Dr. Spudman44

Dr. Spudman44
Tumbleweed, Washington,
June 06
Dr. Spudman's 44 Ripples of Hope Creations
BANNER BY RICTRESA I live on the border of Eastern Washington and Idaho. I have been a teacher, coach, and mental health worker. I make books for people and write some myself. I tutor a few people. Come visit me at my website. It has some cool stuff. Scroll down to links and click on www.drspud44.net


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Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 9, 2011 3:36PM

A Schizophrenic Becomes Psychotic & The Nation Goes Nuts

Rate: 60 Flag

 This entire post is an educated guess on my part.  I think I am right but I do not have the right to make a diagnosis without more information.  I am highly alert to symptoms of schizophrenia and somewhat skilled at recognizing them. 

A mentally ill young soul fell into a psychotic blackout and attended an event in an Arizona grocery parking lot on a Saturday morning.  The voices he was hearing had convinced him that he needed to kill.  He listened.  He opened fire with an automatic weapon.  Seconds later, six people were dead and thirteen more had been rushed to the hospital.  A Congresswoman, a social worker, a respected and admired federal judge, three people in their late seventies and a nine-year old girl were quickly pronounced as dead.

I read the rantings of this man from his YouTube posting and recognized the signs and symptoms immediately. He was obviously suffering from feeling persecuted, believed in unreal, wild conspiracies and his words were unorganized and illogical. His thinking showed grandiose, distorted thinking.  I am not a doctor but I have worked with adult schizophrenics for a full decade and the signs and symptoms fit the profile.  Add his age, 22, and I am convinced with some certainty that he is probably a man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and had fallen into the deep, dark hole of a psychotic blackout.  This baffling disorder hits with frightening strength at around the ages of 18-22.  It often starts with hallucinations, often more auditory than visual but both can happen.

Many schizophrenics go through an odyssey during this age.  They use drugs or alcohol to try and stop the voices or visual distortions which can be absolutely terrifying to experience.  They end up homeless, in jail or if lucky,  in a mental institution.  They may try psychotropic medications but often stop.  They are paranoid and scared most of the time.  The line between reality and fantasy becomes completely blurred.  They take a regular emotion and amplify it by a hundred times.  They feel normal things and experience normal things with an intensity that is hard for us to imagine. It is like someone turned up the volume all the way and beyond.  I have seen it, this disorder, at work up close and personal both in my professional and private life.

I have seen people really cover their windows with blankets and tinfoil and live in darkness.  I have heard people complain that the radio in the car was talking directly to them--sometimes even announcing their name. People have told me that characters on television speak to them directly and often in mean tones with demeaning messages.  I have talked down a friend in a psychotic blackout who was hiding in the bushes whispering to the CIA holding a car antenna in his hand.  One of my clients demanded that his parents move all the furnishings from the house out on the lawn so he could rearrange them in the proper order.  When his parents refused,  this normally peaceful young kid, twenty at the time, grabbed a butcher knife and threatened his father.  It took six cops to restrain him. 

One of my clients, before he was under my care, ran seventeen miles to come and find me even though I had only met him one time before.  One was found roaming in a Seattle park eating leaves. Another saw a lawyer's commercial on television trolling for people who had experienced the side effects from Zyprexa, the very drug he was taking and literally freaked out.  One told me that the first thing he experienced in his late teens dealing with his disease was the coyotes howling his name and mocking him with their howls out in his isolated country home.  Another ate two boxes of rat poison, and one stripped naked, grabbed a flag and was waving it in a crosswalk by an elementary school because he had just seen a television show on abused kids and wanted to help.  

Can you imagine the terror of some of these experiences that seem unreal, perhaps even a bit amusing by their absurdity but are more than real to them?  Can you imagine voices talking to you as clearly as a voice from a dear friend, suddenly and from seemingly nowhere?  Schizophrenics kill themselves at ten times the national average. They may attack on rare occasions when they see someone's face turn into the devil which happened in my little town where an untreated man attacked a man he had known for years and lopped off his head with a pocket knife. And now this poor soul, Jared Loughner, has killed and maimed people.

