‘I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother’: A Mother Courageously Writes About Having A Son With A Mental Disability

"It’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness."

Like a lot of us, I was kind of a wreck on Friday. The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting really rocked me, and I’m trying to do what I can to stay rocked. It’ll be too easy to forget about this tomorrow, and it’ll be too easy to eventually decide (consciously or otherwise) that it’s not my problem. Earlier this week I talked about personal and parental responsibility to our youth, when it comes to pop culture icons like Rihanna and Chris Brown; and when the massacre in Aurora, Colorado happened earlier this summer I wrote about the importance of taking personal responsibility for the crime (I’m big on taking personal responsibility for things, because I struggle with it… a lot). One thing I focused on was, naturally, motherhood and how it’s easy to ‘blame’ moms in situations like this. But I also tried to highlight the fact that mothers have an especially tricky job to do because we bring ‘perfect’ babies into this world, and then we watch as they become perfectly human. They have issues! And, although I don’t have the experience of raising a child with a mental illness, I do know the feeling of looking at my child and being scared of a quality I see developing. My immediate reaction is, often, to ignore it and hope that it goes away. I hope that my son isn’t really a bad guy, even though he just did something douchey. When his little brother lunges at him in a rage, I hope that he isn’t really a violent person. I hope that it goes away… and then (most of the time) I remember that I’m a Mom, and my job isn’t to hope or even pray my children’s issues away. I have to get to work, and raise them, and talk, and encourage, and discourage and work, work, work. And then– only then– do I get to hope that everything will be okay. Click inside for a woman (“the anarchist soccer Mom”) who honestly and courageously aligns herself Adam Lanza‘s mother in an attempt to share her personal experience as a mother (that’s her son in the main pic), and to advocate for greater concern for mental illness in America.

Thinking the Unthinkable

In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.

“I can wear these pants,” he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.

“They are navy blue,” I told him. “Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pants only.”

“They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”

“You can’t wear whatever pants you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You’re grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school.”

I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan—they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.

At the start of seventh grade, Michael was accepted to an accelerated program for highly gifted math and science students. His IQ is off the charts. When he’s in a good mood, he will gladly bend your ear on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to the differences between Einsteinian and Newtonian physics to Doctor Who. He’s in a good mood most of the time. But when he’s not, watch out. And it’s impossible to predict what will set him off.

Several weeks into his new junior high school, Michael began exhibiting increasingly odd and threatening behaviors at school. We decided to transfer him to the district’s most restrictive behavioral program, a contained school environment where children who can’t function in normal classrooms can access their right to free public babysitting from 7:30-1:50 Monday through Friday until they turn 18.

The morning of the pants incident, Michael continued to argue with me on the drive. He would occasionally apologize and seem remorseful. Right before we turned into his school parking lot, he said, “Look, Mom, I’m really sorry. Can I have video games back today?”

“No way,” I told him. “You cannot act the way you acted this morning and think you can get your electronic privileges back that quickly.”

His face turned cold, and his eyes were full of calculated rage. “Then I’m going to kill myself,” he said. “I’m going to jump out of this car right now and kill myself.”

That was it. After the knife incident, I told him that if he ever said those words again, I would take him straight to the mental hospital, no ifs, ands, or buts. I did not respond, except to pull the car into the opposite lane, turning left instead of right.

“Where are you taking me?” he said, suddenly worried. “Where are we going?”

“You know where we are going,” I replied.

“No! You can’t do that to me! You’re sending me to hell! You’re sending me straight to hell!”

I pulled up in front of the hospital, frantically waiving for one of the clinicians who happened to be standing outside. “Call the police,” I said. “Hurry.”

Michael was in a full-blown fit by then, screaming and hitting. I hugged him close so he couldn’t escape from the car. He bit me several times and repeatedly jabbed his elbows into my rib cage. I’m still stronger than he is, but I won’t be for much longer.

The police came quickly and carried my son screaming and kicking into the bowels of the hospital. I started to shake, and tears filled my eyes as I filled out the paperwork—“Were there any difficulties with….at what age did your child….were there any problems with…has your child ever experienced…does your child have….”

At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You’ll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing.

For days, my son insisted that I was lying—that I made the whole thing up so that I could get rid of him. The first day, when I called to check up on him, he said, “I hate you. And I’m going to get my revenge as soon as I get out of here.”

