Thursday, December 20, 2012

Responsible Parties

I read this article after my friend +Chris D posted it on her Facebook page: Anger as French psychiatrist is found guilty after patient hacks man to death

This post is just my thoughts on this timely subject. The article relates that a psychiatrist got a one year suspended sentence for failing to recognize her patient could be dangerous. He escaped his therapy session in hospital and while free, he murdered his grandmother's boyfriend with an ax. Not they have prosecuted the doctor for failing to recognize the danger. I'm not sure she didn't recognize the danger but she is responsible for what happened?  I'm not convinced of that.

One of two things will happen once you start prosecuting people for "not recognizing the danger" a mentally disturbed person presents to others. First, a lot of people, mostly harmless people, will be brought before a panel of mental health professionals who will be terrified to get it wrong. That alone is scary.

Second, the truly dangerous won't be able to find medical help anywhere and their families will be held accountable and fined because doctors will be too afraid they will be sent to jail for a misdiagnosis or for not recognizing a danger. Mental health care is already in a sad state.

A third scenario could come about if wisdom prevails... apparently several other doctors actually recognized that the situation was so serious with this patient they "suggested" she give the patient to someone else. She refused. Note, doesn't it sound as if a "team" was involved in his treatment and that his behavior had escalated? Why wouldn't a team force this doctor to remand her patient to a more secure institution under someone else's care? When other doctors were aware that the situation was dangerous or the patient was not being helped why are they not also questioned or even charged? He was known to be dangerous by everyone!

For days I've read articles suggesting that Adam Lanza's mother did nothing to protect society. Immediately people began to lay blame on the mother. Why didn't she ask for help? Why didn't she do something? Why did she have guns? It must be her fault he killed all those people, right? A recent article suggested she had begun to take steps to have him committed and this may have been what sent him over the edge. But how do we know she hadn't tried to handle things in some way?

I can't begin to know what this woman was living with for years but based on what is now known, she's handled it alone for a long time, growing more and more frightened of what was happening to her child. The most recent months must have been a boiling cauldron of fear in her home. If reports are true, she had begun steps to have him committed. She had reached her limit. How sad it came too late and her head was blown off before she could get the help she needed.

As a parent, I don't think any of us want to believe we have insane children. But this isn't the first time children have harmed parents. It is the first time they managed to harm the parent and nearly two dozen others. She should have asked for help? Really? From whom? Does the public really know how difficult getting help for this sort of thing is? Obviously, not.

A few decades ago some political know-nothings dumped mental patients on the streets to fend for themselves. Funding, you know, and there was adequate help out there without having to institutionalize folks who could dress themselves and wipe their own bottom. Never mind that most of the time many of these institutionalized patients didn't know their own names or what planet they were on. They became the homeless, rooting around in garbage cans and sleeping where they could find a warm cardboard box.And the processes of getting help for new cases... unbelievably difficult.  The process of getting someone committed is nearly impossible. For good reasons and bad ones.

The Adam Lanza's of the world are capable of coherent, even highly intelligent activity. The majority of people who knew him appear to have never seen a violent action or more than a passing weirdness. Are they to blame for this tragedy because they failed to recognize that he was a danger? No. Is anyone capable of identifying psychopaths? No. And we don't really know what Adam Lanza was suffering from, at this point. There is no diagnosis.

I suspect there are many more of these children out there. There are many more of these mothers and fathers out there. What do you really think is going to happen when they try to get help?

The doctor in France made the wrong decision probably in the belief that she could help. She's responsible for not recognizing her limitations.

Adam Lanza's mother is probably guilty of being a mother who loved her son and simply could not believe he'd ever hurt anyone...until it was too late. Had Adam not killed his own mother, would we crucify her for his actions? I believe we would.

Blaming others is a coping mechanism for people who don't know what else to do. I do not think other people are responsible for an insane person's actions. I do think we should take steps to protect ourselves and others but I know that generally, it is a waste of time. Ask anyone who has been harassed by a disturbed person living next door how difficult it is to get help to stop it. Adam Lanza is a murderer. His mother is one of his victims and I suspect she was a victim for a long time before he killed her.

The problem here is not guns. The problem here is we can't know who will go on a rampage and murder our children. Instead of spending millions enforcing a ban on owning guns,why can't we spend millions finding way to prevent another massacre at the hands of people like Lanza? He isn't the first to do this. Find ways to actually help families of the mentally ill rather than closing doors in their faces, tying them up with years of red tape, and making them out to be the monsters.

Evil will always find a way. Please note that the mental patient in France used an axe to murder his victim. Evil will use any means necessary to kill, steal, and destroy society. Our job is to find ways to combat evil.


  1. Do we blame the team above for not forcing the doctor to force the patient to take treatment? Do we blame the legislators for not writing new laws to force the team to force the doctor ... ad infinitum.

    A part of the problem is the division in this country that does not allow for differing solutions to common situations. Knee-jerk responses based on personal agendas will separate us even further at a time we need to share compassion and healing. Complex!!

  2. I agree with your post, word for word. I agree with Phyllis, too. Is there really an answer? I don't think so.

  3. Thank God this happened in France. We think it's stupid but I could see lawsuits like this in the future.

    You are right. The issue is NOT about guns. It's about mental illness. Gun legislation is the quick and cheap way out; mental illness reform will be costly.

    1. I do not know why it is so difficult for legislators, politicians or whatever, to see that banning something never works. A negative action never creates a positive outcome.