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← 'Psycho killer'? The Jared Lee Loughner case brings out the usual abuse

'Psycho killer'? The Jared Lee Loughner case brings out the usual abuse - Comments

T. S. Elliott's Avatar Comment 1 by T. S. Elliott

I was waiting for this to come out.

The problem I think is that mental illness is painted with too broad a stroke of the brush. Sure, people with mental illness are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators. But does that mean that Loughner was not mentally ill? The evidence certainly points to some form of mental instability.

Sure, media perception of mental illness is wildly off the mark. Anyone with any sort of mental illness is grouped into the whole. But as a contributing factor, it needs to be taken into account, especially if the evidence points that way. The vast majority of mentally ill people are not violent, like the vast majority of gun owners do not kill people with their guns. Does that mean it should not be pointed out in the cases where they do?

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 04:15:01 UTC | #576964

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 2 by Alternative Carpark

Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 04:21:16 UTC | #576965

mirandaceleste's Avatar Comment 3 by mirandaceleste

Martin Robbins wrote a similar (and much better, IMO) article yesterday:

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 04:43:03 UTC | #576970

Radesq's Avatar Comment 4 by Radesq

Politicians, commentator, and others who issue incitements to violence can fall back on the claim that "only mentally ill people" would take their suggestions seriously, and "no sane person" would commit such acts. This allows them to evade responsibility for their actions; and it is clear that many are well aware of this and exploit attitudes about mental illness to avoid accountability.

AC - There's apparently more than one way to connect this with "Talking Heads"

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 04:43:22 UTC | #576971

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 5 by Enlightenme..

As of this time of writing, nothing concrete is known about the accused shooter's mental health status

This article was from Monday, when it had already become clear that this adolescent male has a history of issues, as well as a rather bizarre on-line presence, such as paranoid stuff about government mind control.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 05:07:07 UTC | #576978

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 6 by Neodarwinian

The history of this young mans mental state is long enough and well documented enough to warrant a tentative conclusion of mental disturbance and one was reached by experts. I think we have a confusion between other peoples perceptions of this incident and the actual incident.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 05:36:34 UTC | #576985

bridgeburner's Avatar Comment 7 by bridgeburner

Regardless of this man's actual mental state, people should stop assuming all horrifically violent crimes are committed by the mentally unstable. Religious people in other countries frequently do just as terrible of things in the name of their religion, and no one tries to diagnose them.

If he turns out to be mentally ill, then fine, but the assumption should not swing in that direction, given the frequency of such crimes committed by people who, while not mentally ill, are obviously mentally overpowered by an idea or ideal.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 05:43:38 UTC | #576988

-TheCodeCrack-'s Avatar Comment 8 by -TheCodeCrack-

What's the difference between a mentally-ill brain and a brain that is not?

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 06:01:23 UTC | #576994

Monkey Man's Avatar Comment 9 by Monkey Man

Once again we are failing to observe things as they are. We know there is no such thing as mental illness or well-being, these are only concepts we use in absense of making the effort to build an accuarate mental model of reality.

We've certainly had enough of the cultist "acceptance of non-answers" but I've certainly had enough of the unadventurous and the cynical in the technical community. I look for the best minds that are taking us into the future, people who are trying to be as radical and empirical with progress as possible.

I mean there are people closing in on building a complete digital model of a human brain. We're devising methods to test our theories of everything. We're going to be able to see bigger pictures in a big way.

I'm in the camp that sees the DSM V as a horribly misguided attempt to continue our outdated strategies meant to quantify and categorize reality. We're not ubiquitously and infinitely ambitious at all! We need to build holistic, total vision of reality based on a theory of everything or a theory of this universe, and we need to quicken the pace.

The better we can see things as they are given the restraints of our brains, the more radically we can affect change for the good. Hey if we make it to a stage 3 civilization and we can channel the power of galaxies hopefully long before then we'll be engineering near-paradises. I think we're held back by this ridiculous attempt to name everything.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 06:17:41 UTC | #576998

MelM's Avatar Comment 10 by MelM

We know there is no such thing as mental illness or well-being

This is nonsense.

I think we're held back by this ridiculous attempt to name everything.
And more nonsense. Try to discuss such a theory without naming things. The "names" are called "concepts." Adequate conceptualization of fuzzy problems gives one a big start toward solving them.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 06:40:53 UTC | #577008

TIKI AL's Avatar Comment 11 by TIKI AL

I was waiting for some understanding from the good christians after hearing the numerous accounts of very questionable behaviour.

This is very sad all around. I hope his parents tried everything possible to get him some help.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 06:51:08 UTC | #577013

Reckless Monkey's Avatar Comment 12 by Reckless Monkey

He apparently was rejected by the US military due to being mentally unsound. As sad and rare as it may be some people who suffer from some mental illnesses do harm others if not treated. Hospital staff are often injured by mentally unsound people. More often by drunks but denying there is a problem for fear of creating a stigma does no-one any favours.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 06:58:04 UTC | #577016

fuzzylogic's Avatar Comment 13 by fuzzylogic

It's quite clear based on his youtube videos alone that he is a paranoid schizophrenic, it doesn't take and expert to see that.