By day three, he was my calm, sweet boy again, all apologies and promises to get better. I’ve heard those promises for years. I don’t believe them anymore.

On the intake form, under the question, “What are your expectations for treatment?” I wrote, “I need help.”

And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense.

I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am Jason Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

According to Mother Jones, since 1982, 61 mass murders involving firearms have occurred throughout the country. (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map). Of these, 43 of the killers were white males, and only one was a woman. Mother Jones focused on whether the killers obtained their guns legally (most did). But this highly visible sign of mental illness should lead us to consider how many people in the U.S. live in fear, like I do.

When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”

I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise—in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population. (http://www.hrw.org/news/2006/09/05/us-number-mentally-ill-prisons-quadrupled)

With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill—Rikers Island, the LA County Jail, and Cook County Jail in Illinois housed the nation’s largest treatment centers in 2011 (http://www.npr.org/2011/09/04/140167676/nations-jails-struggle-with-mentally-ill-prisoners)

No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”

I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.

God help me. God help Michael. God help us all.

 

This is such an important piece and it’s keeping me rocked and awake during a time when we really can’t afford to forget. Since Adam Lanza‘s father has released a statement, many of us have been wondering about where we draw the line between placing blame on a person’s family, and asking those who knew something to take responsibility. I think this piece helps to highlight that complication, and shows us that while it’s difficult (beyond difficult) to raise a child who needs care for a disability, it’s so important that we all do our part.

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  1. Maggie

    This is such a fantastic article that I hope all parents of children with mental illness read. These parents are not alone in their struggles, but this does not change the fact that they have limited options. The most difficult aspect of this mental illness is, as her son’s social worker said, to get him help, he would need to be charged with a crime. Why must these families wait until a crime is committed to receive the support and assistance they need? The United States has an awful habit of not taking preventative action. Early intervention is so important, not only for mental illness but developmental disabilities, TBI, and any health issue.

    • Maggie, that part really shocked me. What it means is that we take crime “seriously”, but not mental illness. One is, perhaps, more readily diagnosed than the other, but the fact that we have so many ‘criminal’s who should really be mental health patients proves that we’re doing something wrong– a lot wrong.

    • cutitout

      once someone turns 18, there a few options in forcing them to get help. Think Britney Spears. She was running around all over this country and untill she barricaded herself in the bathroom with her kids commiting a crime in not following court ordered visitation, Thats when authorities and her family were able to legally detain, observe, and get a court order for further help under the “5150″ thing. Now she has a conservatorship that allows her dad to force her to institutionalize her if her meds stop working. This is a common arrangement with Bipolar and schitzophrenics. Other than that, there are a few states/counties that have means of family members being able to force at least 72 hrs of observation.

      The toughest part about this is manytimes, mental illness does not become apparent untill late teens/early twenties, after the age of 18.

    • Maggie

      That’s exactly what happened with my brother. And unfortunately, if someone does not want help, then they will neither accept it, nor cooperate with it.

  2. dc

    Thank you for posting this. I sit here in tears, as this hits close to home. A friend of mine sits in jail today, two months after murdering his own mother in a horrifically violent attack, stemming from mental illness and lack of resources available to help patients and families deal with these illnesses. This dialogue is so necessary and long overdue.

  3. I’m glad she was able to speak up about mental illness. I’m bilpolar with psychotic tendencies and I at times feel like there’s a stigma hanging over me. I have to take medication for the rest of my life because of it but I’ve come to accept it mostly and make the most of it. mental illness is something that needs to be talked about and focused on. the Va Tech killer had psychological problems and got a gun and I believe there needs to be a open dialogue about those living with depression, PTSD and other disorders and how to help them. there isn’t enough support for family to do how to deal with loved ones, and us living with it are in an internal struggle and can’t express ourselves at times for people TO UNDERSTAND.

    I hope these events will (and I just saw a commercial yesterday for mental illness support on TV) will not cast a shadow on us, but lift and bring us together and bring some good out of it, not bickering.

