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Drugs and the Shooter

It wasn't the Navy. It wasn't the guns. It wasn't Buddhism. And it wasn't the drugs either.

by
Charlie Martin

Bio

September 20, 2013 - 11:00 am
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Whenever something awful happens, there’s an impulse to look for something that might have caused it, something we could have done, some way to control things so it wouldn’t have happened. There’s a technical Buddhist term for this, bhavatrishna, and I’ll probably write more about it in my Buddhism column on Sunday, but what’s important now is that it happens regularly.

Many times, this shows up in the form of conspiracy theories: rather than feeling essentially helpless, people develop complicated stories of conspiracies to explain things; whether it’s the Mafia, the CIA, NSA, the Freemasons, the Illuminati, the Bilderbergers, the Federal Reserve, the Democrats, the Republicans, the Communists, the Koch Brothers, George Soros, the Jews, the Moslems, the Catholic Church, Opus Dei, or shape-changing reptile people. At least if there’s a conspiracy, then someone has control.

So this time, we’ve got the Navy Yard gunman — you’ll forgive me if I don’t bother to name him — and, of course, people are looking for easy explanations. From the left, we’ve got the usual one of blaming it on the AR-15 he used (which was never there); from the right, in particular Infowars and that consummate ass Alex Jones, we’ve got the assertion that it was psychiatric medications — which it appears were also never there. According to several stories, yesterday and today, the gunman complained of insomnia and was given a sleeping pill that happens to be an ineffective antidepressant.

So, just like the Navy, guns, or Buddhism, it wasn’t psychiatric drugs. In fact, according to the reports:

Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis had sought treatment for insomnia in the emergency rooms of two Veterans Affairs hospitals in the past month, but he told doctors he was not depressed and was not thinking of harming others, federal officials said Wednesday.

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All Comments   (41)
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CM: “from the right, in particular Infowars and that consummate ass Alex Jones, we’ve got the assertion that it was psychiatric medications — which it appears were also never there. According to several stories, yesterday and today, the gunman complained of insomnia and was given a sleeping pill [Trazodone] that happens to be an ineffective antidepressant.”

Trazodone has the potential for side effects which cannot be distinguished from the psychotic thoughts and behavior of Alexis.

“Psychiatric side effects have been reported and include mania, paranoia, hypomania (during and following therapy), increased libido, delirium, agitation, psychosis, hallucinations and self- destructive behavior.”

http://www.drugs.com/sfx/trazodone-side-effects.html

There were 80 school shooting murders in the 56 years from 1927 to 1983 = 1.4 per year. There were 248 school shooting murders during the last 30 years = 8.3 per year - a 500% increase.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_school_shootings_in_the_United_States

School shooting murders have increased dramatically during the last 30 years - corresponding temporally with the use of mind-altering drugs such as Ritalin, SSRIs/SNRIs, Trazodone and others. Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to call Charlie Martin a consummate ass, but Alex Jones is honing in on the truth at Infowars to much better effect than Charlie Martin here at PJM. Alex Jones deserves an apology from Charlie Moore.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry, but I have to take issue here. This is just my horse sense talking but I hold the MEDIA mostly responsible. This all started in the mid-nineties with a school shooting in (I think) Atlanta, GA. The media hysteria was all over the place and there were a bunch of copycat incidents in quick succession.

In my heart of hearts I blame the media for turning mass school shootings into an all-American tradition overnight and the easy, attractive way to get noticed for teenage misfits.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, and go look it up: there is exactly *one* report in the literature of someone developing a *different type* of schizophrenia following treatment with trazodone -- and it was in someone who was *already* under treatment with haloperidol for delirium. http://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleID=101971
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't know if Trazadone played a role in the Alexis mass murder, but we know that Trazodone has the potential to cause psychosis and is known to cause suicidal ideation, particularly if taken with other anti-depressants, and, of all things, when grapefruit juice is consumed.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Really now, a casual perusal of the facts indicate that Alexis was showing psychotic and general anger-management symptoms off-and-on for years before he went to the VA for insomnia.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
We don't know if Alexis used SSRIs or SNRIs in years past; nor do we know if he was placed on Ritalin as a youngster. Psychosis is a known side effect of those mind-altering drugs.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
"We don't know it's not true" is not a very convincing argument. Oddly, the climate change people tried that last week: just because we don't have ny evidence for continued human climate change doesn't mean we shouldn't go ahead and kill millions trying to fix it.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
You have a citation for that statistic? Especially since I linked and cited the opposite? Or, since I realize the concept of "next page" may be too difficult, here's the link again: http://boston.com/community/blogs/crime_punishment/2012/08/no_increase_in_mass_shootings.html