The sadness for me is that I know it all could have been prevented.  Psychotropic medications are really miracle drugs to many.         ( Spare me the drug lecture- I know more about prescribed drugs-both the good and evil than anyone you will ever meet)   They take away the signs and symptoms, the voices, the distortions and with some guidance people can live independent, satisfying,  even productive lives.  Most of my seven clients, five of them, live in one group home in my area.  Tom has been stable for fifteen years with just the occasional episode, none violent.  Sly has been free and independent for the last six years with some frequent guidance and help after spending most of his life before coming to the group home in jail or mental institutions.  The last client that I recently had to help go to the hospital was a young man, 21, who simply quit taken his meds suddenly,  his behavior became bizarre and he began  talking of taking his own life.  The point being, that schizophrenia can be treated and successfully.  Three of my seven clients work part-time.  All roam the community freely and without incidents.  I love them all like brothers. 

Now, they will demonize Jared Lee Loughner.  Many will coldly say that he should be executed and that mental illness is not an excuse.  Who knows what set him off.  It could have been an number of things, the possibilities are endless.  But one must ask--why this particular event?  Why did he feel compelled to attend this event?  He obviously planned it out so there had have  been  some reason.  He wasn't  randomly roaming around and suddenly, impulsively,  decided to open fire.  No, he picked this event, this Congresswoman, specifically on which to focus. 

We are all guessing about this.  Is there a direct line from Simple Sarah Palin's words and deeds?  Nobody can say with any certainty but is it an accident or an amazing coincidence that he targeted Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' event?  Drive  around Tucson, or anywhere in America and there are the voices of hatred.  The Michael Savage radio show where he has been calling liberals evil, crazy and traitors for years.  Go into a book store and there are book titles screaming about how terrible and dangerous liberals are to America.  Go in a hotel lobby and there is Fox News with the images of liberals ruining America and racist, false accusations repeated in the exact same phrases over and over again.  The hatred is like a vapor and is always around like a morning fog that never disappears.  If this environment didn't affect this particular kid's actions it will have an impact on some other sick, injured mind and soul.  Words are worlds and live on way after the sound quits vibrating. 

I traveled to numerous websites and watched the television coverage and was just as horrified by the comments as I was by the horrid murders. There is no doubt to me anymore that this is a country being destroyed by the right wing zealots who cannot and will not just disagree and debate with whom they have conflict.  No, they demonize guys who have my view of the world.  They call us vicious names and shout, never just talk, always shout how right they are and how misguided we on the left side of things are.  Some, like the New York Times that reported that the Daily Kos had scrubbed a negative portrayal of Gabrielle and thus was just as guilty as Sarah Palin and her cross-hair deal, (a total and complete lie) present the view that all are equally guilty.  I guess the Times doesn't want to lose any advertisers over this.  People were jumping as fast as they could to try and spin this as either a left-winger killing his own or that both sides were equally to blame. I call bullshit.


The majority of the comments on Yahoo News, which I have deleted from my computer forever after yesterday, were crazed right-wing comments like these: 

I guess when Obama called all Conservatives his Enemy he made a big Mistake.

The other suspect is probably the shooter's CIA handler. The Agency's been getting real sloppy lately.




This is just a ploy by Liberals to try to silence their opposition. They know that they are on the ropes, as their ideas are devoid of any common sense, and are not anchored in reality.

Liberals have brought nothing but ruin down on the country, and everyone knows it, so they are using this tragedy to shift blame.

Get used to it you commies.  We will get you all.

There were hundreds more along the same line but you get the point. 

From my writing site, Open Salon, a personal favorite comment. 

" I hope all of your children die and you never have  grandchildren."  (An open message to all liberals on an article asking for all people to not rush to judgment)

From Andrew Sullivan's blog this one heard in Costco from a woman after early,  false reports of the Congresswoman's death were announced:

"Oh, does that mean we get a Republican now?" 

Remember these signs? 

I dare you to find a liberal equivalent. 

 Republicans are supporting this vile environment even when not directly involved.  It is not that all are culpable at the same level.  That is a falsehood.  Republicans created this America. The one where you hate and demonize your fellow Americans.   What  happened to: "We the people"?  

