  This is a responsibility for which it seems we would rather take a pass.  Our “sickness” is in our assumption that we can develop a (mental health) system for dealing with the absolutely human experiences of pain, loss, fear and disappointment in society.  We are a part of it.  Because we are a part of it, we NEED the perspective of caring others to help us to SEE our way thru the pains we will suffer.  I think our deepest pain is ALIENATION- the sense that I am alone, I am different and I don’t BELONG.

    To the program guest:   I hope you had the courage and compassion to crawl under that bridge with that person you obviously care for so much (your son).  

    I’m afraid we might find ourselves creating a new mental health occupation of “bridge crawlers”. —so that we “healthy” people don’t have to crawl down there and get dirty.

    Real mental health and real compassion is a “dirty” business to which all human beings are invited.   To the extent we opt out, we create Alienation and “mental illness”.  

  • Croesor

    In Massachusetts we are in the process of closing one of the State’s forensic units (where the Courts would send a person who is believed to be mentally ill and had committed a crime). As we are in the process of down-sizing inpatient psychiatric beds while leaving the outpatient services for mentally ill people in a threadbare state. All this happening in the context of yet another event that seems linked with a person suffering from an untreated state of mental illness. Will this tragedy result in an improvement in the delivery and availability of services for the mentally ill? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/tea.kells Tea Kells

    Why invite Fuller Torrey when he is on the extreme end of the spectrum when it comes to views about forced treatment. Now he is citing convenient “facts,” but not actual facts. Psychiatrists can not, in fact, identify dangerousness. Also, the evidence on the benefits vs. harm of forced treatment is inconclusive: there is insufficient proof that it works. Thats the scientific literature, not citing convenient anecdotal cases. Google scholar Kallert and Monohan for competent psychiatric literature reviews and analysis on this subject.
    Coercive treatment in psychiatry
    clinical, legal and ethical aspects / editors, thomas
    W. kallert, juan E. mezzich
    and john monahan (2011). In Kallert T.
    W., Mezzich J.
    E., Monahan J. and ebrary
    I.(Eds.), Chichester,
    West Sussex, UK ; Hoboken, NJ : Wiley-Blackwell.

  • eileenab

    We need to expand this conversation to also include the negative effects on our culture of violent entertainment in particular the effects of TELEVISION and movies where one can always view someone shooting or killing other people almost everytime you turn on the TV. Look at this interesting article about the immediate negative effects of televison on the Bhutan culture (see link to article titled “Fast Forward to Trouble” from the http://www.guardian.co.uk). It would serve this country if in addition to changing our gun laws, our mental health laws, parents voluntarily vowed not include violent entertainment in their homes. http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2003/jun/14/weekend7.weekend2

    • AaronNM

      As a once-avid gamer (before our daughter came along – she’s a lot more fun) I concur. It’s one element in a larger cultural form of entertainment but after Friday EVERYTHING is open to discussion around those potential intersections leading to violence.

      • DrewInGeorgia

        “EVERYTHING is open to discussion around those potential intersections leading to violence.”

        Everything but the true underlying cause.
        We’ll never solve a problem by ignoring it.

  • Tom Sturm

    Though mental health is obviously a factor in mass killings, locking people up is not the answer. What needs to be locked up is GUNS. DON’T BUILD A STRAW MAN.

    • AaronNM

      This is EXACTLY what I think house and senate republicans are going to do. They’ll toe the party line on guns but will seek to “study the links” between mental illness and violence without acknowledging that there have already been DECADES of research on those connections. In reality, mental illness and violence are no more linked than “normalcy” and violence, perhaps even less so. But it’ll be an effective way to kick the can further down the road, at least until the next tragedy when we can put the same ol’ record on again.

    • osullivan11

      Completely agree. By claiming that deficits in the care of mental health are the cause of the mass shootings in the US implicitly implies that there are more people with severe mental health issues and crackpots/evil people in the US than elsewhere in the world. Common sense and genetics shows this to be a  fallacy. 

      It also furthers the argument for radical healthcare reform. But as you may expect, those people who oppose gun control are likely to also oppose healthcare reform…. by and large.

  • manganbr

    logical fallacy police (siren): can we stop invoking slippery slopes? When we put an object on a slippery slope, we expect it to slide down because of the combination of gravity and the presence of a slippery substance. This metaphor has been diverting rational minds since time immemorial.  Consider the abuse this trope does: The NRA can say: “let them ban assault weapons today, and tomorrow they’ll ban starter pistols” At a certain point, the absurdity becomes evident, but the point is, that this sort of logic is always illogical: rather than debating whether we should do X, one party invokes the inevitability (slipperiness+gravity) of Y and Z that will follow. But the claim of inevitability is the factor that must be supported by evidence, NOT just invoked. What evidence is there to assume Y and Z would follow? What similitude is there between a slippery slope and our democratic process (the agent responsible for making Y and Z happen)? Consider the legislative process over the past few years? Momentum is not a word that comes to my mind. Maybe we should be talking more about craggy valleys?

    • L armond

      And, the NRA would say that the clapper used by a  Christmas chorus’ when performing the sound of a whip snapping in the air above a sleigh when singing  “I hear those sleigh bells ringing….giddyup  giddyup….. ” would be outlawed. These panderers are not welcome around animals, plants nor minerals.  ‘A pox on their lips’

  • Tony1978

    My wife and I have a 25 year-old son who’s been battling schizophrenia since 2006. After several horrific years, he’s finally doing better now. The reason? He stopped smoking marijuana and K2 incense. There was an almost immediate improvement. We rarely hear about the proven link between marijuana (and incensetype drugs) and schizophrenia. But it IS REAL, and it’s being almost completely ignored. Google “Shizophrenia and marijuana” and start reading. Yes, takin gthe anti-pysch meds is critical, of course. But if the patient is also smoking pot, he/she’ll never improve.

    • AaronNM

      Self-medication is a chronic (pun somewhat intended) problem among those with mental illness. And you’re right, pot might be detrimental to some of the afflicted. This is yet another reason why universal coverage and support is the only rational way to go, so people like your son are provided guided treatment from an early age and as they transition to their teenage years when conditions like schizophrenia start to manifest.

      No, I do not think universal health care is a panacea, but it certainly would greatly improve our chances of identifying and treating those with mental illness.

  • Fred Isaacs

    In Massachusetts, the Department of Mental Health which provides some services to the mentally ill, refuses to provide ANY services to people with Aspergers’ syndrome, even though they are far more likely to have accompanying psychiatric disorders than the general population.  So if Adam Lanza were in Massachusetts and if he did have Aspergers, he would not have been able to receive services from DMH for his accompanying psychiatric disorders.

  • Gromet32

    We need to look at not just how to prevent mentally ill individuals from committing violent crimes but how to get all mentally ill individuals dangerous or not the complete care they need. We should not wash our hands of the mentally ill just because they are not a danger to us. We need to take into account the quality of life of mentally ill individuals. Why are our mental health systems in such shambles perhaps its because our citizens and our government does not want to pay for taking care of the sick.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/XOXKE3SOOSOO4USMQCJHD5JBDA Mo

    How much money does the pharmaceutical industry pay to Dr. Torrey? It’s a fair question — especially given that psychotherapy, close follow up, diet, exercise and better teaching and understanding of a particular illness (both the patient and their family) can be just as effective as the erratic and dangerous drugs that he is advocating forcing on the mentally ill.

    There are just too many variables in forcing drugs on someone. Forced care should be non-invasive, including all of the things mentioned above, with drug treatment (or worse) a voluntary options if the above does not stabilize the ill person.

    • 1Brett1

      Generally, I don’t disagree with you, but when talking about severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and severe bipolar, medication is warranted in every case, along with diet monitoring, exercise and a whole array of holistic approaches. 

      To broad-brush the whole of psychiatry and to talk about schizophrenia and severe bipolar without medication treatment is not only irresponsible, it’s ignorant; those illnesses can NOT be treated without medication. Period. It’s just a fact. 

  • PithHelmut

    Do we really need to have political representatives now that we have the internet? Are they not just making our lives more complicated when it needn’t be?  Do they act in our best interests or just in their patrons’ interests?  This jeopardises everything we hold dear. However we too are all responsible for the lack of mental health because we don’t want to pay taxes and that limits mental health care and every other public necessity of modern life. We know the entire system is warped but we are in denial as to the reason why – profit. While we continue to have profit-driven health care, education and any other necessity, we can expect to maintain the complications in our lives, and the dangers. It’s the 21st century and we’re still using economic structures that have been with us since before we launched Apollo 11 and before the advent of the automobile. It’s not just mental health flaws, the entire economic system is flawed being based on profit. Since everything flows from the enrichment of the few it’s no wonder we are perplexed by the expression of resentment in our society. Combine this with a downward-spiraling economic future and easily availability of firearms and we have an very unstable mix. This discussion is well overdue. Thank you for dealing with it Tom on your illuminating show.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephanie.cooganshine Stephanie Coogan Shine

    I cannot understand why Adam Lanza’s mother owned 6 guns including a Bushmaster semi-automatic when she had a son who she was seeking help for.  I implore people with family members suffering from mental illness to remove firearms from their home.  Even if she had a 100% background check she still would have been granted permits for her guns.  I am starting to think that background checks should include the people living in your house and if someone is being treated for mental illness then you cannot be granted a permit. 

    • J P Fitzsimmons

       Great idea. Then of course there will be no mentally ill people. They will all vanish.

    • Michele

       She liked target shooting and was teaching him about gun safety.  She felt it taught responsibility as there is a great deal of it required to operate and handle guns properly.  It seems she may have had several lapses in good judgement or a blind spot where her youngest child was concerned.  There is certainly enough blame to go around in this case, however, the decision to kill and destroy so many people was ultimately one person’s: Adam Lanza.

      • Mike_Card

        You knew her?  Or you are repeating hearsay?