    • cris

      my best friend was bipolar. we met outside from work for a smoke we start talking and i really like her. about a month or two later she told me she was bipolar i said what dose that mean. she said it means i’m crazy. i laugh at her and said your are not any more crazy than the rest of us. we were friends for over 20 years only once did she go bipolar on me nothing harmful . bought some very exspensive cooking supplies which she couldn’t afford unfortunately she died of cancer. i still miss her. not everyone who has a mental issue is going to kill

  4. Vanessa

    I’ve already commented on Trent’s post regarding Peter Lanza’s statement, but all this talk reminded me of another article that was printed earlier in the NYT entitled “Can You Call a 9-Year-Old a Psychopath?”: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/magazine/can-you-call-a-9-year-old-a-psychopath.html?pagewanted=all

    I’m currently in law school and interned for a family court judge specializing in juvenile delinquency and we saw a lot of kids with mental illnesses of all degrees, and I always wondered what more could have been done earlier before they showed up before us in court. Both articles provide great insight on just how difficult (an understatement, for sure) it has to be to parent these types of kids.

  5. That was heartbreaking. Something needs to be done to help these families. The sad part is, this is a mother who loves her child so much and wants the best. Not all mothers of mentally ill children will be giving their child so much attention and love, and I cannot imagine how hard it must be for all parties involved.

  6. Nat

    I have now read this multiple times as it travels social media circles.As a mom of a boy with autism,formerly considered Aspergers,I still cringe at the lumping in of autism spectrum with mental illness.It is not.It is a dissorder and it is extremely rare for autistics to exhibit violence that would be considered pre-meditated or planned.It makes me ill to think that my son would be looked at with mistrust or suspicion because our media,and I include this writer,does not think before they write or talk on TV.Just this morning on CNN Dr. Gupta discussed how autism does not cause violence,only to turn around and say something that more or less stated the opposite.

    • Nat, thanks for sharing this. I think the writer limped them together because she was listing off her son’s various diagnoses.

      I don’t think it’s about looking at people who suffer from autism or mental illness or ANYthing with ‘mistrust or suspicion’ and I hate that others will surely do this. Again, I don’t think the writer is encouraging this at all but I appreciate you making this distinction for those who might misunderstand her words.

    • Heather

      Autism and aspergers are sensory issues…they have MANY symptoms and can be quite tricky to diagnose (esp. aspergers). But a mental health issue on it’s own…no, is it what lead to this violent senseless act…no. There was another, or even many other issues with this man…I’d bet money on it. At the same time, having been in a similar situation in the past as the author of this article, you do WHATEVER it takes to save your child. Even if it’s doing the unthinkable like having your child arrested. Lord knows, I had to make that tough choice with my former stepson.

  7. cutitout

    I bet this mom does not have a house full of guns. This is kind of what i was talking about in response to the earlier article on Lanza’s father. Parents cannot afford to be delusional about their children and get help. Whether its something like bi-polar disorder or something more self-limiting like Aspergers, its in the best interest of all that peoople with illness, disorders, etc to get diagnosed and treated. Its also important to know the freaking risks and signs and DO SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING! I know its hard for parents to admit that their children are not “perfect” but if you know someone with a child that is exhibiting signs of anything, talk to them. We also need to make sure teachers and healthcare providers are aware of the signs and our schools should be able to require that students get assessed if they show signs and if the parent wants to be delusional, then they need to be forced to find alternative means of education for their children.

    I know many people who suffer from autism,(I don’t consider autism a mental illness but it is equally imparative that anyone on the spectrum gets help as early as possible) or mental illness and they are either living well because they are getting treatment or institutionalized if they have exibited tendencies that may make them a danger.

    If you bring a child into this world, it is your responsibilty to make sure they get as much help as possible. This mom is doing her job. i don’t know if we can say the same thing about the mothers of the others mass murderers. We will know more in a few days about Ms Lanza. but the house full of guns thing does not sit well with me at all.

    • Ella

      @cutitout-I’m not trying to argue with you, but I feel like you didn’t really read the article. This mother has done EVERYthing she can humanly do, yet the system we have in place limits her to the point where social workers say she just has to wait for her son to commit a crime. This is not a delusional mother or a mother in denial of what her son is capable of, but she has NO options. This boy will one day turn into a man who will be able to purchase a gun more easily than he can get healthcare and then what? We place all the blame on his mother who has done all she can do? Lanza’s parents should not have had guns in their home, but a person who is that mentally ill would have eventually found his way to a gun or a knife and there would still be deaths that our country is shaking it’s head over.

