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  1. #1
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    Default Untreated Mental Illness and Violence

    From a blog posted on facebook:

    http://anarchistsoccermom.blogspot.com/2012/12/thinking-unthinkable.html

    Thinking the Unthinkable


    In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

    Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.

    “I can wear these pants,” he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.

    “They are navy blue,” I told him. “Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pants only.”

    “They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”

    “You can’t wear whatever pants you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You’re grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school.”

    I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

    A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan—they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

    That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

    We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.

    At the start of seventh grade, Michael was accepted to an accelerated program for highly gifted math and science students. His IQ is off the charts. When he’s in a good mood, he will gladly bend your ear on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to the differences between Einsteinian and Newtonian physics to Doctor Who. He’s in a good mood most of the time. But when he’s not, watch out. And it’s impossible to predict what will set him off.

    Several weeks into his new junior high school, Michael began exhibiting increasingly odd and threatening behaviors at school. We decided to transfer him to the district’s most restrictive behavioral program, a contained school environment where children who can’t function in normal classrooms can access their right to free public babysitting from 7:30-1:50 Monday through Friday until they turn 18.

    The morning of the pants incident, Michael continued to argue with me on the drive. He would occasionally apologize and seem remorseful. Right before we turned into his school parking lot, he said, “Look, Mom, I’m really sorry. Can I have video games back today?”

    “No way,” I told him. “You cannot act the way you acted this morning and think you can get your electronic privileges back that quickly.”

    His face turned cold, and his eyes were full of calculated rage. “Then I’m going to kill myself,” he said. “I’m going to jump out of this car right now and kill myself.”

    That was it. After the knife incident, I told him that if he ever said those words again, I would take him straight to the mental hospital, no ifs, ands, or buts. I did not respond, except to pull the car into the opposite lane, turning left instead of right.

    “Where are you taking me?” he said, suddenly worried. “Where are we going?”

    “You know where we are going,” I replied.

    “No! You can’t do that to me! You’re sending me to hell! You’re sending me straight to hell!”

    I pulled up in front of the hospital, frantically waiving for one of the clinicians who happened to be standing outside. “Call the police,” I said. “Hurry.”

    Michael was in a full-blown fit by then, screaming and hitting. I hugged him close so he couldn’t escape from the car. He bit me several times and repeatedly jabbed his elbows into my rib cage. I’m still stronger than he is, but I won’t be for much longer.

    The police came quickly and carried my son screaming and kicking into the bowels of the hospital. I started to shake, and tears filled my eyes as I filled out the paperwork—“Were there any difficulties with....at what age did your child....were there any problems with...has your child ever experienced...does your child have....”

    At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You’ll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing.

    For days, my son insisted that I was lying—that I made the whole thing up so that I could get rid of him. The first day, when I called to check up on him, he said, “I hate you. And I’m going to get my revenge as soon as I get out of here.”

    By day three, he was my calm, sweet boy again, all apologies and promises to get better. I’ve heard those promises for years. I don’t believe them anymore.

    On the intake form, under the question, “What are your expectations for treatment?” I wrote, “I need help.”

    And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense.

    I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am Jason Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

    According to Mother Jones, since 1982, 61 mass murders involving firearms have occurred throughout the country. (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/...-shootings-map). Of these, 43 of the killers were white males, and only one was a woman. Mother Jones focused on whether the killers obtained their guns legally (most did). But this highly visible sign of mental illness should lead us to consider how many people in the U.S. live in fear, like I do.

    When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”

    I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise—in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population. (http://www.hrw.org/news/2006/09/05/u...ons-quadrupled)

    With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill—Rikers Island, the LA County Jail, and Cook County Jail in Illinois housed the nation’s largest treatment centers in 2011 (http://www.npr.org/2011/09/04/140167...-ill-prisoners)

    No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”

    I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.

    God help me. God help Michael. God help us all.
    Posted by Anarchist Soccer Mom at 10:07 PM


    What can we do, as a country and as individual citizens to fix this? Clearly our mental health system is broken.
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant


    11 members found this post helpful.

