Monday, January 10, 2011

Does Jared Loughner, the Arizona Shooter, Have Asperger's?

If you are asking this question, you are a very unintelligent individual. What on Earth does it possibly matter? It's as relevant to the shooting as whether he had blue or brown eyes. I've received five e-mails already with people bugging me about this. Apparently, there is some Mommy of an autistic who is desperate for attention and who is screeching "Asperger's caused it" on several websites. See an example here.

It is true that people with Asperger's can become violent. It is also true that people who don't have Asperger's can become violent. I know that we are in the midst of "let's-blame-autism-on-everything-that-is-wring-with-the-world" wave, but there should be a limit. Asperger's doesn't cause people to shoot into crowds. Contrary to what you have heard, it isn't a disease, an epidmic, or the end of the world. It's a way of being that does not cause unrelieved misery for those who live it. And, once again, it doesn't make people shoot into crowds. I've lived with Asperger's for 34 years and am still to commit a violent act against anything other than the copy machine. Trying to "predict" that one will become a mass murderer on the basis of Asperger's makes about as much sense as basing your prediction on a person's height, weight, or hair color.

I understand that thinking is a difficult chore for many people and nobody wants to make the effort. But dismissing the shooting by attaching to it a label of "Asperger's", "learning disorder," "schizophrenia," or "Mommy issues" is a very stupid thing to do.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is not unintelligent to ask a question.

Anonymous said...

I think that the reason people try to come up with labels and possible explanations for such tragedies is that they want to convince themselves that it cannot happen to them or people they know. There is always some sort of an "explanation" that somehow calms everyone down - childhood abuse, some sort of trauma, now Asperger's...

Marina

Greenconsciousness said...

He is a Schizophrenic which is a long way from Asperger, in a totally different place. I don't even classify Asperger as a mental illness. But a lot of Schizophrenics are dangerous.

I get angry, having worked with victims of violence most of my life, that still people cannot identify the indicators and characteristics of violence and its roots. All this stupid blaming of political speech by the political opportunists lets the opportunity to educate people pass again.

Greenconsciousness said...

BTW, physical child abuse is a definite cause of violent adult behavior. Often hidden behavior -catharting behavior. Often toward the less powerful --for women it is practiced against children and animals, sometimes against other women -- with men -- well we know about men. If you dismiss this coming from me, I will give you a bibliography with authors whose work you will not be able to ignore.

Anonymous said...

My fear (as one of those moms with spectrum kids) is that we will find out Loughner has Asperger's and the news will cause a backlash against other people with Aspergers.

Clarissa said...

That's definitely a possibility, given how many people are eager to grab at Asperger's as the "explanation" of what happened. Like there aren't millions of autistics out there who are completely non-violent and perfectly adapted.

Anonymous said...

Do I think he may have Aspergers? Does that have anything to do with him being a murderer? No. Saying that one is unintelligent for thinking it would be the cause is one thing. Saying complete strangers are unintelligent for questioning it is another. If anything it's a sign that people are learning about this form of autism. I truly hope that this incidence does not draw negative attention to Aspergers. But I also hope that people will never stop questioning how we can stop people before they go as far as violating the sanctity of innocent human life.

eric said...

First off, schizophrenia is a mental illness; Asperger's is not. I "have" (or rather, "am") the latter, and it does not induce auditory hallucinations. I may have been afraid of loud noises as a kid, but that was a hypersensitivity to what was already there (and has since subsided, by the way, as evidenced by my post-adolescent enjoyment of loud Rock n' Roll :)).

To ascribe some condition to Loughner is to miss the point--and this is my reply to "Greenconsciousness", who would be quick to place me in the "political opportunist" camp--since such an act as this is entirely plausible even if committed by a thoroughly politically motivated, "sane" person, given the toxic social climate in Arizona (and the country as a whole). Besides, wouldn't depicting one's political opponents halo'd by crosshairs be a trigger (so to speak) for some wackadoo to go shooting people? Yup. As always, we have to look beyond the individual to obtain a more complete picture.

Anonymous said...

If you have Asperger syndrome, your the highest functioning Ive even known of in my life. My 7 yr old is an aspie and he as gentle as a feather. Jared was CLEARLY schizophrenic. Stop with the rant before you get another label. btw, Take it easy on the copy machine eh.
This incident happened 2 miles from my home. My cousin went to Pima College with him! This has shook our ENTIRE community to the core. I blame the boys parents. Not politics! They should have got him help. He was a 22 yr old living with his parents no job nothing. Its their fault. The were obviously enabling him. He should have been in a hospital.

Clarissa said...

I'm high functioning in some ways but not as much in others, you know? Still haven't learned to drive a car, for example. Or not to cover myself in cuts and bruises accidentally.

There are many behavioral and cognitive mechanisms that your child can learn to function in the areas he chooses. I don't see any connection between Asperger's and anger at all. Asperger's causes me to process information differently. In some ways, its rewarding. In some ways, it's very challenging. Especially, on the days when I get verbally impaired, or my vision suffers. But it's definitely a condition that can be negotiated, worked with and adapted to one's preferences in life.

Your kid can achieve anything he wants in his life. Nobody should have the right to label him or discriminate against him in any way.

eric said...

Clarissa, you are absolutely right as to the Asperer thing!

I don't want to beat this into the ground, but it seems that Rep. James Clyburn does a good job clearing up any confusion as to whether this incident has political implications: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/10/james-clyburn-jared-lee-loughner_n_806881.html

And I'll leave it at that.

Clarissa said...

This is what Rep. Clyburn says:

"And I think that what has happened here is the vitriol has gotten so elevated, until people feel emboldened by this. And people, who are a little less than stable, and people aren't thinking for themselves or are so easily influenced, they got out and do things that all of us pay a great price for."

