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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Why do our young go violently mad?

A friend to this blog, Bill Dash, sent an email that asks an important question which arises out of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre. The words below the asterisks are his (published here by permission); I'll have a comment or two afterwords.

* * *

Yes, something quite strange seems to be going on. I’m referring to the way the phenomenon of an individual going “postal” and committing mass murder has turned into an all but routine component of American life. It started out as an almost exclusively adult aberration, but over the past 15 years or so adolescents and college kids have increasingly become regular contributors to this bizarre cavalcade of butchery and the corresponding national drama of breast-beating and finger pointing that flares-up before fading away until the next one.

The overwhelming majority of the time the weapons of choice are firearms, though not always. Which really isn’t terribly surprising considering guns are the most efficient and convenient means for killing that’s available to civilians in our period of history. Why knock-off Caesar with a flintknapped obsidian knife, when you can use a razor sharp Roman gladius?

But not that many years back these sorts of wild killing sprees where an embittered individual massacres a bunch of strangers were basically non-existent, yet modern firearms then were as just as ubiquitous as now, if not more so.

Civilian semi-automatic pistols and rifles have been widely available since the early 1920s. In fact, back in the twenties and early thirties, in many parts of the country, anyone, I mean anybody who had the cash could saunter into a good hardware store, not a gun shop mind you, but an ordinary well-stocked hardware store and buy a brand new Thompson automatic sub-machinegun with a 50 round drum magazine and all the .45acp ammo you wanted. Sears sold them mail-order. Yet, apart from their notorious use in gangland wars (the Chicago typewriter) and by professional bandits like the Dillinger gang, Clyde and Bonnie Barrow or George “machine-gun” Kelly, as far as I can determine no submachine gun or gun of any sort was ever employed simply as a murderously efficient scythe for reaping a harvest of homicidal rage, involving complete strangers. I don’t claim to have conducted exhaustive research on the subject. Perhaps a case or two may exist, but if so that just further demonstrates how exceptionally rare that sort of crime used to be.

Not only have semi-automatic handguns, rifles and shotguns been around for about one hundred years or so, as a matter of fact, soon after World War Two, the American market became flooded with inexpensive war-surplus rifles and handguns.

(One memorable example: The year was 1959, I remember going downtown one Friday afternoon after school let out early, to my favorite NYC Army-Navy store and seeing a group of scruffy, bearded tough guys in olive drab combat fatigues buying a large number of surplus M1-Garrand rifles. Turned out they were Cuban guerrillas. At the time, high-quality surplus rifles were so inexpensive that it paid for Cuban revolutionaries to fly up to NYC and buy over-the-counter weapons.)

That widespread situation of plenty of low-priced surplus guns lasted right up till the mid-sixties. Homicidal-maniacs and serial-killers certainly weren’t exactly a rarity at that time. Why no impersonal mass-murders then, I wonder?

But the fact is you do not need semi-automatic guns to go on a blood-drenched killing spree. Magazine-fed, cartridge loading, multiple-shot rifles and revolvers have been commonly available to the public since the mid-1870s. Though not quite as efficient as modern semi-autos, these weapons were and still are perfectly suitable for conducting a rage fueled mass murder. But the indiscriminant and impersonal slaughter of strangers or workplace co-workers only started becoming a regular occurrence in the latter part of the 20th century.

So what changed Joe? Do you have any hunches as to what may have happened to give rise to this new category of human time-bomb: the disgruntled and/or deranged mass-murdering gunman ? And why is it that such murderously dramatic behavior never evidenced itself in earlier periods of American history when guns suitable for mass murder already existed and were commonplace ?

*  *  *

Cannon here, again. I'll add this. The Sandy Hook Elementary massacre was committed by a young man frequently -- though perhaps erroneously -- described as suffering from "Asperger's Syndrome." This tragedy follows hard upon a horrifying tableau in Wyoming, in which a young man named Christopher Krumm murdered his father in front of the father's students in a community college science class. Krumm blamed his father for passing on Aspergers.

Although this disorder has received a lot of gruesome publicity in recent days, it was unheard-of until the 1980s. Many experts doubt that Asperger's even exists; the DSM will drop its entry in its new edition.