  • burroak

    Aside from the much needed discussion on mental health, last Friday’s mass killing is yet another example of the something far more sinister that has deceptively, disguised itself in our everyday lifes: the saturation of violence in our culture. Sure, you can trace it throughout human histroy; but nowadays, in our country it is glorified and everywhere: in movies, t.v shows, media, sports(such as the onslaught of the UFC), advertising and the omnipotent, addictive, kill-em-all video games.
    What happened to the days when family would gather around the dinner table for a home-cooked meal, and engage in, perhaps a game of monopoly, a lively, animated conversation, or sitting around the piano, all the while as the children watch, listen, and begin to learn the intricate patterns of human interaction. Today, families scoff down a microwave meal, then they disasemble to their boxed rooms: Dad in his watching sports, Mom in hers, watching reality t.v, the daughter mechanically texting away in hers, and the son stuptified while blazing away on his xbox; meanwhile the dog goes unnoticed, somewhere in that lonesome house.
    Young minds are quite impressionable, and if they are constantly bombarded with violence, does that not affect them in some negative way?
    If we, as citizens, were less addicted to our technological toys, and more in tuned with the value of interaction with our family, friends, neighbors, perhaps troubled people might not go unnoticed, unwanted, and receive the communal care and support they need.

  • roccosage

    I appreciate your show on the tragedy that occurred in Connecticut.  However, I think the focus on guns and mental illness is too narrow.  Guns are only a method of violence as knives or bombs, etc. may be.  As stated on your program, mental illness is only attributed to fifty percent of recent violent acts.

    We also need to focus on society’s sanction of violence in our culture (e.g. TV, movies, computer games, not to mention some sports).  An excellent book on this subject is Stop Teaching Our Kids To Kill, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and Gloria Degaetano.

    But all the causes and methods of violence in our country, not to mention the whole world, are only symtoms of the root cause that mankind, for the most part, has turned away from a loving relationship with God.  God does not exist because we believe in Him.  He exists whether we believe in Him or not.

    • nj_v2

      I agree with the spirit of this post although i find it curious that it cites television, movies, and sports as contributors to/sanctions of societal violence ahead of war and the military.

      And one doesn’t need god/God or a belief in such to live and act in love and compassion.

    • Chelsea Smiley

      Being constantly at war….

  • Bluejay2fly

    I work in a prison which has now become a de facto mental institution. One such inmate when he stops taking his meds has done such things as sewing his mouth shut, wrapped toilet paper around himself and tried to set himself on fire, beat another inmate with a lock in a sock, and has cut himself so many times there are no sharp objects in his cell. When we asked mental health to move him to a specialized mental health unit they said he was not “crazy” enough. When we asked to send him to solitary confinement (where at least every half hour security will look at him) they said no because he is not a discipline problem. So we will leave him locked up in a near empty cell in the protective custody unit until the day he gets released from prison (which unfortunately is in a few years).

    • AaronNM

      This is actually an incredibly important point. For many of the most seriously ill, prison is the only place where care is mandatory (though incredibly deficient). It’s a very sad commentary on our nation, still the wealthiest in the world, when we imprison those needing serious and consistent care.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      And you, yourself, have probably figured this out, but this person may decide to demonstrate behavior shown as “crazy enough” to get that treatment you think is best suited for him.  But if he’s made that decision, is it proof he’s too “sane” to need it?

      (I’m just spitballing; I have MH professionals as relatives. Correct as needed.)

      • Bluejay2fly

        There is a game among inmates to try and get diagnosed with a serious mental disorder in order to receive SSI upon release. That and the fact that mental health units have sympathetic people (IE social workers, nurses, doctors) working there also contributes to abuse. Was this guy faking?..maybe ..but on one occasion he did take a can lid and cut his testicles off. I suspect he is a real deal. I am not pro inmate (In fact the opposite) but I have seen inmates with IQ’s so low there are like small children, people so medicated walk like zombies, and on more than one occasion inmates with dementia so advanced other inmates had to lead them around. Imagine going to a violent max prison with those deficits. They get robbed, beaten, and raped. We could do better.

        • Bluejay2fly

          One final note, I have seen Correctional Staff go out of their way to do their best to help these people. Their compassion and mercy is inspiring. One officer brought in crayons and coloring books for one low IQ with dementia. He would hand officers colored pages as gifts and most feigned gratitude. As soon the CO’s got into the break room it would go into the trash and they would scrub their hands as he had Hep C and full blown Aids. It’s just too bad that all that compassion is wasted on people who did horrific things while those on the street get nothing.

  • Fishermanidaho

    Did the guy from the Cato Inst actually say only a small number of kids died each yr form these weapons so they are not to blame? 

  • Fishermanidaho

    Chaffetz, R-Utah what an ass, he’s the reason these weapons are still on the street

  • Nanny57

    Re: your closing words, Tom, promoting tomorrow’s show on guns. You posed the question “is the NRA’s hold cracking” or something akin to that. I fear that this comment is the kind that will galvanize pro-gun people rather than invite a productive conversation. I don’t want the national discussion to be “NRA wins or loses” – I want it to be about safety and a common sense approach to allowing civilians to have guns in the 21st century. I have heard encouraging comments from some NRA leaders in the last couple of days. This discussion is like the fiscal cliff negotiation – terribly important and very much about the words we use. Please be cautious.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      But there’s no “not” galvanizing gun people.

      These are the folks who spun themselves crazy with worries that TheBlackMan’sTakinMahGunz for the last 4 1/2 years.

      There is no talking them down. There is no “conversation” with them.

      • Nanny57

        I prefer to be optimistic but I understand your frustration.


  • DrewInGeorgia

    Universal Health Care.

  • 1Brett1

    It was sad to hear from Pete Early; I feel his pain. I worked in Fairfax County in their MRMHSAS Dept. (and in Arlington County, as well) for a long, long time, from the inspirational periods in the 1970s up until recent times. Both counties are progressive in their approach, have good planning in place, have high taxes, are very wealthy counties, and are very responsive to their citizenry…yet, both systems are still woefully inadequate. Think about other poorer counties in Va., or other poorer states…A person seeking mental health services doesn’t stand much of a chance, and loved ones are required to take on systems and become professional-type advocates in their own right.

    • L armond

      Think also of the soldier with PTSD, who is camping out near a VA hospital, who is ‘unknown’ in the community, and is responded to inappropriately by police forces who have rabble rousers pursuing them, i.e. Jim Crow States.  To be visible and responded to is healing, as well as being left at peace when one needs it.  This does not fit the overall Virginia Profile, although some communities are more enlightened.  Our Soldiers, sailors, marines, and air corps need green zones, perhaps Fort Monroe, as a refuge for healing.  Unfortunately, these excess real estate areas frequently have an aspect sought out by realtors.  But, these warriors are safer with the unexploded munitions, than on the streets of cities, often.

  • Fishermanidaho

    Fox and conservatives are now blaming the autistic people for being violent and say we need AKs to take over the Gov. I thinks thats so sad a way to avoid any discussion of AKs mass killing ability.

  • Pingback: To Newtown, Connecticut | the parable maternal: a blog on writing, rhetoric, and literary studies.

  • 2PenniesMore

    The horror of the Newtown massacre is almost matched by what seems to be the unfathomable level of collective denial that hinders the laudable public soul-searching effort going on in the media. The proverbial “elephant in the room” syndrome can hardly suffice to describe the situation: “a herd of mammoths in the living room” would be more appropriate an image.
    It is well documented that the average American teenager, by the time he/she leaves elementary school, has seen at least 8000 murders and over 100 000 violent acts on TV (all of it in the name of entertainment!) and, more alarming, has probably committed that many “virtual” murders and violent acts in various video-games. Add to this a gun mystique that has the rest of the world shaking their heads in disbelief, and the receipe for disasters and massacres of that magnitude and worse is in place.
    Every insurance company knows that if someone stores explosive material in their house, one day or the other, there will be an expensive bill to pay! Hence the high premiums or even the coverage denial. Why would it be different when the “explosive material” is, nationwide, free access to lethal weapons, glorification of violent entertainement, systematic blurrying of the line between virtual and real violence and desensitization of the most malleable young brains of the nation ?
    I feel helpless and heartbroken in front of such a tragedy and the tragedies that will inevitably and unfortunately follow if the herd of mammoths is not urgently driven out of the living room.  

    • brettearle

      The destructive stimuli, that children are exposed to, is both shocking and tragic.

      But please don’t forget that many children come out of such a negative environment of stimulation and go on to lead successful lives….without ever causing trouble.

      Doesn’t mean of course we shouldn’t take steps to figure out how to tamp down the harmful cues.

      • 2PenniesMore

        Thanks God they don’t all flip into such extreme acting out, but is it because its impact goes generally unnoticed that what you rightly call “such a negative environment” doesn’t cause any psychological damage? The gun lobby’s mantra is that most gun afficionados lead successful lives without ever causing any trouble either. Yet, I hear many grown-ups speak, among other things, of bombing Iran and whoever else doesn’t fit their world view as if it were a mere video-game. Did you also notice how the verb “to kill”, which used to be almost taboo and unclean, especially in official statements, is now used routinely in speeches, even, to my dismay, by a certain Nobel Peace Prize recipient who was recently re-elected as a national leader? All these facets of the elephant in the room contribute to the “negative environment” and the “destructive stimuli” you acknowledge. How strange that a nation so apparently immersed in a religion whose commandments include “thou shall not kill” has fallen in love with the number one killing instrument called the gun and treats it as a sacred object. And how ironic that the actor who played Moses receiving the tables of the Law in Cecil B. DeMile’s epic movie “The Ten Commandments”, ended up president of the National Rifle Association! Holy Moses, what a flip! Christmas being a celebration of hope, I will pray for hope and I wish the same to all people of goodwill.

