Melissa at Shakesville* verbalized something that has been bothering me about the way the Newtown shooting is being discussed:
What other discussion there has been on the topic of Doing Something has largely centered around “mental illness,” a vague term that public commentators are broadly applying to everything from depression to developmental disabilities to personality disorders to the neuroatypical spectrum. The inexactitude of the language is complemented by the pretense that access to comprehensive mental healthcare will somehow “solve” this problem, eliding key realities of some psychological disabilities.
I’m also getting fed up with seeing endless posts and articles that diagnoze Lanza in absentia with some unidentified “mental disease.” Unless you are not only a psychiatrist but Lanza’s psychiatrist who treated him in person, it is not your place to decide that he was ill. I know it’s easy to allay the anxiety produced by something as horrible as this mass shooting by convincing yourself that the criminal must have been “crazy” but this is an attitude of an ostrich that hides its head in the sand.
Only too often complex realities get dismissed and concealed from view by attaching some meaningless diagnosis to them, a diagnosis that explains absolutely nothing. More and more non-existent “disorders” crop up and the particularly brainless folks embrace them with glee.
What we know for sure about Adam Lanza is that he is a mass murderer. Tragically, murderers exist. They make a decision to kill people for whatever reason. But not every bad choice has to be a product of an illness.
* Other than this quote, the linked post is really bad. Don’t read it if you are impressionable and get traumatized by the “men are the root of all evil” mentality.