I know a young boy -- the son of a friend -- commonly presumed (though not officially diagnosed) to have this disorder. He certainly displays many of the signs: The boy is highly intelligent, poorly socialized, lacking in empathy, and given to strange fixations and weirdly repetitive actions. His behavior is appalling. Worst of all, he seems to recognize no connection between the things he does/says and the punishment he receives. Neither a soft nor harsh approach to discipline works, because the outside world simply does not penetrate this boy's consciousness. Bright as he is, he cannot discern a linkage between cause and effect; when he shouts blood-curdling things at his mother, he seems genuinely surprised when sent to his room -- each and every time. My dog learns such things more easily.

When I was growing up, I didn't know any kids who acted in this fashion. Sure, many of my classmates were brats. Some were cruel, uncontrollable -- downright fiendish. But none were quite like this guy.

Is the Asperger's diagnosis simply trendy? A fiction? A psychiatric catch-all term? Or -- odd thought -- has human personality itself changed over the years?

I think that question links directly to the one Bill Dash has asked.

Added note: Adam Lanza, who was quite computer savvy, appears to have intentionally damaged his hard drive with a hammer. He would not have done so unless there were something on that drive he wished to keep people from knowing. That hard drive must have stored an electronic diary or the logs of online chats or something similar.

He knew that such evidence would be recoverable if erased.
What an absurd thing to say. I know lots of people with Aspergers who are kind, caring, and intelligent people. You are more accurately describing someone with Aspergers WHO HAS SOMETHING ELSE WRONG WITH THEM. Please don't carelessly fling around these labels without any real knowledge of the syndrome.
I've been puzzling on this same question on my own blog this week- yesterday's post. Ideas range from New Age (out there where the buses don't run)ideas, to rational ones such as degradation of water supplies and changes to the environment generally, psychotic drugs, anti-depressants, and more.

There's "something" for sure. I suspect it's not just a single "something" but a mix which affects some, a minority, of the relevant age group (13 to 27 ish) more than others, for some individual genetic reason..... causing them to pose a danger to others....maybe getting into sci-fi territory here?
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Susie, it remains an open question whether Aspergers even exists.

My real question is whether human behavior is a constant. Certainly individual personality can change over time. But is it possible for previously unknown psychological disorders to hit large sectors of the population?

As I noted, Asperger's is a recent term. Is it a new classification for something that has always existed? Or is the actual syndrome brand new?
I don't know of ANY expert who doubts Asperger syndrome exists. It's been around since 1943 or 1944 as a formal diagnosis, although the APA didn't recognize it until decades later. More than a few members of the APA are upset with what the APA is doing to it by incorporating it into autism spectrum.

A psychologist my brother saw as a requirement to get SSI said Asperger and regular autism are two separate things. Autism, he said, involves the left hemisphere of the brain, while Asperger involves the right. That is something I hadn't realized before, but then he is an expert in the field.

My brother, by the way, has been diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder, among other things, by this psychologist, while the previous one representing SS diagnosed him as Asperger. Many of the characteristics overlap. However, Asperger syndrome IS real.

Susie, let me put it another way. How is it possible for you to know "lots of people with Aspergers" -- when I didn't know ANYONE who acted that way until recent times?
I've known an Asperger's sufferer for quite a long time, Joseph. And indeed he is IN-sufferable, to put in simple terms. The savant-level knowledge of certain narrow topics, the unwelcome repetitions of arcane details from those fields, the complete lack of empathy or even awareness of others' feelings, the absence of even the most rudimentary social skills -- they're all fundamental aspects of his crippled personality and always on off-putting display. The now-repudiated clinical diagnosis fits him perfectly. But violent? Not this passive-yet-offensive dude. Some additional disorder, which he thankfully lacks, would need to be present for him to physically hurt anybody. Of course, such an additional malefaction/control mechanism could always be induced, were he to be "treated" by some mil-intel connected, "Jolly West" type of "therapist".
Mass murders were committed in the past by locking people into a church, barn or house and setting it on fire.

When trying to decide if a phenomena is becoming more frequent you have to use archival statistics, not memory. There is a tendency to confuse availability of an event in memory with frequency of occurrence of that event. My understanding is that these kinds of shootings are decreasing in frequency, not increasing. The ubiquitous coverage by the media makes it impossible for us to use our memories to judge how often this kind of thing happens.