  • spokalou

    Cafe Racer shooting in Seattle 5/12.  Father of the shooter speaks about the difficulty - near impossibility – of involuntary committment.  The father ends the conversation with an ominous warning. “I don’t think it’s going to happen again, I am positive. We have a system that ensures it’s going to happen again.” http://www.king5.com/news/Desperate-plea-from-father-of-Cafe-Racer-killer-159659515.html

  • DeboraLI

    The issue of mental health needs a shift in cultural beliefs before any change can even start. I’ll be blunt: mental illness is  within the cultural context considered a weakness, a defect, something that makes someone not desirable, a second-class citizen. There is a “Not in My Backyard”, “Not from my Taxes”, “Not in my Family”, mentality about people who suffer mental illness and the treatments for it. The scientific fact that most mental illness are biological illnesses, whereas the brain is the organ that is not working properly, is grossly neglected in favor of the more convenient and uneducated belief that people with mental illness are inherently evil or lacking in character, principles and emotions, turning it very easy and righteous to discriminate, isolate and mistreat them. And justifying the poor legislation that exists and addresses their needs.
    I have a daughter who suffers from a mental illness. She was bullied. She was called names. She was taken advantage of. She was hospitalized 4 times. Just to be let go every time because she wasn’t a danger to herself or others. And then, she become a danger. Not to others. She became a danger to herself. Only then, when the very worst happened, was she accepted at the only Psychiatric hospital in the State that would do an intensive long term treatment for her. Even then, she had to wait for 2 months at a hospital not equipped to handle long-term treatment until a bed became available at this ONE  hospital that was. How many kids, how many people will go without support, without treatment because there is no easy access to it, no funding, and no regulation whatsoever that makes health insurance companies obligated to pay for the treatment????Would anyone just accept if their child or loved one had cancer, and there was a lack of access to treatment? Would anyone just shrug their shoulders if the health insurance companies said they would only pay one week’s worth of your diabetes meds? Meanwhile we allow by our unjust beliefs, our prejudices and ignorance, for people with mental illness to become lost in a poor an inhumane system while they become increasingly sick.  
    And as long as we are a culture of violence, a gun-worshipping society, a culture where only the “strongest”, the “richest”, the “intimidating” are considered deserving and desirable, then all the more vulnerable populations: those millions of people who do need a Village, a caring Community to thrive, well, they will continue to swept under the rug and stepped on. 

    • brettearle

      Well said. 

      Please try to publish your comment, as an op-Ed piece, somewhere.

      It should be read by many people.

  • 1Brett1

    The problem wasn’t that mental institutions were closed, it’s that community-based programs weren’t developed to handle the problem created by the institutions closing. There need to be more community-based programs.

    Also, in terms of forcing a person to take meds (just talking specifically about schizophrenia and sever bipolar, here), some aspect of institutionalization should continue (not prisons) for severe illness, as an alternative measure other than community-based programs. (I would have never said this when I was younger.) Living in the community should be based on compliance in taking one’s medication. I’ve seen too many people with schizophrenia and severe bipolar who either refuse to recognize they are ill at all or finally agree to accept treatment, then when they get better they sneakily go off their meds/flat-out refuse their meds.

    • brettearle

      But SHOULD such patients be forced to take medications without prior history of harm to others (and possibly without prior history of harm to themselves).

      • 1Brett1

        If someone with a severe mental illness, namely severe schizophrenia and severe bipolar disorder (untreated with medication), doesn’t ever display such disruptive behaviors that substantially infringe upon society as a whole, it’s no one’s business how distorted their thinking or how much mental anguish they’re in, especially if a person with a severe mental illness can live on his/her own and take care of himself/herself. Of course, that person does not exist, unless independently wealthy and kept cloistered away. This essentially describes someone who is, generally, nonexistent, based on the many hundreds of people with whom I’ve seen/known/worked.

        If a person has a severe mental illness (again, I’m talking mainly about schizophrenia and severe bipolar), and he/she is not medicated, he/she will at some point cause very serious problems in any community. At some point, some type of violence MAY be part of the equation, however small; most disturbances will be getting into fights around town, etc. (destruction of property, harm to others, etc.), and the person repeatedly will be carted off to jail/some public institution. Some behaviors my not involve direct violence, e.g., breaking into someone’s house to take a bath, crashing a car window to take a nap, especially if the person is not confronted by another person. Some behaviors will involve harm to self, etc. 

        If someone lives at home with family, he/she is constantly bailed out, is taken care of through the legal system, through constant court cases, legal wrangling, restitution, through very disruptive/dysfunction to the family, and on and on…If they don’t live at home with their family, they are either homeless (resulting in most of the aforementioned problems then constantly processed through the system in the aforementioned way), or they are living in a public facility (a group home, half-way house, or larger institution).

        If someone expects to live with freedom in a community, has a severe mental disorder illness, refuses to recognize his/her own illness (or can’t due to the nature of the illness), refuses to take medication and is constantly having to rely on an array of resources to compensate for their disruptions (to put it mildly), then what do we do as a society?

        Criteria for living in the community for those with severe mental illness (emphasis on the severe) should be, among other things, compliance with a medication regimen. This is often best achieved by a shot given periodically (so there isn’t a constant, combative altercation going on three times a day, etc.). 

        Let’s say someone like this lives in a group home, maybe with another resident who is just severely, clinically depressed; is it fair to that person who is engaging properly in treatment to be subjected to what amounts to a person who constantly destroys, disrupts, and usurps the therapeutic environment? 

        In these types of situations I describe, society has already usually exhausted all attempts to protect  a person’s rights, and it’s usually time (in these cases) for people, however sick, to accept some type of responsibility, albeit it’s something as marginal as complying with a medication regimen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Campaign-English-Dictionary/100003497268579 Campaign English Dictionary

    Did I hear correctly or was I laughing too hard when on today’s show the Connecticut Mental Health guest said “We have no evidence that Andrew Lanza was mentally ill”?  Yes, I suppose he pumped bullets into children’s bodies because he was just a little upset.  Please, Tom, spare us this kind of foolishness.

    • Chelsea Smiley

      It is certainly hard to believe that someone would be in his/her right mind while doing something as terrible as Andrew Lanza did. It is important to keep in mind that mental illness is different from doing something incomprehensibly terrible. 

    • DeboraLI

      What was said is that there was NO EVIDENCE, meaning no proof, no history, no documentation, formal diagnosis of a mental illness. That is called responsible journalism and respect for the facts that are known so far. The rest of the media is speculating by means of hearsay, from this or that other person who are NOT medical professionals and whose uneducated “hindsights” should be taken with a grain of salt.
      Of course, we all are sadly aware that a person who commits such an atrocity, and has reached such disconnect and detachment from basic human respect for another’s life must be under some form of deep psychological disturbance. But to leap from that into a specific diagnosis purely by speculating on broken and uneducated information from people who did not know and did not live with the shooter, poses a grave danger to people who do suffer from mental illness (1 out of 4 people, so you might know one) and in the great majority of cases are NOT any more likely to commit such a crime than you or I.

    • DeboraLI

      Read: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/12/why-diagnosing-adam-lanza-is-a-problem.html?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=fanpage&utm_campaign=pbs

  • LP21

    read the article, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mom” and applaud Liza Long’s courage in
    facing the reality of her situation. As Dr. Torrey pointed out during the
    broadcast, the patient’s disorder does not allow them to comprehend that
    anything is wrong with them. What I can say from personal experience is that the
    biological parents are also often in DEEP denial that their child is so
    disturbed.  They absolutely *need* to see them as okay.  (How
    else can we explain Nancy Lanza’s unlocked gun collection with a son who had
    such issues living in the same house?) 


    family member of mine was similarly blind to his son’s issues:  diagnosed with Asperger’s; very high functioning,
    but suffered from several co-morbid conditions and ultimately committed suicide
    while attending college.  He was tormented by other children throughout
    elementary school and then ostracized as an adolescent because he was so different.
    Friends were non-existent.  Despite
    these obvious difficulties, his father never accepted the diagnosis nor initiated
    appropriate treatment but instead blamed the school.


    my parents were blind to my brother’s condition; he was never formally
    diagnosed but likely suffered brain damage from  childhood illness.  If our clear-headed attorney had not
    finally convinced them to set up a trust for him before they died, he would likely be
    homeless now. I am very thankful that neither of these individuals had access to


    This sad phenomenon took place twice in my family; I
    had an “emperor has no clothes” experience with both situations which was unbelievable and very
    frustrating.  When I would suggest there might be a problem in an attempt to
    try to get some help, they would lash out at me instead.


    will always be surrounded by the mentally ill and will often not be aware of it, and we
    clearly cannot always depend upon the judgment of their caregivers.  The short-term solution is to prevent
    access to guns.   I completely
    understand the point of the Second Amendment, but we as a society are paying
    too high a price and need to find a solution now!  

    • citizen2001

      Bullying got some attention after the Columbine massacre.  Hopefully the “tormented by other children throughout elementary school and then ostracized as an adolescent because he was so different” will spur reflection after the Shady Hook massacre.

      How about social skills and mindfulness training for the “different”?  and their tormenters.

  • 1Brett1

    Mental health services/treatment: 225 comments
    Gun control: 740 comments

    • Mike_Card

      On the other hand, I would wonder about the breakdowns between “Those who know anything about…” and those “who have no clue.”  Just offhand, I’d guess there is more informed comment on the far simpler topic of guns.

      • 1Brett1

        Yeah, that’s a good point. People are much more versed in knowing something about gun legislation than about mental health issues.

  • 1Brett1

    1.6 billion dollars have been cut from mental health programs in the US…just in the last three years.

    • citizen2001

      $1 trillion Defense budget, $1 billion NIMH budget.
      34 Americans killed by Americans with guns everyday.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.christo.12 Michael Christo

    Stigma is crucial. Communities need to play a role in supporting the mentally ill in their midst. Many end up isolated.  Medication, instiutionalization, etc is only one part. Countries where there is strong community support tend to have more favorable results for the mentally ill. Also, if there is more support, then when someone begins to decompensate, it can be noticed and treated sooner.

  • Shag_Wevera

    Heck, all these crazies should just pull themselves up by their mental boot straps!  That’s the American way, isn’t it?

  • vtfleurs

    There is an elephant in the room that Big Pharma would rather we not discuss and that is the over prescribing of anti-depressants, specifically the SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) that can cause suicidal thoughts and violent behavior where there was none before, especially when taken by younger people.  Tom, you would be a brave soul indeed by taking on this topic.

