Re-examining the Biochemical Model after Newtown: The Effects of Stigma and the Need for Better Family Coaching


The media discussions around the horrific event that unfolded in Newtown, Connecticut just before Christmas once again focus the world’s attention on the nation’s gun control laws.  Let’s hope that this time, the right actions for the right reasons will be taken to prevent these kinds of atrocities from occurring. This latest gun tragedy is also a topic of much debate in the mental health communities.

Discussion of what particular DSM mental health label Adam Lanza had, as with previous mass murders, is a red herring. That being said, our culture, our school system, the way we treat our family members has more and more adapted itself to psychiatric classification and labeling. The drugs used to treat these labels are more or less the same, thereby undermining these distinctions. Those of us in the more militant wing of the recovery movement believe that people have emotional problems in adjusting to living no matter what category they are deemed to fall under in the DSM. What I am about to say will not stop the kinds of tragedies we see in Newtown, but it may save some individuals like Adam Lanza from becoming mass murderers.

I’ve not read any media reports that indicate Adam Lanza was a violent person by nature, but he became violent. If prescription medications induce violence in some people, as a growing chorus of critics claim, then the public is long overdue for access to accurate information about the possible side effects of these drugs. If medication is not a factor in Lanza’s case (and will we ever know for sure if it was or wasn’t?),  there is another ingredient that can push someone further and further into violence coupled with a full-blown break from reality: Being at the receiving end of daily stigma.

An Auburn University study found that stigma is increased if people think you have a mental illness caused by a biochemical imbalance as opposed to a mental illness resulting from understandable events in a person’s life. People treat you more harshly if they believe you have a biochemical imbalance of the brain, a “disease,” because they think they are doing it “for your own good.”

It is important to realize that people include families and parents, even the most well-intentioned and otherwise kind ones.  Blame, impatience, embarrassment and frustration expressed within the family increases feelings of isolation and anxiety in family members. If the Auburn findings are correct, if we believe that our relative suffers from a biochemical brain imbalance, we are no doubt treating him or her more roughly, less kindly, than if we feel that they have been impacted by the environment they live in.

Even if we do not believe that our relative suffers from a mental illness, we are up against doctors who do. We are never sure if the psychiatrists are right about our relative and it is us who are delusional. We absorb their message of hopelessness, which breeds fear on our part. Fear is the usual starting point for stigmatization of others.

Where do we turn to understand how to create an atmosphere in the home that is less stigmatizing?

Access to information to find out about what we can do as a family to help is limited. Once the biochemical imbalance theory of mental illnesses began to reign supreme in the 1970s, not enough attention was devoted to teaching about how our social environment impacts our mental health. Doctors and our researchers tell us that mental illness is complex, and that it is thought that there is biochemical, genetic and environmental component to it, but lip service only has been paid to looking into the environmental component.

The environmental component has been largely captured by the scientific community to mean toxic chemicals, or fetal development issues stemming from chemicals in the environment or diseases the mother may have had while pregnant. Meaningful research and discussion of the social environment that drills down as far as the family has been largely off limits.

The social information that we need is hidden or hard to find because the biochemical model has encouraged the predominance of programs that are targeted to getting our relatives to take their medications.  It strenuously avoids inviting examination of what goes on in day to day family life that may provoke feelings of isolation and anxiety. That is the way many parents prefer it. NAMI, the most prominent family support group in the nation, got started because parents felt they were being unfairly blamed for their child’s mental illness. NAMI members embraced the no-fault biochemical solution. Many of its members still resist recovery programs that teach that madness is part of the human experience and that critically examine the ways in which family members help or hinder their relative. They will continue along the path of least resistance unless we can do a better job of explaining how important the social environment is to recovery.

If we pay attention to what people with lived experience tell us (and we should), it is the social environment that has the biggest impact on our feelings, emotions and ultimate actions.

An insightful article in the Daily Beast, I Was Adam Lanza, written by an anonymous contributor, explains from his personal experience, what triggers some young men to inflict violence on a mass scale.

What was wrong with me, then? If I had a mental illness, it does not have a time. But the results can be described in very simple English: I was socially isolated, and I was smart. . .  So what causes someone to be isolated and/or persecuted? This is where being smart comes in. As anyone who’s encountered a really smart person could tell you, eccentricity and intelligence are frequently close cousins. This is why you’ll hear that so many troubled kids, prior to their mass murdering careers, were engineering buffs, or entered college two years early, or could talk intelligently about subjects as diverse as Greek mythology and Einsteinian Physics at the age of 13.

And when you’re isolated from other people, your own mind – and its crazy ideas – becomes the only company you have…  Moreover, this kind of solitary confinement inside your own head breeds paranoia and lack of empathy even where none existed before, because when you only live inside your own head, after a while you fail to notice that anyone else is really human. They become means to an end, an end like getting media attention for your suffering by shooting them.

What might exacerbate feelings of isolation and anxiety in an extremely intelligent but already socially marginalized young man like Adam Lanza, who had already faced daily stigma in the school system? A parental divorce and his mother’s decision to home school him are two possibilities that come to mind. It’s hard enough for any child or teenager dealing with a lone parent in a big, empty house, but with home schooling, now your mother is your teacher, too. Day after day after day.  It’s not too difficult to imagine that mother and son got on each other’s nerves, a lot. I suspect, in this hothouse atmosphere, that the mother’s patience was worn thin and fear overwhelmed hope.

I have never owned a gun, nor would I ever choose to own one or use one, but I can understand what Nancy Lanza was trying to do by taking her son to the shooting range: To build his confidence. To give herself hope. To do anything that made him look more like the norm and less like the person that she was increasingly seeing.

On several occasions I drove my son out to the countryside and handed him the keys to the car when he was still heavily medicated and very withdrawn to prove to him, me, and the psychiatrist that he more capable than the psychiatrist gave him credit for. My son’s psychiatrist thought this was a bad move on my part and the driving lessons came to a grinding halt. I don’t think the driving lessons were a bad decision, but I’ll admit I didn’t have much of a clue then about what it takes to help someone recover. Anything I’ve learned since I had to cobble together on my own by reading about what works for other people. It shouldn’t have to be that way.

Adam Lanza needed social engagement skills and friends, not further isolation.  His mother no doubt knew this, too, but perhaps couldn’t find the help she needed, rejected what was offered, or found the mainstream help that was available lacking in hope, as was my experience. Like me, she may have been forced to go it alone, to use her best judgment as she went along.

Unfortunately, we make mistakes. Nancy Lanza needed help learning how to engage with her son in ways that would not further isolate him. It is reported that she left him alone for a few days, returning just before the rampage. I once left my son alone for a week during a time when I thought he could handle it. I returned home in the middle of the day to find the blinds drawn, the lights out, and a frightened nocturnal creature backed into a corner that bore a strong resemblance to my son. Being isolated caused him to hallucinate.

I didn’t make that mistake twice. Families need informed coaching that will help us learn how to appreciate our relatives for their many gifts, to resist criticizing or feeling embarrassed about them, and how not to isolate them. If these kinds of courses are considered critical of parents, then as parents we ought to re-examine our commitment to wellness.

Undue faith in the biochemical model lets parents off the hook. There is no need to learn a new set of social interaction skills. More’s the pity, because what is missing from this picture is that while families may contribute to their relative’s difficulties, families also have big impact on how well their relative recovers.

People who have recovered and are doing well often attribute their recovery to their families never giving up on them, encouraging them at every step of the way, and being extremely loving and patient. Their families do not cast their problems in anything but human terms. For parents, whether or not we embrace or resist medications for our child, the supremacy of the biochemical model to explain in scientific terms minds that diverge from the norm, stifles growth in our learning to understand extreme mental distress in human terms.


Note: The Mother Bear Community Action Network is partnering with Family Outreach and Response program to offer an on-line Family Mental Health Education program beginning in 2013. For more information, contact Jennifer Maurer at [email protected]


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


Mad in America has made some changes to the commenting process. You no longer need to login or create an account on our site to comment. The only information needed is your name, email and comment text. Comments made with an account prior to this change will remain visible on the site.


  1. Rossa,

    Thank you for the tremendous courage and honesty in this blog. And for your compassion, empathy and respect for all of us—for Adam Lanza, his mother, your son, and all of our children and loved ones who struggle.

    Thank you most especially for reaching out, as a mother, to the rest of us parents, spouses, siblings, and friends who are struggling to heal alongside our relatives. Struggling to “not make it worse” and to “help make it better,” with precious little information or support on how to do so.

    In the quiet moments between crises and our own grief (or denial), we can feel the pull of distress in our own personal histories, in our relationships, in our jobs, in our homes. No pill could possibly, alone, address this dis-ease. And, if it could, who would we give it to? Everyone?

    We don’t have to accept blame to consider we all have work to do to create healing. We are all doing the best we can, we all come by our suffering naturally. Sometimes the “best we can” is not enough. Sometimes it’s pretty bad. In either case, family and community support and education about how to heal our relationships with ourselves and our world can help present alternatives to “the best we can do,” when our best isn’t enough.

    To me, family coaching and education isn’t about blame and shame, it’s about responsibility, agency and possibility. And healing much more than just one person, healing that ripples out to transform many, many lives.

    The University of Kansas Office of Mental Health Research and Training has compiled research that shows that families who receive mental health support and education can reduce relapse and re-hospitalization rates by as much as 75%.

    Given this tremendous impact, why we don’t have more family support is alarming and negligent.

    Thank you for sharing Mother Bear Community Action Network’s collaborative online family education. We are thrilled to be able to offer this widely in the Spring of 2013. Families will not find blame, but real tools and support to that will help the whole family thrive through mental health and any other challenge. We need many, many more programs like this!

    Report comment

    • Thanks, Jennifer, for reinforcing the need for better family support. It was hard for me to write this post because I have only been involved with one family support group, and I ended up not feeling very supported at all, and my son’s problems at that time were still a mystery to me. I know that NAMI offers family support, but many people express frustration that the support is skewed towards victimizing, rather than empowering. (Of course, this may not be the case with all NAMI support groups.)

      Report comment

  2. I got diagnosed bipolar. I appreciated and we started attending Bipolar Pair Group Counseling. After a while I reacted on a skewness. Those of us that had diagnosis was always the ones in focus. We learnt about and discussed early warning signs, need for rest. They were asked to help us remember taking medication. All of it was based on that we were sick and they were perfectly ok.

    Later we got divorced. I found that I could not heal near her as she was never satisfied with what I did. Whatever I did to participate in running the house and raising our three children, she always criticised me for how I did it.

    I think that if we had got help regarding how to treat each other with respect we could still have lived together for the benefit of all, including our children.

    Whenever one part in a couple has problems, it is always two-ways. Both should try to change something to make it work together.

    I agree very much with this article. We need to involve our nearest. The family life has to be our homeground. It has to be harmony. Harmony always depends on more than one.

    Report comment

  3. I have a pretty long response, both because of the price my kids have paid for the genetic-psychiatric view of autism as well as my sense that the author of the post cares and wants to understand certain issues.

    As the parent of two children with autism who were born healthy and showed normal language development and social response until one year of age but regressed horribly after seven vaccines at their 12 month “well child” visit, including three shots that contained mercury, I appreciate the onus for mass violence being shifted from diagnosis to the single actual common denominator in the majority of these crimes— prescription psych drugs.

    But I do wish those outside the autism arena would dig deeper into the autism issue than mainstream media representations, front group spin and old equivocations before making even passing references to it. The misunderstandings mostly a problem of equivocations at root– saying “A is like B,” etc.

    For one, “medical cause” of autism according to sanctioned government-and-industry supported mainstream views does not equal concepts of “medical cause” according to the environmental autism community. These communities and their views are not the same as the author vaguely implies. The medical community– as in the same mainstream community proposing that autism and other childhood behavioral conditions are a matter of genetic brain chemical imbalance and recommend psychiatric drugs– by no means promotes the idea that autism is a matter of toxic exposure in childhood or in utero as the author suggested here. Far from it. The idea that the epidemic rise in the disorder– and the mainstream medical community and government agencies stringently deny that the rise is real– is a result of toxic medicine and overlapping toxins in the environment is the dark horse view of the condition. Scientists and journalists can lose their careers for promoting the toxic- environmental because it goes against mainstream dogma and implicates in many cases the same companies producing psychiatric drugs or other powerful industries which fund academic research departments, teaching hospitals and maintain a revolving door of employment with govt. regulatory agencies.

    By “medical,” the mainstream means bum (sometimes euphemized as “special” when trying to sell the idea to followers of NAMI or other front groups) genes and voodoo biochemical psychiatric cause. In mainstream opining, there are occasionally light references to “50,000 untested chemicals” in the environment, but any more specific cause implicating particular industries is violently censored in the mainstream medical arena and mainstream media and the official party line is still that the condition is “largely genetic.” By keeping reference to “toxins” generalized and “mysterious,” this makes the idea subordinate to genes. To prove this, just track government research spending on autism– the overwhelming expenditures are on gene research despite the fact that every headlined “genetic cause” discovery has flopped in attempts to replicate it (but the debunking receives no fanfare).

    Furthermore, those who believe their child was toxically injured are far less likely to medicate their children with pharmaceutical drugs than those who accept the mainstream “voodoo psychiatric” take, particularly since most proponents of environmental cause believe their child was initially injured by pharmaceutical products. So those who believe their children were toxically injured are not equal to the drug-model faithful NAMI families who believe their child’s disorder was caused by voodoo psychiatric/genetic cause. Furthermore, parents of children with autism are increasingly losing custody to the state because they believe their children were toxically injured, reject the voodoo psychiatric model and refuse to drug. State care is all drugs. So confusing those who believe in toxic cause with the mainstream view of autism denies the danger that many families of affected children live in as they have to keep their views secret from schools and doctors to avoid having a “file” put on them.

    NAMI has jumped on the autism bandwagon recently to promote the psych-genetic view and to attack the environmental cause view. NAMI has joined messages and sometimes forces with another front movement of a minority of “autistic adult self-advocates” with high functioning autism (sometimes self-diagnosed) who are currently playing “entryist” into the Mad Rights movement to promote the genetic paradigm of autism. Like with NAMI, some followers of this are naïve regarding drug industry promotion of the concept they’re championing. Unlike the Mad Rights movement, the “Neurodiverse” autism front movement discounts the idea that the condition at the center of their cause can be entirely induced by toxic assault, while Mad Rights proponents readily accept that many are sometimes driven mad by pharmaceutical products alone. NAMI, Neurodiversity and Mad Rights all seek to remove stigmatization from various conditions or ways of being, but that’s where the comparison ends. NAMI and Neurodiversity share the view that the conditions are genetic castes and not that “diversity” is a matter of individual expression and choice. NAMI and Neurodiversity certainly don’t mean to incite sympathy for cases in which a condition is brought on by toxic exposure.

    Because mainstream medical proponents often reject environmental cause on the accusation that environmental proponents are suffering from “low cognitive processing” and supposedly mesmerized by logical fallacy in viewing the apparent rise in autism as “epidemic,” some of us jokingly came up with a “math” model to see which view came out more “crock” than the other. Not to be geeky about it, but this seems like the only way to respond to the widespread confusion and blurring of lines between views of autism, mental illness and mass murder. Meeting “logical fallacy” fire with fire…

    So if
    “A” = Pseudo-medical assumptions of mental disability (“specialness”): the indemonstrable voodoo psychiatric/genetic paradigm which presumes that any apparent rise in certain disorders is merely a matter of “increased recognition” and that these disorders have always been with us in the same numbers.

