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Rep. Giffords’s Shooter’s YouTube Channel

Jim Burroway

January 8th, 2011

Twenty-two year old Jared Lee Loughner was identified by police as Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s shooter. He is now in custody. From the looks of his YouTube channel, I believe he exhibits  the classic signs of schizophrenia.

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Mental illness and a grievance. A deadly combination.

Update: Let me explain myself. I am not a mental health professional, but my best friend in high school succumbed to schizophrenia. I also have two cousins with the disorder, although I have not been in contact with them in decades. These videos, to me, look hauntingly familiar, as soon as I saw the first one. don’t think so. Look at some of the other videos. He uses the same kind of language and “grammar.” In effect, he thinks he’s inventing his own language and currency.

I know there are a lot of people tempted to indict the Tea Party. About an hour ago, I would have been first in line with the pitchfork and torches. But I don’t think that’s what’s going on here.  Yes, Loughner’s talk of language, currency, unconstitutional police actions — these are all topics that are favorites of tea-partiers, but the concepts that the tea party is pushing are utterly absent in Loughner’s videos. Instead, what clear to me is that he is trying to do what a lot of people with the most serious cases of schizophrenia are trying to do. He is trying to create some sort of ordered structure out of the chaotic shards of his perceptions. And failing. I’ve seen this too many times before.

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Tone
January 8th, 2011 | LINK

CNN had a guest on a while ago, Dr. Park Dietz, a forensic psychiatrist. He pointed out some typical markers in Loughner’s YouTube offerings that were strongly suggestive of schizophrenia. It is terrifying to think that a young mind could shatter like this.

Palin’s detestable cross hairs graphics are still inexcusable though. That’s just the sort of thing that someone who is suffering from mental illness might take literally.

L. Junius Brutus
January 8th, 2011 | LINK

His faulty logic is not much worse than that of the non-mentally ill people I’ve seen (who consider themselves bright). On the other hand, the propositions are so crazy that they literally give me the creeps. And now, people are dead because of him. Why are such crazies allowed to run free?

Hopefully, he won’t get off on an insanity defense. Didn’t Arizona prohibit it after John Hinckley’s crime?

Tone
January 8th, 2011 | LINK

L. Junius Brutus said:
Hopefully, he won’t get off on an insanity defense. Didn’t Arizona prohibit it after John Hinckley’s crime?

Surely if he is ill he is entitled to treatment rather than punishment? What about his state of mind, what about mens rea? Would you condemn a man who ran over someone while having a heart attack behind the wheel of his car?”

How do you legislate against sound, universally accepted legal principles such as the offender’s state of mind anyway? You can’t. Maybe in Arizona they did. Did they legislate away common sense as well?

Mike
January 8th, 2011 | LINK

I myself am a psychiatrist, and I agree that your assessments seem correct. I took a look at all his Youtube videos, and they certainly seem suggestive of psychotic illness (i.e., schizophrenia). The vast majority of individuals with schizophrenia are completely harmless, but sometimes unfortunate incidents like this can occur.

L. Junius Brutus
January 8th, 2011 | LINK

Not sure whether this is offtopic. But here it goes:

“Surely if he is ill he is entitled to treatment rather than punishment?”

He’s entitled to squat. If you or I have, or anyone else has, mental issues, we have to *pay* for mental treatment. This guy just killed 6 people, including a child. Sending him to a luxury resort on the taxpayer’s dough is the last thing that I want for him.

“What about his state of mind, what about mens rea?”

Shooting someone through the head at point-blank range is the textbook definition of ‘mens rea’. Enough with the excuses.

“Did they legislate away common sense as well?”

Common sense is not letting someone off because he wanted to kill the president to impress a child he wanted to molest. Common sense is not letting someone off because they thought God was telling them to drown her children. Common sense is not letting someone off who killed 6 people. I am pretty sure that giving these people a ‘get out of jail free-card’ is called ‘insanity’.

Zach
January 8th, 2011 | LINK

Setting up the “crazy” and the “political” as if they were exclusive, non-interacting categories is something of a mistake, I think. If he is mentally ill (and he does seem to be so) then he is more vulnerable than ever to political climates, especially ones that tolerate and utilize allusions to violence on a routine basis. I’m waiting to hear more about what the police conclude about his motives, however.

ZRAinSWVA
January 8th, 2011 | LINK

L. Junius Brutus, your point is taken; however, when people are mentally ill and society will not provide the support needed to keep them from harming themselves or others, society has blame as well. Our network of social support programs is crumbling, eroding as the legislators divert funds from nice programs like ‘mental health’ to ‘more important things’ like, well, cutting taxes.

As one who’s friend was schizophrenic, and slipped into paranoid schizophrenia (classic: people are watching me; they’ve planted bombs under my car; ‘they’re’ always talking about me) ending in her suicide, I speak from my personal grief that we as a society are not doing enough to help those who are so troubled…if that was indeed the case here.