I fought for years and years against the Republicans who were opposed to granting mental health parity in our health care system to those with mental issues.  The most notable of these anti-mental health voices was none other than one John McCain. McCain was one of the biggest advocates for the insurance companies efforts to fight against mental health care parity starting in with his 1996 vote against the first bill on this issue that passed Congress.  Even Bush actually ended up supporting mental health parity and set up a commission to take on the issue in 2002 while McCain kept up his fight to defeat all efforts at changing this discriminatory practice and carried the water for the insurance companies. I heard these type of things:

 "Seems like everyone is bi-polar, depressed or schizophrenic nowadays."

"How can a supposed mental illness be on par with a broken leg?"

"It is mostly a matter of personal discipline or a lack of discipline."

The kid will probably end up being thrown in prison or executed.  That is what the profile of this case will demand.  Was the  constant violent bluster the cause?  Nobody will ever know but if you believe in the amplification of feelings and events and words like I do that the schizophrenic mind is open to then it had to have been a factor.  Not a fact; it is only my opinion.  

Yesterday was a shocking day to me and frankly more from the comments on the various websites than the event itself.  A segment of our fellow citizens are not content with just disagreeing with us but hate us, demonize us, and demand that we view the world from their point of view only.  That is a fact not an opinion.  It is a sad time when Americans shoot other Americans. 

I watched Jack Ruby murder Oswald on live television.  Robert Kennedy was murdered on my seventeenth birthday.  Martin Luther King's and JFK's murders are seared into my brain.  The exceptionalism of America was that we solved our differences at the ballot box not by killing one another.  

In a more enlightened, compassionate, wise society Jared's problems would have been noticed, examined and treated.  Mental illness is real not some imagined thing thought up to excuse horrific behaviors.  The nation will debate this while thousands more with similar disorders wander our big city streets or hide out in rural communities.  

Why are problems that could be solved allowed to exist?  The grand divide in America is that one group, liberals- want to make the world a better place while another entire group think things are just dandy the way they are.  One group stops to help those who trip in life and the others mock them for stumbling.  

I am sad today because I have become more hateful toward the haters.  That is a contradiction I know, believe me. 

 Share the love; fight the hate--a quote from one of my guys.

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It seems that this very young man managed to dodge any of the very complex and detailed evaluation that has to go on.

I don't see where he has a diagnosis of any mental disorder at this time, let alone schizophrenia.

As a result, this will take time. We have had so many tragedies from people who ARE diagnosed and who beg for help.

Their families beg for help, but many are turned away and the patient goes out and wreaks havoc. Breaks me heart.
So what say you about these talking heads and nasty politicians..???
Are they not from the tinfoil window covering crowd too?
All of these people are guilty from fathers to those that lead the population. They start the hate and it is like a bad plague.
I hope someone finds the remedies.
rated with hugs
Spud, there are haters on both sides. I really hope we don't let the haters win.
I only briefly turned on the tube and less than an hour three hours after it was announced was enough for me.
I heard words throw at the shooter and his mental state that were well over the top. I read some of the same verbal trash being throw in comments all over the internet.
Now it appears the mentally ill will be scapegoated for much. I got a bi-polar daughter with a borderline personality disorder as well.
This post is well worded Spud and I TY for the common sense here.
:( A national tragedy has been turned into a media circus and a political witch hunt is what not only saddens me but scares me as well, we are a nation sitting on top of a ready to explode powder keg.

Both sides need to watch what they say, even if this shooting hadn't come to pass, both sides need to grow the f*ck up!!!!!!!!!!
Yeah, there are haters on both sides. I am now one of them. The right-wing Neo-Cons want to destroy everything I hold dear in my life. I am tired of being tolerant and have the only words heard in all the screaming be the ones from the Republicans. Neo-Cons hold all of us Americans in scorn and are anything but conservative. Fox News is a Neo-Con network, pure and simple.
Your right this will take time to sort out but the sorting is going to be spun also. There are many everywhere with there own delusional theories of why, how and who's to blame. 6 young African American teens were in a car last night at a gas station and a man approached and opened fire killing 2 girls and wounding the rest. The suspect is at large still. St Louis 2 days ago. Senseless violence, senseless reasoning. People need to be writing DC to everyone there making laws, flood there systems with everything imaginable. There is an answer and people better start realizing it starts with them and all those around you. Fine post DrS, I have stayed out of this fray today only reading some really bizarre shit. Be well my friend....o/e
It's tempting to fall into the trap of meeting hate with hate but that's part of what got us here.