    “B”= Medical view of mental disability: the environmental cause view which rejects the “largely genetic” paradigm.

    “X”= Medical cause model for mental disability: genetic organic brain disease.

    “Y”= Medical cause model for mental disability: environmentally induced brain disease.

    “S”= Non-medical cause model for behavioral and emotional disturbance: social-emotional environmental cause such as trauma, isolation and discrimination.

    Also throw in “D”= Psychiatric drug treatment; and “U” = Treatment for underlying cause which rejects psychiatric drug recommendations as based on fraudulent models of efficacy and safety.

    Right now the mainstream view– “A”– is overwhelmingly proposing that modern mass shootings as well as autism and most mental disability are caused by “X” and should be treated with “D.”

    Some propose that “X” is exacerbated by “S” and “D” is still the answer. Some believe that autism, mental illness and mass shootings are all entirely caused by “S.” The problem with the last view is that it’s not true of the whole and when social treatment approaches fail for the majority, the blame for the failure will be doubled back on the subjects rather than the practitioners as happens with every bad theory. And that still leaves drugs again as the usual final resort.

    Environmental proponents– “B”– believe that the only overlap between autism, mental disability and the huge increase in certain types of mass violence is that all three are epidemic phenomena and therefore can’t be caused solely by “X” or “S” or even “X + S” because there’s no such thing as a genetic epidemic and because it’s ahistorical to assume modern civilian life is somehow so much more traumatic than, say, in the days of legal child labor, legal domestic violence, open acceptance of violent corporal punishment for children, weekly public executions and slavery. It’s even illogical to assume that modern war is so much more traumatic than past wars that it could explain the tripled suicide rate among members of the military.

    Instead “B” supports the idea that “X,” “Y” or “S” can be equally misinterpreted under “A” leading to “D” and resulting in an epidemiologically definable explosion in certain types of violence. X, Y and S are simply misinterpreted and turned into excuses to drug because another area of confusion comes from the different categories of cause that led to the individual being drugged in the first place. For instance Peter Breggin pointed out the various potential underlying causes for children being labeled with “ADHD” and drugged– childhood trauma, hunger, closed head injury, undiagnosed metabolic disorders, allergies, being bright and bored in poor schools or mercury, lead or other toxic causes (such as the drugs used to treat supposedly psychiatric disorders). Each are “environmental” but some are “social environment” (“S”) and others are medical as in toxic environmental cause (“Y”). Breggin supports treatment for underlying cause with non psych drug approaches.

    In other words, S does not equal Y, though S– like “Y”– can lead to misapplication of “X,” “D” and “A”– drugs and genetic interpretations. The genetic-psychiatric model in the absence of environmental explanations for disorders which are exploding in prevalence can also lead to social stigmatization, abuse and trauma– which is especially true considering some of the brewing vigilantism being aimed at the autism population in the wake of the Newtown massacre and the increase in abusive restraint and seclusion against disabled or behaviorally challenged children who are flooding schools. Public schools’ views of this increasing disabled and challenged population are in keeping with the DOE’s current official position on these disorders— the “A” explanation.

    So it’s false to assume for any argument that S = Y = X or that any fall under “B” and should be treated with “D” because B and D are basically “BS.”

    Even *if* an individual were suffering from a rare organic genetic brain condition, there’s no evidence that drugs have any clinical benefits outside sometimes acting as temporary emotional painkillers or as chemical straight-jackets and the psych-genetic explanation for most entries in the DSM isn’t supported by genuine science.

    The real problem in drawing equivocations lies in the differing concepts of what constitutes “medical.” To parapharase Thomas Szasz, if psychiatry dealt in actual medical conditions, it would have been absorbed into the field of neurology ages ago. Or to quote Leonard Frank, “Psychiatry is to medicine what astrology is to astronomy.” Autism, like so many modern cases of pediatric bipolar disorder actually caused by the drugs given to children, never belonged in the DSM to begin with, not as it currently exists. Psychiatry has shifted the conception of what constitutes “medical cause” into something akin to ancient alchemy. There are genetic organic brain diseases (“X”) but as Grace Jackson argued in “Drug Induced Dementia: The Perfect Crime,” there are drugs and toxins which can virtually mimic once rare genetic conditions like Niemann-Picks and MELAS (“Y”) and despite the trick of the eye, these are not the same. Genetic cause does not explain the explosive increase in prevalence of mental disability or anything stemming from it.

    Probably because the pharmaceutical industry promoted ADHD to sell drugs so successfully starting in the 1970s and, as Breggin points out, promoted the buckshot approach to diagnosing it, some are under the impression that the rise in autism isn’t genuine by the same principle. It’s another bait and switch. The Neurodiverse front movement claims very falsely that most individuals with the condition are high functioning as a way to argue that there’s been no real rise but affected individuals in the past simply “fell under the radar,” but to make this argument, they rely on fraudulent research from pharma-backed sources while more legitimate studies like the UCSD research shows that most affected are not high functioning. UCSD found that 83% of those diagnosed with autism are severely disabled and would never have flown under the radar in past eras and that “overdiagnosing” and “changes in diagnostic standards” would account for only 3% to 10% of the current affected population, 85% of whom are under age 25. These individuals aren’t just stigmatized, they’re often left to die of medical complications inherent with the condition because the genetic-psychiatric paradigm refuses to admit that autism is medical model “B.”

    Not that the Auburn study isn’t important in measuring social response to things like PTSD and childhood trauma , but I sincerely wish that the Auburn study would be performed again in a redesigned format, testing caregiver and social response to another concept for “medical” cause (“B”) and then compare that against the voodoo psychiatric cause (“A”) implied in the original study. The “B” model is the idea that American lifestyle, pollution, corporate agenda and our own government had led certain individuals to be injured in a way that left them behaviorally challenged. Autism wouldn’t even need to be put into the equation– one could compare other phenomena which fall under assumptions within the “B” category, such as social response to Bhopal disaster victims or Agent Orange victims who suffered brain injuries to the social response to individuals suffering from mental disorders under the mainstream voodoo “medical” model (“A”).

    If the concept of “medical” were shifted back to something that didn’t require lab tricks and fraud to demonstrate, I think social response would be different. Case in point is when Agent Orange was officially recognized in Vietnam as the cause of mass disability and birth defects, the Vietnamese people embraced a program for “Peace Villages” whereby municipalities would agree to care for and protect a certain number of affected individuals who had, before the official recognition of environmental cause had been issued, suffered discrimination and marginalization under both the ideas that these disabled individuals simply weren’t fed or raised properly as children or that their family lines were genetically tainted.

    There is a “social component” to mass injury by industrial cause– the idea that a force so much greater than the individual was responsible for their suffering and challenging behavior. Being specific about this is important to social perceptions and social empathy. For instance, those who suffer from behavioral problems via street drug use are seen by most as victims of themselves and their own self-indulgence and less rarely seen as victims of society, though in fact they might be victims of society in many ways. But someone understood to be injured by their doctor in a government supported program or injured by the end results of industries’ lobbying for emission deregulation and/or generating tobacco science to hide the ill effects of their exploits might be viewed differently. That is, if the general public didn’t choose their emotional comfort– the idea that their good and benevolent government, upstanding family doctors or fine industries like Dow Chemical or Big Pharma would never perpetrate such a thing– over concern for potential victims.

    I think the reform psychiatric movement is beyond clinging to fond hopes that prevalent medical views are guided by solely benevolent medical authority or that government is always perfect. The next step is to understand that the drug injury model of autism falls in the same censored corner as the idea that psych drugs are probably behind the vast majority of school shootings. We’re really on the same page but there’s a lot of static making it seem otherwise, most of which is being generated by astroturf fronts.

    Autism has not only one but two overlaps with mass shootings in the sense that both are environmental and the explosions in both likely lead back to pharma. You get a third overlap in that autism is increasingly the entry point by which certain drugs are approved for pediatric marketing. As goes autism, so goes the rest once the use of a drug is “normalized” and all the garbage theories about autism’s genetic roots, as well-meaning as some may seem on the surface, are also the entry points for garbage theories to be extrapolated to other DSM diagnoses or used to invent new ones.

    Report comment

    • As someone who was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2, over 35 years ago, and I had never been vacinnated until the age of 6, I find it ironical when people say my autism was caused by vaccinations, vaccinations of whom. My mother and father had never been vaccinated, so don’t try saying it was passed onto them. i also showed symptoms from birth.

      98% of the growth in diagnosis of autism is not classical autism. Ever feel lonely, you must have autism, have any form of language delay, you must have autism, have any behavioural problems it must be autism. When I was at university some 20 years ago the fad diagnosis for ALL children with ADHD. It is now quite rare for children to be diagnosed with it. Diagnosis rates have halfed, and for every decrease in that diagnosis, there has been an increase in the diagnosis of autism. They simply move from one fad diagnosis to another.

      As for language delays, in order to learn to speak one has to hear language, the more language and that means REAL language one hears the more rapid development of speech they experience. Children now hear half of what they heard some 50 years and about a quarter of what they heard 20 years ago. WHY, because we now shove them front of the TV and expect the TV to babysit them. Television does not provide language role models. Children need to hear people, especially parents talking to them. Some children make it through unscathed, others do not. And of course there is the now inability of parents to discipline children. Children used to have limits set, no longer the case, then they wonder why the children become so out of control. Setting limits does not have to mean corporal punishment, but it does mean that limits have to be put in place and consequences for those actions. I don’t think that parents deliberately do a bad job, they do what they are led to believe is best.

      I do believe that SOME children, may have adverse reactions to vaccinations that may cause autistic like symptoms. I also do believe that our toxic chemicals in the environment can also play havoc. But the fact remains that hundreds of thousands of perfectly healthy children are also exposed to them and never suffer any such issues. There are and always have been people diagnosed with autism, in very undeveloped countries, and throughout history. How do you explain those people’s diagnosis if it is all caused by vaccinations and toxic chemicals.

      Is Autism even the same thing. There are over 16,000 different diagnostic possiblities, to say that over 16,000 different symptom presentations are the same disease is a bit beyond me. To blame everything on toxins and nothing on social factors is also beyond me. The most effective therapies are not ABA (which is child abuse and nothing else) it is relationship based therapies, which largely focus on accepting the child for who they are. Join the child in there world and they are much more likely to join you in your world.

      Despite all that, i personally do not like the lable of autism anymore than I like the labels given to me from psychiatrists for any number of different so called mental illnesses, they are made up diseases, and Autism is no difference. Do I continue to show those symptoms, do I continue to have huge problems, sure, but that is simply what makes me the unique individual that I am. I don’t need a label, or to be made normal, I am quite happy being the non normal person that I am. I don’t see that I am so defective that I need to be fixed or that someone needs to find a reason to blame for me being who I am. What happened to celebrating difference.

      Changing the diagnostic criteria so that more people fit the diagnosis, does not mean that some massive environmental toxin has taken over the world. Since when is not being the most extroverted person on the planet a crime. What happened to simply being allowed to be introverted. What happened to allowing people to be who they are.

      I personally do have a problem with the levels of toxin the environment and I do do reasonable amounts to reduce my exposure to them, I use natural body and household cleaning products, buy organic food when possible, etc, reduce cell phone usage, and only use conventional medicine as a last resort.

      I know someone with a diagnosis of Autism who had it there whole life and was finally diagnosed with Coeliacs disease at the age of 25. Within 6 months of removing wheat from there diet ALL symptoms and issues associated with the Autism had dissappeared, they made rapid and massive gains in speech, etc. Yet I can assure you removing wheat from the diet of everyone so diagnosed, has not had any impact on anyone else. She has had vaccinations since with no reactions, uses multiple chemicals with no issues, for her it was gluten and nothing else. What affects one person does not necessarily affect everyone else.

      Over 98% of children diagnosed with autism have shown signs since birth, they did not have normal development. Pregnant women have less toxic exposure today than in decades gone by. Why do the 2 percent who show symptoms later, not show them earlier, why do they react to vaccinations and others not. Why do the vast majority of people who take psychiatric drugs not become mass murders if the drugs cause it. Over a billion people take these drugs worldwide, not even one percentage become voilent. I do not believe these drugs are harmless, equally though I do not believe they turn everyone who takes them into mass murders. I do believe these drugs are inheriently toxic and are not the safe and effective substances we are led to believe, but to say that ALL mass murders are caused by these drugs and nothing else has any impact at all is not something I would ever agree with. To say they contributed is one thing, to say that these drugs are so brilliant that they enable people to focus to extreme levels so they can plan out mass murders over months, order in huge amounts of guns, amunition, etc. is beyond me. Over 90% of people on these drugs can barely lift there head off the pillow, yet these people, were so highly fucntioning it was beyond belief, and is beyond anything in the side effect profiles of the drugs. What we do know is that these were all very carefully planned and carried out attacks, you and others say the drugs caused the planning, and that is where the drugs made me do it, does not add up to me. Drugs like these do not enable or force anyone to plan to that level. And of course why only those few people, why only in the US, etc, etc. There was a mass shooting of over 75 people in Norway a few years ago, the guy who committed the crime had NEVER EVER taken any psychiatric drugs. How is that possible, when it is impossible to commit mass murder without being on these drugs?? Or is it just that no American can commit mass murder without being on these drugs. Was Osama Bin Landen also on them?? Were all the 9/11 terrorists also on them??

      Report comment

      • I’m glad you’re happy with who you are and seek to lower toxic impact. I agree that everyone’s different. Not everyone who smokes gets cancer– go figure. Not everyone who has autism is high functioning and many are suffering. I’m also glad your friend found a simple answer, though one person’s recovery doesn’t mean that people aren’t allowed to be happy with who they are or should be subjected to discrimination. The recovery track isn’t making the argument that people with genetic conditions or those who don’t recover should be scorned. For that kind of abuse, look to pharmaceutical researchers like Simon Baron-Cohen who pleads for “tolerance” out of one side of his mouth and then compares autism to genetic psychopathic zero-empathy killers out of the other.

        I can’t find any substantiation for a couple of the assertions you made outside the Skeptic front group pages or pharmaceutical blogs: ‘Over 98% of children diagnosed with autism have shown signs since birth, they did not have normal development. Pregnant women have less toxic exposure today than in decades gone by.’ The American Council on Science and Health would probably agree, but then they never found anything wrong with a single chemical produced by their sponsors or anything right about consumer activists like Erin Brockovich or environmental watchdog groups. I’ve read other independent studies arguing that the vast majority of current autism is regressive– but that kind of research doesn’t get promoted in the NY Times or LeftBrain/RightBrain. Corporate backers wouldn’t like it.

        Like I wrote in another response, there’s no way to know whether autism might have once existed in a rare genetic form in the pre-industrial age. Humans have also always had various degrees of mercury exposure, particularly in mining areas. Those who didn’t die of it may have adapted for protection. But anything “genetic” can be reproduced through the wonders of modern chemistry– how do you think they produce “autistic” knockout mice in the lab? They inject mutagenic chemicals into the brains of the “Adam and Eve” or toxins to impair certain parts of the brain and then clone them. The U of NM overproduced autistic monkeys and were trying to give them away.

        Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian killer, was the old fashioned kind of mass murderer: ideological, with ties to a militant movement. This has always existed and the human race will never eradicate criminal capacity– we evolve from a very violent species. It’s no excuse for violence but we didn’t need to technologically amp up the capacity or unleash it in people who would not otherwise have been destructive. People with no criminal histories or history of mental illness who took the drugs because of pharmacy mistake have killed themselves and others. It’s tragic. Even if 8% of the 1 in 10 drug-taking public succumbs to side effects, that’s a lot of potential disaster.

