December 18, 2012

Asperger’s, Autism, and Mass Murder

I am, as many of my friends, avoiding too much news coverage and commentary about the Sandy Hook tragedy. Our reasons are more than the agony, more than respectful dignity for the victims, more more than just avoiding real-time sensationalism. We are bracing ourselves for the ignorant use of the term "mental illness" and the reactionary platitudes we know are coming.

I would like to hope that one response to this escalating phenomenon will be a complete re-thinking of our mental health "system" and access to compassionate, effective, on-demand mental health services. I would like to hope that the responses will be toward improvement and not further misunderstanding and stigma. But frankly: I don't. I think we will wallow in misery and indulge with shrill relish in the agony of others; blaming some and making heroes of others. I don't find incidents like this educate or motivate us -- they seem to entrench us all in rote responses.

I cringe at how everyone -- including me -- just wave whatever flag of societal ill we were already waving, just higher and with more frustration. The heart-breaking truth is that helplessness is an intolerable condition. We want to help and we cannot. 

Those of us who focus on mental health reform will continue, and will interpret events through that frame. Watching society talk about mental health without understanding or sympathy or a view to what we CAN do is excruciating but unavoidable.

Among the better essays of the week, I recommend this, by John Elder Robison:

Asperger’s, Autism, and Mass Murder


1 comment:

  1. What is a parent doing having weapons easily accessible in the home in which her child is living with whatever mental health issues he was actually diagnosed with? It was simply irresponsible.

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