We thinking people need to lead with the power of our thoughts, not the volume of our voices.

We also need to to learn something the Quakers learned long ago: the power of the shun. The outrageous voices have no power if no one listens.
This is so sad, and you are so right about the false equivalency. We know where the hate comes from. Sometimes I think those in the media depend on the mental instability of others to carry their message.
Thanks for this helpful perspective.
(((Spud))) Thanks for all you do, and for being kind.
If this young man, who was expelled from school, known to be psychotic bought a gun how? Is there a question here how the proliferation of guns in our society, bought by anyone.. I just don't know the answer here.
Hate is just so easy you need no understanding, you don't need to offer help, you just hate. It is much easier for sheeple to embrace. I understand your hate well though. They have no idea the ruin they are about to bring upon everyone.
Of all the posts I've read about the shootings on OS, this is the best and comes closest to my own thoughts. People who try to determine Loughner's politics miss the point. I lived through all the assassination attempts in the 1960s-1970s, another time of political vitriol, and most of the shootings were done by loners whose political philosophies that were a jumble. They responded to an environment that seemed to encourage violence.
Spud, I get that he could be mentally ill and that you especially know it when you see it.

But how, from deep in the throes of his psychotic breakdown and concurrent spree did he summon the clarity to invoke his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination? One would think he'd be only too eager to justify and celebrate his actions... or be unable to stop himself from doing so.
It's always admirable to try to enlighten at a time like this. I am in the dark about this man and many facts of the case i.e was he a right winger? So, I have no idea what really motivated him, but your compassion and attempt at understanding can't be a bad thing.
I have many thoughts on this whole thing but amid mad times like this I choose my focus more carefully than ever. The words "Don't speak too soon for the wheel's still in spin" keep coming to mind.

Regarding mental illness I find enlightened, compassionate voice here. Doc. Although the hate seems contagious, don't let the haters infect your heart.
I too am begining to be afraid of people that previously just seemed to have a very different worldview than mine. I don't know where this will end. It feels like the beginning of a new not-so-civil war--and it doesn't need to be that way.

And I cannot even begin to say how much I wish there were better awareness and resources for those who are seriously mentally ill.
Sally--I do not have the answers. I could be completely wrong. But I doubt it. I based my post on my interpretation of his incoherent words on YouTube. I have no right or business to do a diagnosis which I should have made more clear. I am guessing but I think my guess may indeed be valid. He is probably highly intelligent which some find incredible as they think a mental illness and a high IQ can not co-exist. I should have and I think I will now add a disclaimer to the start of this. This article was my educated guess.
I am so glad you weighed in on this. We are all angry and scared right now, and there is enough blame to go around. Thank you so much for input, dr. spud. I listen to you.
As I said in my latest post, when even a large organization is found to be an accessory in creating a climate of hatred and racism, under affirmative action law, the only recourse is punishment. That includes fines, treble damages, withdrawal of state and federal monies, and even prison terms for those responsible for civil rights violations.

President Obama and the Federal government need to crack down, AND CRACK DOWN NOW, on perpetrators of hate.
Performance-- I agree with almost everything you said and have added a disclaimer which I should have done at the very start. I guess you missed the parts where I shared how I love these guys I have been working with for years and years. To suggest that me of people is trying to frighten people about the mentally ill then I missed the mark entirely. I have written dozens of things about the mentally ill in my years here in order to put human faces on disorders. I think I have been successful in doing so both here and on the Daily Kos. I understand and agree with the gist of your comment, although I could have done without the lecture tone of it as if I was some irresponsible dolt who knows nothing about what I just wrote. I didn't mislead anyone; other than you it appears.
Yesterday, when I realized my anger over a 9 year old child being murdered simply because she was standing next to someone who was a Democrat I turned my computer off. It would have been to easy to send out the wrong messages.
Today I realized my actions were correct. I had a conversation with an angry young man who openly advocated "striking back". I told him how wrong that would be. Today I am calmer and can respond rationally, and won't be visited by the FBI. :)
Excuse me for not responding to everyone which I normally try to do. I appreciate, as always, anyone considering my thoughts and reading my words. I learn from the comments and the interactions.

