Monday, January 10, 2011

Jared Lee Loughner

He didn't look like a particularly healthy guy, but they sold him an automatic in Tuscon. No mental status exam, apparently. Indigent, he bought a $500 gun. You have to wonder. How does that happen? 

Gabrielle Gifford is hurt and six others murdered, 19 injured.  Glock 9, an automatic weapon, in the hands of a "mentally unstable" person.  Holds a clip of 15.  The whole neighborhood knew he was "very troubled."

We're watching the morning news and my daughter asks me, Should the kids really be watching this? Vampires are okay, werewolves, fine. But reality is scary.

He left us notes:  I planned ahead.  My assassination.  Gifford.

Lest we give the credit to someone else. 

Assuming he suffers from Schizophrenia, Paranoid Type, the credit goes to the voices in his head that told him to do it. 

But voices don't buy anyone guns. Someone has to sell these. And the whole town knew he was a time bomb. They were afraid of him, he was so odd, so disturbed. Couldn't someone have reeled him in?

Supermarket parking lot, people there to meet their Congresswoman.  Nine year old, Christina Taylor-Green. Dorwan Stoddard.  Federal Judge, John M Roll, just leaving church.   Phyllis Schneck.  Gabe Zimmerman  Christina Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris.

And the Congresswoman, a gun owning Democrat who married an astronaut, loves motorcycles is clinging to life, a bullet through her head.   The Tuscon tragedy is associated with her politics, left of the tea party.  But the shooter was a liberal. 



Judy Clarke,  attorney of the indigent, including the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski,  and 1996 Olympic park bomber Eric Rudolph, and Susan Smith, the South Carolina mother convicted of drowning her two sons by allowing her car to roll into a lake with the two toddlers strapped in their car seats will be representing Loughner, who will likely be diagnosed as mentally ill. 

So far the assailant hasn't said anything.  That will be something, his statement, although it is unlikely he will make one. Maybe he doesn't suffer from Schizophrenia. The violence in this country isn't limited to people who have Schizophrenia, although these mass, public murders do seem to have that running theme.

If he has other reasons, we're all ears. Antisocial Personality Disorder, perhaps, associated with most criminals who feel no guilt. Or werewolf, maybe.

therapydoc

16 comments:

Smitty said...

Please, let us not go blaming the mentally ill for these kinds of crimes. Please keep us aware of the statistics--that it is a small percentage of the mentally ill who commit crimes like this...

Grace-WorkinProgress said...

If someone decides to go off the grid of humanity there is not much that can be done about it. If someone is willing to sacrifice themselves for their own cause how do you stop that. We all live by grace with the assumption that everyone follows the rules in order to be safe. We can't live in fear or protect anyone from this kind of person. When you live a public life it is part of the risk.

cb said...

As an outsider I have a couple of brief thoughts. One is along the lines of the regular rhetoric regarding people with mental illness as indicated by Smitty above. The reality is that people with mental illnesses are far more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators yet it is the common discourse that arises in situations such as this.
The other thought is how on earth could he buy an automatic weapon - mind, I can't understand how anyone can or would want to own a gun....

The Writing Goddess said...

What crosses my mind is, how very, very sad. I wonder how often his parents might have tried to get him help, over the years - maybe often, maybe never, who knows?

All I know, is when you love someone who is mentally ill, who has not YET tried or threatened to harm someone, someone who doesn't recognize that s/he *is* ill, how very limited your options are, and how very little support you receive from the community at large.

therapydoc said...

Of course you're right, those with mental illness are far more likely to be victimized, abused, marginalized. And we have learned, thankfully, to integrate chronically mentally ill persons into our society, which is the goal-- understanding and kindness.

What we haven't learned is to keep guns out of the hands of people with Paranoid Schizophrenia, a disorder that is very dangerous, that literally "tells" the person who suffers to kill.

It has been a running theme on this blog, starting with Cho of the Virginia Tech massacre, see ChoJames Lee of the Discovery Channel Building hostage crisis, who also ranted on the Internet.

I wrote abut Stephen Kazmierczak, see Stephen Kazmierczak the young man who killed 6 at Northern Illinois University, injured 18 before killing himself. He was obsessed with death and gun shops.

Voices say things like this: Kill someone, kill yourself. You are scum. You should die. You know you should die, and so should they.

The voices don't quit. It is very painful enduring them, so death feels preferable, which is why these poor souls kill themselves.

And the guns, well, they're so plentiful, aren't they. That's what my real beef is about.

It is true that the photo of a "sick" guy was insensitive, so I took it down. I always appreciate constructive criticism.

upsi said...

I have a hard time with how handily the coverage of this tragedy refers to the shooter as "mentally ill" - it is too convenient a story-line, too broad a stroke. It reduces a complex phenomena like public violence to a easy trope. He's not like us, he's ill. He's crazy. He's different.

I agree that this is a gun issue - Arizona is apparently where gun laws go to die.

upsi

Sid said...

I vote "werewolf." Less scary.

Retriever said...

I agree with others here that the mentally ill are likelier to be victims of crime than its perpetrators.

But it was either Doctor X or Assistant Village Idiot (on their sites) who wrote this week about how certain types of people with personality disorders manage to function incredibly efficiently at killing others, Stalin for example. To say that someone is mentally ill implies a level of disorganization and lack of personal responsibility for their actions (ie: their not being liable for their actions).