        And actually Breivik was on drugs– a chemical combination which could potentially mimic several effects of SSRIs and stimulants according to some. But like many modern ideological militants, Breivik took the drugs deliberately to become a better killing machine and was not a scrip victim as far as we know, though if he’d seen a shrink earlier in life, it’s likely we wouldn’t hear about it. It’s interesting what he wrote about his use of ECA-Stack, the combination of steroids, caffeine and ephedrine he took to amp up his violence: “Noticing that the testo[erone] withdrawal is contributing to increased aggressiveness. As I’m now continuing with 50mg it will most likely pass. I wish it would be possible to somehow manipulate this effect to my advantage later on when it is needed. Because the state seems to very efficiently suppress fear. I wonder if it is possible to acquire specialized “aggressiveness” pills on the market. It would probably be extremely useful in select military operations, especially when combined with steroids and ECA stack…! It would turn you into a superhuman one-man-army for 2 hours!”

        Hitler ordered the Luftwaffe to take amphetamines knowing it would increase killing capacity and reduce empathy. I agree with Peter Breggin that at some point, if the public is one day informed enough about side effects, more responsibility will fall on adults who take the drugs and then explode in violence. That obviously wouldn’t apply to individuals forced to take meds by court order, children or others with limited capacity to give informed consent. In those cases and at present when so few understand the potential risks, responsibility falls on prescribers, public health authorities and manufacturers.

        Report comment

        • There is a BIG difference to saying that drugs contribute to someone’s actions and saying they were the SOLE and ONLY reason they did it. Your statements were that the ONLY reason and the SOLE reason ANY of these people have committed crimes was because of the drugs.

          I am also willing to bet a trillion dollars that these people DID have histories of voilence. One of them had raped nurmous girls at school, one in class with teachers watching who said “boys will be boys”. He was a top football player and these things have to be expected. In EACH and EVERYONE of these cases there were concerns about these people’s behaviour very very early on. In the case of the rape, reports of voilence had been going on since the kid started preschool. Parents were rich and powerful. With the rape they could no longer ignore it, so they got off the criminal charges, by saying he was mentally ill and the solution offered was to shove him on medications. I do not, never had and never will say that the drugs may have had some impact on his behaviour. But to say that he was perfectly normal healthy well functioning person does not add up. It does not add up for any of them. Psychaitrists may be very quick to prescribe pills and to hand them out like candy, and parents are very quick to take children to them. But psychiatrists do not treat people who are perfectly healthy, well functioning individuals without any issues at all. They would not have been sent to them in the first place. The problems might have been minor and made worse, but there was something there.

          It is very easy to blame the drugs. It is very easy to blame guns. It is very easy to blame social problems. It is very easy to blame anything. It is much much much harder to look at the combination of ALL of these things in combination. Taking away one will not solve the problem. Psychotropic medications have been around for 60 years, these murders are recent. They are also not occuring in other countries, despite the growing use of these drugs in EVERY country in the world.

          If you do not want to know the truth about these shooters you will not know it. It is very easy to simply listen to and read all the drugs made me do it arguments and to pretend that nothing else existed. Problem is there were many many variables in EVERY one of these cases. A drug alone cannot and never will cause a perfectly healthy person to go off the planet like that.

          Lets consider the father who murdered his children. He planned the whole thing out, without ANY issues at all. How is that possible on the drugs. He entered the hotel and paid for a room without any issues being noticed by anyone. He ordered room service. He was on the medications for 2 MONTHS before this. He NEVER reported ANY side effects. Said he never experienced any. Then for a matter of seconds he claims that he managed to enter such an acute psychotic state that he had no idea of what had happened. He was not even there. He murdered his children in cold blood. IMMEDIATELY after the murder, within SECONDS, he was completely 100% cured of the psychosis and he has NEVER EVER experienced it since, even though he was kept on medications in prison???? Drugs have side effects, i personally experienced thousands of them, but like that, no that is something that has never ever in the whole of history been seen anywhere before or since. Side effects are onoing, not sudden.

          Report comment

        • You seem to know very little to nothing about Autism and you also seem to think you have the ability to diagnose me. I said and I will say it again I was diagnosed 35 (yes that is THRITY FIVE) YEARS ago. I was diagnosed in 1976 at the age of 2 (yes, I was a TWO year old). Aspergers did not exist, high functioning Autism did not exist, full blown classical autism existed. If you do not believe this do some research and above all else simply look at old editions of the DSM. Aspergers did not exist until 1989. It is since it was introduced that diagnosistic numbers exploded. On top of that changes were also made to the diagnostic criteria of Autism. But of course you are not capable of looking or even considering what happened in the past. According to you a person that has full blown classical autism, must be retarded. I was labelled retarded and many other things. I did not speak until I was 9 and had no meaningful speech until I was 14. I did not read until I was 16. I still struggle with verbal communication. Just because I found a way to communicate with words in writing, does not mean I do not continue to meet the diagnostic criteria for classical autism. Fact is I do.

          The APA is changing the diagnostic criteria for Autism and removing Asperger’s. Most of the Autism community are up in arms as many people will no longer meet the diagnostic criteria. In the area that I live no one will diagnose asperger’s anymore and suprise suprise diagnostic rates are decreasing rapidly. But according to you this is not possible. The increase as been in classical full blown rain man type autism yet you cannot produce ONE scientific research article to support that.

          I work with a parent group of children diagnosed with full blown classical autism. There are over 100 families. ALL children displayed signs of Autism from birth, and there are video’s to support it. I guess they are just all freaks of nature and the only 100 children on the whole planet who have shown signs of autism since birth.

          You also fail to take account of vaccinations in other countries. The vaccinations and vaccination schedules of the US are not those of the rest of the world. Some countries do not start vaccinations until the age of 2, yet they are still getting an increase in diagnosis, and an increase at a young age? How is it possible if the children have even had any vaccinations yet.

          Belive it or not the US is not the whole world. But I guess it must be the rest of the world that has these problems and in the US ALL autism is caused by vaccinations, just like ALL murders in the US are caused by psychiatric drugs. Yet EVERY other country in the world has these drugs and don’t have mass murders. I live in one of them!!

          I was court ordered to take medication for many years. I know forced treatment better than most. I had no right to a court hearing, does not exist here. Psychiatrists have total rights. If they say you are mad, you are mad, it is as simple as that, no right to a second opinion, no right to see a judge, no judge even knows it has occured. No one needs to know, the psychiatrist said and that is that.

          Report comment

          • Belinda–

            Forgive me but I’m not a real fan of the online technique of pretending someone has attacked you personally in order to rationalize personal attacks back. I said nothing personal about you other than that I was glad you’re happy with who you are. I never diagnosed you. If you want to compare arguments using links and including sources, I’m fine with that. But trading insults and accusations is just depressing and not constructive. I’m not going to join in.

            As far as whether “just the drugs” can drive people to kill themselves or others, according to reports, it’s true in some cases. Breggin reported individuals who took SSRI antidepressants by pharmacy mistake (Celexa instead of Celebrex), etc., and had extreme psychotic reactions. The antimalarial drug Lariam reportedly has had the same effect on individuals who lacked histories of violence or mental illness.

            Is this true for all? Like I mentioned, Breivik, like Hitler’s Luftwaffe and militants who drug boy soldiers in the Congo, have used drugs to deliberately ramp up killing capacity. Anything’s possible.

            The drugs are also linked to autism from prenatal or perinatal exposure and Breggin has argued that SSRIs and other drugs can cause symptoms akin to autism in children and adults, including social withdrawal, OCD, stereotypies, speech and memory issues, etc.

            Report comment

          • Anyone can do research about anything at all. The question is not whether someone has done some quack study showing something, but rather the methodology used. This is what Robert Whitaker has done really well. He knows science and he knows how to question research. It is why for the first time what the survivor communtiy has known finally has something to go on.

            When I was at university I was shown just what some quack researh could be. Frued’s Pensis Envy Theory was being studied. The belief that women want to have a pensis. In fact Freud went so far as to say that the whole reason women had pubic hair was to hide the fact that they did not have a pensis. That does not explain why men also have it. A feminist response to that could be to say that the reason men have hair on their chests is to hide that they do not have breasts. But this study was determined to prove it was real. So they got a whole lot of univeristy students to sit a test, each was given a pencil and the paper. The answers were written on the question paper, so there was no paper to take away. They were not told to take the pencil, not told to leave it. 60% of females took the pencil, 35% of males took it. To the researchers the pencil was a pensis substitute and that was why so many females took it. That is not real science.

            The first publicised research on vaccine and autism was related to the MMR. One study was done, and he concluded that the MMR causes Autism. The community by and large accepted it. NO ONE read the actual study, no one questioned the methodology. Immunisation rates in some countries dropped to less than 40%. The Autism community STRONGLY advised parents against vaccinating there children with any further vaccinations, and to not vaccinate any other children. Then someone analysed the research methodolgy and that was not from the immunisation community. The methology was flawed, was not at all what the results showed and could not be replicated.

            Rates of DEATH for the diseases covered from these vaccinations increased in all countries, and vaccination levels remained low. Did governments step in and try to do something sure they did. If you have any real evidence to prove that vaccinations do not prevent disease or death or I would love to see it, but I will also be very sceptical of it.

            I do believe that vaccines should be started later, if for on reason than side effects will be lessened. I also believe they should be spaced out more. But I do and would always FULLY vaccinate any children I had, and I will continue to vaccinate myself. I do not believe that vaccination causes autism, because I have never ever read any REAL research that could even be considered to show a causual relationship, let alone saying it is the sole cause, which you have stated. I have also never ever come across any research to show that 99.9% of autism is regression, yet you claim it is a PROVEN fact. A proven fact that NO ONE sees. Sorry but if it was as obvious as you say, parents would be saying that.

            Children with autism are very very rarely medicated here with psychotropic medications. It is simply non existant. Does not mean it never happens, but it is incredibly rare. ALL of the Autism service providers do not know of any cases. Specialist autism teachers that do the Individual Educational Plans of ALL children with Autism, come across one case in ever few thousand children. I do not know of ANY parent with a child with Autism who has taken antidepressents. Sure thousands do, but these ones haven’t. Parents are not conned into believing the child’s symptoms did not exist before birth. Child Health Nurse visits and developmental assessments done EVERY MONTH prove it. There were concerns about these children’s development from the start. They were getting therapy from long before they recieved a daignosis, as they clearly had developmental delays and that is all that is required for early intervention therapy. If I am to seriously believe you we have a whole country who is claiming a normally developing child has developmental delays of more than 2 standard deviations below the norm, and that thousands of therapists are treating these children, when they have absolutely no problems at all?? Sorry but the arguement simply does not add up. And whole populations are based on it.

            So what will the effects of the APA’s definiton of Autism be??? Research says it will lower the rates, but you claim to have reserch to show it will continue to increase?? How?? Where is that research and how is the research to show that changing the diagnosis and making it tighter not right??

            Report comment

          • Belinda,

            Wakefield could not afford to appeal the GMC verdict without legal insurance, there’s simply no way to do it. But the senior author of the Lancet study did and was exonerated from the same charges lodged against Wakefield, which remotely exonerated Wakefield as well.

            Brian Deer, the Murdoch freelancer who broke journalistic codes of ethics when he filed the initial complaint against the study at the behest of Murdoch editor Paul Nuki, son of a government vaccine safety panel member who had approved the deadly Urabe vaccine several years earlier. Deer was found to have been on the payroll of the British pharmaceutical association supported by the maker of the British MMR.

            About autistic children and their parents, Brian Deer wrote some charming things,

            “The festering nastiness, the creepy repetitiveness, the weasly, deceitful, obsessiveness, all signal pathology to me…And they wonder why their children have problems with their brains.”

            In his Sunday Times mag article Vanishing Victims, Brian Deer reports asking Margaret Best, the mother of a disabled child, if her son was a dog due to his behavior.

            Sir Michael Rutter who testified against Wakefield at the GMC trial participated in Minority Report type research of the Maori in the 1990’s suggesting that the indigenous group carried a gene for “low empathy” and violence. Rutter, along with fellow pharmaceutical industry recipient and fellow academic vaccine defender Simon Baron-Cohen, has contributed to the theory that individuals with autism carry parallel genes for criminal violence and low empathy. That research is currently rearing its head in suppositions that school shooters have some form of autistic disorder.

            Here’s the Amerian Heart and Lung Association’s report on annual flu deaths. Try to find the “36,000 per year” who die of flu in table one, then scroll down to the bottom of the table to see the actual numbers. The CDC has inflated the death toll 40 to 50 fold every year for the past decade.

            And about the pertussis deaths reported in the media a few years ago, supposedly due to “unvaccinated children”– it turns out the deaths were due to medical neglect of impoverished children according to the LA Times:

            According to VAERS, 4 fold more children died of the pertussis vaccine in 2010 than died with pertussis and the majority of those infected in the CA outbreak were vaccinated

            The point is not that vaccines as a concept are a bad idea, simply that we’re in an era of almost total regulatory capture and embedded media. The same fraud used to oversell psych drugs and obscure risk is now used to cover up risks of an exploding number of vaccines that have never been tested for safety in combination. As to why this is being done, vaccine profits went from $6B in profits in 2006 to $24B in 2011 with predictions of $56B profits in 2016.

            In the recent Congressional hearings on autism, CDC’s Colleen Boyle admitted that no vaccinated/unvaccinated study has ever been performed despite a large population of unvaccinated children who could be factored into epidemiological research of this kind. Boyle also committed perjury when she claimed that vaccine researcher Poul Thorsen who authored the main studies which the CDC bases its “vaccines don’t cause autism” claims, had only done two studies with the CDC rather than the 22 commissioned from him. Thorsen is now on a federal “most wanted” list for embezzling millions from the CDC and was documented in an email chain with the CDC dickering over how to make the “autism signal” go away by manipulating the study design.

            Considering all, calling anyone “anti-vaccine” because they suspect the integrity of public health and industry is like calling someone “anti-water” because they won’t fill their kids’ sippy cups from the Mississippi river or wouldn’t swim in the Gulf after the BP oil spill. Something’s wrong with this picture.

            Report comment

    • Crux,
      Your comment has given me a lot to think about. I’m going to have to read and reread all the information. You have done an excellent job of explaining many people’s in the autism community reaction to medications. My personal view of the vaccine controversy is that national public health systems wanted to shut down any dissent on childhood vaccines very fast, from a communicable disease standpoint. Public health systems can’t afford to let their populations go unvaccinated. Thanks for your comment.

      Report comment

      • Rossa, thanks for the response. This isn’t to imply that vaccines are the only cause or that the concept of vaccines is in itself “bad.” Deadly diseases suck and we’re a problem solving race. But going from 24 doses in the 1970’s– when autism was about 2 per 10,000– to 70+ has certainly increased profits and might have been too much of a good thing. It hasn’t helped child mortality—we’re #49 for worst child death from 2 months to age 5, twenty or thirty slots below countries with a third the vaccines and lower drugging rates. Plus if the auto industry had the same legal immunity as vaccine manufacturers, we’d all dream of the good old days when we could have driven Pintos.

