One of the more shocking aspects of public reaction to the mass murder in Tuscon is the widespread ignorance of SCHIZOPHRENIA -- which may simply, hopefully, speak only to its rarity (1.1% of the population over the age of 18).
I've noticed that an interview with one of the shooter's old girlfriends is making the rounds of late; in it she states that Loughner was a lovely person six or seven years ago, not at all the person being "portrayed" in the media, post-shooting.
Well, duh. People aren't born schizophrenic.
Now hear this:
Late adolescence and early adulthood
are peak years for the onset of schizophrenia.
I'm tired of hearing, especially from the Leftist Media, this idea that the shooter may have been influenced by public political rhetoric. If indeed, Loughner had a psychotic break (from reality) - and I think it's pretty obvious that he did - then he wasn't even operating in same universe as the rest of us.
Schizophrenia is characterized by profound disruption in cognition and emotion, affecting the most fundamental human attributes: language, thought, perception, affect, and sense of self.
Consider these characteristic symptoms: Delusions, Hallucinations and Disorganized speech
e.g. frequent derailment or incoherence... also called 'word salads'. Ongoing disjointed or rambling monologues in which a person seems to be talking to himself/herself or imagined people or voice[s].
[See also Charles Krauthammer: Massacre, followed by libel.]
If you've ever been around someone suffering from any kind of psychosis, you know how utterly unreachable they are. At one point in her life, my mother -may she rest in peace- suffered from alcoholic hallucinosis. She called me, very upset that someone had changed the color of her shoes while she was sleeping. "They" were also stealing her social security check and spreading garbage over her lawn. She was only barely connected to the view of reality that most people hold in common and take for granted. Her thoughts, however painful to her, had no meaning whatsoever outside of herself -- and conversely, the real true events going on in the world simply did not exist in her mind. It's not hard to imagine that Loughner is (or was) similarly cut off from reality, which makes the politicization of him all the more distasteful, even cruel.
Before I quit this post, there's one more thing I'd like to see become part of our discussion.
Use of street drugs (including LSD, methamphetamine, marijuana/hash/cannabis) have been linked with significantly increased probability of developing schizophrenia. This link has been documented in over 30 different scientific studies (studies done mostly in the UK, Australia and Sweden) over the past 20 years.
In one example, a study interviewed 50,000 members of the Swedish Army about their drug consumption and followed up with them later in life. Those who were heavy consumers of cannabis at age 18 were over 600% more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia over the next 15 years than those did not take it. (see diagram below).
Experts estimate that between 8% and 13% of all schizophrenia cases are linked to marijuna / cannabis use during teen years.
Many of these research studies indicate that the risk is higher when the drugs are used by people under the age of 21, a time when the human brain is developing rapidly and is particularly vulnerable.
I don't bring this up because I have a specific agenda about drug use. I don't - I actually just discovered this in reading about the condition this morning - but with efforts to legalize "recreational" drug use gaining steam in the current political "atmosphere," it's something of consequence that we should bear in mind.
Now the last thing I want to heap on to Loughner's parents right now is a "guilt trip" -- but let's face it, it would have been better for everyone had they more fully understood what was happening to their son in recent months (or years).
And it would be better for everyone right now if the Enemedia, or any media at all, would make like Rahm Emanuel and take advantage of this crisis (in a good and helpful way). Given that all forms of psychosis so obviously can affect our public safety and our national healthcare system - and of course, our children's very lives - we should be directing public discourse toward education, instead of wasting it on political villification.