tragedy can’t be summed up in two words

Since the tragic and unthinkable shooting in Connecticut the blog world has blown up with theories, ideas, solutions, anger, sadness, blaming, victimizing, politicizing and just about everything else you can think of about the shooter’s acts and actions. It has become a platform on which people can stand to further their causes or make their points. Within that is the issue of mental illness specifically personality disorders and autism spectrum disorders.

I posted the now viral blog “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother” on my facebook page. The blog basically details one mother’s experience of raising her mentally ill son who suffers from rage and has been known to threaten his mother with murder. She says that she truly believes that one day her son could become another Adam Lanza (the shooter from the Connecticut school). The blog has prompted all kinds of reactions within the mental health community. Many condemning this mother for adding to the horrible stereotypes that already surround mental illnesses particularly personality disorders and autism. Many of these stereotypes have been created and enhanced by the media as they are often quick to diagnose people who commit unthinkable acts with mental illnesses.

When I first heard the media referring to the shooter as having a personality disorder I felt a sick feeling in my stomach  A personality disorder is such a wide diagnose. Really it means nothing in this context. There are many such ‘personality disorders’ and the media offered no evidence for this conclusion or offered to define what a ‘personality disorder’ is. I know women who have been diagnosed with personality disorders. In fact one of the diagnoses I have is similar to a personality disorder. And these women are lovely, empathetic, good women who would never in a million years hurt someone. They are ‘normal’ (if normal can even be defined) who live and function in society. So for the media to carelessly throw around the term personality disorder is reckless and is directly adding to stereotypes that have existed for decades and in fact create new ones. And these new ones link people who suffer with personality disorders or autism spectrum disorder to horrible, horrible acts that CANNOT simply be explained by a two word diagnosis.

So why did I post the blog? Well, mostly because there are things that need to be changed with how society deals with mental illness and early signs of violent behavior. There needs to be more services offered. More help available for parents who deal with children who have extreme behavior problems. Psychiatric treatment instead of jail needs to be an option and someone should be able to receive help BEFORE they commit a crime and not after. And yes, mothers like the one who wrote the blog should be able to receive help and support.

But should such terms as personality disorder be thrown around recklessly in the media to describe a man’s action who no one can explain and never will be able to? No, they shouldn’t. His actions were pure evil. Not caused by a disorder or a diagnoses but by the evil that exists in this world. So please leave the diagnosing out of it and recognize that as much as we want to we can’t understand everything and not everything can be simply explained away. Somethings are unexplainable and incomprehensible  And this tragedy. This horrible, horrible event that took the lives of innocent children is one of them.

(for another counter perspective regarding the “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother’s” read this blog)


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