        As far as public health, it’s the same cult that pushes the drugs with fake science, is pushing for “risk management” of mental illness and spins around the revolving drug industry door. Never mind that most of the children who contracted pertussis were fully vaccinated or that the 36,000 people who supposedly die of the flu every year turn out to be a mean average of 800 according to that bastion of radicalism, the American Heart and Lung Association. Most flu casualties are among those over age 80 and the majority vaccinated for the flu or suffering from respiratory dyskinesia from all the meds in nursing homes.

        I do know of unvaccinated kids with the condition. Most of the parents point to general environmental sources of some of the same toxins as vaccines though. It seems to be more a matter of pathways that are affected and the more toxins that are thrown into the environment, the more likely there will be overlapping toxic damage producing roughly the same effect. One epidemiologist said epidemics are basically simple: it can’t be an unlimited number of agents and compounds causing such specific conditions. These toxins could be identified if it wasn’t for the politics.

        There could be a chance that, like MELAS or Niemann-Picks, autism might have occurred purely through genes in rare cases in the past. It is curious that the first documented cases appeared when some of the most powerful mitochondrial toxins were being marketed for wide use. As Robert Whitaker pointed out, the timeframe was preceded by a period when the general rate of mental disability was rising so steeply in industrialized nations that Winston Churchill demanded a “eugenic solution.”

        Whether autism was once mostly genetic or not, it’s clearly being technologically reproduced at this point and despite all the hijacking of dead celebs by Time Mag, NAMI and other front groups to try to sell disability as some kind of master race, for so many it involves suffering and severe impairment.

        Rachel Carson warned of mitochondrial damage to plants, animals and humans more than forty years ago and the most genetically susceptible were already succumbing at that time. The 70+ vaccine doses may only be a “fast track” delivery system. Mercury is an immunotoxin, mutagenic– it could just be one punch of a “one-two” punch. No one’s sure yet because little funds are directed for research. Levels in the general environment rise every year and certain modern chemicals and drugs like Depakote virtually mimic the effects.

        One of the saddest things arising from the the epidemic-that-isn’t-really-an-epidemic of chronic disease in the US is this myth that “genetic susceptibility” is necessarily a “weakness” in human design and that the unlucky were destined for disease anyway. It’s possible susceptibility could theoretically linked to high IQ (children with higher IQ’s may have transient immune weakness in infancy according to the “expensive tissue” theory), high testosterone (there goes our future Olympians and corporate leaders) or even especially rugged immunity. Some groups with particularly powerful disease-fighting polymorphisms like the Somali may suffer a sort of “Samson haircut” effect by being exposed to modern immunotoxicants. To oversimplify it a little, autoimmunity seems to be a bit like having the “gun” of your immune system doubled back on you. The more powerful the immune system, the bigger the gun.

        I think the basic concept has implications for mental health and mental health treatment as well– aside from how druggable all these modern epidemics happen to be. The idea that human beings are genetically booby-trapped to explode into disease and disability certainly fosters dependence on commercial science. But a more careful respect of the “gifts of our evolutionary design” might promote more consideration of the limits of technology, less worship. A more balanced view isn’t good for the bottom line though.

        Also it’s frightening that, historically, as economies get worse and disability rates rise, tolerance of the disabled plummets as Breggin mentioned. There’s nothing in history or science to show that human moral nature changes for the better despite all the revamped kooky utopian theories of memetic evolution floating around commercial science channels. I can barely stand to think about what institutions will be like in 20 years if the causes of the epidemics aren’t nailed down, admitted and stopped. They’re already pushing in utero blood tests for autism, which probably only test susceptibility if they aren’t completely bogus. So whoever isn’t “Round-Up Ready” gets the axe? I’m scared for my children and the rest.

        Report comment

        • Crux,
          I did my homework and reread your first comment, then knuckled under again to read this one. My brain is full – may I be excused? But seriously, you have changed my thinking about the vaccine component of autism. Well, deepened it, in any case. What particularly resonated with me is when you write: “The next step is to understand that the drug injury model of autism falls in the same censored corner as the idea that psych drugs are probably behind the vast majority of school shootings.” What I take away from your comment is that if the recovery movement believes that psych medications can be harmful, and this has been politically incorrect thinking until fairly recently, then we should be broad-minded enough to entertain the idea that vaccines administered in early childhood can be harmful. But, you offer a complex argument, and I know I’m not up to speed on all of us. I only know schizophrenia, and I have largely rejected the biochemical model for “classic schizophrenia” so have not bothered to inform myself about brain function, immununological issues, etc. That being said, I’m going to respond to another of your comments further down that mentions the immune system.

          Report comment

          • Just realized the immune information is in your lastest comment on this string. The role of the immune system seems contradictory, as you point out, like having the gun double back on you. I have not heard it linked to high I.Q. until now. Dr. Abram Hoffer claims that “schizophrenics” are the healthiest people around, and, re my son, I can attest to Hoffer’s observations. And, yes, my son has a high I.Q. Recently I took my son to a medical doctor who is doing some pretty unusual work extracting power from plants. (Visiting exotic practitioners is always a leap of faith, but I figure it’s pretty harmless, especially since no drugs are involved.) To make a long story short, the doctor said my son had NO immune system, or something to that effect. He does not know my son’s medical history, which is important, because if he did, he could have been led in the immune direction. But, how can someone who has virtually never been physically ill, have a zero functioning immune system? It doesn’t make sense to me.

            Report comment

          • Rossa,

            For autism, there are a lot of reports of “hyperimmunity”– children who never or rarely seem to get palpably sick and that this isn’t necessarily a good thing.

            I’m sort of a gear-head about viewing immunological issues but can’t come close to the level of understanding I’ve seen among other autism parents who’ve managed to successfully treat their kids for abnormal immunity. Right after regression, our kids were always sick. Then they were never sick, even when my husband and I would bring home some awful cold or virus or when they were around really sick peers. It was eerie. A Johns Hopkins neurologist then told us our children had zero antibodies to strep though, as he reported, it was impossible that they hadn’t been exposed. He felt our daughter’s onset of facial tics in her first week in second grade in a new school related to an abnormal immune response to strep. She never got strep but her brain developed antibodies to it, thus the tics and increased tantrums. The neurologist also diagnosed the kids with AIDS-like immune impairment and an “unknown serious metabolic disorder” which he suspected to be mitochondrial disorder.

            We didn’t treat the tics with long-course antibiotics– we pulled the kids out of school where there had been a tic outbreak which school authorities downplayed. The tics went away.

            So what caused them? In my gear-head view, I suspected the reason a good friend’s son always loses his tics when they return to France is that something in the toxic environment in certain areas is interacting with pathogens. Their life in France is in no way less stressful, but it’s interesting that France bans a list of pesticides commonly used in the US that could fill a book. France also has far lower rates of autism and no medical mandates.

            In a study of Russian ground squirrels, it was found that though the animals always carried bubonic plague in their mouths, they remained unaffected until the level of heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium) in foraging grasses rose to a certain level as they apparently do every decade or so and then, poof, all of a sudden entire populations of ground squirrels would die of bubonic plague.

            My French friend’s father is a famous immunologist and he’s been intrigued by his grandson’s tics that seem to wax and wane according to geography. It isn’t just strep + abnormal immunity– there’s a third factor. The old school where my children went was adjacent to a farm which sprayed the hell out of their pastures, but I don’t know if that was the culprit.

            How this relates to autoimmunity is sort of above my pay grade. My children also have autoimmune conditions which we keep at bay with a careful diet and by limiting toxic exposures. Like reform psychiatrist Grace Jackson found among certain conditions, immunity, lipid metabolism, autoimmunity and mitochondrial impairment are all issues. The drugs worsen all the above which is probably one of the reasons that industry isn’t too happy about nailing down specific markers if they don’t happen to relate to medical model “A” (“imbalanced brain chemicals”). The literature already exists, as Dr. Jackson pointed out, that these non-brain-chemical medical markers are worsened by the drugs.

            I don’t know how this applies to schizophrenia. Jackson did write about elevated levels of apolipoprotein in pre-drug bipolarity which are worsened by antipsychotics. Autism is also associated with elevated apolipoprotein-B. I hear that autism and schizophrenia may share a common autoimmune response to gluten or A1 beta casein dairy (the most available commercial type) and that A2 beta casein dairy is preferable for both– something to do with A1’s “opiating” effect. But not all are intolerant. I hear that schizophrenia may share a “fragile mitochondria” link to autism, but getting this diagnosed in either condition is so fraught with politics that many give up trying. Again, mitochondrial disorders are often caused and worsened by the drugs so, with the mito diagnosis, someone could argue that the drugs were contraindicated and ward off a mandate.

            Like with autism, there may be different combinations of effects which cause schizophrenia, though as far as the idea of “socially caused autism,” I’m pretty unimpressed with the research on “institutional autism” since reading that researchers overlooked an overlapping phenomenon affecting the Romanian orphans at the center of “deprivation autism” studies. Romanian orphans also suffered from an epidemic of AIDS caused by Ceaușescu’s insane policy of repeatedly and unnecessarily vaccinating orphans for Hepatitis using shared needles. The HepB vaccine used was the full mercury western type– the only product which wasn’t subject to internal and external embargoes. When the social approach to recovering their Romanian adoptees failed, some adoptive parents turned to treatments for vaccine injuries. Some apparently had success. Not to say that severe institutional deprivation can’t drive children mad or to catatonia, but when some children had virtually all the symptoms of actual autism, including related physical ailments which researchers failed to report, some started to wonder if “deprivation autism” wasn’t being over-touted.

            Are there different categories of schizophrenia? Socially-borne and medical model “B”? I don’t know.

            Something that could solve some of these mysteries might be a ton of research dollars spent on independent environmental studies of conditions. To date that isn’t happening and many who try end up being sanctioned against or censored. Like watching a kid standing in front of a garbage can claiming they ate their spinach, it makes you wonder what industry and public health authorities are so afraid will be uncovered.

            Report comment

          • I forgot to include anything about the possible IQ link to autism. That speculation appears in various places and sometimes in service to various agendas.

            Explaining the agendas probably requires a side note: sometimes the IQ/autism association is used as a way for front groups to bait adults with flattering comparisons the same way NAMI does, as though intelligence and talent were *conferred* by the condition. So Einstein is hijacked to sell autism and Thomas Jefferson is hijacked to peddle bipolarity.

            Of course Time Mag won’t mention that the same researchers “baiting” with Einstein and Jefferson also make wild claims that Hitler and Jeffrey Dahmer had autism. That wouldn’t make the diagnoses and corresponding blockbuster drugs as attractive. I don’t think the strategy is merely to sell drugs though. Considering the 40-fold increase in pediatric bipolar disorder and 600 fold increase in autism, drawing more adults to self-diagnose with these conditions would serve to downplay explosions among children that make it more likely that environment and not just genes play a role. With so many people taking medications, it may be tempting for psychiatrists to rediagnose drug injured patients with certain “genetic” labels if they can convince their patients to go along with it. One pharma-backed British study of adults with autism claimed to dig up “1 in 100” adults with autism. But they did this by diagnosing people over the phone and completely excluding screens for childhood onset, which triggered suspicions that what they were really measuring were re-diagnosed drug injuries. In a prison in Chicago, social workers went in and re-diagnosed a slew of prisoners with autism in 2010. Only adults though. It wouldn’t pay to jack up the rate of children artificially, since the point is to prove that “there are as many adults with the condition as children” and therefore no epidemic.

            Though there’s always the buzz that schools try to label kids with ADHD to get federal funding, any family trying to get services for autism soon learns that schools avoid the label because the services for the condition are so expensive. Without the dx, services can be denied but the kid could still get a druggable label and the school still gets the funds which they generally spend on new astroturf, etc. In TX schools will reject doctor’s diagnoses of autism to avoid federal requirements to provide services and will instead insist on applying school diagnostic codes, which often come up with diagnoses of “emotionally disturbed” or something falling outside the IDEA.

            Anyway, back to the IQ issue, there’s another way to look at it other than the idea that autism confers high IQ. Instead IQ might be one of many “susceptibility factors that aren’t necessarily weaknesses.” Mitochondrial researchers have stated that fragile mitochondria may be adaptive to allow greater brain development in some infants. Fragile mitochondria is linked to susceptibility to vaccine injury, especially since the government conceded it in a Vaccine Court case for a vaccine injured girl.

            Camilla Benbow’s studies of intellectually precocious children in the 1980’s found doubled rates of allergies among these kids (and four-fold myopia, though I don’t know how that relates). Then primatologist Richard Wrangham’s latest book on human evolution explores the gut-brain connection– the idea that, by cooking food and breaking down fiber and proteins, early human’s lost their powerful ape gastrointestinal tracts, allowing metabolic energy to go towards brain development. Wrangham bases this on the “expensive tissue theory”– that because the GI tract and brain are the two most metabolically “expensive” systems in the human body, they vie for metabolic fuel. The clue that this could impact immunity is that 80% of the immune system is located in the gut and part of what made ape GI tracts so rugged is that, without getting ill, they can ingest pathogens in raw meat and food that would kill humans.

            Just a hypothesis but you can’t help noticing how many mathematicians, pilots and engineers show up at autism conferences. The parents aren’t affected and show no signs of the condition but their children developed the condition. It’s been noticed by mainstream researchers though the treatment of the issue tends to be shallow and usually follows the “A” model.

            I don’t know what the rate is for children of professional athletes but I’ve met a lot of parents like this in the autism channels. The theory there, which has been well demonstrated, is that more boys are affected (4 or 5 to 1) because testosterone is a susceptibility factor for oxidative stress (men have more trouble recovering from strokes for instance) and testosterone is particularly susceptible to mercury. Even female athletes and reportedly business leaders have slightly elevated testosterone, though I don’t know if this is natural or adaptive.

            Females, particularly adolescents, may be more susceptible to other toxins like toluene and other agents in fracking chemicals, which may explain the outbreaks of tics among especially girls living near fracking disasters, but again, researchers are careful about which corporate ox they gore and there’s little funds spent tracking down these clues.

            Report comment

  4. Was it Freud who said, “Nothing that is human is alien to me?”– or words to that effect…?

    Compassion means – to share in the suffering of another living being- does it not?

    So, then in saying one has “compassion for Adam Lanza “– does this mean that someone can relate to planning and carrying out the brutal — as in “shot at close range, multiple times”- murders of 20 first graders? Please take a good look at the photos of these 20 children–and then imagine what ‘kind of human suffering’ would make one destroy these precious children – terrorize and mutilate them — ceasing one’s murderous rampage (A.L arrived at Sandy Hook Elementary School with sufficient ammunition to kill all 400+ students) at the sound of sirens – or rather, committing suicide before being confronted by police. I find it incomprehensible that there could be anyone who can relate to this senseless carnage of innocents—

    I wonder if perhaps those claiming to feel compassion for this monster have not fully appreciated what he did..?? or perhaps the problem lies in understanding what it means to be human. In any case. Adam Lanza is a nonissue so far as accountability and justice are concerned– so, do you think his victims would appreciate your concern for their executioner’s suffering? What about the parents and loved ones who are just entering their 4th week of mourning?

    Is it appropriate to publicize one’s sense of compassion for the 20 year old who planned and carried out this heinous act ? Is this exemplary human behavior?