Behavior always occurs in a context and that context changes over time and place. The incidences of disorders such as schizophrenia vary by culture so why not Aspergers? Things will settle down when diagnosis is done using brain scans instead of self-report or worse, report by parents, teachers or pediatricians. There is a market for drugs to treat these disorders so there is an increase in diagnosis. The overlap between criteria for Asperger's and identification of highly gifted children is chilling because it implies we are now stigmatizing those with high IQs, who do have social difficulties but not because they are brain disordered, but because they are so different from average people.

I too have more and more friends who are self-classifying as having Asperger's without any greater justification than applying a checklist off a webpage.
That's like saying autism rates have gone up, no one used to have it, when in actuality rates have gone up because we've gotten better at diagnosing it. With Asperger's people are diagnosed with a disease now, whereas we used to just call them "anti-social" or hundreds of other derogatory terms.
Maybe it's morphic resonance. Or, there was an article on slashdot the other week about people having been more intelligent a couple of thousand years ago for genetic reasons, and it's well known that cro-magnon had a better brain capacity than we do. So, could be cultural, could be genetic, could be epigenetic, could be environmental (heavy metal exposure, for example, is known to increase agression, amongst other things). Could be due to the spread of SSRI anti-depressants, which also cause suicidal and violent thoughts and actions when wrongly prescribed, as they are in about 90% of cases. Could be some MK-ULTRA dealy. Could just be copycat activity, the more media coverage of these sorts of events the more likely they are to be reproduced soon after.

Might I suggest that the primary reason why there didn't seem to be so many potential mass-murderers wandering about decades ago is that many of them might have been institutionalized.
Thimerosal (ostensibly inert mercury) in vaccinations has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with autism, either.

Even though the symptoms mimic mercury/heavy metal poisoning, there is, I repeat, NO connection.

Asperger's may be a milder form of autism, but it differentiates in the nervous system affect. Splayed legs, lack of motor coordination, many times with scoliosis.

The behaviors arise out of a reality separate from our own. We can't see the world they are reacting to ;ergo, our bewilderment. Imagine their level of bewilderment.

Joseph; I know you are not currently entertaining conspiracy theories with Adam Lanza, but two things.

!) Newtown has a very significant Jewish population.

2) The harddrive on his computer has been smashed and is reportedly unreadable. It would seem there is some way to read, wouldn't you think?

Can you concur on these two points? Having a difficult time separating links which repeat the usual stuff.

I don't see what religion would have to do with anything, Ben.

If you used a file-shredding program and THEN physically smashed a hard drive, a deleted file would be truly unrecoverable.
Joseph; My question had nothing to do with the Jewish religion......looking for motive.

I grow tired of the conflation of autism/aspergers with mental illness. The are cognitive disorders. Extraneous experiences could elicit, through trauma, a potentially violent response from Asperger's sufferers, but I can tell you, the only violence they normally are capable of is accidental through a fit of panic. And LOUD NOISES, especially gunfire, terrify them.

"Susie, it remains an open question whether Aspergers even exists."
Aspergers does exist, in the new revised DSM it will be within the Autism Spectrum, which many say will clump the higher functioning individuals with Aspergers Syndrome and they won't receive the necessary treatments/services they need.

I work with developmentally disabled people. Parents of children with Aspergers and Autism suffer/anguish greatly and try their hardest to find treatments and try to mainstream their children. Perhaps in your day, these children were not understood, dare I say they aren't understood today by our society who is so quick to judge.

The hard part of Aspergers is that these children are so bright, yet miss some things that may be ever so simple. They write, they compose, they love technology and within limits even social interaction. The latter being the hardest for them, but they seem to connect with pets quicker than with other human beings. Perhaps, pets don't judge and simply love them as they are, this maybe the rule for us to learn.

I hope that this tragic act of violence doesn't tarnish all children/adults with Aspergers and Autism and that we come to see that given the right treatment and services they are a joy and lovable as any child is.