However, although I do not own a gun myself, I have a sister who lives in Arizona and have visited her there and I can say that many good, decent people there own guns for self-protection. Not her. She's very anti-gun (has very PC children). But I met many perfectly stable, balanced people of every political stripe there who owned guns. It isn't only insane murderers or right wing types who do.

If you saw some of the poorer barrios there, they look like mud huts or shanty towns in Argentina where I grew up. Or heard the stories of home invasions in nice neighborhoods (3 in my sister's, in broad daylight one week when I was there). There are scam artists, and drug related crimes and robberies that turn violent. I noticed it because where I live in the NE, the houses are unlocked and cars unlocked. There the cars are locked in garages, doors and windows barred, and still people have to be extremely careful about checking ID for door to door salesmen and delivery people. Ironically, the civilized people in Arizona are far friendlier, more polite, and more hospitable than most of us Northeasterners. So it isn't a question of obnoxious gun-toting Westerners versus peaceloving Northeasterners.

One of the scariest things to me about this story is where do you draw the line? Because clearly this guy was scaring people with his threatening behavior and nobody felt able to do anything. Had he been under 18 they could have sent him to therapy, or kept him in for extra social skills or all the panoply of Special Ed services for disruptive kids (altho, from what my sister tells me, the schools in Arizona have very little money for that stuff). But with an adult, there's not much you can force someone to do until they do something awful. The tough part is that you don't want people able to have ordinary plain weird people locked up or forced into counselling because people find then odd. How do you preserve the liberties of all the thousands of troubled and harmless developmentally disabled or mentally ill young people while protecting the public from potential threats like this guy?

therapydoc said...

I'm thinking we educate within the schools. Social skills training, for example, is something that should be taught. Maybe stick it into a health class, just don't leave out mental health.

One of the people who knew him referred to him as a serial killer in the making. If that's how someone appears, then alerting the police can't be a bad thing. Then when a Congresswoman speaks in a parking lot, they can be there, watching for him.

Not blaming, just suggesting people open their mouths when there's a time bomb out there.

Retriever said...

Well, TD, you know I'm not shy. I always do speak out. :)
I've had scary kids and teens in religion class. Then again, you can miss one. I was going on to my supervisor years ago about what an angelic kid J was until she told me that he had deliberately set the fire in which his mother and stepsister had died because he didn't like her boyfriend telling him what to do. At the age of 10.

I think that the drug culture in Arizona is worse than the gun culture. My sister was stalked by the next door neighbor's unemployed meth addicted son who kept breaking into her house and filching things until his mother kicked him out for threatening her too.

Jack said...

I think that many people are reluctant to get involved. If it takes effort it is easier to just ignore it.

Wendy said...

Let's face it - there is only one real use for a gun. To kill.

Yea, you can target practice, you can "defend" your property.. But the only reason anyone would really need one is to kill.

So you go animal hunting - ok. Acceptable form of recreation. To kill animals. But the likely hood of owning a gun in the United States these days to actually feed your family or defend yourself are pretty nil.

So we need to accept that an individual who goes in to buy a gun, is buying it kill someone or something. It doesn't take a huge leap of imagination to see this guy come in to buy a gun who is acting strangely, dishelved, dirty, shaved head and realize he is buying this gun to kill someone. To kill someone...
I personally believe that we do not need guns in our society - at all. None in the homes, none on the streets, none in the cars, etc. None in the police station!

You want to own one, it's stored in the local armory in your own locker with your lock. You can get it out during hunting season, when you show your hunting license and validate specific period of time/place you will be hunting. You want to do target practice? Ok, at the armory, where your gun is stored, you can go right out to the range on the property and practice.

No more kids riding around shooting each other. No more "accidentally" misfiring and killing your kid. No more kids showing off their dad's unloaded pistol and shooting the neighbor kid. No more babies finding mommy's gun in the nightstand drawer and shooting themselves or their brother or sister. No more 20 year olds shooting themselves between the eyes with a 12 gauge shot gun because they were depressed, or living in fear or had so much pain they could not stand to live anymore... Or we could just have a place at the armory where they could do that, and their family wouldn't have to scrape their brains off the walls of their bedrooms.
There is only one use for a gun. To Kill. Who do we think we are fooling with all the other rehetoric?

Cheryl said...

I'm glad everyone else put their 2 cents in already. I'm getting to know many people who hear voices that say horrible things to them and none of them go around killing. They go to support groups and therapy and help themselves. Having a psychiatric disability does not make you a mass murderer, and you of all people should know better then to perpetuate that horrible stereotype, TD.

Here's an article
http://www.slate.com/id/2280619/

Kerro said...

I'm with Wendy on this one. The big problem is not that someone had (or may have had) a mental illness, or that he didn't (or couldn't) get the help he needed.

The big problem is the gun, and how readily available they seem to be in the US.

I'm not from the US and you haven't been able to buy guns over the counter here since a mass murder in the 1990s.

Result? No mass murders since then.

Ms. Adventuress said...

I like the idea of mandatory annual mental/physical analysis on a human brain and body (especially before one buys a gun, births a child, drives an auto). These brain/body exams would happen via our primary care physicians and their office mates, the psychiatrists. Someday we'll be lucky enough to have such automated, whole care.

Syd said...

An outlier who really has made us reassess our priorities.