Here's some more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/01/forget-what-you-ve-heard-mass-shootings-aren-t-rising-but-they-probably-aren-t-going-away.html

As I tell the global warming people, I've got the numbers.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Your boston.com link indicated that there is no increase in American mass murder incidents. True, and further, there is an overall decrease in murder of any type.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/12/listening_to_the_latest_media.html

So, since overall murder is decreasing at the same time that murder of school children is increasing, it makes sense that there may be an increase in psychotic murderers since it takes a crazy man to shoot a child, whereas it only takes an ordinarily evil man to murder an adult - usually for the love of money. An increase in psychotic murder could be rationally explained, at least in part, by the increased use of mind-altering drugs in our country.

30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
The citation is provided by the hyperlink, and proves that school shooting murders have increased dramatically in the 1983-2013 period compared to the 1927-1983 period. I added the numbers between 1927 & 1983, and the numbers between 1983 & now.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wikipedia? Seriously?
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Do you seriously doubt the numbers? Wikipedia appears to have a liberal bias in their articles relating to social issues, but I have found Wikipedia to be a reliable source of scientific and historical information.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
As opposed to formal studies? Well, yes.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Link us to the formal studies and summarize their conclusions.

Even formal studies rely on the compiled data, so in the absence of a formal scientific study we consult the compiled data and draw rational conclusions. There have been many "formal studies" which fudge the data and the conclusions - particularly government-funded formal studies. In the end the raw data is always the starting point - and that is what the Wikipedia article provides. The actual data about school shootings doesn't fit your narrative, so I conclude you're just sticking to your narrative while denigrating the actual data.


30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I did. And your wikipedia article has the same problem ten-fold.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Correction: Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to call Charlie Martin a consummate ass, but Alex Jones is honing in on the truth at Infowars to much better effect than Charlie Martin here at PJM. Alex Jones deserves an apology from Charlie Martin.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Go look at that video. After he assaulted me and attacked Michelle Malkin with a mob, he fled the state.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
OK, I watched the video, and he acted like a belligerent nut, and owes you an apology. Having said that I believe like him that there is rational grounds in reference to a possible relationship between the use mind-altering drugs and the increase in violence that we've see in American schools.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
You missed the part where he blindsided me across the kidneys. Luckily he's a girly man. Oh, and there was the part where he and a mob of 30 or 40 screaming groupies surrounded Michelle Malkin screaming "kill her, kill Michelle Malkin."

30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I admire your restraint in the face of his bully tactics. I don't agree with all your ideas, but your public demonstration of how to behave like a gentleman is appreciated.

30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was more worried about the mob getting to Michelle.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm afraid I'll have to disagree.

The author makes the claim that those who question the role psyche meds play in these tragedies is the same logic as the leftists claiming guns are the reason.

I am confident that inanimate objects like guns have never influenced anyone to commit acts of violence.

However, there is plenty of evidence that mood altering medications have had negative influences on some patients who have taken them, and there is also evidence that some medications have had such a negative influence that the person taking those medications have committed horrible acts of violence while under the influence of those medications.

This is not a shock as the very intended purpose of these medications is to alter the mood of the patient.

This is not to claim that all patients will react the same, nor is it the same as proposing that these types of medications should be abandoned wholesale by everyone - it only means that some people have reacted adversely with side effects that include both homicidal as well as suicidal tendencies.

Regarding the claim that the shooter was not on psyche meds, this may be true. Unfortunately the quote does not support that assertion - and it is important but not in the way some may realize.

The quote only indicates that the hospital he visited didn't put him on such needs.

However, the shooter WAS being treated some how by the VA, and a psychiatrist was involved and it looks like this guy waved a warning flash about his patient.

Under those circumstances I would hesitate to claim he had not been put on psyche meds as part of that treatment.

The thing people don't realize is, the most dangerous time for a person on such meds is when they go off of them - especially if they are not under the observation of a doctor when they do so. That is when a lot of the patients lose control.

This is not to say the medications were necessarily helping as the medications could have been making their condition worse - it is only to say that the person may snap at this point more readily.