    • Kiep99

      Part of the oversubscribing is the Pharma-decided dose size.  If larger pills, tablets, etc. make more $$, then the    available dose sizes may change to fewer in number by the mfr., but at a larger dose size, especially during the 27 year patent phase.  This applies to drugs in all medical areas.

    • citizen2001

      I hope a tox report on Adam Lanza is not suppressed.

      • vtfleurs

        Big Pharma has been very successful in reaching huge settlements with families in exchange for their silence.

  • Davesix6

    I personally own no assualt weapons, although I did receive extensive training during my tour of duty in the USMC and know for a fact that they can be very effective tools of self defense.

    There were NO guns used in the massacre described below.

    The solution to the issue is about much more than gun control.

    Bath School disaster
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaThe Bath School disaster is the name given to three bombings in Bath Township, Michigan, on May 18, 1927, which killed 38 elementary school children, two teachers, and four other adults; at least 58 people were injured. – WikipediaJump to: navigation, search Bath School disasterBath Consolidated School before the bombingLocationBath Township, Clinton County, Michigan, USADateMay 18, 1927TargetBath Consolidated School, house, farm and wifeAttack typeSchool bombing, mass murder, murder-suicide, suicide truck bombing, fire, uxoricideWeapon(s)Dynamite, pyrotol, firebombs, clubDeaths45 (38 children, 2 teachers, 4 other adults and the bomber)Injured58PerpetratorAndrew P. KehoeMotiveRevenge for defeat in local election; personal and financial stress The state historic site marker placed on the site

    • DeboraLI

      I question the justification of having a gun as a self-defense measure. Of course I will be honest and say that my perspective is a biased one: I am against any kind of firearms. In my view, to neutralize an act or possible act of violence with another act of violence is in the least hypocritical, and in general just a perpetration of a vicious circle of bloodshed that never ends. 

      But back to guns as self-defense: The whole premise of defending yourself means there is an eminent or certain attack in the first place. Of course if you are a soldier in a war zone, that’s is the norm. Everyone is an attacker and everyone has to defend themselves. That is what war is. Therefore, a gun, an assault weapon or any other firearm is a must (even though wars are NOT a must, and are just a senseless loss of life). But to justify having a firearm for self-defense in normal life, one would have to know when an attack is coming. If, let’s say an intruder comes in your house in the middle of the night with a gun already aiming at you, would anyone have the time, the coolness, dexterity to go get their gun before the intruder shoots? I don’t think so. So guns do not equal any more safety than calling the police, or having a burglar alarm in your home. It might give people the false sense of security that if anyone comes to attack the sanctity of their home and family you might be able to stop it, but unless people actually slept with their gun loaded and cocked, and carry it at all times, I don’t see how. Therefore I think the firearm industry wants people to have that false sense of security so they can make their own fat living, with no accountability and at the expense of many lives that are lost at the other end of their barrel.

      As far as your example with the Bath School bombing: There will always be someone out there who will find a way. It could be a bombing. A fire. You name it. 

      But the truth of the matter is if you look at the numbers, our country is the highest in all developed countries in homicides by guns. I repeat, we have the highest number of homicides by guns than any other developed country, and by a very very large number. All countries have people who have mental illnesses. All countries have radical segments of populations. But none have such lax and irresponsible laws and regulations on guns. For some of them, one massacre with a gun or an assault weapon was enough to enact laws that ultimately resulted in NO MORE MASSACRES, such as the UK and Australia have done. Meanwhile, we just keep having these pointless discussions after we grieve one after other, after other, after other senseless death. People want the right to bear arms to preclude and prevail over the basic human right to live free of fear and harm. Meanwhile that right to have a gun is inherently already a violation of the right to live free of fear. Where there is a gun, there is the danger it will be used to kill someone.

  • Cabanator

    These discussions about gun control and mental health are extremely frustrating because we are all ignoring the GIANT elephant in the room, which is GENDER. I think one of the guests said today that about 50% of these mass shootings are perpetrated by people with mental illness, but essentially all of these mass killings are perpetrated by men, not women. In fact, all violent acts, be they school shootings, domestic violence, rape, torture, genocide, war, child abuse, etc. are overwhelmingly carried out by men. Yes, there are of course instances in which women are violent, but if we compare the rates, the vast majority of all violent crimes are carried out by men. Women get angry, frustrated, anxious, depressed, and suffer serious mental illnesses, and yet it is extremely rare that these conditions result in women being violent towards others. Why aren’t women with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder also involved in mass killings? Why is it that in domestic disputes, it is usually the man doing the beating and killing, not the woman? 

    My intention isn’t to vilify men, it’s to raise the question of WHY there is this huge disparity and to try and learn something from this truth. This pattern stretches across cultures and throughout history, which to me indicates that there must be a very strong biological component at work. Something very different is going on in the brains of men compared to women. Why aren’t psychiatrists, neuroscientists, and biologists studying this? Could testosterone be part of the problem? Maybe if we started doing tests we would find that men who commit violent crimes have abnormal testosterone levels. Maybe it is some other hormone or chemical reaction that exists in men but not women, or at least at different rates in men. Let’s expose both men and women to violent movies and do brain scans to see if perhaps different areas in the brain are activated in each gender in response to these types of stimuli. Let’s expose men and women to other stressors and situations and see how their reactions and thoughts differ in these scenarios. 

    I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I do think this gender difference in tendency towards violence is something that needs to be seriously studied. Do any such studies exist? The potential for what we could learn, and hopefully apply to pharmacological treatments and other sorts of therapy, is huge.

    • Michele

       I posted this yesterday under the Gun Control discussion.  I am in complete agreement with you:

      I think it also stems from the way we socialize boys. Over and over we
      see externalized anger from young men who don’t know where to put their
      emotions.  I’m speaking in generalities but women turn their anger
      inward (eating disorders, etc) and men turn outward.  Everyone should
      have the space to express themselves without fear of social reprisal. 
      We should also take mental illness more seriously.  Too often, behavior
      that has all the red flags after the fact, is ignored or perhaps there
      is a hope that they’ll “grow out of it”.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

        Men don’t like it when the proof is in the puddin’. Yes, males are the rapists, mass shooters & masters of violence on this Earth. It’s their world by force.

        However, since most American males are unable to accept responsibility for much of anything, let alone their own bloody-mindedness, the ugly business of cleaning up their willful, angry messes comes down to us females. Men rarely volunteer for psych evaluations, generally only submitting to them under the threat of losing a job.

        Perhaps women & children should boycott men for awhile & see what happens. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Oh yeah, they’ll hunt us down & kill us if they can. Fear not! Give it a try.

        • notafeminista

          Boycotting men!  Think of the problems it would solve.  No need for birth control (affordable or not), no more glass ceiling, no more worries about that pesky biological clock, no more discrimination laws, no more Title IX, the list is endless.

          Of course it also means no more women, as it is difficult to perpetuate a species of either sex without the male half.  Darn it all.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

            Not anymore. Plenty of frozen sperm to go around in the “banks” for those who want to use it. I was jesting, you know : )  I love men but I hate guns : (  

          • Michele

             I think the comments above  are ignoring the larger point.  By the way there is a book about boycotting men until they straighten out and listen to reason over warring and violence:  Lysistrata by Aristophanes. Hmmm……

        • Mike_Card

          Speaking of mental disorder, how is your treatment going?

        • Cabanator

          Mari, please look at my reply to Citizen2001. I understand your frustration, but I don’t think boycotting men is a very practical solution. 

          What I DO think is practical is to invest more resources in examining the biology of what drives men towards violence. I strongly believe there must be a biological component, be it testosterone levels, other hormones, or some sort of other biochemical reaction. Social perceptions of gender play a role, but the fact is that across widely different cultures and throughout all periods in history, men have been the primary perpetrators of violence. Therefore, this can’t only be a matter of culture, be it related to gender, guns, or anything else. There MUST be a biological component. We need to stop accepting this as simply “the way things are” and start doing real research into WHY men are inherently more violent than women. If we can start determining the factors, we may also be able to figure out why some men are more likely to be violent than others, and this may lead the way to drugs or treatments that could address excessive violent tendencies. 

    • citizen2001

      Gender is a social construct.
      As someone else pointed out – the mass killers are mostly white affluent males.

      We definitely need to examine ‘masculinity” in our culture.

      • Cabanator

        Gender is not only a social construct, it’s a biological reality. Yes, there are of course ambiguities in terms of gender and people who fall in between typical “male” and “female” characterizations, and our perceptions of gender are shaped by traditions and cultural attitudes. However, we can’t ignore that there are clear biological differences that generally define what makes someone male vs. female (obviously!) Differences in sex organs, hormone levels, and chromosomes are real and important. The point I am trying to make is that across all societies and throughout history, the trend is that men are responsible for the overwhelming majority of violent acts. Why don’t we start looking at the biology of violence and try to figure out what drives it, that apparently men have more of, or fewer counterbalancing factors against? This is a critical area of research that we seem to be ignoring. 

        • citizen2001

          Until boys and girls are raised the same, socialization is a confounding variable.
          Also socialization affects biology.  For example men around babies experience an increase in the hormone oxytocin.
          There have been women dominated societies where women are the aggressors, for example:
          My point is we need to change the socialization of boys in our culture – allow a more humane concept of “masculinity”.

  • hennorama

    Why not require anyone purchasing a firearm to be certified free of “mental defect” via an examination by a mental health professional?  Currently, one needs only to attest to never having been “adjudicated mentally defective” OR never having “been committed to a mental institution.”  And if the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) finds no matching record that shows an adjudication of mental defect or involuntary commitment (or other disqualifying records), then “the transaction is automatically proceeded.”  This is much less restrictive than having the Buyer provide positive proof of being free from “mental defect.”

    This is especially important due to the fact that someone suffering mental health issues seldom possesses the insight that they are ill, and denial of illness is itself part of their illness.  They view themselves as being perfectly fine and in no need of help or treatment.

    Because society recognizes the risks involved, we require those applying for a driver’s license to pass an eye exam, and to demonstrate their ability to operate a motor vehicle via a driving test.  Most states that allow for medical use of marijuana require a physician’s recommendation or documentation of an “approved condition” allowing legal use and/or cultivation of marijuana.

