It was with a gaping mouth that I began reading tweets that indicated that Adam Lanza had been diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome. I was astounded, but not surprised. I was astounded that this was being released to the media, but not surprised that the media and the public were taking up the cry. And I was even less surprised by the shallow draught of the public opinion that fuelled this new spat of updates on social networks.
In fairness, I was surprised that someone with Asperger’s could have done what this young man is alleged to have done. It doesn’t track. Asperger’s is a disorder that leaves those who have it scrambling to understand the rules of the world. But few, if any, would get up in the morning and wonder if a mass killing would be okay.
Not knowing all the rules is something that I can understand. And worrying about having broken one or more of them causes me much anxiety. I’d have to be at my wit’s end to break one of societies rules knowingly.
But there you have it, right? My wit’s end. That’s what it would take to cause me to break down. And how would I get there? Good question.
The news, in this day and age, is nearly instant. If someone sneezes on the president, if someones dress slips, if someone wins a few million dollars, we all know about it in moments. But when thousands of people use words like stupid, crazy, insane, retarded, weirdo, geek, nerd, space cadet, etc. no one bats an eyelash. That’s because it’s okay, everyone does it.
But it isn’t okay. Society stigmatizes mental health, and that creates greater need for help and, at the same time, keeps people from seeking that help. You belittle the need, so funding isn’t allocated. You fuel the bigotry and it grows, creating larger waves of bigotry.
The title of this post is: “Asperger’s, ADHD, Autism and Violence: Is There A Connection? Yes!” So what is the connection. In my opinion, the connection is this. Autism, Asperger’s and ADHD are all mental health disorders on the Autism spectrum. As such, these diagnosis indicate a spectrum of needs ranging from a great deal of support to some training and mild stimulant medication.
[...] the link between disorders on the Autism spectrum and violence … is society.
But the connection to violence is through the marginalizing that comes when society as a whole seeks to stigmatize, either intentionally by bullying and degrading those with these needs, or unintentionally by using the diagnostic labels for these and other mental health disorders as insults and abuses.
So I guess what I’m saying is this, the link between disorders on the Autism spectrum and violence … is society. And if this guilt is laid at societies doorstep, it’s no wonder society is so ready to accept the “diagnosis” as the cause. The alternative would be to accept the guilt.
In closing, I’d like to quote from today’s blog post written by a very good friend of mine, Melanie Knapp, she says: “I’d like to make a rule, you only get to refer to mental illness if you get to know me for my strengths.” I know her for her strengths. And believe me, knowing her for her strengths may allow you to refer to mental illness, but it also teaches you that it’s so small a part of the woman you get to know, so small a part of her world that you’ll rarely need to refer to mental illness … if ever.
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Best of Our Blogs: December 18, 2012 | World of Psychology (December 18, 2012)
Last reviewed: 17 Dec 2012