A common human trait is to project on to previous times modern patterns of human reasoning and social behavior. We imagine ancient people behaving either just like us, as primitive savages, or as something between these two extremes. I suspect it's not as simple. If we traveled back to Viking or ancient Egyptian times I suspect we'd find patterns of human reasoning and behavior reassuringly similar to our own and yet some other behaviors disturbingly different. Clearly, most of the personal emotions and behaviors we find in Shakespeare, the Bible and our own times -- jealousy, rage, ambition, lust, deceit -- would be on full show but the social beliefs and practices in which these emotions are played out might differ dramatically. We might be looking at societies closely resembling religious cults or dysfunctional families where particular social falsehoods hold sway and are uncritically accepted and where leaders who are taken to be rational by their followers might appear to us as psychotic. Factors influencing these overriding social beliefs might include: vocabulary size, scientific knowledge, the extent of trade with other groups or over larger differences, specific religious beliefs, social hierarchy, economic practices, wealth and social behavior norms.

To give an example, the first modern explorers into Uganda in the 1850s found mini kingdoms that were quite sophisticated yet which had developed without any knowledge of the outside world. They had complex social hierarchies and social norms, economic security, and yet kings killed quite brutally and with the emotional reactiveness of two year olds, all of which was socially accepted. It was seen as quite reasonable, for example, for one king to burn to death 60 of his relatives who might lay claim to his throne, or because someone had made a minor social gaff. There was, however, no Hamlet self doubt anywhere to be seen.

I don't know what that tells us about any increasing frequency of young people 'going postal' but the key factors are the social belief factors mentioned earlier. In a world where we are all told we are no different to Oprah (and spoken to through our TVs in that manner) we come to think rather oddly about ourselves -- that we automatically should have Oprah's wealth, fame, social recognition and public acceptance. These beliefs are endemic and yet the real world sends mixed messages -- no jobs, widely differing youth subgroups, dysfunctional families with absent fathers, high prison populations, a culture that worships aggression as the means to individual achievement etc. These are very high powered mixed social messages. That, together with a lack of any overarching social rules about how to resolve these discrepancies, leads to people striking out on their own. They have the Hamlet self doubt but, without a means to resolve it, throw the blame on society.

One feature -- narcissism -- is very highly pronounced in our society and effects particular individuals and subgroups in varying degrees. I'm not convinced, for example, that Adam Lanza was mentally ill, as such (although he had some psychological assessments). Rather, I suspect he had been allowed by his parents to develop as isolated. Two effects followed: an increase in self pity (because his parents tolerated his emotional isolation) and an increase in social anger (according to his increasingly narcissistic sense that the world was betraying him). Adam enjoyed the saccharine self pity. Some narcissists have a medical basis; almost all of them, in one form or another when the covers are pulled off, are selfish little pricks.

We had the same problem in Australia a few years ago with a guy called Martyn Bryant who killed 35 people. In his case he had a very low IQ but had plenty of money and no reasons to restrain his ego or contrived sense of grievance.
" December 18, 2012, 2:10 pm1 Comment
Adam Lanza, Asperger’s and a Misleading Connection With Violence

1. Did Adam Lanza, who authorities have identified as the gunman in Newtown, Conn., ever receive a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome?
2. If so, would that be relevant?
3. And has The Times been scrupulously responsible in the way it has reported on this aspect of Friday’s massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School?

In brief, here are my conclusions, based on my own reading and a number of interviews and conversations this week.

1. Possibly.
2. It would not matter to the killing; it would help in understanding the personality and experiences of the gunman.
3. The Times’s early reporting and presentation of the information was well-intentioned but flawed. (It began to remedy those flaws in a blog post Monday afternoon but had not yet done so in print on Tuesday.)

This subject is important to many of those whose lives are affected by Asperger’s or other forms of Autism Spectrum Disorder. They are troubled and angered by how the topic has been treated in The Times and other news organizations over the past several days.

I hope this article get more exposure.
I worked at a boarding school for troubled teens a few years back and we had quite a few Aspergers students. The lack of empathy and rationality at times, all while being highly intelligent was the main character trait I noticed among them. Note this was a school for 'troubled' teens so I am not saying all aspergers are this way, just the ones who had already gotten into enough problems to be sent to us. Anyways, the most intelligent one among them was a young man who was an absolute Bush fanatic. He had an autographed picture of him above his bed, carried a constitution in his pocket at all times (and was quick to pull it out to try and use its 'rights' to get him privileges or out of duties. He craved power of any sort, was manipulative as all get out, and was always hatching plans to escape, etc. But at the same time he was a nice enough fellow, somewhat introverted while also managing to be a ringleader. After we discovered his letters home threatening to kill his mother and then everyone at our school, I changed my opinion on how nice I thought he was.