Lefty--I am heading over now to read your spin on things. See you over there.
Can't see anything here I disagree with, you describe the effectiveness of drug therapy well, and the struggle to get treatment options to patients that need them. One can only hope that an incident shocks a few people in the middle who may waver back and forth back to sanity. For the true believers it's already a lost cause

Jim K
Commonsense and a voice of objective rationality and professional experience prevails, here. Thank-you. My father-in-law, who's a retired, forensic psychiatrist would likely agree with your thoughts-even based on the little information that is known at this point. This young man's full psychological picture is far from clear, yet. I, for one, was so sickened and disgusted by the inhumane and frenzied internet comments circulating yesterday, that I logged off. Again, thanks for your considered and compassionate point-of-view. ~R
I am so glad to have your professional opinion to help sort all of this out. Your day to day dealings with the mentally ill give the rest of us laymen information to consider that we normally may not have. Most of the doctors on TV that have weighed in on this have similar conclusions as your own and that includes the ones I've seen on Fox News.

I've been watching Fox most of the day, just trying to listen to their message about all of this. Meghan Kelly just had the Tuscon sheriff on and grilled him about his bringing up the vitriolic hatred from the right and "politicizing" the event. He defended his actions and then finally told her that was his opinion and to let the viewers decide.

So yeah, they are back peddling and defending their actions without saying so much. It is ironic,yet predictable that this happened in McCain's backyard as he is such a staunch denier of helping these poor souls.
Thank you for this thoughtful and well stated opinion. I have the experience of schizophrenia in my family and have also seen the results of breakdowns that have nearly resulted in death. I know how easily these people are influenced by voices of hate, even seemly reasonable people are influence by the hate mongers. While I believe in the power of love, I have no idea how to get Sarah and her buddies to believe in it as well.
rated with appreciation for your work and this post.
Of course the political atmosphere in the country, and especially Arizona, had a lot to do with this. I just wanted to include a link to a news update today by Sheriff Dupnik of Pima County and director Mueller of the FBI. Dupnik was wonderful yesterday when he pointed out how "poisonous" the atmosphere had become in Arizona and how the state, through the anti-immigration debate and Sarah Palin's involvement in the last election, had become a mecca of prejudice and bigotry. This is the update from today:
Mueller confirms that Loughner will be charged with the murders and the attempted assassination of the congresswoman.
intelligent post, spud, and compassionate to boot.
Another point to consider: strong rhetoric has always been a part of politics. However, in the past, we didn't have 24/7 media to continue to fan the flames. If someone heard something incendiary about, say, Grover Cleveland, he didn't continue to hear it from talk radio on his way to and from work and he didn't encounter it on the Internet while at work or at home. There have always been flames, but now it's a constantly burning forest fire that never dies out.
I appreciate your reasoned take on this and won't be surprised at all if you're right. Some excellent comments here as well. We need to do a better job of treating people with mental illness and also to turn down the vitriol and stop the hating in our public discourse. To quote Gandhi, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."
Cranky has a point. The whole thing is hate filled from both sides too, as others have said. You have made some important points here. It is my sincere hope that in time we will get some semblance of the facts of this, enough to make educated understanding or conjecture, supporting neither popular blame strategy until proven as such.
Interesting and persuasive take on it Dr. Spud. I'll defer to your better knowledge on schizophrenia and I guess it won't be a surprise if that's what it turns out to be. As a layman with no particular expertise, he sure sounded deranged from his various posting. And even the army wouldn't take him?
So you're saying that if Jared had been on meds this never would've happened. I don't know, but the pharmaceutical industry thanks you for saying so.
...another long winded anatomy of a multiple murder....let's just add it to others, either verbal or written.....but what about a young man present at a small rally with a weapon of mass destruction?
I was going to say what Cranky said about the 24/7 media continuing to fan the flames. You know I've got some experience with schizophrenic family members and I feel like you have made a very good assessment. Only time will tell. it's just such a sad state of affairs. My Mom & Brother live in Tucson and one of my best friends works for a Federal Court judge there. I'm sure she must have know Judge Roll.
Thank you for this, Spudman.
I think you are likely right. McCain has been a corporate and republican stooge for his entire career. Hero, my ass.
If there is any good to be had out of this tragedy, it is that our vitriol is being discussed.
I am trying to get some information together to make it easier to fight the media vitriol. More on that later... yttttttttttttthtyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy']
The above is my cat who sat on the keyboard when I stepped away. Even used punctuation...sorry. LOL
spud, i read this when it first went up and have come back to read comments until now. just wanted to say it's one of the best out there today on the issue. thanks for writing it.
Spud, I wasn't in any way questioning your excellent, informative analysis. In fact, I think you're probably right about his condition. You most certainly have the credentials to know mental illness when you see it. I apologize if I wasn't clearer.