    It’s ALL alien to me…

    Report comment

    • Sinead,
      To me, if we are going to try to prevent these tragedies from occuring as frequently as they do, we need to look at what has happened from all angles (gun control is the obvious first), and get beyond the idea that someone is just crazy, or plain evil. I haven’t mentioned the word compassion. I do talk about trying to understand what prompted the state of mind that would cause someone like Adam Lanza to do what he did. If understanding is compassion, well, guilty as charged. However, many people have a need not to understand, in order to seek customary vengeance that their society dishes out. If Adam Lanza had lived, he would be put away for life, people would say he was just crazy, the public’s mind would focus on other things and Aurora, Newtown, etc. would continue to happen. My compassion is directed at finding new ways of thinking that would prevent innocent people from suffering the ultimate price for our general lack of understanding.

      Report comment

      • Rossa,

        You say you are trying “to understand what prompted the state of mind that would cause someone like Adam Lanza to do what he did.” Yet, you barely talk about what he did—Why not? Let’s take a look at your thesis question combined with the facts of the tragedy that is a first in my 59 years on the planet.

        ” What prompted the state of mind that conceived the plan to use an assault rifle to gain entry into an elementary school in a close knit New England community for the purpose of brutally terrorizing and murdering every one of the 480 kindergarten to 4th grade students?:”

        By striving to answer your question, you are asserting that there is a state of mind that removes every aspect of the dignity of human life with a desire to brutally destroy the most innocent and helpless in our society. A state of mind that has full knowledge of the weapon that could destroy 26 people in about 10 minutes.

        A state of mind that could conceive this plan, in my opinion, is devoid of the qualities of mind that we define as human. This state of mind is no less evil than the mind that conceives of plans for exterminating living beings in ways that terrify and horrify survivors. If there is a lesson to learn about preventing these evil scourges on humanity, I would contend that identifying them and denouncing them is step one — the holocaust, racial and sexual orientation hate crimes, atomic bombing of heavily populated cities, flying planes into large buildings in a major city… Evil is the best term we have to capture this inhuman desire for the terrifying brutal destruction of innocent life. What is the prompt?
        I think it is hatred– and it dwells within the minds of outwardly human appearing people— almost impossible to perceive by the mind of a rational, caring human being. Why? because such hatred is inconceivable to the humanistic mind.

        If you are identifying me as one of “many people” with a need “not to understand” you are sorely mistaken. I was driving to pick up my 6 year old, first grader, grandson when I first heard the news of this ‘new’ brand of school shooting. I walked into an elementary school and met the eyes of teachers and parents who had heard the early reports of this horror, amidst throngs of children who were as beautiful and innocent of the potential for their becoming the targets of a stranger with an assault rifle as the children at Sandy Hook were only hours earlier that day. 20 first graders did not spend that Friday evening with their families, their bodies remained at the crime scene as emergency and medical professionals tried to determine the best way to identify them and present them to their parents. Are you getting any better sense of what Adam Lanza DID? I hope so, because I was in the company of many parents, grandparents and teachers who repeated over and over , “I don’t understand how anyone could do this. ”

        As soon as names were released, I prayed for the victims, and when their photos were provided , I printed an 8x 10 of 15 of the children– three rows of 5 passport size photos of precious children. Looking into their eyes as I prayed before my Buddhist altar, I could not conceive of the mind state that could “shoot them multiple times at close range”– in fact, Rossa, I wondered why the ‘heart’ of the socially isolated, despairing, Lanza wasn’t softened and opened at the sight of these innocent kids. I have seen and read parents sharing the unique qualitites of their deceased child;read amazing eulogies shared with courage and gratitude for the precious, irreplaceable child that Lanza murdered with a hatred no one I know can fathom. But, you say there is merit in understanding “what prompted his state of mind”.. Merit for whom?

        It was agreed by parents and teachers of the younger kids in my grandson’s elementary school that this ‘news story’ not be shared with the children. What is the point of instilling abject terror in little kids? Maybe something Adam Lanza wanted to do, but rational people can discern the abusive nature of educating children about their lack of worth in the minds of would be murderers— tell them they are never safe?

        Sorry, Rossa, but all I see you doing is making yourself feel powerful and important though in reality none of us os neither in the face of evil that has always existed— What we do have control over is our behavior as human beings… maybe if you just allowed a respectable time of mourning to pass before claiming there is a way to prevent what can never be prevented for 20 little kids– already dead and gone– and their parents who have only begun to reconstruct a life after this unspeakable evil…

        I could continue to challenge the logic of your grandiose statements and your not very well concealed attack of my perspective… but instead I will just ask

        …Have you no sense of decency? Have you no empathy or compassion for many of us who are grappling with a new form of terror in America and still grief stricken over what Adam Lanza did!!

        Report comment

        • Excellent article, Rossa, and I can only second what you write in the comments in reply to Sinead.

          The Holocaust… I was born in Germany in 1961, to parents born in Germany in 1925 and 1933, the year Hitler came into power. In school, from 5th grade on, and continuously throughout the rest of our school education, we learned everything there was to learn about Nazi-Germany, the Holocaust, WWII. The idea was, of course, that this should never ever repeat itself. We learned everything there was to learn – from one perspective. And I looked around, and wondered, did we actually learn anything? Has humanity learned anything, from the atrocities committed by the Nazis? Has humanity actually ever learned anything from its own history? Somehow, looking at humanity, its history, all I could see was a bunch of arch idiots, shouting ”Never again!”, while they were busy preparing themselves, and everybody else, to make the same mistakes all over again. And again and again and again… Even in the way they were shouting, ”Never again!” Because while they were teaching us everything there was to learn about the atrocities that had happened, from one perspective, they also kept silent about other, taboo, perspectives, and if ever anybody, like Alice Miller for instance, ventured to suggest a different perspective, , one that might have lead to some sort of understanding of “what prompted the state of mind that conceived”, in Hitler’s case, the Holocaust, they shouted even louder, “Evil! Inhuman! Monster!”

          In 2002 the German (controversial) author Günter Grass published his novel ”Im Krebsgang” (Crabwalk) that stages the taboo: Germans as victims. To start with, reactions were, of course, critical to outraged: Germans weren’t and had never been victims! They were Nazis. Murderers, criminals, monsters. Guilty! The 12-year-old, living in a German city that was virtually completely destroyed in 1944 and 1945 by massive airstrikes and firestorms, was a perpetrator, not a victim. – He never talked about it, BTW, not a word, as if he hadn’t existed prior to the early 1950ies, as a teenager. I only know because I googled the name of his hometown and “1945”. — So was the 19-year-old who was raped and nearly beaten to death by soldiers of the Red Army, when they caught up with her, and many, many others, who’d had to leave everything behind and run. – She did talk about it, hints, fragments, when she got angry, using her victim status as a street currency. She changed subject whenever asked about it out of interest. — Anyhow, after 57 years the silence eventually had been broken, and the more people started to talk, the more they also started to understand, to grieve, and to forgive. Where there’s no understanding, grief and forgiveness, history will inevitably repeat itself.

          There’s a whole generation in Germany, and I’m one of them, who grew up with severely traumatized parents (and teachers… ), for whom it wasn’t only the trauma itself making it difficult to understand, but also a collective taboo, a collective denial, following the trauma. There’s a whole generation in Germany, and I’m one of them, that has experienced and can testify to how trauma is passed on from one generation to the next, to how a victim indeed can turn into a perpetrator themselves, unless their trauma is recognized, too, and dealt with openly. Violence can only be prevented by looking at what actually generates it, which is – violence. Monsters can’t be understood. Just like ”mental illness” can’t be understood. Human beings can, and human reactions to life can. And sometimes life is monstrous, causing human beings to react in monstrous ways. They’re still human beings, and can be understood, need to be understood if the monstrosities are to end.

          We can make ourselves the powerless victims of inhumane, evil, incomprehensible monsters, like parents can make, and NAMI-parents usually do make, themselves the powerless victims of evil, inhumane, incomprehensible “mental illness”. It’s tempting, because it lends us the victim’s power (!) to say “no” to personal responsibility. But we have to realize that the moment we say “no” to personal responsibility we become perpetrators ourselves.

          The most terrifying thing in life isn’t monsters. It’s the fact that every “monster” at the core is a human being like you and me, and that every human being, you and me included, has the capacity to react in a monstrous way, if only their life is monstrous enough. We all have a personal responsibility to try and understand what it is in this life that could prompt the state of mind that conceives atrocities like the Holocaust, or the mass shooting Adam Lanza went on. Only if we take that personal responsibility we do have a chance to prevent ourselves and others from passing on the trauma and conceiving atrocities in the future.

          Report comment

          • Insightful comments, thank you so much.

            Not to contradict the point you made about the word “monster”– I understand what you mean: the destructive drive to find a devil with horns. But I think of the drugs as simply unmasking in some the “monster potential” in the sense that Primo Levi refers to it. Of course it didn’t have to be let out and might never have been for most who react to the meds. But that primitive “original sin” capacity or ape violence– however one wants to view it–is at the root of the species. I think it’s also true that if the violence potential was socially “nurtured” through childhood abuse and victimization, that doesn’t mean the person was “born to kill” anymore than the rest of us are.

            Levi was revolted by any of blurring of the lines between actual innocence and actual guilt, but he still insisted on that universal potential and warns against the black and white view of human evil. What Levi writes about is dark and his wisdom isn’t simple, but I love what one author wrote of him, that the “light comes from Levi himself.”

            Report comment

        • Sinead I can totally understand where you are coming from. from the otherside of the world, it is incomprehensible for me to understand what is happening with gun and other voilence in the US. I live in a country in which our police officers do not wear bullet proof vests and were only issued them as an optional item 12 months ago. Our police are not issued guns. They have access to them, but they remain at police stations. The biggest issue we have in training our police is that they must learn how to shoot a gun and it takes them hours to even get over the concept of holding a gun. 98% of our police officers will never direct a gun at anyone, and 99.9% of police officers will never shoot a gun. to think of guns being used in elemtary schools is beyond me. To have a suggestion made, that teachers should be issued wtih guns to protect young children, just made me shutter.

          We still regularly talk about 9/11 here, and I would think that in many parts of the US it is still raw. To have this added onto it is beyond me. And I do totally agree that these people are pure evil. How they have become that way is beyond me. I think it is much easier for people to simply not think about what was done and to instead come up with some really simplistic responses. He was crazy, he must have had an untreated mental illness, how else could he have done it. I don’t understand it, so blame it on maddness. Others who then say the drugs made him do it. But BILLIONS of people take those drugs and 99.999% of them would never ever consider any such thing. To say that the drugs alone could cause such a thing is beyond me. Gun control. To some degree I would agree that restricting some level of access to guns would help the situation, but that alone is not going to stop these people. It might lower the numbers of people hurt and that is not in any sense a bad things, but much much more is going on here and there is no simple answer. These people are pure Evil with a captial E. This one more than most, since he shoot first graders. I agree totally with your words, what was possibly going through his mind to consider such an attack. This was not a spur of the moment thing, none of these things have been. It was very carefully planned, and he had the resources to do the whole school, an ELEMTARY school of all places, with 5 year olds, the ones he did shoot were 6?? Who can do that? That is not a human being. In my opinion you cannot possibly feel sorry for Adam Lanza. There is no way at all that a real human being can do what he did.

          I agree totally with the decision not to tell the children. They do not need to fear going to school. Children should feel safe at school, they cannot possibly learn if they do not. They cannot possibly learn to have empathy if they do not feel safe, and Adam Lanza clearly did not have empathy. Empathy is essential and is becoming an incredily engadered species, which is scary. No one will ever be able to comprehend what was going through Adam Lanza’s mind any suggestion that they did or will is total crap. No human being can comprehend EVIL.

          I cannot possibly begin to comprehend the grief that you are going through. I don’t think you can possibly have time to recover from one of these things before the next seems to occur, but this one is beyond them all for me. I know that each of these things shakes us here for weeks even though we are on the other side of the world. I cannot begin to comprehend what must be happening in the US.

          Report comment

          • Thank you, Belinda — I was beginning to feel like a loner here; like no one else could sense the horrifying significance of this event. The phrase “in the wake of this recent school shooting’ left me cold– as though this was just another bloody school shooting! It astounds me that there is so much hype in the U.S. about ‘prevention’ and so little connection to the actual tragedy and the human suffering in the wake of it. I have to commend our President ( Obama) for his immediate compassionate presence in Newtown CT. His concern for the families and the community as well as his determination to use his executive powers to effect an immediate ban on these horrifying weapons is a source of comfort and hope for me. I actually believed that the ‘community’ on this webzine would be focused on the survivors and families. I decided to share from my heart on this blog with the determination to evoke a more humanistic response. Receiving yours was both a joy and a comfort!


            Report comment

  5. Another story, this time not personal, but taken from Sabine Bode’s book “Kriegsenkel” (as far as I know the book is not translated into English, the title means “Grandchildren of War”), a story about 9/11: a man, a chef who’d been working at WTC, went to one of the crisis centers that were set up following 9/11 to get help with sorting out things in regard to him having lost his job. He took along his daughter, a preschooler. While her father got counseling, she stayed at the center’s “Kids Corner” where she immediately started to paint a picture of buildings in red, yellow and black coloring. Asked about the picture she explained it was the WTC burning and collapsing. Her father had worked there, and he’d narrowly escaped being killed, and that he’d suffered asphyxiation. The thing is, her father hadn’t even been near WTC on 9/11. He should have been, but he’d changed shift with a colleague, who’d died. Her father suffered from massive feelings of guilt, nightmares, etc., but of course he hadn’t talked to his preschool daughter about any of it. He didn’t need to, one might say, his daughter had picked up the signals anyway. Unconsciously. Kids do. This girl got a chance to talk about it, sort things out, understand. Lots and lots of kids never get that chance. If it’s 9/11, war, things like Newtown, domestic violence,… if it’s “just” growing up with traumatized parents who haven’t dealt with their trauma and therefor are acting it out in ever so subtle ways, it doesn’t matter. It’ll leave the kid insecure and fearful. And undealt-with insecurity and fear are the breeding ground for aggression.

    To me, two things are interesting in regard to Adam Lanza. One is the account of the hair stylist, who’d noticed that he didn’t ever react to anything or anyone but his mother (‘s commands). The other is that his mother was a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Two observations/facts that might lead to some kind of understanding, if we took a closer look at them. What happened behind closed doors at the Lanza’s home, in the relationship between him and his mother? Unfortunately, we, society, prefer to shout “evil!” or “mentally ill!”, which both equally efficiently block for any further attempts to understand, the final explanations for someone’s behavior they pretend to be. Understanding how we relate to each other, how our relations to each other, our experiences in these relations, shape our reactions, ourselves, it’s of no importance to us it seems. All which is of importance in our society is that we can say, “It’s not my responsibility! It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with me! It’s all your/his/her/their fault!”

    The really interesting thing about this is that a philosophy that presupposes that we all are equally responsible, that “no one is an island”, and that leaves no room for pointing fingers at individuals, scapegoating them, is at the root of the by far most successful approach to crisis in the western world: Open Dialogue. Thought provoking, isn’t it?

    Report comment

    • Marian,

      While you and Rossa seem very intrigued by the formula for evoking the state of mind that committed ‘pure evil’, you completely disregard the effects of this ‘evil mind’ . Not a word about the traumatized survivors at Sandy Hook elementary School, or the grieving, traumatized loved ones of the victims— I am perplexed and disheartened by your focus of interest, but I also think that there is valuable information here.

