A Schizophrenic Becomes Psychotic & The Nation Goes Nuts
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 FALSE EQUIVALENCY
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.
THE ONLY HERO IS THE KID WHO SHOT THE CORUPT POLITICIANS
WATCH AS POLICE PULL OVER LITTLE OLD LADIES BY HOME DEPOT WHILE THERE ARE ANTI AMERICAN GANGS OF ILLEGALS WATING TO TAKE OUR JOBS AND THEY DONT GIVE THEM A SECOND LOOK...
WE ARE NOT FREE, THE GOVERNMENT DOES PRACTICE MIND CONTROL AND BRAINWASH, GOOGLE MKULTRA, AND THEY HAVE MANY MORE PROGRAMS THEY PRACTICE ON SOCIETY AS A WHOLE THROUGH OUR EDUCATION BRAINWASHED SYSTEM AND MEDIA. WE ARE SHEEP BEING TRAINED TO PAY TAXES WHILE WE HAVE NO CONTROL. .................................................................
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.