I remember being a youth and reading Stephen Kings 'Rage' about a kid who goes into his school and shooting it up, and came away with sympathy. King does a great job of capturing some of what may be going through some of these guys heads.

Before these schools though I remember McDonalds and Luby's incidents, then the whole 'Going Postal' phase.

If you look at the UT Clock Tower shooter, Cho from Virginia Tech, Gabbie Giffords shooter, Batman Theatre guy, Sandy Hook nut, Pennsylvania Amish school invader, and gunmen in various Scottish or German schools int he past twenty years these guys are so similar in mannerisms and behavior.

Then there are the Columbine or other attention seekers that are more in line with a McVeigh or East Coast Sniper mindset.

And last theres the truly bullied, who really do snap at some point.

It truly does not boil down to just one thing. But I think the Cho or Lanza mindset is truly becoming more prevelant whatever the reason. Is it a coincidence that most of them grew up in a time of war? Did 9/11 and the violent years that followed become some sort of 'dark passenger'?(to quote from the book/show 'Dexter').
I'm an older person who was also designated as a so called "gifted" person in my youth. To be honest, I cannot remember anyone who would today be stigmatized with the term Aspergers. And btw, for anyone who qualified it as a disease, it is not a disease. It cannot be transmitted, no one else can catch it, it is not a disease.
In my lonely part of the world, I did manage to make friends, although in their thoughts I was a bit of a freak. After all, how many of your classmates can be right all of the time? It doesn't create a good climate for making friends. I was called a blue stocking, a brown noser - every insult under the sun, yet I was shy, withdrawn and had to be asked directly by the teacher for a response - even so I was the centre point for ridicule. The first time I met someone who was far beyond my abilities I was ecstatic - someone creepier than me, hooray and he was brilliant and even stranger than I was. This fellow could look at a math equation and solve it immediately. He could look at an experiment and point out the weaknesses, he advanced theories that his teachers didn't credit, but were amazing. He committed suicide. I don't know why young people today do the destructive things that they do, but I do understand the external and internal pressures that press upon them. I don't agree with their actions - I tried to kill myself 3 times - but I understand to a degree. Sometimes there is no one to turn to - no one who understands, no one who will listen and take heed. Just me of course, but that's my experience.
"they won't receive the necessary treatments/services they need."

IMO, Asperger's grow into our reality. My youngest has never been diagnosed, but I, anecdotally, have treated him, as such. He was diagnosed ADHD, which these days is almost meaningless because it it a blanket diagnosis to make it easier for treatment protocols.

Problems arise when treatment for ADHD is ad reducto for Aspergers because the chemicals often have side effects such as hallucinations, which Aspergers hardly need.

Anecdotally, after my own research, I prescribed organic milk, as milk often has extreme concentrations of mercury, and symptoms seemed to diminish. But the salient issue is TIME, and patience. He is 20 now and almost functional, except he has had three jobs and been fired, (inefficiency) from each. I don't know how personal your connection to the afflicted is, but I applaud your commitment, and give you my thanks for that.


HT; Any recollections of Bullying?

That, IMO often is culpable in the socialiization difficulties, and could have some relevance in the potential for violence.

This is probably the wrong thread to throw this fact into the mix, but FWIW facebook has begun suspending the accounts of people who question the official story of what happened at Newtown. Three days suspension for not being a good little sheep and accepting the stories that you have been told by those who know best. Repeated violations could result in double secret probation.
"Lack of empathy" is a problematic term. If someone is cognitively not on the same page, he or she may not have the same emotional response as others because emotion arises from cognitive appraisals. One person sees a bear and feels fear, another sees also that the bear is taxidermy and feels no fear. Does the second person have a lack of empathy? High IQ people are often accused of not having emotion because their reasoning leads them to interpret situations differently, which results in different emotions. A true "lack of empathy" should arise across a variety of situations, even ones that are universal, before people start using such a derogatory label. Remember the Ikea ad where the narrator says "Silly viewers, it is just a lamp, it has no feelings." Would someone who fails to imaginatively attribute feelings of loneliness to the lamp and identify with it be suffering from a "lack of empathy" or an excess of reasonableness?