Throw in easy access guns and violent political rhetoric in the media and this is what happens.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 07:09:13 UTC | #577019

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 14 by Stevehill

It's quite clear based on his youtube videos alone that he is a paranoid schizophrenic, it doesn't take and expert to see that.


That's quite hard even for professionals to diagnose.

Five psychiatrists gave evidence at Pete Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper's trial, four saying he was unfit to plead as he was a schizophrenic. The judge believed the other one (hired by the prosecution) and said he could have a normal trial. He was banged up in the mainstream prison system where he was horribly abused for two years before he was (yet again) diagnosed as a schizophrenic and moved to Broadmoor Hospital, where he remains.

Whatever Loughner's problems, I don't think the Tea Party and especially Sarah Palin can escape the consequences of their own insane rhetoric.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 08:35:16 UTC | #577034

zengardener's Avatar Comment 15 by zengardener

People with "severe mental illness" are responsible for an estimated one in 20 violent crimes, a rate much lower than the general population usually supposes.

Do the "Severely mentally ill" include psychopaths?

Twenty percent of male and female inmates are psychopaths, and they are responsible foe more than 50 percent of serious crimes (Hare, 1999, p. 87 without conscience:The disturbing world of the psychopaths among us. New York: Guildford Press.)

I am not suggesting that he was a psychopath, only that we should not disregarded him.

By the way, I wonder how this young man would have been handled in a society with universal health care? I ask because it seems that in the U.S. we have a catch 22. Until one actually proves themselves to be dangerous they are free to wonder the land. They are free to voluntarily commit themselves, but I would guess that without peer pressure to do so, it is not so likely. And then when one does prove to be dangerous, it is already too late.

I don't want to be sat before a board of doctors every time I say something strange, but certainly this man deserved someones attention, and he didn't seem to be inclined to ask.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 08:37:45 UTC | #577035

MartinHowe's Avatar Comment 16 by MartinHowe

Does that mean it should not be pointed out in the cases where they do?

No, but it should immediately afterwards be equally strongly pointed out that this does not imply that more than a fraction of people with problems are violent. Of course, the media don't like doing this, because it ruins a good scare story.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 08:38:36 UTC | #577036

El Bastardo's Avatar Comment 17 by El Bastardo

Oh so many clambering over each other to claim to be victims. Yet none of them, not one tea party member, not Sarah Palin, and not the author of this piece are currently lying in hospital with a bullet hole in their head.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 09:53:51 UTC | #577050

PERSON's Avatar Comment 18 by PERSON

The thing people seem not to get is that people with the same mental tendencies are both capable of functioning perfectly (or at least somewhat) well or developing a dangerous belief system and it seems to me this is a almost wholly a function of external factors. The concept of inherent mental sickness is misleading in this case, and used as a way to whitewash the real consequences of toxic, eliminative ideology. Why don't Muslim killers get labeled as mentally ill so Islam can be excused?

Comment 17 by El Bastardo

Yeah, because you can't express a view without one.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 10:24:06 UTC | #577054

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 19 by irate_atheist

Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 12:03:04 UTC | #577077

PERSON's Avatar Comment 20 by PERSON

Un pronom, non? Pardonnez-moi, ma grammaire française est terrible.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 12:41:52 UTC | #577091

Dhamma's Avatar Comment 21 by Dhamma

What worries me the most is whenever someone's committed an atrocity such as raping a young girl that, without any prior knowledge of the perpetrator, people immediately call for his head. How will that ever solve future potential atrocities from occurring? People not wanting to learn and understand the perpetrator's background and disability is, I think, one reason we keep hearing about these events.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 12:48:54 UTC | #577097

mlgatheist's Avatar Comment 22 by mlgatheist

I have not seen anyone claim that all mental ill people are violent. However, to do what this guy did, can only be done by someone who is not mentally well.

A small number of ultra-right (wrong) media people have claimed that Mr. Jared Loughner was not religious and that was why he did this horrid thing. They claim that not being religious leaves a hole in you, that evil will fill. Yet the prisons are not filled with non-religious people, they are filled with religious people.

It is my thought that he will be found incompetent and therefore not tried, but put into a mental hospital. Eventually a quack psychiatrist will say that he is no longer mentally ill and he will be released. Once again he will have access to websites like Sara Palins' with cross-hairs over people’s names or addresses. Hear people like Rush Limbaugh and other crack pots telling him how dangerous liberals are. He will be able to get weapons. This is part of the price we pay to live in a free society.

I personally think that the mentally ill that kill people should be put down, like mad dogs.

Does that make me sound too radical?