If that is the case this time, then it is entirely accurate to say he was not on such needs - but it is still not accurate to say the needs played no role in the deterioration of his mental state
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's different from evidence that they're causing mass shootings. Since mass shootings haven't increased, that's going to be hard to come by.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let's try this analogy then.

Statistics regarding drunk driving, as with mass shootings, indicate a marked reduction for decades with a slight plateau effect since the mid-1990's.

http://www.prevent.org/data/files/transportation/pages%20from%20transportation%20and%20health_%20policy%20final%2007082011%20chapter%203-1.pdf

One can argue that the decrease in drunk driving fatalities is the result of better law enforcement (ie, drunk drivers being apprehended before they cause an accident) or perhaps better designed vehicles with air bags, or just fewer people drinking these days.

However, I don't think anyone will argue that fatalities where a drunk driver caused an accident were due to anything other than being that driver being inebriated.

There is clear evidence that some people on these types of medications may become suicidal or violently aggressive as a negative reaction to the drugs.

That cannot be dismissed as fantasy as it's a simple fact.

Why is it so difficult to accept that, due to such a known negative reaction, some people do become homicidal when they are on such meds - or have just come off of those meds?

30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
The problem is that you're combining an ignorant idea that mass shootings happen when someone "just snaps" with the notion that some people become suicidal or angry -- which, if I didn't accept, I wouldn't have printed the "black box warning, would I? -- to arrive at the logically unsupported idea that SSRIs are causing mass shootings.

This guy didn't "just snap" -- he'd clearly been planning it for weeks. He was also hearing voices and complaining about his neighbors beaming microwaves into his brain to keep him from sleeping.

The irrationality is in groping for someone to blame.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
"This guy didn't "just snap" -- he'd clearly been planning it for weeks."

You are taking my reference to "snap" out of context. Here is what I actually stated:

"This is not to say the medications were necessarily helping as the medications could have been making their condition worse - it is only to say that the person may snap at this point more readily. "

This was in direct reference to the individual going off of the medication.

To elaborate further, there are instances where individuals on such medications were experiencing deteriorating mental health and chose to go off of those medications themselves.

At that point, their mental stability went from shaky to broken - and yes, 'snapped' is as good a description of what happened as any other.

As for whether or not it is illogical that SSRI's factor in mass shootings, this is what the FDA states in the "Antidepressant Patient Medication Guide" that they began requiring pharmacists provide to all adolescents taking these types of psyche meds in 2004:

"Call healthcare provider right away if you or your family member has any of the following symptoms: Acting aggressive, being angry, or violent & acting on dangerous impulses."

And

"Never stop an antidepressant medicine without first talking to a healthcare provider. Stopping an antidepressant medicine suddenly can cause other symptoms."

Those "other symptoms" include hostility and suicidal ideation, and these are the very symptoms I have been referring to regarding this class of drugs.

So, by the FDA's very own warnings, a person on SSRI class drugs CAN become suicidal or hostile, and if they go off of the drugs on their own they CAN also become suicidal or hostile.

If I understand your response - and feel free to correct any misperceptions here - even though practically every one of the mass shooters were on psyche meds (or had just gone off of their psyche meds) you are disputing that the very state of mind (hostility) the FDA warns about played any factor in whether or not that person went from thinking about a mass killing - to engaging in a mass killing?

Is that a correct summation?

By the way, after the FDA began mandating those warnings I quoted above in 2004 - there was a reduction in the number of teenage suicides, and in 2006 that warning was extended from teenagers to adults.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Acting on violent impulses." This was clearly not an impulse. Plus. there's *still* the problem that mass shootings haven't increased. They just haven't.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'd submitted a response before remembering a good example regarding how I would consider someone "snapping".

In the movie "Full Metal Jacket", you have a guy who is mentally slow and more than a bit childish in his thinking.

As his squad gets fed up with the guy getting them into collective trouble constantly, they take action and punish him by beating him one night in the barracks.

In the movie the character is clearly emotionally and mentally broken, and indeed his mindset experiences an overnight transformation as a result of the experience. He focuses on what they are teaching him, and becomes very very good with his weapon - an M14 rifle, so much so that even his drill instructor is impressed.

However, anyone watching the movie realizes the guy has come unhinged.

Later, he shoots his drill instructor and afterwards commits suicide by blowing his head off with the same M14.