These diagnoses are culture-bound and grossly unfair to divergent people. In order for a classification in the DSM to apply to someone, it first has to cause that person significant problems in living or it is just part of human diversity. I think we have decreased dramatically in our willingness and ability to tolerate diversity, especially in cognition and emotional response.
Ben - yes I was bullied - unmercifully ergo the first time I tried to kill myself. For someone who was supposed to be really smart, I didn't do a good job. It was unrelenting because I was different. I later learned to tone down everything. I studied other people and learned how to adapt. It was not pleasant, yet it was what I had to do to survive. I can understand why youngsters do stupid things, but I cannot understand those who kill others. I wanted to kill myself - I never thought about hurting other people. That I do not understand. I hope that answers your question.

Thanks, HT.

The reason i asked is that my son was bullied, and if there is a positive for Asperger's victims . it's their intelligence and ability to adapt. He showed a great ability to face his fears, as well. When he was twelve he conned his way into paintball, by telling us he just wanted to watch. Next thing we knew he was competing in tournaments. Then it was water polo.
I had tried and tried to teach him to swim for years, and he was like a wounded duck, slapping the water with his flipper. Water polo, I thought, what is he thinking?

He made the HS team after Hell Week, then lost his team number when he didn't make grades. Don't know why I'm detailing this. it might ring a bell for you or someone, I guess.

Aspergers may not be a "disease" but it's real. My cousin married a man with Aspergers, and one of their sons has it, and the other is full-blown autistic. The man's niece also suffered from it, and committed suicide. Personality disorders run in families not because it's learned behavior, but because it's inherited. I don't know what they call autism, it's more severe than a "personality" disorder, but it's a spectrum, these disorders. Maybe it does have to do with an evolutionary change. Moreover, there are many families with multiple kids with these disorders. It's not a matter of society suddenly "labeling" the odd. I think it's criminal for parents to keep trying for "normal" kids...or even to keep producing children they know most likely will be disordered.

Although rage episodes might be tied to some of the disordered kids, I would say the meds are a major factor. At the very least, it should've been a topic of discussion and exploration long before now.

we've got people, mostly male, doing mass killings; people, mostly males, doing serial killings; people, mostly male, doing spousal violence and killings; people, mostly male, doing rapes; people, mostly male, doing sexual abuse of children. Gee, what does all this tell us.
How many simulated murders does the average child in the US watch on TV per day, day in, day out, throughout their childhood? US social conditions are sick, and as I was trying to say in another post here, this provides some explanation of why so many people in the US go to church.

Prowlerzee - I disagree. It's environmental, socially caused; you can't reasonably posit 'evolutionary change' over say 3-4 generations.

I don't know the average age of people who post comments here. Probably over 40. A lot of us probably have children. How many of us have never caught ourselves unnecessarily reproducing in the direction of our children some of the less than pleasant aspects of the way (at least one of) our parents related to us?
Anon - on your point about its mainly being males who do these things, why don't you try to answer your own question? Modern capitalist society is sick. OK that's a trite observation, but it's true nonetheless, and it's less trite than saying 'blame men'. Most males are brought up mostly by women. Many mothers encourage macho attitudes among their male offspring. "The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world." Long live home education!
LieparDestin said "If you look at the UT Clock Tower shooter, Cho from Virginia Tech, Gabbie Giffords shooter, Batman Theatre guy, Sandy Hook nut, Pennsylvania Amish school invader, and gunmen in various Scottish or German schools int he past twenty years these guys are so similar in mannerisms and behavior."

I haven't looked at most of those cases, but when you refer to Scotland you presumably have in mind the murders committed by Thomas Hamilton in Dunblane, who slaughtered 16 children aged five and six. He was a 43-year-old scout leader. I don't know what mannerisms and behaviour he exhibited which were similar to those of Adam Lanza - probably very few. Some of the papers in Dunblane were ordered to be kept secret for 100 years, and there is a possibility of a link to high-level organised paedophile crimes including other murders. That was not a case of a youngster going postal - there haven't been many British cases of that kind, although one did take place in Hungerford in England.