    Certainly to require proof of mental fitness is much more restrictive than present law.  However, if society wishes to reduce mass shootings, often by those whose mental disturbance is only shown in restrospect, something must change.

  • Roy-in-Boise
  • Elinor Katz

    Having a son with Mental Illness is a devastating thing to a family. We strongly suggest that anyone who has a family member suffering from a mental illness should get involved with their local NAMI( National Alliance for the Mentally Ill)
    We did because our  son suffers from Schizophrenia. It has helped us to understand , destigmatize the illnesses, be advocates  and navigate the imperfect Mental health System to get him help him be stable.
    Not all people with Mental Illness will be violent but if we advocate for more help for those who are mentally ill perhaps we will also help to prevent more tragedies like the one in Ct.etc…

  • Elizabeth Reid

    I heard in one report that the assult rifles used in the Newtown shootings belonged to the mother of the assailant.  If this is true, we MUST discuss gun owner responsibility.  Alternately, if the guns did not belong to the mother, but she was aware that her son was collecting them, as the home owner and mother of her child, she should have disallowed them, or had them removed by law enforcement.

    If I had a mentally ill family member, I would not even keep  a handgun available in my home, and would certainly not keep assult weapons. 

    I think gun owners need to take a closer look at themselves and their gun attitudes.  These are not decorations, they are not merely treasured heirlooms (unless they’ve been disabled permanently), and they are not magical amulets to protect one from a scary and dangerous world.

    Owners must take the responsibility to control access.  They must be willing and eager to get rid of their guns if their home situation changes (e.g. a family member develops mental illness, the gun owner becomes unable to use the weapons due to age or infirmity, access to the home is poorly controlled due to illness, etc.).   

    Owners can use secure gun safes, they can permanently disable their weapons (disabled weapons still provide the same visual deterrent for crime, but cannot be stolen and used to kill), or owners can act to remove weapons from their own possession when they, their family members, or others having access to their homes are no longer capable, or can no longer be trusted to use them properly.

  • Beaverdamva

    I just read through a bunch of comments here and it doesn’t look like anyone who is actually “mentally ill” posted here.  Tom, we have no term for those who are diagnosed “mentally ill” but are in remission.  I take my medication regularly, I don’t drink, I am very conscientious and constantly seeking to better myself.  All of a sudden, someone who is let’s just say, “sick,” commits mass murder and all of a sudden it feels like my recovery goes out the window.  I want to stress here that I can handle this of course.  I’m more concerned about the families of the dead victims than my precious recovery but dammit it’s hard.  I’ve never hurt a fly.   I got so upset the other night I wrote a piece about being mentally ill in light of this tragedy and submitted it to the New York Times for their op-ed department.  I have a lot to say about doctors and their abuse of the system.  Being hospitalized is simply horrific.  I feel like it’s almost impossible not to get a bad case of PTSD after going through a hospitalization experience.  I’m bipolar, female, 39 years old, have a Master’s in Russian Literature and pay for all my own healthcare.  Which is a good thing.

    • 1Brett1

      Thanks for commenting. It’s important for people with no experiences in this realm to hear of a well-managed, success story. (I have a lot of experiences and it’s good for ME to hear it.) 

      Hospitalization should be avoided at most, if not all, costs. It really makes people worse. Intervention to prevent hospitalization is what’s needed. 

      I do feel, if this is any consolation to how you may have felt after hearing about this tragedy, that stigmatizing and lumping people all in one category is on the wane, however slight. I believe that many people have a better understanding of differences of people, in general, who have mental health issues and distinguishing that understanding from those small percentage of people who are violent.

      I applaud your taking and being in control of your disorder. This is the key to self-actualization and self-realization in living successfully with mental health issues. 

  • ElliFrank

    In the discussion about mental health services in this show, no one mentioned the DSM-V which will be published in the Spring of 2013. This is the diagnostic manual which serves as the basis (among other things) for access to insurance coverage for allowable conditions.

    Diagnoses such as Developmental Trauma Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder, which could have opened the door for earlier, drug-free, and more effective treatments for children with serious emotional disturbances were rejected due to the politics of large pharmaceutical companies. Almost 70% of the psychiatrists in control of writing and approving the diagnoses in the DSM-V have admitted professional and financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies. These ties have significantly influenced which proposed diagnoses get rejected or accepted.

    There is a great need for earlier, more attachment-, trauma-, and developmentally informed mental health services for children and youth during the years when such treatments could make the greatest difference. The political and financial bias inherent in the DSM limits families’ access to high quality and effective treatments.

    Why is this group of psychiatrists who openly bring this bias allowed to determine the trajectory of mental health services in this country? This control by the pharmaceutical giants is clearly doing harm, and it’s one key component of the complex mix of issues at stake here.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      The upcoming DSM-V will add “Grief Disorder” as a listed mental illness, I hear. No doubt the next big-pharma sponsored commercials to be thrust upon Americans, 24/7, will be aimed at survivors of horrendous trauma.

      “We break ‘em so we can make more $ fixing ‘em.” is the operative creed of cynical corporatists in American foreign & domestic policies. Psych-pros must know by now that manmade trauma is their bread & butter.

      Grief, a natural response to the loss of a loved one, will be medicalized, next, and oh boy, do we ever know how to make grief for people in this country! Mo’ grief, mo’ money. If anything shows us up to be a backward thinking, violent culture motivated by pure greed, competition & fear, this is it, folks.

    • 1Brett1

      This is a great comment about the DSM. I would like to see On Point do a show on the history of the DSM. There has been so much political wrangling and tawdry details over what gets published/standardized and what doesn’t with respect to the DSM throughout its history. 

      • ElliFrank

        Yes, I agree. I’d also like to hear On Point do a show focused on Developmental Trauma Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder, what they offer young children, youth, and families struggling with attachment, trauma, and sensory integration issues, and why the psychopharmaceutical industry’s control of the DSM-V led to the rejection of these diagnoses. Would love to hear Tom interview Bessel van der Kolk from The Trauma Center in Brookline and Jane Koomar from The Koomar Center in Newton on this topic.

  • sjw81

    great show today. direct correllation between increased mental health patients out in our streets instead of institutionalized as in the 60s and 70s…that coupled with assault weapons and video games and movies= the utter murderous chaos we have today

  • 1Brett1

    We talk about demonizing and stigmatizing people (which is really painting whole populations of people with a broad brush). Something that troubles me about many comments on the topic of dealing with mental health issues, is this painting of all mental health professionals as corrupt, inept, greedy, purely cynical, conniving, mad scientists. Sure, there are some very incompetent people in the field who should do something else for a living. Sure, many mediocre professionals are also overworked, rendering them even less competent. But, please don’t stigmatize the field, this only serves to further stigmatize those who seek treatment, by association.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      An Angie’s List for psych-pros may be in order. Since mental & emotional discomfort is so stigmatized by Americans, particularly males, an anonymous online platform dedicated to reviewing the performance of mental health professionals (like a Yelp for shrinks) might be useful. It wouldn’t be a cure for the myriad cultural maladies that afflict us all, mind you, just a guidance resource for those who are looking for proven, effective helpers in the field.  

      • 1Brett1

        Interesting idea…I’m liking it. Although, it would have to be set up a certain way to be a good functioning resource guide. I’m going to think about this for a while. Thanks.

    • Beaverdamva

      I agree there is a stigma for doctors in the psychiatric profession.  Some of it is deserved; some not.  I have an excellent outpatient psychiatrist.  She is a former pediatrician and very good.  I rarely see her for more than about ten minutes and feel uplifted after every experience.   My psychiatrist before that was also very kind.  He has moved on to be a psychiatrist for a women’s prison nearby.  He found working with insurance companies to be near impossible.

      I went through a phase when the medication I was taking and a lot of other factors weren’t working for me.  I am bipolar.  I was hospitalized a number of times and all at the same place.  This was a teaching hospital.  Every morning from 9 to 10, about ten doctors, residents and medical students would troop in and interrogate me.  The attendings were battle-worn.  They didn’t care about me anymore.  They wanted to win and if I was putting up a fight, they would beat me down.  The residents looked at me like I was a puzzle to be solved.  They wore good-looking clothes, had trendy eyeglasses.  They were the ones who would pull me away later to ask yet more questions.  I hated them  The approach was very clinical and at a remove.  Of course I wasn’t completely together at this point.  In fact, I was furious.  

      I ended up going to a place called CooperRiis in North Carolina.  I was there for a while and the whole time I was there I heard the term “bipolar” about three times.  My therapist was awesome.  My “recovery coordinator” was like a concierge for the recovery movement.  It was a great experience.  Of course not everyone has the assets I have but I was in really bad shape and now I’m in really great shape when things were very, very bad four years ago.  Just to show you how well things are going, I bought a house last year, have three cats, a dog and a bird.  I drive for Meals on Wheels twice a week and listen to On Point doing it.  I don’t drink.  That’s key.  At least for me.  

      • 1Brett1

        Thanks for that comment…a lot!

  • Potter

    Once again we have a mentally ill person doing something horrific. Although we are not allowed to say he was mentally ill in this discussion- obviously OBVIOUSLY he was giving such signals for a long long time. We have a serious problem in this country with regard to mental illness. Families are often in denial, looking for blame, feeling shame, ignoring….

    Society places a stigma on those who are labeled “mentally ill” in ignorance. It is a way of saying “we want nothing to do with these people”.  Mental illness is is a very broad category these days too.

    You could not have had a better guest on than E. Fuller Torrey. For years I have been following him and his work. My sister had schizophrenia. I use the past tense because she was murdered. Full of life, she did not know how to protect herself. Mr. Torrey hits the nail on the head. The severely mentally ill do not know they are ill. This means those around them have to intervene. With love. And there have to be paths to follow to keep the ill and the rest of society safe without feeling shame to do so.

