Lets Agree to Disagree…Mental Illness and Violence
I recently received a response from a blog colleague who’s beliefs are different than mine. It is normal for people to have different views on things, and everyone’s views are welcome. This is my version of agreeing to disagree…
Dear 5KWD, I wonder if you would have any insight on the following. After doing a smattering of research I learned that virtually every mass shooter on record was taking antidepressant psychiatric drugs when they “went off”. The news media and many posting here are examining the mental illness angle, but we know that depression, asbergers, etc, does not cause homicidal behavior. However, it seems very plausible to me that these FDA approved psychiatric drugs, which have known side effects, may be inducing this behavior. I think it’s the drugs, not the mental illness. This makes way more sense to me than the idea that sometimes formerly quiet, law-abiding people are randomly “going off” and shooting rooms full of children. artandlifenotes.wordpress.com
I agree that every mass murderer may have been on antidepressants. It would go along with my theory that they have underlying psychiatric conditions. All of my adopted children are on psych meds. My oldest daughter has attention deficit disorder. Prior to medication, she couldn’t pay attention, she was flunking school, she couldn’t pay attention to read a book, and she developed sever anxiety over her inability to function “normally”. Once on medication, (which includes an antidepressant,) she brought her grades up to straight A’s, attended college, and has a career in her chosen field. I understand that some people would say that the side affects of medication would outweigh the benefits, she calls me from time to time to bring her medication to work because she forgot it, and she cannot concentrate to do her job. My middle son, who was born addicted to cocaine, has been diagnosed with a variety of mental illnesses, but I personally like to give him just one: his brain and wiring is screwed up due to his prenatal exposure to drugs. As an infant he would flail about and injure himself, he rarely slept, wouldn’t eat, and climbed out of his crib by 9 months old. (He couldn’t walk, but he could climb!) He would run around destroying anything in his path. Without psych meds, it would have been impossible for him to attend school because he surely would have climbed out the bus window! My youngest son, who was severely abused in his early childhood, has Dissociative Identity Disorder, (previously called Multiple Personality) a condition in which a child withdraws within himself/herself when abused, sort of “blacks out”, so to speak, but another part of the brain still feels the affects of abuse. That other part remains in his “psyche”. Hidden. Buried. Showing itself from time to time in an angry, violent outburst, often requiring hospitalization. Without psych meds, he would not be able to function as well as he does. He would be encompassed by deep depression and obsessive thoughts. My youngest daughter has severe attention deficit disorder, and cannot sit still or pay attention without medication. Similar to my youngest son, she was abused as a child. Her hidden demons come back in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, tearful, angry aggression, often on herself, but sometimes against others. Without psych meds, she would not be able to function. She still has PTSD and “episodes”, but they are far less frequent than when she was not on medication and it would be a daily thing.
I understand people have different opinions about psych meds, but in my family, without them, it would have been impossible for my children to live life “normally”. I know that there may be side affects, but the side affects are far less intrusive on their lives than their mental health issues. The doctor always goes over the possible side affects, and not a single child has ever indicated they bother them.
Regarding your concept of not believing the idea that sometimes formerly quiet, law-abiding people are randomly “going off” and shooting rooms full of children, again, I can only point to my own children. Childhood abuse, even verbal abuse, and non-loving parents, can permanently harm a child’s developing psyche. Permanently. Even counseling and medication may not be able to fully quiet the demons hidden in a child’s brain. My son, who is the sweetest, nicest, most generous boy, often displays his “angry part”, a part so vile and violent that it reminds me of Linda Blair in the Exorcist. He is unrecognizable and so angry that violence surrounds him…sometimes resulting in a call to 911 for assistance with restraining and hospitalization. For my daughter with PTSD, her episodes are more invasive. The slight touch, smell, or thought can cause her to fall back into anger of abuse, and she dissociates and becomes violent. She is not herself…well, that’s not true because even when she is having flashbacks she is herself, but the self as a young child being abused. Regarding the randomness of violence, case in point: she was recently arrested for “assaulting a police officer with a deadly weapon” when he charged towards her to get her to stop flailing about and screaming. (She ripped a board off the wall and tried to ward him off.) She is living in a restrictive, “locked” facility with staff trained in behavior modification and restraints, but her behavior has horrified and shocked them. It is not her fault, she cannot control it, but she is very violent. Other people looking at her would never think such a sweet, friendly child could harbor such demons.
I know many people not exposed to individuals who are mentally ill to the serious degree of my children would find it hard to believe they just “snapped”. No one never knows if a person who appears to be “normal and quiet” is really “normal and quiet” underneath. I believe wholeheartedly that one has to have a mental illness, even if undiagnosed, to be a mass murderer. I believe no one in his/her “right” mind could possibly do such a thing! Of course, this is just my one biased opinion. I can understand, though, that there are different sides to every story. Let’s just “agree to disagree”!
The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane by Linda Petersen.