It is what the Baptist minister, at the church I went to as a child, always said about mentally ill people who hurt or killed. It is possible that he had way to much impact on my impressionable mind.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 13:20:41 UTC | #577115

Reveille's Avatar Comment 23 by Reveille

i think there are two sides to this ... and they aren't mutually exclusive. Was this gentleman probably mentally ill in some way ... yes. Did the political rhetoric in America contribute to the type of atmosphere that would provoke a person like this ... probably yes.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 13:58:07 UTC | #577134

mellifera's Avatar Comment 24 by mellifera

Comment 13 by fuzzylogic :

It's quite clear based on his youtube videos alone that he is a paranoid schizophrenic, it doesn't take and expert to see that.

Throw in easy access guns and violent political rhetoric in the media and this is what happens.

Yes and no. My husband's brother in law (from his first marriage) is a paranoid schizophrenic, so he has had decades of experience dealing with the issue. Most paranoid schizophrenics are not violent, and have no violent tendencies. BIL hears voices--they tell him to eat chocolate, or they tell him that the food at his facility isn't kosher (it's not), or that he shouldn't go to the Y to exercise because it's the Young Mens CHRISTIAN association, and they will persecute him, a Jew. But he has never, in 30 years, shown even an iota of violence in response to his paranoia.

Some small percentage of paranoid schizophrenics are potentially violent (I won't look it up, but I believe it's single digits small). Should everyone with mental illness be tarred with the same brush? No. Should everyone who is mentally ill, with or without violent tendencies, get help? YES and YES and YES. In all the talk of gun control and Sarah Palin and all the rest, I've yet to hear something that says, "If US society took better care of its mentally ill, this wouldn't have happened." Yes, we need better gun laws, and yes, Sarah Palin needs to sit down and shut up already. But we also need to really give help to the mentally ill.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 14:07:56 UTC | #577140

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 25 by Carl Sai Baba

This article is kind of dumb. If only 1 in 20 crimes are committed by nuts, so what? This particular crime was committed by a guy who thought the government is controlling our minds with grammar books. Also, sane people, even mildly insane people, don't murder 9-year-olds in a spree shooting. If this guy had shot a politician alone, then we could argue about his motives, is he crazy or just misguided, did he have some special reason to target that politician, etc.

But when someone says "the government is controlling my brain and the world is going to end next year!" and then goes and shoots 20 people at a grocery store, I think quite a lot of people are qualified to play psychologist and say, "that guy was just fucking crazy".

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 14:27:29 UTC | #577149

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 26 by Mark Jones

Palin responds to the accusations, with rather bizarre choice of words.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 14:29:54 UTC | #577151

debaser71's Avatar Comment 27 by debaser71

Having actually worked with the mentally I know how random they can be. Granted I worked with people with serious medical problems not bullshit pop psychological issues.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 14:47:39 UTC | #577168

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 28 by hungarianelephant

Comment 26 by Mark Jones :

Palin responds to the accusations, with rather bizarre choice of words.

Have you ever heard any public statement from Palin that could not be described as "bizarre"?

Anywaaaay - the point I was going to make is that I just don't see the supposed demonisation. It seems a reasonable inference that someone who goes on a shooting spree is not in his right mind, and can be fairly described as "crazy". How exactly does this imply that all "crazy" people are violent potential mass-murderers? It's surely obvious to everyone that there are lots of mentally ill people around and very few of them ever kill anyone.

It's perfectly sensible to point out that the mentally ill are more likely to be the victims of violence than the instigators, that they are much more likely to be homeless, imprisoned, drug addicts or all three, that the standard of mental health care in most countries is woeful, and that there is a general lack of public understanding of the implications of mental health problems. All these things are true, and by any reasonable standard they are far more urgent social issues than most of the ones that governments obsess over. What I can't see is how not speculating about the mental health of gunmen is supposed to make the slightest difference.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 14:53:43 UTC | #577175

Zalvation's Avatar Comment 29 by Zalvation

“The peace that God provides!” He sure didn’t provide much that day. There’s nothing quite like an American politician campaigning on the coat tails of a terrible tragedy. Palin sounds as sanctimonious as one would expect. Interesting to note that taking her time to reflect on the tragedy and praying for guidance her initial response was bewilderment (“puzzled”). Shouldn’t a Christian be immediately gripped by abhorrence or grievously saddened. No! Palin takes an extra moment to be “concerned” (what about?). And finally wallowing after her bewilderment and concern comes “sadness”, though not for the victims but at the irresponsible statements surrounding the issue of blame. How nice to see Christian politicians’ prioritize their feelings in such an acute, pragmatic manner. Only to be expected, I guess…

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 15:36:25 UTC | #577203

Randy Ping's Avatar Comment 30 by Randy Ping

Everyone is accting like crazy people like this need a reason to do something crazy. Thay don't. This guys ramblings were little other than word salad, it's all totally illogical. I'm just glad they haven't found a video game in his room, because the people who fear technology and computers would be blaming video games; just like the people who don't like guns are blamiong guns, the people who don't like democrats are blaming democrats, the people who don't like republicans are blaming republicans... the people who blame anyone other than the shooter are just trying to avoid their own feelings of partial culpability.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 16:01:59 UTC | #577218