    Listening as I drove around today, I caught Ms. Rehmer’s defense. I say “defense” but she should not have been defending.  Connecticut’s good is not good enough.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laurie.broome.79 Laurie Broome

    I’m trying to call and number isn’t working. I have a son with paranoid schizophrenia and will echo every single word that Pete Fullatori is saying. We have struggled with finding beds in hospitals, with trying to get help and not being able to sufficiently prove that he is “a danger to self or others.” He was able to buy an AK47 and posted a photo of himself with it on FB. Not illegal for him to own. We’ve been struggling with this for 12 years.

    • jwkinstl

      Laurie, if you’re trying to call On Point at 6:50 PM, you’re listening to a re-broadcast. The show is aired live in the AM. Anyway, I hope your son can get the intervention he needs. Be safe.

  • sundance13

    Tom, the big question no one has asked yet about the horrific incident in Newtown is, Why had Nancy Lanza guns in her house, knowing her son had Aspergers,or perhaps another unstable mental condition, because she did however home schooled him for a reason. Why did he have to know about the guns?  Why was she so naive that these guns could serve for another reason besides her own protection?  What protection?
    Not knowing the guns had been used against her, by her own son! Guns should be locked up when a single parent with children living in the house, want to use them for hunting, or “self-protection”.  It hardly ever happens that guns are used in when an intruder comes into a house for self-protection.
    We all need to wake up and cultivate a whole lot of common sense, if we want to have a gun, no matter where!

  • kaymarch

    The possible connection between violence and psychiatric medications, particularly antidepressants is a related issue.  Do an internet search for “violence and antidepressants” to find studies.

    • vtfleurs

      I agree.  I made a comment earlier about the over-prescribing of SSRIs and the violent behavior that can manifest as a result.  How many of these young men WERE being treated, and it was the pharmaceuticals
      that caused the aggression.  It has been extremely frustrating to see this topic being ignored completely.

  • Gregg Smith

    We know Lanza broke at least 10 gun laws (not counting murder) and the guns were owned legally. The gun free zone didn’t help either. My view is it hurt. That would seem to illustrate the folly of more gun laws although it will still be debated.

    I don’t know if he was off meds he should have been on. I don’t know if he had a history of violence but we are hearing he was somewhat of a menace. I don’t know if I should know but I’m thinking someone should. 

    It’s a very serious deal when we talk about limiting freedoms especially those spelled out in the Constitution. The President said we need to take “meaningful action” but I am seeing way too much emphasis on “action”. It must be meaningful or not at all. Any action can be worse than no action. It is my opinion there are more meaningful “solutions” (not that there is one) in the area of mental health than there are in further regulating guns. 

    We don’t want every citizen playing shrink and reporting weird stuff to the authorities as a craze. But in the most general of terms I am beginning to think there should be some way to deem certain people a danger to society unless they are medicated and compliance is enforced and logged. That’s better than jail or an institution. As I understand the current medical technology, this is possible.

    • 1Brett1

      I, unfortunately, agree with your last paragraph. I say “unfortunately” because it’s a tough decision to force anything on people, but I’ve seen some very dangerous people, while working in the mental health field, who did very well and became quite stable, productive members of society when on medication. I’ve also seen other people after becoming stable refuse medication, stop taking medication, lie about their medication, etc., yet still expect to live freely in the community, all while derailing and becoming violent again. I also agree that we don’t need a bunch of amateur shrinks running around playing tattle-tale police. That’s hysteria.

      I’m not sure about the rest of your comment (prefacing my reply to that by saying I don’t have the answers, at least more questions and doubts than answers). 

      Adam Lanza’s mother, it appears, made a lot of mistakes in judgement. She would have been, however, the kind of person held up by the more guns-less laws movement. She was a single mom with money, raising two boys on her own – who knows, perhaps she was thinking she needed to be well armed against robbery, or worse. She seemed like she was a normal person who had some guns, not some nut/survivalist/gun stockpiler type. She knew she had a troubled son; and, if what you’re saying turns out to be true – that she was about to have her son committed -she should have called another gun enthusiast friend and asked him/her to store her weapons for her during the family’s troubled times or otherwise found a way to disable access to her guns. 

      If I had guns and a son so ostensibly troubled, I would store my guns somewhere else, I wouldn’t take him to shoot with me at the range on weekends (I heard she had done this), and I would say to him straight up, “I’m storing my guns elsewhere right now because I’m very worried and concerned about your current state of mind. My worry comes from a place that I love you, but I would never forgive myself if, in a moment of extreme pain, you tried to harm yourself with my guns. I’m not saying you would, but I know that good people sometimes can think solving problems by escaping permanently through self harm is the only way, and it’s not the only way. It not only is not the only way, it’s not even the best way, it’s not even a good way; it’s not any kind of solution. You will get through this and I’m here for you, to help you any way you feel you need and in any way I can.”   

      I have a lot of concerns with arming teachers, or anyone else of so-called normal behaviors around guns. Their legal guns, their good intentions, their desire to create a safer world through such means, could end up with having some lapse in judgement that leads to more tragedy. A lot of gun owners are responsible people, but a lot of gun owners, albeit good intentioned and somewhat trained, maybe miss some methodical, systematic approach in their ownership responsibility, or perhaps think they’re better trained and more responsible than they actually are, leading to more tragedy.

      I’d like the ban in effect from ’94 to ’04 to be brought back. I’d like to see uniform, mandatory background checks, with reasonable waiting periods, whenever a person wants to buy a gun. I’d like to see any possible loopholes there might be regarding gun shows, etc., tightened up. I’d like to see licensing among gun owners to be geared toward demonstrative testing to acquire a gun and regular testing for renewal of a license (and maybe…maybe, spot-check inspections of how owners store and maintain their guns). How these points are implemented and enforced is also of utmost concern. 

      There is no magic bullet, no pun intended, however. We can’t legislate our way through every societal ill and expect we will address every possible problem that crops up to prevent all tragedies from occurring. If we arm teachers, we’re talking about more legislation, too. We can’t just say, “hey, here’s your gun.” A teacher with a gun would need to pass some very rigorous psychological testing. He/she would need to go through some serious training (and I’m not talking about a couple of days in house by a retired police officer; I’m talking about a rigorous, extended training akin to what one would go through at a police academy). I’d also like to see a regularly renewed re-certification process should that route be taken (as I’ve heard such legislation is being considered in Tennessee, even as I write this). Then we get into those bureaucratic, fiscal concerns of who’s going to pay for this armed teacher legislation, etc.

      I do respect that you’re devoting thought to this, solution-oriented thought, even though I may disagree with some of your points.

      • Gregg Smith

        I just have to disagree. You have used way to many qualifiers to draw any conclusions and the picture you paint is built on that assumed premise. We can’t go on, “it appears”, “who knows, perhaps”, “I heard somewhere” and so on. Just about everything we heard at first was wrong. We do not know if the guns were locked up or what his mother told him about guns or if she trained him to shoot or who she called and what measures she did and did not take, none of it.

        I think it gets a bit over the top when you define what gun rights advocates think and who they would hold up for anything.Regarding the teacher, as I suggested previously I think a super duper concealed carry for schools is something that would help. I understand it take a law but I will always gravitate to a law that grants more freedom than less. The main thing is if it will help prevent another tragedy. I think it could.Lanza broke over 10 gun laws, I don’t see how breaking a few more changes anything.

        • 1Brett1

          We do know she had legal guns; we do know she had a troubled son; you said you “heard” Adam’s mother was going to commit him; and I say, she should have gotten her guns out of the house. 

          I think the profile of a single mom who seemed to be respected in the community, was a regular gun owner of legal guns for sport and (possibly) protection. Also, a woman who shot her guns recreationally with her sons at the local firing range, etc., is the very image of gun owner the NRA would like to hold up, so I stand by my opinion.

          I don’t at all agree with your last paragraph and I think your “supporting” statements are nonsense.

          • Gregg Smith

            You built your conclusion on the assumed premise. I did not. I just passed a story along. I said “Fox news is reporting” and I gave the link. You said she should have done something you have no idea if she tried to do. All you have is the narrative you constructed. Do you really not see the difference? Really?

            He broke at least 10 Connecticut gun laws. Texas allows teachers to pack. Wish in one hand, crap in the other and see which fills up first… with all due respect.

          • 1Brett1

            I prefaced my statements with “it appears” etc.,  You mentioned “Fox News reported.” Are you saying you were inclined to report something erroneous or unsubstantiated just for effect? 

            Look, I’m not going to split hairs with you. I replied in earnest. Sorry if you weren’t happy with that and now your pissy about it. 

            Yes, I believe the mother made mistakes. I don’t have to have any more or less information to form my opinions than you do to form yours. She had guns (true); she had a troubled son identified as such (true). I believe she should have (permanently or temporarily) gotten her guns out of the house. 

            So, far, your overall response has been to suggest armed teachers and quibble about how I develop my opinions, as in some dimestore epistemological argument.

          • Gregg Smith

            I don’t know what your beef is. I said you had to use too many qualifiers and I even quoted “It appears”. I did not have a problem with your speculation only the conclusions you drew from it. You put in quotes something I didn’t even say.

            If you don’t think the report has merit then don’t read it. I have no idea what kind of effect you think I’m attempting. It was just a relevant development. I even told Jeffe it couldn’t be verified. I did not use the story to speculate squat. If I were to speculate I’d guess a woman who knew her son was a danger did lock up her guns. But I don’t know that she did or didn’t. That’s the difference between you and me, you are assuming.

            I sincerely don’t get the defensive thing. I just disagree and said why, so what? I’m not at all pissy. I wass nice about it, I didn’t tell you what you think nor get personal. You can speculate the mother made mistakes and I can point out you have no basis, which you don’t. What’s the problem? Are you that fragile? And you think I complain about how you form your opinions? WTF? No, I’ll refute them when I can, form them however you want but have some foundation besides rumor or you’ll be called on it. You don’t have to be reduced to tears because your logic is flawed. Again, I had no idea you’d go off the deep end just because I dare point out you don’t know what actions the mother took or did not take. YOU CLEARLY DON’T! Where am I wrong?