Great link, Eric!

This needs to be "beaten to death" because too many people are willing to blame this on Asperger's and disregard the political dimension of this.

Clarissa said...

182 people came here to find out if Loughner is autistic in just one day. And they keep coming. This makes me feel very sad. People are just ready to go out of their way to assign a label to what hapened and shelve it. How much damage this is doing to autistics is, of course, of no interest to them.

Aspie said...

It is very rare for someone with Asperger's to create crime, especially something like this. I have Asperger's (not diagnosed yet) and also have depression (very common if you live a lonely life). I haven't done anything wrong nor would I ever dream of it.

When the media mentions that someone who created a crime, has Asperger's, all it does is make people scared of it, instead of aware of it. No wonder why people are so negative aginst those with autism.

Anonymous said...

You really come off like a snob for calling people unintelligent simply for having a very valid question.

I know people with Asperger's and I have seen their outbursts. Based on the description of the shooter, he fits the profile of a person with Asperger's, which is why this question popped into my head.

Clarissa said...

Has it ever occurred to you that these people's outbursts might have nothing to do with their Asperger's? Or do you think that if you, say, meet 3 angry people with brown eyes it means that all brown-eyed people have anger issues?

I wish people would think just a little bit before verbalizing every unintelligent thought that pops into their heads.

Momshieb said...

Clarissa
I applaud your desire to clear up this whole question about whether Asperger Syndrome "causes" someone to behave in a certain way. I agree that people are always eager to look for an explanation when the unthinkable happens.
I have been teaching for almost 30 years, and have taught many, many kids with autism and Asperger syndrome. They are each as different as....well, as any other group of kids. Some are very gentle, some are dreamers, some are quick to anger, some are quick to give up. Sounds pretty much like any group of humans, which is my point.
Just please be careful with your own quick judgments: I came to your site not because I thought that Aspbergers was the root of this crime, but because I was amazed that anyone else thought so.
Good luck to you; keep blogging!

Anonymous said...

See, there you go again being a snob. Assuming you know it all.

For your information, the person I was referring to who had outbursts told me he had Asperger's. So I am not assuming or guessing anything.

In any case, even if Loughner had Asperger's I don't see why that changes anything. I'm not arguing that Asperger's leads to violence or anything of that sort. I just had a valid question but you don't seem to be mature enough to handle a simple question without getting defensive and calling people unintelligent.

Clarissa said...

Now, please try to concentrate. The question wasn't how do you know whether these people (who now mysteriously transformed into just one person) had Asperger's. The question was how do you know that this person's Asperger's caused the outbursts.

I might be a snob, but I have no patience with people who make sweeping generalizations about a huge group of people based on their experience with 1 person.

Ed Johnson said...

It's all about certain patterns of behavior. From what I could gather, Loughner's behavior resembled that of a person's with Asperger's.

Is there a 100% method to prove someone has Asperger's? I don't think so. However, as the saying goes "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it must be a duck"

Speros said...

People are entitled to ask any darn question they want, and asking about Asperger's is perhaps a far more intelligent thing to do than draw daft conclusions such as "I have Asperger's and have not committed a violent act" based on a population study of ONE, Clarissa.

Speros said...

Clarissa said: "182 people came here to find out if Loughner is autistic in just one day. And they keep coming. This makes me feel very sad. People are just ready to go out of their way to assign a label to what hapened and shelve it. How much damage this is doing to autistics is, of course, of no interest to them."

Clarissa, nobody came to your page to find out whether Loughner suffers from Asperger's. We entered a search on Google or Bing, etc, and your page came up! That's how internet searching works. If you think this is damaging to autism sufferers, the best thing you could do is shut down this ridiculous, ranting, self-serving blog of yours.

Clarissa said...

And you entered the search into Google for the purpose of finding out what exactly?

As for your advice to shut down my blog, envy doesn't suit you.

Patrick said...

Couldn't agree with you more. I know a couple of people with Aspergers (that I know of) and they are some of the kindest people that I've ever met.

Assigning singular blame, be it the parents, the politics, the mental health, etc. . . is simplistic and ultimately self serving. Murder is complex, particularly mass murders like this event. Which is why we'll never be able to eliminate it from happening. The best we can do is be aware of our environment, and take steps to mitigate the potential for tragedy.

Crazy said...

I have Asperger Syndrome. It is true that many famous serial killers are believed to have had Aspegers including Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and Thodore Kaczinsky (The Unabomber). It is also true though that many famous people that have done good have it including Bill Gates, Woody Allen, Dan Aykroyd, Albert Gore, Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, Sir Isaac Newton, Thomas Edison and George Washington. Not all Asperger's are serial killers. Jared Lougher should not be allowed to use this as an insanity defense. I am responsible for my actions even though I have Asperger Syndrome just like a drunk driver is responsible for his actions and can not use the defense that he was an alcoholic to get out of a drunk driving conviction. I do not know if Jared Loughner has it.

The thing that the serial killers that had it all had one thing in common. They had a comorbity along with their Asperger of having sociopathy. Still not an excuse though. If you know you have the problem you are responsible for getting help. Very few Asperger people has comorbidities in sociopathy. It is quite rare (thank goodness). Please do not blame his atrocious actions on Aspergers and paint us all in that window.

Anonymous said...

My reason for coming to your page was to gain more insight into my child. A psychiatrist recently suggested he may have Aspergers and I am trying to reconcile the characteristics of typical Aspergers with those that are atypical, such as lying, stealing, violence and cruelty to animals. I was really hoping to see a more in depth and thoughtful comparison and contrast between Loughner and those with Aspergers.

Clarissa said...

Lying, stealing, violence and cruelty to animals have nothing to do with Asperger's. They have to do with being human.

See my post on "If your child has Asperger's" if you want real details on that subject.