In The National Psychologist, forensic psychologist David Kirschner writes about his experiences evaluating young murderers, and discusses the negative role that he feels prior psychiatric treatment played in most of those adolescents’ lives.
“As a forensic psychologist, I have tested/evaluated 30 teenage and young adult murderers, and almost all of them had been in some kind of ‘treatment,’ usually short term and psychoactive drug-oriented, before they killed,” writes Kirschner. “In these cases, access to mental health care was available but did nothing to prevent the violence – despite current arguments in Congress re: proposals for gun control vs. mental health access/treatment.”
“Why were these ‘treatments’ so obviously unsuccessful?” asks Kirschner. He ascribes the problem to a large amount of funding for psychiatric drugs combined with minimal amounts of funding for building psychotherapeutic relationships with adolescents. “Most of the young murderers I have personally examined… were using prescribed stimulant/amphetamine type drugs before and during the killing events. These medications did not prevent but instead contributed to the violence by disinhibiting normal, frontal cortex control mechanisms… And so, despite ongoing congressional debates regarding stricter gun control laws vs. improved access to mental health treatment, our concern should be about the quality of mental health care, not just a societal safety net insuring treatment for all children and young adults.”
MIA Blogger Philip Hickey discusses the Kirschner article on his blog and also discusses comments from the Assistant Attorney General who refused to release Adam Lanza’s history of psychiatric drug use.
Mass shooters received only limited treatment (The National Psychologist, September 10, 2014)
Mass Murderers and Psychiatric Drugs (Behaviorism and Mental Health, September 22, 2014)