It was in the aftermath of the Dunblane killings that legislation was enacted in the UK which banned private ownership of most handguns.
Emotions and empathy are two different things. Emotions are primary, Read up on the research of neuroscientist JaakPanksep the origins of emotions. You can actually trigger them with deep cortical stimulation.
Empathy however is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. A hunter can understand why a non hunter would fear a bear, those lacking empathy do not understand why what they do to others should be punished, the other does not exist like they do. Children under the age of three typically lack empathy, it develops as a trait at or around three years of age. In some, it never develops.

Going out on a lomb but I believe many of these disorders are a direct result of the proliferation of toxic chemicals in our food chain, water supply and the air we breathe. Some have greater genetic sensitivity (allergies, etc) to those elements.

Just sayin....

You know, I saw an anti-feminist yesterday claiming the shooting was down to feminism, I didn't read the whole thing, something to do with divorce or something, and I wondered how long it would be until I saw a crazy feminist blaming it on men.

Yes, men commit most violent crime. And do most worthwhile things in the world, too. There are more male geniuses, more male mental patients. More male heroes, more male violent criminals. It's not so much that men are more likely to do good or bad, as that men are more likely to do anything. That, and men tend to fall more towards the end of pretty much any bell curve, probably because the single X chromosome allows the expression of more recessive gene traits. That, and societal pressure to be more active.

But women do crimes too. Women do spree killings too. Women are also just as likely as men to rape or murder children, to brutalise and beat their partners, and are considerably more likely to beat and abuse children. So female spree killers tend to kill their children, female serial killers get into positions of trust like nursing and kill their patients. Female serial killers often seem to be particularly prolific, in fact.

So I don't think whatever point Anonymous was trying to make is relevant to this. Certainly men are more likely to be violent towards strangers, but women can also wish to "shoo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oot, the whole day down", and do so.
I just heard an interesting call on Ed Schultz suggesting that the shooter may have suffered from Lyme rage. He pointed out that Lyme disease is endemic in Connecticut, so it is quite reasonable to check to see if the shooter had it. I have no idea how to evaluate this claim, although I do know that Lyme disease can manifest as Lyme meningitis and otherwise affect the nervous system. Anyway, I found an article on the subject at Perhaps someone with more medical knowledge than I can say something more authoritative.
FYI- DYSLEXIA was also removed from the DSM. Doesn't mean it doesn't exist, though.

Since I am so late into this I will just leave it at that.
Since there ALWAYS seems to be second-shooter descriptions in the early, mainstream-media reports of "lone-nut" killing sprees, I'm beginning to suspect that the MK-Ultra style choreographers of these public mindset-traumatizing events WANT those initial assassin-assistance reports to briefly circulate, deliberately PLANT such ephemeral narratives via the perps' covert assets in the news agencies, and then let the unwitting law-enforcement officers on the scene predictably respond with their official denials. The lingering suspicions that subsequently circulate only serve to exacerbate the ongoing destabilisation of our society -- opening it ever wider to the seemingly inevitable, popular embrace of the promised "security" of the next Reich.

I just scanned 36 comments, and I see everyone obsessively focused on what is/isn't asberger's and everyone glazed over the important point of this post: Its about mental health and a declining state in our society. Its not about guns, or if a diesease fits DSM IV standards, its about declining society and what do we do abotu that.

As a bonafide Internet "gun nut," and one who's struggled with his own depression, its nice to see people worrying about the cause of violence, not the method in which it is acted out.

You should remember that when its time to consider how we treat things one person may like that you do not, because someday its going to be video games, erotic literature, or something else that you might hold dear on the chopping block.
Well, part of this is in error, the notion that people didn't do this kind of thing in the past is simply incorrect. Google "Harpe Brothers" for a nasty example. Or search for "revolutionary war rapes", or "Tory rape gangs". So the notion that "it didn't happen before" is simply wrong. There was however a period in which such was greatly reduced. And that was the period during which mentally ill persons were removed from their families and warehoused. Certainly, I quite agree that most of the mentally ill are not dangerous, BUT and a very important BUT, you almost never find a mass shooter who did not display clear signs of mental illness. Both of those statements are perfectly true, and resolving that dilemma is what must happen. And hopefully soon.
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