  2. #2
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    It is time to quit pretending that health care - and mental health care especially - belong in the "marketplace". Unless and until people can get help these sad disasters will keep happening. Single payer health care for all, with good diagnostic and preventative screenings available. It's cheaper than prisons,less costly than KBR and other defense spending. Healthier people make healthier choices.

    And parents, teach your kids some empathy, so they don't bully their classmates.


    16 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
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    White House Petition, just started today, to build a federally funded mentalhealthcare system. It, in itself, isn't even the beginning of an answer, but, maybe it could be the beginning of a dialog.

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/pet...n-and/kb63nFrz
    Originally Posted by Alagirl
    We just love to shame poor people...when in reality, we are all just peasants.


    9 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
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    I went to school with many children like that who were in the Special Education system. So far as I know, none of them have ended up in a good place and the ones I have been able to track down either ended up as criminals or being on the fringe of society as chronic neer do wells with no hope of a future.
    Thus do we growl that our big toes have,
    at this moment, been thrown up from below!


    1 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
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    Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes was being treated by a psychiatrist

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/colorado-sh...ry?id=16872374



  6. #6
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    Many of the killers named in the original post were not treated. The VA Tech murderer came from a culture and family that does not treat mental illness. Holmes from Aurora was dangerous, but there was little the doctors could do. Reportedly the CT murderer was largely untreated, and his mother had a large gun collection, and kept them at home. No security or gun safe will keep a determined person away from guns, and she paid for her mistake with her life, and many others died for her denial and inaction. Many people feel shame about accepting that their child is not normal. Admitting your child has a problem is the first step, and some people just can't do that, or don't have the insurance to cover it. However, from personal knowledge many parents pay cash so their child doesn't have a treatment record, and therefore be banned from gun ownership.

    Other times the parent can't get help, because just as described in Louise Wilson's book "This Stranger My Son" the family was frantically trying to get help for their son, who was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. The family was blamed by doctors, and told that everything wrong with their son was bad parenting, and various other lies, and it was years before anyone they dealt with didn't blame them. Apparently this blaming, and lack of help continues today.

    And if this entire thing isn't horrible enough Dr. Phil, the world's most disgusting fame whore, will be doing two shows about CT on Monday and Tuesday. He apparently has no shame, and no compassion.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White


    6 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
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    Healthcare, mental and physical, should be viewed as a public good, not a marketplace commodity. Public goods are best protected largely in the public sphere, with public-private non-profit partnerships. Maximizing profit from someone's infirmities has always struck me as immoral.


    17 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
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    This is an honest question, please don't scream at me... but why are SO many boys/young men mentally ill? Was it always this way and it just wasn't identified? Are humans that flawed that so many of us are mentally ill?

    Truly, this is a frightening concept to me.
    Kanoe Godby
    www.dyrkgodby.com
    See, I was raised by wolves and am really behind the 8-ball on diplomatic issue resolution.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
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    I am sorry but I read this on line and I do not see a mentally ill child necessarily. I see a child whose mother has relied on other people to set boundaries for him when she should be doing it herself. Calling her a bitch.. And she prides herself on staying calm? Taking away electronics for a day? Really? Why has this child been allowed to push to the point where THIS is where he finally finds a boundary - in school, from the police, or at the hospital?

    Children who exhibit violent behaviour need to be taught how to control themselves, no matter what it takes, so they can learn that they are the one controlling if they are punished or not, they are the one controlling the outcome, and if they wont, their parent WILL. That is why kids have parents.

    LMEqTs older brother is borderline Aspergers. I knew there was something "off" from the time he was born. Got him tested as soon as I could, confirmed it, made a plan. Lots of love, a lot of time spent actually teaching him appropriate social interaction so he could make friends and not be isolated at school, etc... And VERY strong boundaries that were enforced physically if necessary. Yes, he got spanked. A lot, for a while. Sometimes the threat of physical punishment was all that stopped him from, lets say, running into the road or hitting his sister. Pulling the dogs ear.