Emily K
January 8th, 2011 | LINK

It’s easy to point to the Almighty “Personal Responsibility” canard when you don’t have to deal with mental illness personally. My medication costs hundreds of dollars without insurance, which, for the time I was unemployed, was paid for by my extremely generous and financially lucky parents. When someone is mentally ill and doesn’t have these things, why do we need to wait around for people to be murdered during a state of psychosis in order to get that person isolated from society for treatment?

If I did not have access to medication and therapy, people would be in danger (including myself.) In the case of mental illness, the stigma of “the crazies” needs to be put to rest with education. Unfortunately, many will assume that if a crazy person doesn’t have access to medication, it’s because they did something wrong and aren’t working hard enough. But the reality is usually more complex.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts (and one very public attempt), hospitalization, violent outbursts toward peers, and extreme emotional reactions of all kinds. If I did not have a loving family and support structure, as well as access to affordable medication and therapy, I may not be the only one whose life were ended.

For many years now my life has been pretty “normal.” Medication and therapy have worked, and I have easy access to them. But make no mistake – being hospitalized is not the same as going to a “luxury resort.” I know because I’ve been to both. And being put under involuntary medical watch in an isolated facility is not being “let off the hook.” Either way, tax dollars will be spent – at least one of them provides actual rehabilitation, which is what people foolishly claim prison does.

Jim, I’m glad and impressed you caught the symptoms of schizophrenia, which can be a devastating condition.

For me, it comes down to this: money is being spent, some of it public money. But if there is a way to spend that money and ALSO prevent people from being murdered, I will gladly have my tax dollars go toward treatment programs that prevent outbursts like the one that occurred, rather than toward imprisonment after several lives are lost.

luiz
January 8th, 2011 | LINK

If you or I have, or anyone else has, mental issues, we have to *pay* for mental treatment.

Never read anything stupider.

There are many kinds of mental disease. Depression, anxiety disorders, OCD, Anorexia, paraphilias: in all of these, those afflicted are aware that they have problems they should be tackling. Whether they decide to do so, however, is another matter entirely.

But those afflicted with schizophrenia are ill to such an extent that they no longer see reality as it is. They hallucinate and interpretate reality in ways that even children would have a problem with. And most importantly, they are unable to perceive that THEY have a mental disease. It’s ludicrous to demand, from someone who suffers from a psychotic disorder, that he seek treatment entirely on his account. Please, do not be so simple-minded so as to take stances in such serious matters based on talking points.

Stephen
January 8th, 2011 | LINK

His youtubes are classic 60s hippy. He’s more Unibomber than Palintard. Let’s defund public health and arm all the crazies. What could possibly go wrong.

Bruno
January 8th, 2011 | LINK

No doubt he suffers from some mental illness, and schizophrenia sounds right to me too. But he came up with Giffords as a target through some means, and we still have to find out what pointed him in this deadly direction. I have to think someone on the right had to have some influence on him, whether it be Palin or his next door neighbor, but we’ll see.

WMDKitty
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

THIS is why we NEED federally-funded health care for ALL citizens.

Hunter
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

Your point about schizophrenia is well-taken (and I’m familiar with it, having a sister who heard voices and was convinced everyone was out to get her), but there’s a larger point here:

There are people out there who are unbalanced to a greater or lesser degree. By definition, when you go on a shooting spree, you’re not sane. But the rhetoric and imagery of the gun-totin’ right feed right into this sort of thing. Sarah Palin may think it’s cute to put crosshairs on a map and talk about “targeting” liberals, but she’s a child, and children don’t understand consequences. Any adult would be aware that there are people out there who are going to take those kinds of statements literally, and thanks to the 2nd Amendment freaks, they have access to guns.

Yeah, there’s a connection — anyone with half a brain should be able to figure out that the kind of rhetoric designed to get the confused and angry riled up is going to hit someone who’s delicately balanced enough to go over the edge. There are always consequences.

Throbert McGee
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

“THIS is why we NEED federally-funded health care for ALL citizens.”

You can pay for a schizophrenic’s meds, but you can’t force him to take them on schedule, at the prescribed dosage. And if he attempts to self-medicate with alcohol or other recreational drugs (for example), in a way that leads to really bad “synergy” with the prescription meds, federally-funded health care doesn’t solve that problem, either.

At this point, it appears to me that the real “political angle” in this shooting may have more to do with the politics of forcibly institutionalizing the mentally ill.

Throbert McGee
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

“But the rhetoric and imagery of the gun-totin’ right feed right into this sort of thing.”

Do you think the floridly psychotic homeless who shove innocent commuters in front of NYC subway trains every few years or so are impelled to do it by political “rhetoric and imagery” from either the right or the left? I’d say that crazy people are _sui generis_ and you shouldn’t draw lessons from their behavior except insofar as it relates to improving treatment for other crazy people.