          • 1Brett1

            She didn’t get her guns out of the house, we know that. While we don’t know why Fox News would report something that may or may not be true, we do know that you thought enough of it (that it was a “relevant development”) to pass it on to us  (you heard it and mentioned it on here (it must’ve been important enough to you). We do know it was common knowledge her son was troubled, even home schooled because of something to do with his troubles, so she presumably knew about his troubles. 

            I suspect that Fox probably put it up as part of their “this is about crazy people not guns” meme. Frankly, I don’t really care all what you or Fox News finds important, at this point…Go on stockpile your guns, hole up on your 100 acres and become some paranoid nut ready to fantasize about heroically taking down the next mass murderer at the local public place. Hey, whatever titillates you. I don’t plan on being in your neck of NC anytime soon (just please stay out of western NC, I kind of like that part – less good old boys)…Have fun polishing your big gun.

          • Gregg Smith

            I am in WNC. So I’m up to something and Fox is making it up. The story is irrelevant. BTW, HuffPo has it so does USA Today. And then you go into some crazy recitation of my thinking…again.  You’re amazing.

    • jefe68

      How about another angle. She got rid of the guns because her son was known to have problems and it’s not a good idea to have guns in a house with an unstable adolescent male. 

      You keep on going on about gun laws and the idea that if someone had a gun at the school this could have been stopped. That did not work when Gabrielle Giffords was shot and others were murdered. Some were armed at the rally as it was Arizona, it did nothing to deter nor to stop the killer. One man came out of a store and had his gun safety off and was about to shoot the first person he saw with a gun. It was not the shooter but a man who got the gun off the shooter and was trying to subdue him. Thankfully he thought better of shooting this man as he would have killed an innocent person. In the chaos of these kinds of events the average person without proper training might not be able to make the right choice in the split seconds it takes to fire a gun.

      • Gregg Smith

        You don’t know how Lanza got the guns. Guns prevent crimes and save lives everyday. What kind of monster wants to deny the kids their best chance with a gun free zone?

        • jefe68

          Amazing how you turn this around to me being the monster here. Amazing.
          You are real piece of work buddy.
          By the way do you have any kids?

          I do. You are what they call FUBAR.

          • Gregg Smith

            It was a simple question.

    • 1Brett1

      I guess by your logic we shouldn’t have laws against murder; they didn’t do any good in this case.

      • Gregg Smith

        When you get cornered and have no argument you get really silly. It’s a devolution into mindless snarkville. Talk amongst yourselves.

        • 1Brett1

          “Cornered”? [That's funny] Everything to you is an argument and a counter-argument…

          but, I was pointing out your absurd argument that gun laws wouldn’t help with gun crime because in Adam Lanza’s case he broke gun laws. I chose an equally absurd example with another law/set of laws that get broken from time to time. 

          Maybe you haven’t had your coffee yet?    

          • Gregg Smith

            Okay, I’ll play your game and make it personal. That you take my opinion that additional gun laws are futile and conclude I think all laws are stupid is well… stupid. I support laws against murder you dolt. I don’t think more laws against murder are needed. See the difference? I doubt it. Let me try again. 

            The only evidence I have seen on this blog that a gun law could have helped is the most excellent article by Ann Coulter that was posted by OPC (I think).  There has been zero zip nada a coherent argument made for what new gun law would have helped. Where is the evidence a ban of any kind would do squat. He broke laws to get the guns. It’s a valid point but you deem it absurd because you say so. You have made no case other that the silly notion I think murder laws are crazy. 

            It says a lot about you that you can’t stand the thought of being disagreed with and have to resort to such silly tactics. You aren’t smart, neither am I but I don’t claim to be. If your brains were dynamite you couldn’t blow your nose. 

            There you go, it’s not my style but I knew how nasty you were even when you were acting nice. It’s fine until someone challenges you and you have no answer. Then look at you, your ego is crushed and you fall apart. That’s when your arguments get really really silly.

          • 1Brett1

            Well…..no laws would have helped after the fact, as this tragedy happened and those who could have possibly been prosecuted for violating laws are dead (as far as I know a dead person is not generally prosecuted).

            If it were illegal to purchase some of the weapons Mrs. Lanza purchased to have in her home, she wouldn’t have had those weapons that her son got his hands on and perhaps this tragedy would have worked out a little differently, perhaps it wouldn’t have been as severe. We don’t know if his earlier attempt to buy guns on his own would have eventually proven successful.

            Make no mistake, I am simply offering a hypothetical what if (if laws were different, the outcome might have been different), just as you offer a what if (no adding of more laws/strengthening current laws would have helped because Adam’s breaking of laws would have trumped all laws).

            I don’t usually make much effort to mount a serious argument against those arguments reduced to their most ridiculous status; there’s no point in arguing with those type opinions or treating hypotheses such as yours in this case with any seriousness. Also, whether you appreciate my time-to-time engagement using humor/absurdity (humor/absurdity for which I care not whether you think funny), is inconsequential.

  • Gregg Smith

    Foxnews is reporting Lanza knew his mother was attempting to have him committed, so he snapped.


    • citizen2001

      And yet she did not lock up her guns.
      Was the father involved with his care?

      • Gregg Smith

        Do we know that?

    • jefe68

      Do we know that?
      Even if she was he was would have been stabilized and let go in a matter of days or weeks. Then what?
      Mrs. Lanza still had guns in her home with and unstable young male. That’s a bad mix period.

      • Gregg Smith

        No, we don’t know anything of sure. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/EYYB3TKQJO57WHNU4QQMCKH53M S

    Tuesday, On
    Point, December 18, 2012

    To Tom

    I could not
    get thru on your radio call-in number three tries, as its message was that the
    box “was full”.

    comment:  Our concept of “Entertainment”.

    What do we
    do, you ask? Where is the concern and focus with violent video games
    that kids (and adults) play daily for hours, many using military type weapons
    to waste “opponents” or any moving object? It’s called
    “entertainment.”The more blood and gore, the better the
    entertainment. Please! Take a look at what harm violent VIDEOS etc .are doing
    to our kids, families, and society. For innocent minds it’s competition; it’s
    identity; it’s power AND it’s big money for producers as our society craves
    more violent “entertainment” and other crude shows depicting parents,
    teachers, police offices as dopes. We’ve lost our sense of “appropriate”.

    If adults
    are serious about finding causes for crimes, go to any public library after
    school. Stand behind little kids at the computers; listen when they yell
    “I just killed 65 people!” Rivals yell: “I got 61 so far!”
    “I just killed you!” One child I watched chose as his weapon of
    choice from the dungeon wall, an over-sized, fire-type hose with giant nossle.
    Out of it poured blood; with giant hose “in hand” he drown all
    “enemies” with blood. He went on to find more to drown.

    Meanwhile, the
    library computer with the sign “homework only” is usually empty. Some
    children hit their parents for dragging them away from the computer when they
    won’t obediently leave. Kids rule. Many kids talk back to nearly all adults.
    Many kids disrespect teachers, librarians, guards, parents/caretakers and
    playmates and police. Children and parents often yell at each other in public. Discipline
    of any degree, withholding gratification to get the next available computer
    causes loud complaints even from adults. The Me-Me generation needs to change
    to a Me We or WE WE generation soon, a little softness, kindness. Whatever
    happened to “please” and “thank you”? Kids sentences are demands, not requests.
    “Phone!” means “gimme the phone to call for a ride.

    So, now, why
    wouldn’t an angry child, or adult that finds a gun want to use it the way he
    has been “training” for days, hours, maybe years at the computer or
    DVD source? How else does he/she know to get even with society/whomever?
    Whatever will get rid of the source of annoyance or need for social discipline
    and order, must be “wasted”.   Kids don’t comprehend consequences; they can’t.

    Has anyone
    done a study on the family life of mass murderers? I wonder if the perpetrators
    of mass shootings (Co, CT etc) were avid violent video gamers for years? Were
    their parents loving and in charge or were parents afraid to set limits?  Our source of “entertainment” is the basic
    questions, in my opinion. Mass murderers seem to be “entertained” by their power
    to control others totally; video gaming reinforces this power and control. That
    is the fun/entertainment of the game.  One mouse; one in total control.

    Perhaps, rather
    than robbing the stage just now with gun control issues, let’s look at how we “entertain”
    ourselves. What standard is being reinforced in families? Unresolved societal
    issues can come next…gun control, mental health etc. So, please, bring the
    discussion back to center…to the home where it belongs first. Mental health
    issues are important to address but the CT massacre must first encourage us to
    look at what and how parents and kids interact and entertain themselves.

    Video violence,
    DVD/TV/movie house violence etc. is a basic place to make mandatory changes and
    return to reasonable standards, not the watered down categories of the last 20

    While most USA
    children returned to their violent computer games after school on this terrible
    Friday, my sense is, that the surviving children of the CT massacre will NEVER
    be entertained by a violent video, movie or TV ever again, nor will their
    parents and true friends ever watch “Play” violence and call it “entertainment”.
    My view as a LMHC. ..Thank you.

    Note: According
    to the news, the same Friday, in China, a young man entered a school and
    stabbed twenty children and one adult! So let’s not derail the discussion here mainly
    with unresolved “gun control” issues.

    • jwkinstl

      I very much share your sentiments. I feel distress about my culture and what it produces. Nevertheless — if we as a society were to heed your warning/plea and commit with wide social/political will to make radical changes toward greater resposnibility and respect — how long might it take for any meaningful change to take root?

      In the meantime, do you really want a couple of generations of people who have been raised the way you’ve described to have easy access to firearms?

      There are measures for safety that we have to take NOW — AND we need to seriously consider the things you are saying.

