YEARS AGO, I met a woman at a neighborhood pool party. She was an older mother who gave birth to twin sons in her forties. I remember her two boys. They had dark black hair and were jumping in the pool with all the normal energy and playfulness of their age. They were four years old at the time. This woman’s husband, who was not present, was in his sixties. The age of the parents was unusual and struck me as odd, but they seemed pleasant people. I occasionally saw them over the years at local events.
Two years ago, one of the twin sons, now in his early twenties, murdered his mother, his father and his twin brother with a samurai sword in their home in an otherwise normal suburban neighborhood.
For years, this son had been acting strangely. While his brother went to college, he remained home. He had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and, apparently, the family was attempting to cope on its own with this disorder. Aside from the gruesomeness of their deaths, I imagined hellish years as they encountered his increasing irrationality and paranoia. Their isolation was haunting in retrospect. Why had no one stepped in and institutionalized this young man? Did this couple, because of their love for their son, entertain false hopes? Where were the doctors to confine him to a mental institution?
In interviews after their murders, extended family members and relatives seemed detached from the situation, as was reportedly the case with the relatives of Adam Lanza.
Also, in retrospect, the age of the father of the boy who murdered his parents is telling. He was possibly too old and effete to take care of his family and to institutionalize his son. He was one of those fathers who was more playmate and soccer coach than authority figure. See Ed H.’s excellent comment at VFR on the effects of the weak, feminized father and the “feminization of everything.”
—- Comments —
James P. writes:
This study notes that there has been a 95 percent drop in the number of public hospital beds available to psychiatric cases since 1955 (from 340 per 100,000 to 17 per 100,000). Connecticut has 25.4 beds per 100,000 population. The study notes that the consequence of this shortage includes a great increase in the number of homeless, a great increase in the number of insane people in prison, and a great increase in crime:
“Fred Markowitz, in his 2006 study of 81 American cities, reported a statistically significant correlation between the number of public psychiatric beds available in that city and the prevalence of violent crimes, defined as murder, robbery, assault, and rape. This is not surprising, since studies have shown that between 5 to 10 percent of seriously mentally ill persons living in the community will commit a violent act each year, almost all because they are not receiving treatment. Such individuals are responsible for at least 5 percent of all homicides.”
Why had no one stepped in and institutionalized this young man? Where were the doctors to confine him to a mental institution? Since these are essentially the same question, they can be answered together. In most states, people can be involuntarily committed only if they meet one of the following criteria: 1) they are a danger to themselves; 2) they are a danger to others; or 3) they are gravely disabled. Medication usually alleviates these symptoms. Once the symptoms are alleviated, the institution must release the patient, who stops his medications because they make him feel bad. The cycle starts over. I have been involved in many commitments.
Did this couple you mention, because of their love for their son, entertain false hopes? The answer is probably yes. They were the boy’s parents. It would have been natural.
In the case of the Lanzas, probably there was little the absent father could do for the reasons stated in the first paragraph. Assuming the mother was as unbalanced as the early evidence indicates, there was never any hope based on her. To the contrary, the early evidence indicates she might have contributed to the deaths by giving her son access to guns while almost certainly knowing he had, in psychological jargon, homicidal ideations. Of course, the word giving might be inappropriate. The son might have dared her to take “his” guns away. She might have been driven over the edge by her son. Her intense motherly love could have prevented her from acting rationally. She must have been under severe emotional stress living with this extremely sick son. Most people cannot live with children like the killer, but many still maintain some connection out of love.
However, we just do not have enough facts to prove the answers, and the liberal Media will never produce the whole truth.
We don’t know the extent to which a psychiatrist was involved. Any psychologist or psychiatrist that treated this killer would want to be hiding under his or her desk because of potential civil and criminal liability that no malpractice insurance policy could come close to covering. Because of the wealth of this family, it is unlikely state providers were involved. In Connecticut, there is no limit on medical malpractice liability based on an interpretation of a Connecticut statute. (An actual limitation specifies a dollar amount without regard to what any appellate court might think.) Connecticut might have inadequate reporting requirements for providers. Provider and state liability is not being discussed by the Media. It is likely to become mainly about controlling gun ownership.
Pan Dora writes:
“Also, in retrospect, the age of the father of the boy who murdered his parents is telling. He was possibly too old and effete to take care of his family and to institutionalize his son. He was one of those fathers who was more playmate and soccer coach than authority figure. See Ed H.’s excellent comment at VFR on the effects of the weak, feminized father and the “feminization of everything.”
About the only thing these comments tell is that there is a great lack of understanding of the state of mental health treatment in this country. You and Ed are making it sound like all this old and effete father had to do was trot on down to the closest available hospital and institutionalize his son, like he was signing him up for Little League.
Ed was not referring to this particular father. He was referring to the Lanza case and I believe one of his points was that in a world that was less feminized, institutionalization would be more common.
I realize it is very difficult to have someone committed.