    When he was around two his pediatrician took me aside and said look.. This is off the record... But if you dont spank him NOW, you will be very sorry later when he is too big to spank. He needs to know you WILL set a boundary, no matter what it takes, so he can set that aside and move on to learning how to get along in the world.

    I had never thought I would be a spanking parent

    But we did, and we watched other kids like him run rampant. He is now 13. Great grades, in band and sports, he has REALLY GOOD FRIENDS, which is key. He is sometimes a PITA and has a smart mouth but - he is fine. The other boys that were like him... Some, not so much, some are scary.

    Obviously there is more to this, I cannot sum up 13 years of child rearing in a few paragraphs, but blaming the health system when you have not parented the child you have - not the one you wish you had - or parented the way you want to no matter what kid you got dealt - doesnt cut it for me. When my son was diagnosed I wanted to pretend it wasnt so. My husband did pretend, and that is another story. It was NO FUN. It was NOTHING like I thought having a chlld would be like. In fact, I almost opted out of having LMEqT because of it, it was all encompassing for so long. His pediatrician, incidentally, advised me to not have another baby until he was at least three. I took her advice.

    Edited to add: the child in this article can turn his behaviour off/on at will.. He is a master manipulator. His mother goes along with it rather than calling him out on the root of the behaviour. I guess I dont see what other people are seeing? I see it easier to say your kid is mentally ill/its out of your hands then to get down to it.
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
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    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


    21 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
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    Thank you for posting that article. My heart goes out to mothers like her.



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDE Driver View Post
    This is an honest question, please don't scream at me... but why are SO many boys/young men mentally ill? Was it always this way and it just wasn't identified? Are humans that flawed that so many of us are mentally ill?

    Truly, this is a frightening concept to me.
    This could lead to an interesting discussion. I'm curious as well.

    Your question about "are humans that flawed" is one of those "meaning of life" questions, which draws on anthropology, biology, philosophy, history, religion, and everything in between. One could wonder if it is the construct of society that is flawed, rather than us as humans.

    At a very basic level, we are animals. "Thou shalt not kill" is not a biological imperative - it's a societal construct. We aren't really as evolved as we'd like to pretend.

    Seriously, though, great question. One I'd love to see discussed to the fullest by people smarter than me.
    "Are you yawning? You don't ride well enough to yawn. I can yawn, because I ride better than you. Meredith Michael Beerbaum can yawn. But you? Not so much..."
    -George Morris


    2 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
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    I do think that much much more needs to be done to deal with mental illness. And it's not just young men. Yes, most of the highly publicized massacres have been done by young men. But how many domestic violence fatalities occur when a mentally ill family member snaps? I know of two such instances in my own circle of acquaintances, and I don't have a particularly dysfunctional set of friends.
    Someone I know had a situation in her family where an uninsured, untreated bipolar mother killed one of her small children and left the other with brain damage. The emotional and legal fallout has destroyed the family.
    A woman I used to live next to was murdered by her adolescent daughter and the daughter's boyfriend. The girl was getting bullied in school and wanted to drop out, presumably to shack up with boyfriend. Mom was having none of it. Kids decided to kill mom instead of waiting until they turned 18.
    How many more situations like these are out there? Ones which perhaps get a bit of local notoriety, but don't spark national soul searching and outrage?



  13. #13
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    Just adding that the kiddo in the description does not sound autistic to me, sounds (never having met him, know nothing about him) much more like childhood onset bipolar (epic tantrums, little ability to self-soothe). could be a RAD kid. Mom needs much, MUCH more help and he may need another setting until he stabilizes. While folks with kids who are NOT like this can't imagine being called "bitch" (and likely much worse) and would never tolerate it, it is possible this mom (clearly scared of him, for good reason, has already taught his sibs a safety plan) is just picking her battles. She is desperate. And help SHOULD be available to her. We have Shodair children's hospital which actually has done very, very well for many kids like him.