The actual violent acts occurred quite a bit of time AFTER the violent beating he took in the barracks - yet I don't think it can be argued that he didn't "snap" until right before he shot his drill instructor.

He "snapped" that night he was beaten - he only acted on his impulses much later.

While that was a movie and fictional, I hold that something similar sometimes happens with these mass shooters.

They "snap" at some point, but they don't act until later - and that later time may be after they have constructed elaborate plans of mayhem.

30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
We may be using different ideas about what constitutes "snapped".

From how you are using the word, I assume you mean someone who just goes mindlessly crazy, picks up a gun, and starts randomly shooting.

For me, it is the moment the person crosses over from thinking about doing something into actually planning the attack and then eventually taking action.

In the case of the Colorado theater shooter, to take just one example, that event occurred long before he started pulling the trigger.

His thinking clearly did not constitute anything resembling normal - and he had the presence of mind to plan out an intricate plan of attack and create a nightmare of booby traps in his apartment.

Wouldn't you say though, that he "snapped" at some point?

In the case of the Navy yard shooter, the man was living in his own elaborate world all by himself - well, except for the imaginary people chatting away inside his head.

I would suggest that anyone living within that elaborate of an alternate reality would likewise be capable of coming up with equally elaborate methods of dealing with whatever perceived threat they have imagined.

Such elaborate methods could, I propose, include elaborate plans for murdering people.

As for the importance you attach to the incidence of mass shootings not increasing, as I noted earlier the frequency of drunk driving likewise experienced a dramatic decline over the course of a couple of decades.

I still have not seen where you don't consider the consumption of alcohol to be a factor in drunk driving.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Look up sleep deprivation psychosis. Having worked in critical care for 20 yrs., I have seen it many times over. I have seen very nice calm people turn into hallucinating raving loons after suffering an extended period of sleep loss. This may not have been the case here, but it hurts me badly for all involved to think that it could have contributed to such a loss.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, but he'd been having extended (apparently years) periods of paranoia, irrational anger, "blackouts", and he'd been reporting the voices for weeks. it's much more likely it was simple psychosis.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good analysis. We do go through the same song and dance every time something like this happens - same reactions, same questions, same resolve to "make sure it never happens again."

It's like our 21st century American mourning ritual. It doesn't change anything. We do it because it makes us feel better. Instead of wearing black and crying a lot, we testify before Congress and start a charity. (Or, if we're politicians, we blame our opponents and fundraise.)

It's the illusion of control. Somehow, wearing black and crying a lot doesn't feel like enough. We're Americans, dammit! We have to DO something about this!

To me, it looks like we'll be having the same arguments when the last mass murderer on earth fires the last bullet on earth at the last innocent bystander on earth.

So...what to do?
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yo, Monster, here's where being a "conservative" comes into play.

Part of being a conservative is understanding that human beings are intrinsically flawed and that the only way of governing ourselves reasonably well is acknowledging and making allowances for the fact that we are, and always will be--imperfect.

There is no law, no pill, no Clockwork Orange treatment and--above all--no philosopher king or superhuman oligarchy we can trust to make us all warm and happy and safe. Those who promise that they can kiss it and make it better if we only hand over power to them are the ones who must be resisted above all. Remember that thing about "separation of powers"? It's not just a throwaway phrase. Those old white guys in powdered wigs long ago knew all about this.

There, you just received Lesson #1. Now if you think that dedicating the rest of your life to banning guns or "getting money out of politics" will make you at least feel better, well....
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry, I meant "Or, if we're politicians, we blame our opponents, fundraise, and make laws." When all you've got is a hammer...
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Charlie, search images for the Novartis HQ bldng in Basel.

THAT is an embodiment of what is scaring people.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have to admit it looks kind of cool, but yeah, that looks like it should be Dr Seuss World HQ, not a drug company.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ha! You mean the new HQ. It looks like it was designed by somebody who needs one of their products, or who's taken too much of one.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...it’s the Mafia, the CIA, NSA, the Freemasons, the Illuminati, the Bilderbergers, the Federal Reserve, the Democrats, the Republicans, the Communists, the Koch Brothers, George Soros, the Jews, the Moslems, the Catholic Church, Opus Dei, or shape-changing reptile people."

Everyone knows it's Google. And don't think it wasn't noticed you left out the Thai tie.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
我没有一个太太。
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Then you've avoided the Thais that bind. Wise.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Who wouldn't love our readership?
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
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