      We are not helpless or powerless in the face of evil, but so many Americans don’t seem to have a sense of their own potential for developing their humanity through a tragedy. Instead, they mobilize to conduct forensics and plan for prevention of the ‘next’ tragedy! In my mind, this is an escape route for people who ‘feel powerless’— looking for the answer in the past and imagining being spared from the pain that was caused by the events that prompted this classic trauma response. It is closer to an animal’s survival instincts than to the capacity a human being has for — acting with empathy, providing real support for victims, sharing in the suffering of fellow human beings.

      It takes no time for those who are doing the forensics and risk management planning to claim THEY are the ones who really care about the tragedy — and the most moral among us as they have recognized the heinous murderer as a ‘suffering human being who fell through the cracks’! A ha!– move on to blame those of us who are not concerned about the ‘shooters’ bio and all the clues it contains, as the cause for the next tragedy! Excuse me, but you need to reflect on how you are NOT showing much concern for real time, right now suffering — or even respect for how your M.O. is degrading to the innocent victims— including all of us who are struggling with this ‘trauma’ in terms of our own proximity to precious children and the schools they are legally required to attend.

      Here is how absurd I find booth your position and your grandstanding usurping of a moral highground based on your capacity for caring for a murderer of innocent children. While claiming that services are needed for families like the Lanza’s, you have no insight into what is needed for clearly ‘in need’ families in Newtown CT– You claim to be all about ‘prevention’ while turning away from the opportunities to support and assist a new ‘high risk’ group of kids and families! There is absolutely no evidence to support ANY of the plans and strategies offered here becoming a safeguard against ‘the next school shooting’- or horrible mass public shooting in America. Why? Because you are using authoritarian methods for gaining control over that which is beyond our control– “the minds and behavior of others”. Not realistic– not possible!

      One commenter from outside the U.S., Belinda, offered the most humanistic, caring response to this horrific evil event. Our cultural tendencies are more transparent to our fellow human beings who are fortunate enough to be in a genuine spectator position. Americans expect things to be ‘taken care of’– more services, agencies– outreach, whatever it takes, all the while abdicating the one thing we all could and should do in a crisis of this magnitude. Care, support and focus exclusively on people who are suffering– developing ourselves as human beings, in other words.

      Duly noted that there is a great deal of disconnect within families here and in our communities. But, rather than insist we develop it ASAP to prevent another ‘shooter’ from developing in our midst, how about ‘being’ the community that responds to the innocent victims. How many of the children’s names do you know? Do you have as much information on the lives of any one of these precious children as you do about the evil minded being that took them away from their families, and our country? Any thought on how to honor them, and help their families and their communities triumph over a fate I am absolutely certain you don’t want to spend a moment contemplating !

      Report comment

      • Sinead, it sure is most politically correct to damn the murderer, call him/her/them (a) monster(s), and to never ask, “Why?” while prepared to face the honest answer, “Because of you.” I know having compassion only for the victim(s) is the most politically correct to do. I’m not here to be politically correct. Actually, I don’t see it as my “call” in life to be politically correct. I see it as my “call” in life to be honest. And to be honest, I don’t see how anybody can have true compassion for a victim, as long as they deny one single perpetrator the same compassion.

        Report comment

        • Marian, I have no idea what is politically correct- but I do have strong convictions regarding the dignity and sanctity of life and I also feel strongly about being sincere and honest. The killing of innocent children is a most grievous offense.

          Imagine that you could address this murderer– in front of the children he terrorized and brutally killed, what would you say to Adam Lanza in THEIR presence?

          Or imagine you are an invisible observer of this horrifying event — whose suffering would you respond to?

          I don’t see why our discourse should be any different than the behavior we would exhibit TO the victims and the ‘gunman’— or even to the survivors and families.

          I cannot share in something that is alien to me— or maybe it is a matter of good having no relationship to evil? Denouncing the act– even calling it the act of a ‘monster’, to me is no more than stating fact. I have no hatred or need for vengeance, and as a Buddhist, I recognize that Adam Lanza’s future existences will reflect his life state at the final moment of his life.– I realize there is nothing to do for him- but to mitigate- in any way I can, the great suffering he has caused so many innocent, good people.

          Report comment

          • Sinead, you’re jumping to conclusions and making a lot of assumptions about people. Just because Rossa, mjk below, and I have an interest to know why things like the shooting happen, an interest that goes beyond the usual suspects like “mental illness”, and think the question deserves some more thorough investigation, that doesn’t mean we don’t have compassion with the victims. We’re not asking the question because we want to find an excuse for what Adam Lanza did. We’re asking because we don’t want more children, more people, to be shot. If we wanted an excuse, “monster” or “mental illness” would serve the purpose perfectly, and we’d settle for it.

            To answer your questions: what I would say to Adam Lanza in front of his victims is “Why?”, and, of course, witnessing any kind of violence, I do whatever possible to stop it.

            Report comment

      • “Any thought on how to honor them, and help their families and their communities triumph over a fate I am absolutely certain you don’t want to spend a moment contemplating ! ”

        CT has a lot of support. Here’s a word from Senator Richard Blumenthal:

        “I left Hartford to go to Newtown and to the firehouse in Sandy Hook. I arrived there as a public official but what I saw was through the eyes of a parent. The firehouse in Sandy Hook is where parents went to find out if their children were okay. The way they found out was that their children appeared – or they didn’t. And after a while, some of the children came, some were reunited with their parents there or at the school, and their parents took them home, and, sadly, others did not.

        After that day, I was in Newtown many times, attending a local board of education meeting with town, state, and federal officials, participating in church services, funerals, and vigil memorials including one joined by President Obama. I spoke with police, fire and emergency responders and participated in a meeting of Newtown teachers and leaders. I observed acts of kindness and caring, large and small − too numerous to mention − showing remarkable solidarity.”


        Personally, I don’t want to focus exclusively on what somebody wants me to or thinks I should. THIS is what is (very) important to me:

        “An insightful article in the Daily Beast, I Was Adam Lanza, written by an anonymous contributor, explains from his personal experience, what triggers some young men to inflict violence on a mass scale.

        What was wrong with me, then? If I had a mental illness, it does not have a time. But the results can be described in very simple English: I was socially isolated, and I was smart. . . So what causes someone to be isolated and/or persecuted? This is where being smart comes in. As anyone who’s encountered a really smart person could tell you, eccentricity and intelligence are frequently close cousins. This is why you’ll hear that so many troubled kids, prior to their mass murdering careers, were engineering buffs, or entered college two years early, or could talk intelligently about subjects as diverse as Greek mythology and Einsteinian Physics at the age of 13.

        And when you’re isolated from other people, your own mind – and its crazy ideas – becomes the only company you have… Moreover, this kind of solitary confinement inside your own head breeds paranoia and lack of empathy even where none existed before, because when you only live inside your own head, after a while you fail to notice that anyone else is really human. They become means to an end, an end like getting media attention for your suffering by shooting them.”

        We each bring a perspective, and a priority.

        When more “I Was Adam Lanza” voices contribute to the discussions (and formation of views), we might be on the road to REAL care, REAL support, REAL response teams to CRISIS. That is, if we care at all about the severely mentally ill, their problems and what makes them that way (when we know it isn’t biological / genetic).

        Senator Richard Blumenthal also had this to say, which revealed to me what he did NOT say:

        “Here are some necessary steps:

        We must do something to effectively ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

        We need to better prevent mentally ill people and criminals from having access to firearms.

        We need to close loopholes that enable 40 percent of all gun sales to be made without background checks.”

        What he DIDN’T say was this: We need to understand what is driving our citizens to commit acts of mass murder. How can we HEAR these people, support them and respond CORRECTLY?

        WHY didn’t Blumenthal communicate THAT message? Because of the automatic, silent judgment: Adam Lanza was a “criminal” – charged, convicted and GUILTY – no trial necessary.

        Is anyone ever really Born Bad? Mentally Ill and Born Bad are the same thing, right? Science is hell-bent and determined to prove it?

        Natural Born Killers
        Born Bad

        Report comment

        • If you really want to try and understand how these people turn out this way, read Bruce Perry’s book Born for Love: Why Empathy is Essential and Endagnered”. Another good book would be Lefkowitz, Our Guys: The Glen Ridge Rape and the Secret Life of the Perfect Suburb”. Bruce Perry’s first book “They Boy who was raised as a dog” is also an essential read.

          I do not believe that these people are born evil, but equally I do not believe that simply removing psychiatric drugs will immediatley rid the world of all voilence, mass murder or the like. To seriously believe as many many people on this site do, that simply banning psychiatric drugs will ensure that NO crime is ever committed in the US again is beyond me and most people. And of course then there are the people who believe that simply feeding them organic foods will cure them Evil ways as well. No one can cure these people and allow them to safely live in the community, but one can do much to prevent the things that largely contribue to the development of these personalities from ending up that way, IF we raise them right from birth. There certainly is some evidence that people can get a genectic predispostiion to voilence, but what they with that is what matters.

          It is much much easier to say remove psychiatric drugs, than it is to look at the real issues that cause a person to have absolutely no empathy at all. It is no different to those people who claim that we need to forcibly treat all people so labelled as mentally ill. It appears as though you are doing something without looking at the real problems. Looking at these people as adults is going to do next to nothing if you do nothing at all about how they were raised to begin with. And that is not just about what parents do it is also about what the school system does, the community of the school and the wider community in which they live.

          No one thing is going to stop this stuff happening. Yet everyone wants a quick fix. We do know that we are born with all the brain cells we will ever have, but they bascially don’t work as they are not connected up. 90% of those connections occur by the 3rd birthday. What happens in those first 3 years largely determines what will happen for the person for the rest of life. Small changes can be made, but they will never be easy or natural. A bit like learning a forign langauge, learn it by the end of elemtary school and you will do well, do so after that and you will always speak it with an accent. If children are not taught the necessary social and emotional skills needed for life by the 3rd birthday they will always struggle with them for life. Things can be done to assist, but it will still be a struggle. Sure we need to assist them as best we can, but above all else we need to do what we can to ensure that we don’t have to help so many people, preferrably none at all. But of course these are much deeper issues. Do I think that there is a massive overuse of psychiatric drugs, yes, do I think that some people labelled as mentally ill can act strangely and out of control yes, do I think the guns in the US need to be controlled, hell yes. But I also believe that those things are only the very very tip of the iceberg and will do very little. May reduce the numbers at each shooting, slow them down a bit, but not really change anything at all. But it is much much easier to come up with some very very simplistic response. It means that we don’t have to look deeper at the society that we live in and the way that we are raising our children and looking after each other in general.

          Report comment

          • ” It appears as though you are doing something without looking at the real problems.” Who is the you in that sentence, Senator Blumenthal? Just curious.

            The author of “I Was Adam Lanza” is a Hero in my eyes. He has the courage to identify with a “murderer” – and not in a way that is threatening to others. He is the one who is in pain. He is the one who is driven OUT of society and into isolation. There is no rage or hostility coming from him, in what he wrote and shared with the world, which makes it easy to HEAR HIM and have compassion and empathy for HIM, a man who identifies with a “murderer”. I wonder if even ONE person responded in a way that was beneficial for him. Don’t you think he reads the comments in response to what he’s shared? I bet there’s no OPEN DIALOGUE to fully engage him (since after all, who’s hand will be palm up – waiting for payment?). He reached out to the world.


            How many Adam Lanza’s do people suppose there are, here in America? Is there a crisis hotline for homicidal people to call? What is required, to RESPOND to a person who has enough COURAGE to come forward and say that they’re suffering from homicidal thoughts and / or feelings? If psychiatry is it’s own barrier to people seeking care and support, THEN WHAT? What does America need to do, set up weekly support groups for HA (Homicidals Anonymous)? I’m NOT being sarcastic.

            See, the problem is that straight off the bat – “criminal” comes to mind. Homicidal disposition is CRIMINAL, not medical. Get that major league obstruction out of the way and we might have a real road to genuine care, support, response and assistance. As of today, there is NOWHERE for anyone to go with their “problem”. Psychiatry will drug them, society will convict and condemn them in silent judgment … WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?

            Report comment

          • I have gone whole months without anyone speaking to me, without any access to the internet, I did not have family I had no one. I did not and have not become a mass murderer?? Being lonely does not cause someone to go and kill a school full of children. I am all for helping people who are lonely, but to some how say that if someone has someone say hello them, you can cure every problem they have ever had is beyond me.

            What do you want to do, send around teams of people to every home to make sure that no one has a day without someone saying hello to them? How is that going to cure mass murder?? What happened to calling lifeline? Lifeline is not just about wanting to die, it is simply about not being able to cope. Adam had a mother who loved him and an extended family. Millions of us do not have that. Adam had a thousand times more than millions of other people. The millions of people starving in refugee camps don’t go and commit mass murder, because they don’t like the lot of life that was handed to them.

            I cannot and will not understand anyone who justifies and says that people should have a LEGAL RIGHT to commit mass murder, and that they should not face any criminal sanctions at all. If that is not what you are saying, then what is it. You said criminal sanctions are wrong for mass murder?? What do you want to do, legalise it?? Do you want to legalise pedophila as well?? And yes there are thousands of people who claim that pedophiles are just loving children and should not be prevented from having normal human feelings. Forget about the billions of children who are irrepreparedly harmed by them. We need to feel sorry for them and condem the victim for having the courage to speak out and to try and put an end to the torment they suffer.

            Why don’t you advertise and find people who are willing to be the victims of mass murders then they can keep carrying out what they want to do, and only those who support them will be harmed. Sounds fair to me.

            There is nothing normal about wanting to commit mass murder. As for how to prevent it, try looking at what caused them to become this way in the first place. But according to you they are just displaying normal human emotions and they should be legally allowed to feel and express those emotions like anyone else.

            I do not know why I am even bothering to write this post. I will not be coming back here. When someone defends the rights of mass murders to be free to continue doing as they are doing, that they should not face criminal charges for it, and that they are simply normal human beings it is beyond me.

            Perhaps you need to consider why the rest of the world does not face these problems in anywhere near the same level as the US?? Perhaps the best way to prevent it is to look at what the rest of the world is doing and what the US is not. But then again when you believe in it, I guess you would not want to do that.

            Report comment

        • mjk,

          Senator Blumenthal’s ‘message’ resonates with people who are focused on protecting our children. Maybe you aren’t horrified that a youth who was taught to use an assault rifle- legally purchased by his mother– readily available to him, decided to use it to slaughter little kids. Maybe you haven’t put together- the destructive power of the weapon and the vulnerability of the ‘targets’ this ‘shooter’ chose, but those close to the community of Newtown have — and have addressed this heinous crime in terms of what can be done to ban the sale, ownership of these weapons.

          There is no connection between the victims and this shooter. None. So who are you blaming for the shooter’s decision to cause this senseless carnage? It was also his decision not to leave an explanation and not to stand trial for his crime. His mother apparently felt comfortable teaching him to use this weapon and living with him and an arsenal of weapons that are currently the legal right of citizens in our country to own. Some people in positions of political influence are addressing this– and they have been influenced by first responders, survivors and the medical examiner in Newtown CT who saw first hand what you still call, “another mass shooting”.

          If you are really convinced that the real focus should be ‘why’ someone becomes a ‘mass murder’, I suggest you tune in to the trial of James Holmes– a mass murderer who is still amongst the living. Maybe you could get some one to ask him if he would have called a “Homicide hotline” !