    • jwkinstl

      S, if you’re trying to call On Point at 8:30 PM, you’re listening to a re-broadcast. The show airs live in the AM.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brennan-Moriarty/100000655771831 Brennan Moriarty

    Let me throw this concept out there “pregnant mothers ;and!: EATING SUGAR/sweets” [as a possible DYS-cause of a habitable planet with a stable orbit]. My parents were “hippies” and sugar {& all junk food} was iether not available or stricktly controlled; until I was 13 yrs old in 1984 [no less], then boxes of chocklate, maple syrup/mrs butterworth, into mass diet-cola, 3 snickers a day, by age 20 sensitive teeth, but soda for another 10 yrs. [obsesive compulsive? nah... ;]_.
    Before floride, bad teeth may have been a tell tale sign -to watch.
    “Brief diagnosis” of even highly intelligent [upper class ='s advanced ability;!;!] cases/persons among all youth with fundamental and therefore QUANTIFIED and harmless/complimentary solutions [rev order] environMental~geographic normative landscape [culturepolitics]; and if the Individual [parent-s or even diagnosers] are evasive? well that’s a clear sign of dis-affecting Mys-location.
     N.Y. knows charm, Seattle knows nerds, Los Angeles knows vatos, FLA knows the Atlantic, SFO knows the Pacific, and Virginia knows the Bible, Colorado Norad…

    I’d like to hear from actual individuals diagnosed not as “sick” or P.T.S.D., but as gene’ally-defective… if euphamistic non-eUnique $olutions fostering love & happiness, and doing real & peaceful work. Sounds like “you’re being attacked”? Indeed that’s a loaded question, yet compare IT to an empty answer
    Those who [can] see, would rather go blind “:)” and those who can’t… want the job; damn!
    the/this “gnew normal” and the internet;;; are rather parallel.; before? grade420?Laughtner; psy-prescription liver damage? [no booz, only sugar?...]
    If defective persons had ultimate peaceful options, would they also have the “conviction” to be THERE safe![?]. And if “reasonably” sarcastic persons, normatively proud _K.Cobain/Jimi [heard around the world] or secretly… could rub Wings ;) with the angles of understanding [because they can ...and should!...] Would YOU like to see that DONE?[harmlessly]: or not done? whether it’s rorschack rapture [hold on ;] or tectonic vacuums [see?] guided!!! therapy must be for the supernatural not the super needy [unless it or they are a scam; in Witch... case Alquaida "tourists" will eye our silence.
    incidentally I had 3 cups of black {milk&sugar}tea, 8 cigs  and pasta today. NO alcohol and no meat. but "travel anxiety" has been high lately. Also I can't really "begin" a letter/communication fluidly unless it is begun or properly stimulated [tea?] by a respective “reciever”. I can carry [or morally pretent to] the world on my back, i just don’t know where [the f[] to put it: hindsight will be dry, but the future was teary. industrial grade psychology comes from within::; after your wits go without, and come into true love or return to base before the tunnel-cops “think” there’s a chase or an out of place face ; like but not really a poly-genetic case.open embrace with the vile inn surigate space talk vetting lace.
    what did you eat? ;) l.o.love_.

    • jwkinstl

      I hope you don’t have access to guns.

    • jefe68


  • ljhoff54

    On my way to work on Monday morning, I got “caught” behind a school bus.  As the bus pulled to a stop at the end of a driveway, lights flashing, a little boy–couldn’t have been more than 6 years old, if that–came skipping up the driveway towards the bus.  As taught, about 25 feet short of the bus door, he stopped and waited for the “all clear” signal from the driver that it was SAFE to board the bus.  A huge grin spread across this little guy’s face and he fairly leapt into the air landing in a sprinting beeline for the bus’ yawning door, delighted to join his classmates for another day of school.

    My gut seized, my throat closed, tears flowed down my face, my heart filled with fear, and rage for those who hold the Second Amendment, the “cool” machismo of an AR15, and the false security of a handgun in the bedside drawer more dear than the life of this little boy engulfed me.

    We are a very, very sick country.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/A6PLRRYAAK4ONSCT5CE6KHQEXY DanieClarke

    EXACTLY its a mental health issue.. we need to REOPEN the State mental
    Hospitals and reverse the rules to allow anyone who may be a harm to be
    committed for at least a 5 day commitment. For juvenals it should be an easy 30
    day commitment. Back in the 60′s and 70′s it was easy. I know i was committed a
    few times and instead of lentghy processes i was put in and evaluated. I also
    had to leave being OFF MEDS unlike today where BIG PHARMA pushed drugs / meds on
    people and kicks them out of the hospitals. Insuances don’t like paying for
    anything let alone mental health care. The states need to reopen their large
    state hospitals and also put in all drug users from prisons. That will take
    money from the private prison industry and put it back in state hospitals. Then
    they will not be realesed until they are off drugs / meds.. see my petition here
    ALSO we need to change the standards where a person doesn’t have to try to
    commit suicide to get committed. Newtown CT had a state hospital but they closed
    it in 1995. Its time to deal with mental health on a grand scale again. There
    needs to be adolecent wards and adult wards and geriatric wards etc etc so that
    state hospitals become small cities caring for all aspects of society.. We don’t
    need to put them in jails where they are abused and private contractors make big
    bucks as we TAXPAYERS SUPPORT THOSE PRIVATE PRISONS.. Have some compassion for
    our mentall ill and people going thru issues.. I went thru that system and it
    saved my life.. please call your congress person and mental health people to
    demand these changes / reversal from todays Big Pharma drug pushers and private
    prisions.. PS: Adam would have been easily committed and taken care of by people
    who care and would have found a new life and possibly a group home one day..

  • alina_duncan

    I would like to see OnPoint do a show on the effects of the powerful drugs that are prescribed to more and more children each day in this country without any idea as to what the long term effects they will have on these children as they develop.  I am very concerned about the prevalence of the ADHD/Bipolar diagnosis that I have seen in the school system (suggestions made by teachers about young children).  I am surprised it was not discussed on the show…but I am wondering (after all these years of enduring incidents like this) about the impact that these prescriptions have on the developing brain….we do know that medications that are appear to be beneficial and safe for adults can effect children very differently (for example, cough syrup/cold medicine that may make me drowsy makes my son revved up).   Also, diseases present themselves differently in children (just try to get a rash properly diagnosed by someone other than a pediatrician and you will see what I mean) than they do in adults.  More and more children take 8 or 9 pills of extremely potent drugs (some of which have side effects like increased suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts in adults) and we seem to have little credible data pointing to how safe they are in the long term.  I am not saying that some children should not be medicated, but I am worried about the prevalence of the medicated child and by how easily our society accepts medication as a panacea for troubled minds.  I wonder if some children who were unruly or troubled to begin with may be further harmed by anti-depressants, anti-anxiety pills, and whatever else may be coursing through their little bodies at a time in their life where development is so critical…I would love to see a show on this in the future…

    • sstavar

       Hi Alina,
      I agree with your comments. But if you think about it, how do you propose to find out the long term effects of a medication when no parent in their right mind would put their children on medication unless there was a strong reason for it? The fact is that society has developed faster than biology can adapt and we are strictly compartmentalized and restricted in what we can and cannot do. We all need to cope with an environment we are not built for. Some people are more malleable and can adjust better than others, but the use of drugs (legal or otherwise), abuse of alcohol and violence we see in adults is paralleled by children’s diagnoses. I regret to say that my son is on an anti-depresant and ritalin. He also has therapy twice a week. His behavior has always demanded a lot of attention (reason for which he is an only son), and after his father’s death everything spiraled out of control. I ask myself everyday whether this is the right choice, but having your child tell you that he doesn’t want anything for his birthday because he is not going to be around is something that you can’t just brush off. See him frustrated and angry at himself because he can’t control his impulses is no fun either. I don’t know how the medication maybe affecting his brain development, I don’t know that his brain would develop better without the medication either. All I want is to prevent suicidal thoughts and giving him control of himself so I can praise him and help him built a strong self esteem and resilience. I don’t think there is any right answer. It is what it is.

  • betsmc

    SStavar, you say it well.  What parent in their right mind wants to put their child on medication unless there is a strong reason? 
    But, vulnerable/sensitive children (a minority, presumably) are at risk if they DON’T take medications, because doctors will interpret that lack of medication, as they are dealing with an individual who is NOT sensitive, and can therefore tolerate and benefit from a wide variety of medical treatments (such as with corticosteroids, or some surgeries).  In fact, I have come to believe from my experiences, that some doctors may purposely prescribe steroids for patients to expose what they consider to be an underlying “mental illness,”  which probably would not have developed if that individual had never taken steroids.  Again, as an example, all pediatricians must prescribe a combo of antibiotic and steroid topical medicine for ear infection, and this could cause mental changes and psychiatric symptoms in some patients.  Thus, I speculated in my previous post, about a number of possible causes for Adam Lanza’s apparent breakdown, including, was he treated for an ear infection in the last year or two?

    The debate in the media about Adam Lanza’s motives is meaningless, without Adam’s complete medical history, and honest doctors interpreting it for the public.

  • Pingback: Mental Illness: The View From Within | Cognoscenti

Jul 28, 2014
This June 4, 2014 photo shows a Walgreens retail store in Boston. Walgreen Co. _ which bills itself as “America’s premier pharmacy” _ is among many companies considering combining operations with foreign businesses to trim their tax bills. (AP)

American companies bailing out on America. They call it inversion. Is it desertion?

Jul 28, 2014
U.S. Secretary of War Newton D. Baker watches as wounded American soldiers arrive at an American hospital near the front during World War I. (AP Photo)

Marking the one hundredth anniversary of the start of World War One. We’ll look at lessons learned and our uneasy peace right now.

Jul 25, 2014
Guest Renee McLeod of Somerville, MA's Petsi pies shows off her wares. (Robin Lubbock / WBUR)

There is nothing more American than a piece of pie. We taste and talk pies.

Jul 25, 2014
Pallbearers carry a coffin out of a military transport plane during a ceremony to mark the return of the first bodies, of passengers and crew killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, from Ukraine at Eindhoven military air base, Eindhoven, Netherlands, Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (AP)

Secretary of State Kerry to Israel. Obamacare back in the courts. Mourning as remains of Malaysia Flight 17 victims come home. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
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The Art Of The American Pie: Recipes
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In the odd chance that our pie hour this week made you hungry — how could it not, right? — we asked our piemaking guests for some of their favorite pie recipes. Enjoy!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘The [Russian] Reset Worked’
Thursday, Jul 24, 2014

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took time out of her global book tour to talk to us about Russia, the press and the global crises shaking the administration she left two years ago.

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