Kudos to Jalees Rehman for calling out armchair psychiatry

Today I’m linking to a post by fellow science/health blogger Jalees Rehman about the media’s swift judgement on mental health diagnoses in high profile cases of violence, namely the recent shootings in Newton, Connecticut. I was really impressed by this post because it nailed a few points that I’ve been dwelling on recently and they are issues that I think are going to get more and more out of hand as news is reported almost instantaneously and by a number of sources, amateur or otherwise – which can be seen as either a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it.

Drawing of a gun

© Mountainbiker | Stock Free Images

Rehman’s main point is that it seems to be common knowledge now that the alleged shooter in this incident, Adam Lanza, was “diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome”, despite the fact that none of the media reporters have ever gained access to his medical records, and we don’t know if the diagnosis is accurate. We also have no idea if the mental illness was directly related to the violence. Nevertheless, the damage has been done, and I’m sure a lot more people are going to be careful next time they come into contact with someone that has the same illness, which is a shame. Hell, why don’t we just put everyone that’s ever been labelled with a mental illness on a registry, like the NRA wants us to do?

The other issue brought up in the post that I think is really important is the problem with  another blog post that came out directly after the shooting called “I am Adam Lanza’s mother”, which is a ridiculous, sensationalist title. The author of that post, Liza Long, is not Adam Lanza’s mother and can never know what it was like to be Adam Lanza’s mother. I agree with Rehman that it was irresponsible of her to assume that Adam Lanza had the same diagnosis as her son and perpetuate the stereotype that people with these diagnoses will all share the same outcome. On a side note, why don’t people ever want to protect the privacy of their children these days?

Just some things to think about when we’re discussing the supposed mental health status of people in the news these days.

The post also includes a short review on the supposed link between mental illness and violence, based on peer-reviewed scientific studies and literature. Always worth a read if you want to educate yourself on any issue.

Read Rehman’s post here: http://www.scilogs.com/next_regeneration/armchair-psychiatry-and-violence/

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