          BTW there have been memorials all over the world for the 26 “innocent” victims who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I was not suggesting that there was a lacking in humanistic demonstrations of honoring the precious children and the heroic adults who lost their lives in what most people call an unspeakable evil. The lead news broadcast of this event — played over and over: “Evil visited the town of Newtown CT on December 14th”. And this has been followed by a very loud demand for sane- reasonable- rational gun control legislation. Long overdue.

          In other words, doing everything humanly possible to protect innocent children is first and foremost on the minds of those who have faced the reality of this horrific event. And one of the realities is the lacking in any significant ‘clues’ to this shooter’s ‘mind set’, which makes me wonder how anyone could really IDENTIFY WITH THIS MURDERER. Bizarre… to say the least.

          Report comment

          • Belinda: “I cannot and will not understand anyone who justifies and says that people should have a LEGAL RIGHT to commit mass murder, and that they should not face any criminal sanctions at all. If that is not what you are saying, then what is it. You said criminal sanctions are wrong for mass murder?? ”

            What are you talking about? Those thoughts are ALL YOURS, not mine. In fact, I find it very difficult to reply to anything you wrote.

            “But according to you they are just displaying normal human emotions and they should be legally allowed to feel and express those emotions like anyone else.”

            Again, what are YOU talking about? Did you fail to see the message from “the Daily Beast, I Was Adam Lanza, written by an anonymous contributor”?

            I don’t know why you mentioned pedophilia.

            “I do not know why I am even bothering to write this post. I will not be coming back here. When someone defends the rights of mass murders to be free to continue doing as they are doing, that they should not face criminal charges for it, and that they are simply normal human beings it is beyond me.”

            I have no idea what you are talking about. I said no such thing about “the rights of mass murders to be free to continue doing as they are doing”. I don’t know why you bothered to write your post, either. I am certain that you understood NOTHING in what I wrote.

            Sinead: “There is no connection between the victims and this shooter. None.”

            These people aren’t too deranged if so many of them share the same target: SCHOOLS. Why aren’t they targeting banks or Wal-Marts or airports or hospitals? Why schools? Any INTELLIGENCE on that yet, CIA?

            A common factor among so many of these “mass murderers” is the psych-drugs. There is also the common factor of THEIR TARGET. Explain that, psychiatry. It obviously ISN’T all about the drugs (and it isn’t all about the guns, either).

            “If you are really convinced that the real focus should be ‘why’ someone becomes a ‘mass murder’, I suggest”

            But Adam was mentally ill?
            And needed some help?
            And some drugs?
            And maybe lock him up, so he won’t be a possible danger to you?
            Should add him to a national registry of mental people?
            Put him on a risk management list?

            Dear anonymous contributor, “I Was Adam Lanza” ~

            Can “the authorities” track you down on the internet, find you real identity, have you brought in for involuntary psychiatric / psychological evaluation and examination, force drug you, add you to a national registry database AND a risk management project?

            Sinead, for YOU – it is all about the children. For YOU.

            Report comment

  6. This post is insightful and appreciated. I also agree with the comments by Marion Goldstein about violence causing violence, and about needing to face and understand evil acts.

    We need to look at all forms of violence including violence perpetrated by children on their parents, and also psychiatric commitment and everything that comes with it, including forced drugging, restraints and solitary confinement, as a form of violence (recognized by the UN as a torture and ill-treatment). Both these issues figured in the Lanza shooting.

    With regard to comments about what different medical models especially with regard to autism, I see the neurodiversity movement as entirely different than NAMI because it is adults speaking for themselves (“Nothing about us without us”). While I comment as an outsider to autism, the way I understand their claim of a biological basis is as a chosen way of looking at their diversity, similarly to how many LGBT people see their diversity as biological. I can accept this in an extended sense of biology as being the totality of what a human being experiences as innate.

    I am sorry to have to say that “crux” adopts a similar posture to NAMI in claiming that the parents of children with autism represent “autism” and that adults with autism do not. Not for nothing, is the motto of the disability movement “Nothing about us without us!”

    There are many things we may never know about everything that may produce disturbances in consciousness including environmental toxins, physical conditions, trauma and abuse, as well as spiritual crises and awakenings.

    The disability movements had to wrestle with issues of cause/prevention in the course of working on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (in which I played a key role as one of a large group of drafters). There is a tension between saying “I’m ok as I am, I have a right to be me, don’t assume it’s better to be you than to be me” and calling attention to harms that cause us to suffer in ways that then we are punished for even more by labels and discrimination. This is the social model of disability, it’s not either/or but both/and/or.

    It’s important not to lose sight of mad pride or other disability pride or to pit them against a recovery model or a trauma model or an understanding of environmental toxins including psych drugs. We need family perspectives and community perspectives; as more recent commenters are saying we need to confront the full horror of violence – and not jump into the arms of the first “knight in shining armor” that promises to slay the dragons. We need to look at domestic violence in all its faces, including psychiatric commitment and institutionalization by family members of those they feel responsible for but don’t know how to support or love well enough to avoid harming them.

    And yes, Nothing about us without us!

    Report comment

    • Thank you, Tina, for adding further insight to what has turned out to be a fascinating discussion. I’ve taken the liberty to post Crux’s commnents about neurodiversity, autism and NAMI, below so that other readers don’t have to sort through all the threads to see what your are responding to in part. I’m pedalling furiously to keep up with the stimulating points of view from communities with whom I don’t normally engage (e.g. autism and disability rights). I like your emphasizing that we need to confront the full horror of violence, that we shouldn’t just jump into the arms of the first knight in shining armor who promises to slay the dragon.

      Crux’s comment: NAMI has jumped on the autism bandwagon recently to promote the psych-genetic view and to attack the environmental cause view. NAMI has joined messages and sometimes forces with another front movement of a minority of “autistic adult self-advocates” with high functioning autism (sometimes self-diagnosed) who are currently playing “entryist” into the Mad Rights movement to promote the genetic paradigm of autism. Like with NAMI, some followers of this are naïve regarding drug industry promotion of the concept they’re championing. Unlike the Mad Rights movement, the “Neurodiverse” autism front movement discounts the idea that the condition at the center of their cause can be entirely induced by toxic assault, while Mad Rights proponents readily accept that many are sometimes driven mad by pharmaceutical products alone. NAMI, Neurodiversity and Mad Rights all seek to remove stigmatization from various conditions or ways of being, but that’s where the comparison ends. NAMI and Neurodiversity share the view that the conditions are genetic castes and not that “diversity” is a matter of individual expression and choice. NAMI and Neurodiversity certainly don’t mean to incite sympathy for cases in which a condition is brought on by toxic exposure.

      Report comment

      • Children are on average diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2, over 98% are PROVEN to have shown signs from BIRTH. To say that our conditions are caused by these medications is beyond me. Tell me any newborn infant being drugged with antipsychotics??? And the FACT is MOST parents were not on these drugs during pregnancy.

        Psych rights movement is not about saying that medications CAUSED these conditions. I had and still have PTSD, it was not CAUSED by psychiatric medications, it was caused by trauma?? Common sense says that. Medications did not help. There is a big difference to saying that medications have done nothing to help, to saying they caused irreversial side effects, and that in effect they made things worse to saying they were the SOLE cause of ALL mental distress.

        FACT: MOST people voluntarily enter psychiatric care and begin to voluntarily take these medications believing they will help. When they don’t they stop taking them and end up forced. They did not ENTER psychiatric care and were not placed on drugs on the basis of being perfectly happy, well adjusted people. Perfectly happy, well adjusted people do not seek help for emotional or mental distress.

        Please provide the EVIDENCE that the SOLE cause of PTDS is toxic chemicals?? Are you seriously saying that NO ONE is ever hurt by being exposed to extreme forms of trauma, that EVERY SINGLE PERSON on the planet would laugh it off if they were eating organic food and not taking any possible toxic substance and only breathing in perfeclty clean air?? Children in such places are raped, and guess what they are traumatised by it. How is that possible, when NOTHING can cause mental or emotional distress except for toxic substances.

        You clearly do not fully understand Neurodiversity. If you don’t understand something you cannot criticise it. If you claim to be an expert on something such as Neurodiveristy, then be prepared to back up EVERYTHING you are claiming about it.

        Report comment

    • Tina,

      The insightful points for consideration you raise in this piece seem to me to be applicable ONLY to” The Adam Lanza shooting “of his mother and himself. There is no connection between the slaughter of innocent children and the issues you raise– and sadly, THAT is the full recognition of the violence Adam Lanza committed.

      Report comment

    • The problem with conflating LGBT to autism is that being gay isn’t a disability. The problem with the neurodiverse is that they attempt to speak for all affected in a tribal view, while leaving out individuals like this, which they and the public never like to discuss:

      Leaving out individuals like this young man is also the tribalist tact– predictable. “Nothing about us without us”? Like so many with the condition, he can’t talk. But when his parents adopted the injury view of autism and treated it accordingly, his tendency to self injure was apparently dramatically reduced. He spoke in that sense.

      Neurodiverse as well as bystanders prefer to focus on those with high functioning forms of the condition whose associated medical issues tend to be proportionately reduced as well, which is fine, but denying the fact that 83% affected are on the more severe end of the spectrum, suffer from associated medical conditions, early mortality from multiple causes including wandering and drowning, institutional abuse, gut disorders, seizures, cardiac insufficency, metabolic damage, etc., is appalling. My friends children have died, are dying, are refused medical care on the preferred genetic model. My son was refused care in the emergency room for a first seizure for dehydration in school because the school, on the genes-only model, refused to recognize that his metabolic condition was legitimate. The response from the community was, “Oh, never tell ER that your child has autism. They won’t do squat.”

      NAMI claims genetic cause. Neurodiverse claim genetic cause. NAMI is industry backed. Neurodiversity is industry backed. And people like the young man in the video are left to rot. When Szasz discusses the medicalizing of mental illness, he’s not denying the existence of organic disease.

      Though I think that many outsiders mean well and it makes them feel good and perhaps tolerant and generous to focus on the positive, particularly when there’s a well-funded astroturf movement inviting this, to quote Thomas Hardy, ”
      If way to the better there be, it exacts a full look at the worst.” There is a huge and growing population of severely disabled individuals who will have nowhere safe to go once their parents are gone. Denying that they exist and denying their reality is not broad-minded, it’s really lethal.

      Report comment

  7. mjk,

    Puzzled by your response to me above– where there are no more reply buttons.

    You have called SCHOOLS (caps are yours) the target of ‘many mass murdering shooters’. I know of only one incident of a shooter- who was not associated with anyone in the school he targeted. That was in California- 2 elementary school children were killed. The weapon was not an assault rifle.

    Where is the rage necessary for what Lanza did to 20 first graders coming from? What it is connected to? Are you suggesting these little kids represent ‘psychiatry’, ‘forced commitment and drugging’??

    A SCHOOL is a building—if IT is the target, why not blow it up when it is vacated over a weekend– the summer??

    Lanza was able to see those kids well enough to shoot them each multiple times— WHAT did THEY represent to him? INHUMANE SOCIETY?? SOCIAL INJUSTICE??

    Like James Holmes, Lanza planned a brutal attack on innocent people— NOT those who shunned, bullied or otherwise ‘abused’ him. Lanza’s target was NOT a SCHOOL– it was little kids who would be the last to treat him badly.

    What if— someone as ‘removed from human connection’ as Adam Lanza obviously was, did NOT have training to use an assault rifle— and the convenience of having one in his home??
    Now, that is one scenario it makes sense to work toward!

    Report comment

    • “School shooting is a topic of intense interest in the United States.[1] A thorough study of all United States school shootings by the U.S. Secret Service[2] warned against the belief that a certain “type” of student would be a perpetrator. Any profile would fit too many students to be useful and may not apply to a potential perpetrator. Some lived with both parents in “an ideal, All-American family.” Some were children of divorce, or lived in foster homes. A few were loners, but most had close friends. Some experts such as Alan Lipman have warned against the dearth of empirical validity of profiling methods.”

      “A SCHOOL is a building—if IT is the target, why not blow it up when it is vacated over a weekend– the summer?? ”

      Can’t have a conversation around a comment like that. You know school target doesn’t mean THE BUILDING.

      “Lanza was able to see those kids well enough to shoot them each multiple times— WHAT did THEY represent to him? INHUMANE SOCIETY?? SOCIAL INJUSTICE?? ”

      Maybe. Maybe there was something in his own elementary school experience that caused him to target childhood and youth (in a certain setting). Maybe Adam WAS suffering an inhumane society and social injustice. Maybe his childhood was destroyed and he was a destroyed child. Maybe not. I know you CAN’T allow yourself to see Adam in those ways. To you, he is an evil monster and the case is closed.

      What are the effects of stigma when you’re Adam Lanza, pre-event? What if it REALLY sucked to be him, and you’ll never understand that or what that’s like?

      ” For parents, whether or not we embrace or resist medications for our child, the supremacy of the biochemical model to explain in scientific terms minds that diverge from the norm, stifles growth in our learning to understand extreme mental distress in human terms.”

      “explain in scientific terms” but anonymous contributor says and speaks “in very simple English”. We do not all speak in the same way or using the same languages.

      “understand extreme mental distress”. What message does murder communicate, if murder is an actual language? Maybe science can’t answer that question as well as very simple English can.

      Report comment

      • Hey mjk… you are forgetting that no one SAW Adam Lanza in ‘those ways’ you are describing him–AND it is obvious he put some thought/ effort into NO ONE knowing what was going on inside of him before he demonstrated a level of hatred for innocents that is BEYOND any form of human reasoning.

        Perhaps—his expertise with and easy access to an assault rifle represent the REASON there was no opportunity for human intervention for his “extreme mental anguish” to be perceived– or understood.

        I don’t know how we, as a society can rid ourselves of this ‘right to bear arms’ mentality that has gone beyond rational thinking—but I believe we should all try to transform our ridiculous notion that assault weapons are needed for ‘self defense’ or are great outlets for pent up frustration— No one should own these weapons, or consider them to be confidence building modalities… for their socially challenged teenagers!

        You ask,” what message does murder communicate?” I don’t see it as a communication tool at all— there is NO message in the act— those who were deeply loved before Adam Lanza killed them, continue to be deeply loved for the precious individuals they were. As horrible as his vision of destruction and pain must surely have been, he cannot destroy the truth and meaning of another’s life, though that had to be his goal. And from all accounts I have heard and read, he took the lives of the very people who would have shown him compassion— maybe even friendship. So, I see nothing but senseless, stupidity in his ‘murdering rampage’— if only he didn’t have the means to carry it out… if there is any message, that’s it for me.

        Report comment

    • Here’s someone who probably had no training:

      A shooting has been reported at Taft Union High School in Taft, California


      “the shooter, a 16-year-old student at the high school, entered a science classroom at around 9 a.m. that morning armed with a 12-gauge shotgun.

      According to Youngblood, the teen shot one student before shooting at and missing another. Law enforcement officials believe both students shot at were intended targets, and Youngblood said the shooter called his second target by name before firing.”

      The shooter called his second target by name before firing. Yikes. Sure would like to know more of what THAT was about.

      MEDICAL? What did he have, where calling out the name of a target is the symptom of the biological disease? Tourette’s?

      Was the shooter a product of neglectful parents / poor upbringing and poor parenting? Some abuse at home? Single parent family? Step-family? Some other arrangement?

      Maybe the shooter was under the in-flu-ence of MASS MEDIA. Maybe he was under the in-flu-ence of society itself. Did the shooter watch too many movies? Play too many violent, first-person shooter video games? He’s only 16 years old.

      Is he white or black? Is he having sexual problems (at 16 years old, one might think so).

