With the recently publicized report of Adam Lanza’s mental state since early childhood, there is yet more reason to recognize that while there are several key factors that intersect to create the “perfect storm,” what underlies these violent rampages across the U.S. and across the globe, involves much more than access to weapons of destruction and violence.
As was verified in Lanza’s psychiatric report, he had emotional, behavioral and mental illness from as early as three years old, and as he aged, he was observed devolving into a life of paranoia and isolation, while his family and medical care providers watched.
As a parent, I certainly understand the desire to underplay our children’s problems because the pain we feel when we have to face serious problems in our children may be too much to bear. Something drastically irresponsible and seriously negligient is missing in that “logic.” Leaving our children to isolate in their bedrooms, wasting away from malnourishment, covering their windows with plastic garbage bags and communicating on line with others whose sole focus is destruction and death, is equivalent to the criminal acts he commits when he reaches his breaking point.
When our children are facing serious, threatening problems; mental or physical, it is our duty as parents to squelch our fears and assist in the assertive search for diagnosis and treatment until we are satisfied that the problem has either been resolved or is being successfully treated. Burying our heads in the sand and hoping our child will “grow out of it” or that it is probably “just a stage he’s going through,” is as irresponsible and dangerous as that mentally ill person is when he has access to weapons and is so out of touch with reality that his paranoia is the only voice he hears.
There is help for mental illness. We must pursue treatment when we are worried about the mental health and wellness of those we love and live with. Ignoring the problem is akin to encouraging the violence.
Lori Kanat Edelson, LMSW, LMFT
Birmingham Maple Clinic