I was asking you a genuine question. Can functional reason and coherent behavior supporting self-preservation be part of a psychotic episode of this magnitude?
Spud--Thank you for such clarity on the subject. This was a fascinating read.
Clearly, if Loughner is guilty, he is responsible for his own actions. The bigger issue, however, is that regardless of his actions, Sarah Palin and others need to be held accountable for their role in workking non-stop to villify every single person with whom they have any sort of disagreement. In Palin's case, that includes the father of her own grandchild.

I am not calling for criminal charges of anyone. Yet. Legislation should be introduced that holds people accountable for political rhetoric that leads to this sort of behavior.

A few facts that surfaced today--take them anyway you like. They're just reports we got. Here in Tucson today, they released information that he had written a note to himself and put it in a safe, the envelope reading: "I planned ahead. My assassination. Giffords." They found a letter from Giffords thanking him for attending a similar event in 2007 with this note.

He took a cab to the event, then,apparently intending to do what he did. Voices in his head? I don't know. But he seems to have planned the thing pretty well, so the "blackout" theory doesn't quite jibe.

As for the ramblings on the Net...they were poems he tried to write for a creative writing class at Pima Community College--that's why they're so nonsensical. He got booted from that college before long.

I live here, and have heard from friends who lived near him that the family, especially the father, had scared some folks into moving elsewhere over the years. The father is apparently a powder keg, too.

We'll see...
We live in the age of fear, Spud. And we shouldn't. Like you illustrate so well, we know what to do. We just don't do it. Everybody seems to want to blame somebody else and that never gets us anywhere. Good work, man. Maybe a little bit of this will filter out into the weirld.
This was a great post and thanks for putting so much time and thought into it.
I am saddened that this man's right to bear arms superceded others' right to life! I hope he gets the help he needs! R
Hi Dr. Spudman 44,
I too work in the field. Been here for 16 years. Everything that you speculate above rings true, however, we don't know a lot. Is he showing symptoms of schizophrenia? Are there any anti-social traits attached? Who knows. The one thing I do know is that I feel pretty strongly about charges being pressed whenever an assault occurs on my job. Even if the person is ill. Sometimes it's the only way to avoid something more disasterous.
In the meantime, people like Palin should be ashamed of their "bully" tactics. Seriously. Talk about the lowest common denominator.
Obviously this young man, is mentally deranged. Anyone who commits such an act is. You put it squarely where the blame belongs. The conservatives are not just guilty of hate speech, they are guilty of gutting our healthcare and support systems! Remember Reagan? When he was governor of California, he closed the states mental hospitals, putting many of these people on the street. They had no place to go, many were incapable of taking care of themselves. Most were non violent, but it takes only one!
There is a lot of blame to go around. Even on the left, for being so apathetic! Liberals tend to sit back, and observe. They need to become more active. They need to stand up for what they believe, not just point fingers.
Well said, Spud. Mental health laws should be revisited and so should both the tenor of political discourse and while we're at it, the state of our national psyche, which has become both defeatist and a tad self-indulgent in recent years.