      You also make putting someone into a mental institution simple or that person just getting help and taking care of themselves. It’s not. Keeping them there, if they even get there is not simple, because all it takes is a moment of lucidity and they back out on the streets. They are not criminals, but those who have shown violent tendencies are let loose far too easily and there is nothing to be done until someone dies.

      There is a whole range of mental health issues. It is also my fear that anyone seeking mental health access will be stigmatized. I keep my clinical depression and anxiety disorder to myself as far as my career goes because people either don’t think it’s a real thing OR they think it’s only a matter of time before you shoot up their building.

      We need to wake up. The masses need better understanding about mental health and we definitely need a better way to help these people and their families.

    • cutitout

      First off, my response was in no way a criticism of this mother who wrote the article. My issue is with parents WHO DO NOTHING.

      Secondly, once someone is diagnosed, they should be put on a ban list when it comes to buying firearms at least.

      I feel bad about people who struggle with mental illness being “stigmatized” but we can’t have murderous, homocidal people strolling around blowing away dozens of children.

      Your right about us needing to do a better job at helping these people my my main issue is you can’t help these people if they are not first, identified and then having laws in place to force them to either get help or live out of the general population in a place where they cannot harm themselves or others if it comes to that for whatever reason.

      Slowly we are learning that this guy behaved in a way that made many take pause, a way that is/was in line with the behavior exhibited by many of the other murderers, and with all of that said, he was still taught to use firearms and allowed to live in a house with enough firepower to take out 5 times the number he killed. he could not purchase a gun on his own, he did not have to because his mother (who we now know was aware that he was troubled mentally) had plenty around the house. And 20 babies will spend this Christmas morning IN THE GROUND instead of under their Christmas trees.

      I understand that even with help and treatment and parents doing all they can , stuff like this could still happen but had this woman kept her guns in storage or somewhere this kid did not know/could not get to, more likely than lot, those people killed would still be alive.

    • Ella

      We aren’t fighting…..

      As a teacher, I’m well aware of parents who do not want to believe their child is capable of doing any wrong. Whether it’s bullying or bad grades, there are parents who refuse to take responsibility for their children’s actions and refuse to do what needs to be done.

      What I’m saying is with the system we have in place there may not have been anything done. This woman should NOT have had fire arms in her home. That was the biggest mistake. I haven’t read a lot about Adam Lanza and his strange behavior before this happened so I am more ignorant in that aspect than you, but strange doesn’t always mean violent. That’s what I mean about placing a stigma on mental health issues. Was there any indication he would do something THIS violent?

      We can’t just institutionalize everyone who begins showing signs of a mental break, because more often than not those people end up homeless, not shooting up an elementary school.

      Even when you have a mother who is doing everything she can with a son who has made threats to kill her she still has social workers telling her they need him to commit a crime before they can give her any help. This mother and mothers like her need real help BEFORE another Newtown or this child kills his entire family while they sleep.

      Like I said before, we need a better system in place for both mentally ill people who are showing signs of violent thoughts and gun control. Why this woman had an entire arsenal in her house is beyond me.

    • cutitout

      We really do not disagree, my point is, If there is any mental instability or cognitive issues, whether they be depression, bipolar disorder, or even autism, you have to prepare for the worse and not tempt fate.It only takes a few minutes/hrs of irrational thinking to cause a lot of damage. These guys rarely telegraph their intentions but as I said, there are signs and a pattern of behavior and characteristics that all these shooters have and it would be wise to seek help and at least try to get a dialog started, seek help if needed, and mass-murder proof your house as much as possible by securing in a way that there is no chance of the disturbed individual can’t get to them.

      Apparantly, some of this mother’s friends say that she was not only a gun enthusiast, but a “doomsday” prepper type, stockpiling guns, ammo, and food preparing for the economic collapse of the world….If this is trtue, she may have needed help too.

    • Ella

      Wow. So she basically implanted a lot of paranoia into her mentally unstable son. Great.
      I do have to strongly disagree with you on lumping ALL mental disorders together to prepare for the worst as though anyone on paxil is just a ticking time-bomb. While a person who commits a crime may have depression, it is not that imbalance that has caused that person to pull the trigger. Consider this piece from an article I read from another poster:

      “The question’s not ‘Why do some people do bad things?’ ” Lynam told me by phone. “It’s ‘Why don’t more people do bad things?’ And the answer is because most of us have things that inhibit us. Like, we worry about hurting others, because we feel empathy. Or we worry about other people not liking us. Or we worry about getting caught. When you start to take away those inhibitors, I think that’s when you end up with psychopathy.”