      Maybe he’s just a copy-cat. Is he psychotic, did he believe he was IN A MOVIE?

      Is he evil? Was he being really clever in falsely calling out somebody’s name? Did he do that on purpose – criminal minded – just to really mess with people’s heads? In other words, the person whose name he called out might be completely innocent and have no clue why the shooter would call his name.

      Ah, what about Morality? And immorality?

      Was he hearing voices? In science class, were they debating anything at the time? Anything of interest or intense interest?

      Was there any forethought? Premeditation?

      What if there was opportunity to have “caught him” just hours or minutes before he walked in that classroom? This is what people want to develop, is it not? The “skills set” to PICK A KILLER OUT OF THE CROWD BEFORE HE DOES THE WHACK JOB. Prevention. Intervention.

      What if the California shooter was just … evil.

      Report comment

      • mjk,

        You bring up genuine, important questions about this recent incident where there is reason to hope for useful answers. An un named juvenile suspect in custody, who put down his weapon in the context of his teacher’s engagement with him. The single victim is alive– all reasons to be grateful as well as concerned about the potential for our mental health and legal systems inflicting more harm than good for the ‘shooter’ and really, all of us. I would call for an immediate ‘time out’ and require each professional(those who will influence what happens next) in contact with the ‘shooter’- especially to read- cover to cover, Peter Breggin’s book, “Reclaiming Our Children”, A healing Plan for a Nation in Crisis, because it is crucial to proceed from knowledge, experience and wisdom—- because the stakes are so high, this is imperative!

        I appreciate your plea for critical thinking and realistic investigation that is based on fact, not a knee jerk reaction to emotion or sentimentality. I also recognize the valid criticisms you express for the inhumane responses to troubled youth that have come from the very institutions we fund and trust.
        It is long past time for accountability and restitution,

        I work with high risk youth and adults who have been badly damaged by our schools, mental health and legal systems. I have challenged myself to evolve into a professional who will confront my colleagues. In my early days, I focused only on my ‘patients’ (the label they are given– NOT my assessment)– avoiding the authority figures as a matter of preference for the disposition of my time and energy. I preferred to be with the ‘kids’– the ‘patients’ of all ages—so, I guess I understand the basic nature we all have to seek our own comfort– even in a crisis. But, as the saying goes, “no pain, no gain!”. And now it is obvious to me that each of us must surmount our innate weaknesses for the sake of those who are suffering the most, and for the protection of our children.

        We can all be grateful that the ‘shooter’ (identity protected juvenile in custody for the shooting at Taft HS), was not an expert marksman wielding an assault rifle! And you are right, we should appreciate the opportunity to seek answers and employ wisdom based on factual knowledge to make progress toward healing and preventing these tragedies in our schools.

        I think that the humane response from our society starts with acknowledging that guns DO kill people– with no particular emphasis on identifying people who aren’t fit to own them– . Children learn what they live. Our example is a heinous lesson in the disrespect for human life. No one should own rifles, shot guns, automatic- and semi-automatic assault weapons. Hunting? Sport? protection? — all of those are insane excuses, IMO.

        Report comment

        • Love the response Sinead, agree totally.

          mjk, here we have a school tourched and burnt to the ground every couple of years – ALL out of school hours. Those responsible are usually caught and they all did it to get back at the school for what they feel was done to them. They did not enter with automatic assult rifles with enough ammunition to kill the whole school was present and kill kids and point blank range multiple times.

          This is not about saying we do not need to look at why, but it is also acknowledging that someone does not do what Adam did for some small reason like feeling lonely?? What you have identified are a whole lot of very valid things that can and do go wrong. But millions of children experience those things, often to profound levels and do not turn out like Adam. To say that one of them was enough to set off acts like his is beyond me. There is NO evidence that he was seeking help. There is evidence that people were trying to reach out to him.

          Of the recent school shooting, I suspect the child in custody was angry at the victim, and deliberately wanted to hurt him. One should be asking WHY he felt the only way to deal with teh issues he had with that child was by shooting him?? Was he being bullied, and his solution to be bullied is to shoot the person?? What is it about the adults around him, that he did not trus them to thelp him and instead decided to shoot the person.

          If Adam was feeling any number of things as you claim, why was his solution to those problems to go into an elemtary school of all places and kill everyone in it??

          Shooting is not a normal response to anything. Something has to be going massvily wrong to believe that shooting to cure the problem. What sort of society teaches children that the solution to ALL problems is to just shoot people?? Is that what these children have been taught?? The things listed, occur in ALL countries, but those countries do not have them shooting each other to death, in huge numbers, and they certianly do not have them happening in schools. I have never heard of any schools having security or metal detactors except in the US. Those things are not the reasons they are not happening on other countries.

          Report comment

          • Something is wrong, in America? School shootings are “intense interest” in the United States? I believe in Kali Yuga.


            In human relationships

            Avarice and wrath will be common. Humans will openly display animosity towards each other. Ignorance of dharma will occur.
            People will have thoughts of murder with no justification and will see nothing wrong in that.
            Lust will be viewed as socially acceptable and sexual intercourse will be seen as the central requirement of life.
            Sin will increase exponentially, whilst virtue will fade and cease to flourish.
            People will take vows and break them soon after.
            People will become addicted to intoxicating drinks and drugs.
            Gurus will no longer be respected and their students will attempt to injure them. Their teachings will be insulted, and followers of Kama will wrest control of the mind from all human beings.The maximum lifespan of a human in this age is 90-100 years.
            Brahmans will not be learned or honored, Kshatriyas will not be brave, Vaishyas will not be just in their dealings

            ab kaloo aaeiou rae

            Now, the Dark Age of Kali Yuga has come.

            eik naam bovahu bovahu ||

            Plant the Naam, the Name of the One Lord.

            an rooth naahee naahee ||

            It is not the season to plant other seeds.

            math bharam bhoolahu bhoolahu ||

            Do not wander lost in doubt and delusion.

            Delusion is a common word, used as a weapon in verbal war. Idiot and moron are two other very common weapons. How healthy? NOT. Socially and culturally acceptable? VERY.

            How bad is “mental illness” in this country and throughout the world? Another blog on MIA states “The finding that adolescents with less well educated parents exhibit lower rates of suicidal behavior also raises questions about the current culture’s obsession with mental health.”

            Have you seen how much attention is put on “illuminati”, mind control (which is mentioned in the Kali Yuga), “satanic” hollywood and even satanic government (what is it that they reportedly do out there in California, in August? Some ritual sacrifice ceremony, very “secret” and sensational, with some 50 foot owl as a symbol?). Bohemian Grove. That’s it.

            Culture is obsessed with a LOT of things, not just “mental health” (did she mean mental illness?).

            Obsession is an aspect of mental illness, yes or no?

            Culture and society, in America, really ARE very “sick”. And bitter pills from psychiatry is makings things worse, is it not?

            If America takes the guns away, can the kids (and ADULTS) still keep their first-person shooter video games?

            A Canadian study’s conclusion: “Clinically based samples of youth with mental illnesses spend more time engaged in electronic media activities and are more likely to play violent video games, compared with youth in the general population.”

            Regardless of being a Canadian study, youth “with mental illnesses” spend more time engaged in electronic media (means less time engaged and involved in REAL human relationships, see Kali Yuga) and likely to play violent video games. <— just ignore that.

            What exactly is disturbing the minds of youth so badly? We expected to believe they are simply biochemical toxic mutants from birth.

            I know a *young man* in California who I personally WATCHED slip into a really bad place. He was obsessed and consumed by certain social, cultural issues that were driving him mad and crazy. He was really, really into Ron Paul. He was motivated, wanted certain PROBLEMS (that were SICKENING him) SOLVED. But, he is just another victim of "mental illness". He disappeared from YouTube for a while, then came back after release from a psych-ward.

            "What is it about the adults around him, that he did not trus them to thelp him and instead decided to shoot the person."


            Don't Cry
            Don't raise your eye
            It's only teenage wasteland

            They're all wasted!

            (interestingly, this video features images of Halo 2 which is a first-person shooter video game. Why did the LYRIC video's creator do that?)

            Sometimes, people can look RIGHT AT SOMETHING and not even see it.

            Cheers to another day, so many of us engaged in endless discussion and dialogue.

            Report comment

  8. Thank you, Belinda ! Variance in the way people respond to the full gamut of universal human suffering can best be explained in the context of culture. What we do and why we do what we do– cultural heritage. For all the freedoms we are proud to proclaim as uniquely American, the sad truth is that we are a society of disempowered people who seek answers and direction from a wide array of authority figures. Selling out our own innate human discretion for fleeting moments of security, we are a fearful lot– easy prey for 1% who have maintained both wealth and power in America for the past 100 years. For all intents and purposes , one might say, we have lost our TRUE minds– when so many miss seeing what is as evident as it is horrifying, this is the best explanation I can offer.

    A very basic, human- reasoning response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School is one that is grounded in the details of the crime– the perceptions of those closest to the horrifying scene. If there is a kernel of evil in the glorifying of weapons– as prized possessions, symbols of power that increase self confidence — then the slaughter of innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary School is the full blossoming of that kernel of evil— And, I happen to believe the evil that visited Newtown on December 14th was home grown and nurtured by our very own selfish, apathetic society. The further away one is from the epicenter of tragedy, the more inclined he/she is to disconnect from it and focus on a more personal agenda: identifying and restraining the ‘mentally ill’; protecting and supporting the ‘mentally ill’; arming teachers; turning schools into stockades — etc. The ONE and only response that addresses the core of our culture is “gun control”– specifically banning the sale and ownership of ‘assault’ weapons/ammunition. This is the most difficult agenda to broach because it exposes aspects of us as a people, that prove my assessment of Americans as both fearful and disempowered. Well over half of our citizens already feel threatened that this exposure is brewing…

    mjk, There are so many philosophical musings that have morphed into pseudo religions it’s hard to keep them all straight. They all seem to have the potential of affirming resignation to powerlessness, which is exactly what serves the 1% so well! If you think of “skepticism as the chastity of the intellect”, you might be less inclined to buy into one of these ‘end of days’ manifestos, We all decide what we will believe, have ultimate power over our own minds and can keep our minds pure even in the midst of chaos and corruption. Very powerful innate capacity.
    Since this moment is all we have control over,– while we are alive, why not use it to manifest our deepest and most unique humanity? That is true freedom, IMO.

    Report comment

  9. In relation to voilent electronic games. About 15 years ago I was attempting to buy a computer game for a 10 year old for christmas. I ended up giving up as I could not find anything that was not voilent. We had some great educational games for preschool aged children. Some for children up the age of 7 or 8. But after that it was all killing and nothing else. I would not buy that for anyone, to me it just incites violence. The parents would not have allowed her to have it anyway. Wasn’t that part of the way they say the 9/11 Highjackers learnt how to fly, via video cames. Do games alone do this, no, but they do desentise us to voilence. We do not need any desentisation.

    People labelled as mentally ill are suffering from emotional distress. At such times they naturally withdraw from people, I know I did and I know that everyone I have ever communicated with who has experienced the same did. We do anything to keep us occupied. Young people have been bought up on electronic media and games, they can play it on there own. What other games do you propose they play, solitare all day long?

    The medications do not treat any illness, and hence do not help. They remain isolated and hence keep doing anything. We do nothing to address the underlying issues, all that happens is they are stigmatised and move further and further into themselves. They need something to do all day, and electronic games provide that. And voilent ones are all they have. Sure there are some facebook game type things now, but many parents are regulating internet access to keep them safe from adults wanting to harm them, and think that if games are sold they must be OK. The government would not allow the sale of these things if they were going to do anything bad.

    The US miltary has hired computer programs to write games, that are now sold to general public. They make ALL people in training play these games as it desentises them and they are more likely to shoot more people. The miltary would not be doing it if it didnt’ work. Games make shooting acceptable. A problem ALL forces faced in the first and second world war was soldiers refusing to shoot. The reason hitler bought in gas chambers was becasue the staff could not cope with shooting. Soldiers refused to battle on christmas day and were threatened for doing so. They were often reprimanded and quite severly for not shooting enough. The germanss drugged the soldiers. ALL allied forces, including the US did at times have senior staff hold guns to the soldiers head to make them shoot. All countries face issues with getting miltary personal to be happy to kill people. Fact is most people find it abhorrent.

    People often say that remove guns and it will only be replaced by knives, yes and no. Firstly people find it much much harder to kill with a knife. They can shoot from a distance, with a knife, you literally have to touch them, not just look at them. A knife takes much longer, requires more phsyical effort and above all else cannot shoot 100 people a minute, like some of thes assult rifles.

    Psychiatric drugs numb people. Sure that makes it easier to do things one would normally have some level of self control over. BUT, that alone is not going to be enough. If you are so horrified by voilence you will not go anywhere near it, numbing you will not help. It did not help hitler. He first numbed the soldiers, then he set up the gas chambers, as having them numbed was not enough for them to kill innocent people, including children. A drug might mean that a person instead of bashing someone, shoots them. If a person would never ever lay a finger on someone, it will not make them shoot them. It can heighten the level of someone, by numbing them somewhat, but it is not going to cause someone who is so horrified by voilence to commit the ultimate violent act.

    Our schools and child care centres, no longer allow children to play voilent games. They are not allowed to pretend play, even with fingers that they are going to hurt you. Such games are out, and will be stopped immediately. There are hundreds of thousands of games children can play, they do not need to pretend to kill or harm each other.

    While our mental health services are horrible and yes, no one will listen to you, school teachers will, shcool counsellors will. Kids and especially teenagers have someone to turn to, who will listen, and offer an open ear. There is a massive push to stamp out bullying and huge programs are being put in place to deal with it. While I understand people not talking to psychiatrists or the mental health system. I do not understand young people not talking to parents (in most cases – clearly some are abusive and that is not a solution) or in particular school teachers, counsellors or the like. There are youth workers to support them, etc. Some mental health systems are attempting to move in, but schools are still being human, and in particular teachers are being human, and listening as they always have. It is a part of the job description for all teachers. Are there cases they refer on that I don’t like, sure, but they still remain there for them, willing to listen at any time. And no psychiatrists will not listen to teachers saying they are geting worse, they are the experts and teachers know nothing.

    Report comment

  10. I think some background on the question of stigma and mental illness as a biomedical disease needs to be broadened somewhat, specifically in the following ways:

    1) in which ways is the biomedical model borrowed from AA (for many people the subconscious model for recovery in my opinion) and its definition of alcoholism as a disease? Does this model also need redefining to eliminate its drawbacks, without losing the benefit of reducing blame and shame by leaving behind the solely moralistic perspective?

    2) even if the biomedical model *were* highly successful in reducing stigma, is it worth the collateral damage in popularizing a powerful misconception about mental illness in general? (my answer is obviously no)

    3) why not reduce stigma by working with those who are primarily responsible for creating it, i.e. the media? (news as well as Hollywood/TV, both in depicting clients and how therapy works) this seems more direct and potentially effective

    Report comment

    • Truth,
      Would you be more specific about 1, 2 and 3? I’m not clear about what you mean. As for 3, I think that the people someone with a diagnosis of mental illness reacts most strongly to, are the relatives, who are physically present, not Hollywood. The relatives as a focus of interest in understanding stigma, have been “off limits” for decades, due to the preferred no-fault policy of the biochemical model. This is the way most relatives would prefer to see it. Thanks for clarifying your points.
      Best regards,

      Report comment