But while we're looking at this and that and the other thing, how about access to guns? Forget the apologists and the "guns don't kill people; people kill people" pablum and the "I have a right to self-protection" crap. No one needs to buy a Glock, no one who was kicked out of school for behavioral issues SHOULD be able to buy a Glock and no one anywhere needs to conceal a weapon unless he or she is planning to do something illegal with it.
As Roberto Fantechi commented:
"...another long winded anatomy of a multiple murder....let's just add it to others, either verbal or written.....but what about a young man present at a small rally with a weapon of mass destruction?"
For me the first time I seen automatic weapons referred to as WMDs and that's exactly what they are. Maybe attitudes about these weapons would be swayed if the guns were always referred to as weapons of mass destruction. Your post has brought out the best commentary I've read or heard about this ugly tragedy.
Doc, this was an excellently well thought out blog.
Everyone seems to have an answer yet, nobody really knows whatever.
And, I see that Nikki is Sternly hystercal about my guns again.
The zealotry cuts both ways, Right and Left. (The "liberal" equivalent? How 'bout the "Tea Baggers" epithet in the very title of the video you've linked?) We live in an overly politicized world, period.

It's becoming quite obvious that Jared Lee Loughner was mentally ill. He was obsessed with grammar, prime numbers, and who knows what else. Indeed, Representative Giffords' "bad grammar" is a more likely motive than anything Sarah Palin has said or done.
This statement of yours is sublime: The hatred is like a vapor and is always around like a morning fog that never disappears. It's up to us to try to disperse, make it disappear.

Thanks for this compassionate explanation of mental illness. We often hear that someone who has been treated for schizophrenia went "off his meds" and reverted to violent behavior. I have an in-law who's been under treatment most of her adult life. She would stop taking her medication and vanish from whichever facility she resided in. She's recently being treated with a medication that is injected once every six months. No opportunity for her to stop taking it. She's been fine ever since.
Excellent post! I agree about the nonsense of a false equivalency between left and right. I'm tired of hearing the same old smears and lies where the left is concerned. Predominantly, and overall, the acts of political violence have been against Democrats by people that are more aligned with the Republican way of "thinking" whether they self-identify as Republicans or not. The venomous and extremely hateful talk is entirely on the Republican side - there is no Left equivalency at all. Whether this shooter has political leanings is almost beside the point. The Republicans have fostered an environment of violence-laden speech and behavior - especially since the election of 2008. Terrific post - articulate, informative, intelligent.
Many of the rightarded are looking only to insulate Sarah Palin from the consequences of her actions. Or they seek false equivalences, taking a quote of context from a Democrat (often one they've already apologized for) and using that to excuse Palin's crosshair map or Angle's (Second Half of the) Second Amendment remedies. The right wingers have been pouring kerosene over the dry tinders of politics for the past several years, now they're amazed that someone finally tossed a match.
On the other hand, he may be evil. I realize this is an archaic view, but viewing crime as a mental illness is already a industrial complex of the mental health industry and the court.
TO ALL: I am sorry but I am working and traveling today so I cannot respond. I'm in a coffee house using their computer and have read everyone's comments and soaked them in. Please do not view my silence as disinterest. Monday is always my busiest day. Peace to all even those who think I am full of shit, which by the way, I am.
Spare me the "both sides" argument. At least until an example of a liberal politician or commentator called for someone's murder is presented. Something from the past 30 years please. No one gives a rat's ass about the Weather Underground 40 years later.
Thanks for this Spudman! I worked at Atascadero State Hospital for nine months years ago and decided on a change in career. It was a locked down facility for criminals who were found to be insane, or in need of treatment. So I know a bit about what you describe and have read many, many files for patients who were really, really scary, both to me and to themselves. I expect that if he is at all lucky Arizona has a place like the hospital where I worked.

Every opportunity to ask for an end to this overheated political rhetoric and repetitious hatefulness in the media must be taken. We need to hold accountable those who foment, propagate, hate speech of any kind because a mentally ill person listening can't tell the difference between political theater and what's real.