      I suffer with social anxiety disorder and clinical depression. It’s not something I talk about with employers because they either think I’m just “sad” and want a free day off or it’s just a matter of time before I go nuts and shoot up their building. I KNOW there are stigmas still against the mentally ill. I KNOW that people still lump all forms of mental disorders together.

      If a mother sees signs of depression or anxiety in their child the first thing they think isn’t going to be well first I have to get every possible weapon out of my house just in case they’re the next Adam Lanza and nor should it.

      When you say : If there is any mental instability or cognitive issues, whether they be depression, bipolar disorder, or even autism, you have to prepare for the worse and not tempt fate. It’s like saying bad things happen outside so, I’m not going to leave my house just to be safe. Don’t wanna tempt fate. Adam Lanza’s Mother felt the same way about not being too careful and that’s why she had a whole arsenal in house and preparations for the end of the world.

      We do need a dialogue about the realities about people with all forms of cognitive and mental health issues, about gun control, about so many things. It’s so hard to unpack it all so close to a tragedy like this. There’s a congressman in Texas I think saying the principal of the school should have had a gun. A lot of conversations need to be had. And despite our disagreement on this part, I’m glad we’re having it.

    • cutitout

      Having a disorder that takes you away from rational thought or clouds your perception or judgement makes you a high risk individual. Just like eyesight problems makes a person a high risk for traffick accidents. Whatever can be done to protect that person and others from “that person” should be done. If that person gets better than you can ease up but the bottom line is there is no logical explanation for a parent to keep a bunch of high powered weapons in a home where a mentally ill/unstable/disturbed son who was 20 years old and could probably easily over power them.

    • Ella

      What do you mean by high risk? Your response is exactly what I’m afraid of. You are implying that anyone with a mental disorder or cognitive impairments have a higher risk of hurting another person and that is simply not true. Correct me if I’m wrong.

      People who need corrective lenses don’t have the stigma placed on them that people with mental health issues do. No one wants to be labeled “crazy” or a potential threat to society just because they are depressed, but it is that stigma that keeps MANY people away from getting the help that they need to make their lives better. There is still a lot of shame attached to many mental illnesses-Shame that we can’t just shake it off or hold it together. The a part of the body we know least about but controls everything we do is a very different can of worms compared to blurry vision. There’s no shame connected with corrective lenses.

      I’m not arguing the Lanza point, because I completely agree with you on that front, but it also sounds like Adam Lanza was being raised by a parent who instilled paranoia and fear into her disturbed son’s mind, taught him how to use those weapons, and left them in a place he could access them. His mental health didn’t help, but that alone is not what made that boy snap.

  8. I wish everyone could read this. My heart hurts for this mother. Something needs to be changed, and fast.

  9. Jlopez

    Shannon, thank you so much for sharing this. It sheds light not only on the lack of dialogue about mental illness but the amount of WORK parenting consists of. I commend this mother for putting herself out there and starting this dialogue. It shows that she is willing to do anything for her children and its amazing to see a mother acknowledge her accountability for the outcome of her children. My heart goes out to her. She has a tough battle ahead of her but if we spread her word and openly talk to those we know about mentall illness, we can at least make her battle a little easier.

    It’s true and clear something needs to be done. I just hope everyone reading this realizes that we r the ones that need to get that done. It’s not her problem, it’s our problem.

  10. ashley81614

    Wow, this has to be one of the most inspirational and heartbreaking articles I have ever read. I know it’s really easy to place blame when tragedies like this happen because it’s human nature to search for a reason. We can try to pass all the gun laws in the world to rectify what has happened, but we can’t continue to ignore the underlying cause. Bravo to this woman for standing up and admitting “I need help”. As somebody who has suffered from depression, I know how hard those words are to utter. Hopefully we can work together to get rid of the stigma and get people the help they need before it gets to a tragic point.

  11. fmx

    That was an enlightening read, and thanks to you and Trent for clear up to date facts. Though the media is really iffy on many reports I still can’t figure out what the killer’s specific illness was, they are reporting a mix of everything instead of specifics, and it’s really not helpful to be so general in that way.