    Otherwise of couse he will wind up in the criminal justice system. And, that is not necessaily a bad thing. While I don't recommend it, many people do actually get help there (their PO forces them, finds psychiatric and counseling suppsort) because they are mandated. Lots of people get sober in jail, actually get medicated. No one thinks their child "belongs"in the system but if someone can't conform their behavior to societal norms, thats what happens. Support for Department of Corrections is never popular either but it is a great investment, as they are in a very good position to offer meaningful, tangible help to people who clearly need it.


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  14. #14
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    The child in that article sounds disturbingly similar to someone in my family. Almost to a T.



  15. #15
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    EqTrainer...really? You really think that bad parenting is the cause? Really?
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant


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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by LauraKY View Post
    EqTrainer...really? You really think that bad parenting is the cause? Really?
    EqTrainer does not realize how lucky she is to have a child who can be taught, even if with a bit of tough love. The mother described in that article is in a truly awful situation. She described her other children trained to go lock themselves in the car? Her kid threatens to kill himself and she slams on the brakes, makes a ut-urn and gets him right to the hospital? She told him what would happen if he behaved a certain way and she followed through on her promise.

    How on earth could ET possibly think this mother is dealing with a spoiled child who just needs a spanking? THIS is why we are in trouble. People do not realize what some of these parents are dealing with. People are blaming the parents or poor parenting. And, ESPECIALLY, a parent who admittedly has a child with their own behavioral issues and that parent is judging the one in the article? I am gobsmacked.


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  17. #17
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    This kid doesn't sound like he has, for lack of a better word, a "normal" mental illness. His own mother realizes he's manipulative, he can calm down when he wants to and mask his behavior, and he acts out when he doesn't get his way.

    I'd say that whoever tossed Oppositional Defiant at him is hitting closest to the mark. About half of kids with that progress to CD, which is essentially just the kiddie version of Antisocial Personality (since you can't diagnose under-18's with personality disorders).
    And personality disorders can't be healed. They have to be managed. The mother needs help, no doubt, but it's not going to be help that somehow correctly diagnoses her kiddie, finds the right combo of meds, and he'll be "normal". If he has a PD, that is who he is. He and mom need intensive therapy aimed at controlling the behavior, because in the end that is really the mainstay of PD treatment.


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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by lilitiger2 View Post
    could be a RAD kid.
    What's a RAD kid?

    The little babooshka strikes me as looking like someone with Borderline Personality Disorder. It's a total PITA to have/treat/live with and takes a huge buttload of maturity on the sufferer's part to work on. IMO, BPD comes in more and less extreme forms-- it varies with gender and socioeconomic class as well has just how well the kid was raised (or how bad early trauma was). So we think of that as appearing in adults and primarily in women. Of course, I think we have different expectations for men and emotions so we apply other labels to BPD men. But if you had a clue and looked backward over the adult BPD person's life, I think you'd see a 13-year-old version that looked like this.... and was just a handful for all those years.

    Will that 13-year-old BPD person end up in therapy later (or medicated which won't do much more than control intense feelings and won't even do that particularly well)? Or will that kid end up in jail? To me, it depends on the family's ability to keep kiddo curbed and on track for learning to manage strong emotions as best they can.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  19. #19
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    That kid on the blog may be mentally ill, but mostly he's a brat and a psychopath. Mentally ill people cannot turn off their illness and upset at will like that kid can.

    Sounds like he is not handling puberty well. I'd get some medical tests run and in the meantime set really STRONG boundaries.

    I'm sure I'll get a lot of thumbs down for this and that in itself is scary.

    Sorry, I've seen too many parents that don't know how to parent. Clearly both the mom and the kid need help.


    14 members found this post helpful.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by hastyreply View Post
    Thank you for posting that article. My heart goes out to mothers like her.
    Me, too. And the usual history of disorders later identified is to blame the parents, particularly the mother initially. Autism forever was blamed on a cold bitch of a mother.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat


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