The repetition of these petitions asking for civility in public discourse, requests to tone it down, telephone calls to our representatives, emails, public meetings and any other form of standing up for a culture of nonviolence in our political discourse must be made to let them know there is a nationwide demand for immediate change.
In terms of the rhetoric, the problem is it's not just in whacky yahoo forums, or even the signs at a Tea Party rally. The insanity has become pervasive to the point where dialogue is almost impossible. The Daily Show rally to restore sanity was an epic fail. The country is having a psychotic break. The Wall Street Journal -- conservative but mainstream -- at least until Rupert Murdoch bought it -- has labeled any questioning about the connection between Palin's rhetoric and Saturdays tragedy, "blood libel." Blood libel, to suggest that we all need to lower the volume? This is what happens, not only when irresponsible television pundits are encouraged to scare the stupid, but even Republican leadership won't even discourage members of their own congressional delegation from suggestion the President was foreign born and is occupying the White House illegally.
"I look upon the judgment of right and wrong as the serpentine dance of a dragon...."
I heart you, Dr. Spud, and treasure your compassion.

If there is any doubt whatsoever that the intent by the extremists is not real, spend a few minutes perusing these facts. Scroll down to the "Insurrection" link. It's all frighteningly and disgustingly there.


Your description of the schizophrenic episode hit very close to home, literally. It's almost identical to an horrific event that happened three years ago by a 19 y-o former next door neighbor.

I heart you, Dr. Spud, and treasure your compassion.

If there is any doubt whatsoever that the intent by the extremists is not real, spend a few minutes perusing these facts. Scroll down to the "Insurrection" link. It's all frighteningly and disgustingly there.


Your description of the schizophrenic episode hit very close to home, literally. It's almost identical to an horrific event that happened three years ago by a 19 y-o former next door neighbor.

I don't agree with you that a climate of hate comes only from the right. There was a study out recently that said that those who are conservative have more easily triggered fear centers in their brains. That said, toxic populism added with untreated mental illness, added with readily available glocks and a state that has gun fairs and no permit required for carrying a semiautomatic weapon and the recipe for tragedy is born.

This is an opportunity to try to change that mix. To push for mental health care parity and sensible gun legislation. But even in these comments, heated rhetoric isn't something that only conservatives are susceptible to. When I think about their more easily triggered fear I feel more compassion than anger. Even the words "they" or "those people" may be too much.
The disregard for our mentally ill is a shameful stain on America. As for whether he was touched by the rhetoric and highstrung commentary that poses as political dialogue these days, I point to what Bill Clinton recently said, ""… the words we use really do matter, because there's this vast echo chamber, and they go across space and they fall on the serious and the delirious alike. They fall on the connected and the unhinged alike."

Saddest of all is that in the end, the concern will not focus on gun violence or helping the mentally ill.
Kyle D,
The difference between "hate rhetoric" and criticizing someone may seem difficult to grasp but there is a difference.
Kyle D,
Maybe you're right. I can only tune in every so often. I just feel that a lot of the Fox News type rhetoric one hears is so misinformed and not reality based and that the left leaning information is more balanced and less strident. I took a political science class several years ago and realized how liberal my views were. So, I tried to get hold of some conservative publications to read and was so disappointed. Nothing of substance. Eh, what do I know?
We'd do well to enhance our ability to intervene before people go on these killing sprees. Given available information this young man is paranoid schizophrenic with a r/o of delusional disorder. It is worth examining how and why we don't identify and intervene in situations like this where the writing was all over the wall.

We'll endure lots of uninformed babble about a diagnosis being used to minimize the killer's actions. At the end of the day---yes, his disease played a role in his actions though he knew what he was doing. Frankly, it would be a perilous mistake to do anything other than treat this guy in prison.

Zimbardo has done the best work of explaining that "evil" actions are strongly influenced by one's environment. I will refrain from giving a tutorial. That said, the political yap-yap is absurd and opportunistic. We won't have much luck blaming Palin or anyone else for this though such people should get hammered when they use such tragedies to maneuver the political battlefield.
This is an interesting technique. A lot like Kurt Vonnegut's "Hocus Pocus," a brilliant novel.

You know I disagree with alot said here, but I'll spare you.

Here's a thought to ponder: who exactly deserves punishment? Why do people deserve punishment when society or other influences lead them to do bad things? I think they do, but it's an interesting thought to ponder.