    • Ella

      I’m glad you posted this article. As someone who deals with depression and anxiety it is my fear that people are connecting the tragedy of Friday to mental health issues across the board.
      We are all still trying to unpack what has happened and how it can be prevented from happening again.
      After reading this article and reading some people’s comments on the subject, I’m suddenly nervous about having the mental healthcare conversation along side this conversation about such heinous and vicious violence.
      Micheal’s mom is NOT Adam Lanza’s mother. She’s not even the mother of the other mass murderers and the Adam Lanza’s name will reside beside in history.

    • TF, thank you for this. As with all theories, it’s important to have a counterpoint.

      I think Asthma Boy was right when he said that the author really just wants to start a productive dialogue about mental health.

      What I like about his argument is that it makes you realize that part of the appeal of this piece is that it does, in a way, give people an answer to the question ‘why?’ It’s easier to understand what happened if we can label Adam Lanza as mentally ill… but if it’s more complicated than that, or if there WEREN’T signs that something was wrong, then we sort of don’t know what we’re dealing with. Which is much scarier.

      But I still think this piece is an important start to this conversation.

  12. Kat

    I love that she shared her story I do but there is one major difference. She took the knives away when there was the possibility of violence being done.
    Adams mother had guns in her home that her son gained access too.
    She is not “Adam Lanza mother” she takes the needed steps to keep her family and others safe. I agree that we should open dialogue and help/understanding of the mental disabilities that many people suffer with.

  13. Karenna

    Mental illness is at the root of many problems – not just mass murders but also homelessness, domestic abuse, and other society ills. For some people permanent institutionalization may be the only solution for their own safety and everyone else’s. It’s time to bring back mental institutions run by responsible, compassionate healthcare providers.

    • I have heard many times that mental health (and homelessness) was drastically changed by policy changes in the 80s. I was a child then, so I don’t know the specifics, but I think it would really help to look back at what changed. I know there are a lot of homeless vets out there who suffer from mental illness and never received the help they needed.

  14. I have so many mixed feelings. I think mental health care absolutely needs to be addressed. I had a friend/dorm mate whose menal health issues surfaced during college, while i was going through psychology classes, and I spoke with my professor at length for advice. Essentially, nothing can be done until a crime is committed or the person threatens themselves. I was terrified she would end up hurting me or my other friends.

    What I have been struggling with is where do you draw the line? My friend was suddenly acting in ways that were so strange (extreme paranoia, slamming drawers 20+ times in the middle of the night, hiding out overnight in campus buildings, talking nonsensical)…but should someone have the right to take away someone’s freedom because of these actions? Should we as a society be able to force medication on someone with bi-polar disorder or another disease? I feel like SOMETHING needs to be done, but I have no clue as to what that something is. In some cases I think forced institutionalization would be helpful, but (not to trivialize the level of discussion)…then I also think of GIrl Interrupted. Winona’s character was forced when there wasn’t really anything wrong, she was just non-traditional. Would the wrongly accused West Mephis Three have been institutionalized by their community because they had long hair and wore Metallica t-shirts?

  15. Tess

    I grew up in a small, affluent community with a kid who had his first psychotic break when he was in his early 20s. He was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and his parents tried everything they could for years to get him institutional help. But, you can’t lock up someone for just being “crazy”. It wasn’t until he locked his sister and nephew in their home and burned them alive was he finally put into a mental health facility. Thirty years after Reagan repealed the Mental Health Systems Act and this is where we are.

  16. “Thirty years after Reagan repealed the Mental Health Systems Act and this is where we are”

    Ah. THIS is what I have been wondering about. Thank you for putting a name on the legislation that I will now research.

  17. Sara

    Mental illness is everywhere.. people just need to OPEN their eyes and instead of turning their back on it as not a big problem to HELPING those who are struggling.
    I know its hard asking for help but if you look in the right places, its there.
    My heart goes out to anyone who has ever suffered from any form of mental illness, and especially those who’s lives were dramatically altered by such tragedy.

  18. My heart goes out to her and her son. I’m glad she wrote this to get more focus on mental health issues. However, I wish she chose some of her words more carefully and did this anonymously. Please take the time to read this blog: http://www.disabilityandrepresentation.com/2012/12/16/no-you-are-not-adam-lanzas-mother/

  19. ....................

    uhhhh.. NO. plenty of mentally ill people out there, i’m one of them. it doesn’t mean that they’ll do something like what that idiot kid did. it takes a special type of person to do something like that.

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