I do believe that Palin’s rhetoric is inflammatory and childish most of the time, but I don’t think she’s intrinsically more appalling* than, say, the director of that “Death of a President” movie in Bush’s 2nd term.

*At least, on a moral level. Palin IS worse than the dude who made that movie in the sense that you expect a former VP candidate from one of the two major U.S. parties to show better judgment than some no-name British wanker posing as a satirist.

Throbert McGee
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

“At this point, it appears to me that the real “political angle” in this shooting may have more to do with the politics of forcibly institutionalizing the mentally ill.”

Emphasis on “at this point.” I may have to change my position in the coming days and weeks as more comes to light about the shooter.

Carlo
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

Throbert,

Are you trying to argue that the kid should have been forcibly hospitalized based on a narrative you just made up in your post? *scratching head* Sorry, but I’ve never seen someone argue that way on a progressive website…and hoped never to see that.

John Graykoski
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

I don’t think there’s any question that this young fellow had mentally fallen off the deep end. Intervention in this mental deterioration is very challenging.

Having said that, I would still be concerned that he could have been emboldened if not manipulated to act out in this violent way. The violent rhetoric that has marked the country in the last few years could have easily contributed reinforcement to his deranged thinking. Likewise an extremist could have seen in this lad a malleable object to accomplish the unthinkable.

It is a dangerous time in this country. Rational thought has truly been sacrificed. The Know-Nothings are proudly asserting themselves and although they have nothing to offer, are determined that everything is wrong and needs to be changed. The thought processes involved are much closer to a mass psychosis.

Priya Lynn
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

Throbert said “Do you think the floridly psychotic homeless who shove innocent commuters in front of NYC subway trains every few years or so are impelled to do it by political “rhetoric and imagery” from either the right or the left?”.

When the political leanings of the victim are unknown and no political display is going on, probably not. But when the political leanings of the victim are clear and high profile and the murder takes place at a political event I think you’ve got a tough row to hoe to say right wing political rhetoric had nothing to do with it.

R
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

I think the young man being medically brought back to sanity, and having to be in jail to think about the horror he committed for the rest of his life is the worst punishment we can give him. I’m sure a young man who cared enough for his community to volunteer to help with a local book program would be horrified to find out that he killed living and breathing people, including a child. He is only 22 years old, not 40 or 50, he may have not been diagnosed and may have been unable to understand what was going on well enough to seek help. I don’t think he should be free as he’s proven he can be a danger, but I don’t think giving him complete culpability is appropriate. I’m very interested in the accomplice angle, as, if someone knew the guy was nutters and gave him the means, that’s a more responsible party.

Throbert McGee
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

“Are you trying to argue that the kid should have been forcibly hospitalized based on a narrative you just made up in your post?”

Of course not — I don’t know the kid’s actual mental-health history, and I’m not a psychiatrist.

I’m saying that, since the usual suspects from KOS to Sullivan to WorldNetDaily have been trying to pin down Loughner’s “politics”, the question of when/whether individuals can be forcibly institutionalized or medicated may in fact turn out to be the only “political question” that has any relevance at all.

Because, you know, it may turn out that he went on the killing spree because he sincerely believed that Giffords and everyone around her were salt-vampires from the planet M-113, and that’s not really a traditional liberal vs. conservative issue.

Priya Lynn
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

Throbert, if he was thinking salt-vampires from planet M-113 were around its far far more likely that he’d have killed some random nobodies than have waited to kill a high profile politician at a political rally. Given that this was a high profile politician and a political event its very hard to believe his motivation had nothing to do with politics.

Hunter
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

Do you think the floridly psychotic homeless who shove innocent commuters in front of NYC subway trains every few years or so are impelled to do it by political “rhetoric and imagery” from either the right or the left? I’d say that crazy people are _sui generis_ and you shouldn’t draw lessons from their behavior except insofar as it relates to improving treatment for other crazy people.

Yes, psychotic people are psychotic, and all they need to go postal, if they need anything, is a direction and an impulse. I doubt very much that Loughner’s politics, whatever they may have been, are relevant — but it’s obvious that Giffords was a target, and one doesn’t have to look too far to see where that idea was being given full play. I think it’s worth noting that suddenly websites are being scrubbed and teabaggers are going over their membership rolls, all the while declaiming that it was Loughner’s decision to pull the trigger. (The comments at Palin’s facebook page, where the “crosshairs” graphic is still up (http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=373854973434&id=24718773587) are priceless: it’s not Sarah’s fault, it was Loughner’s decision, as though someone as disturbed as he could make a rational decision. It’s the philosophy of everyone else taking personal responsibility.)

Sorry, but when you devote that much time and energy to creating a climate of fear and distrust focused on either your political or ideological enemies or convenient scapegoats, you bear some responsibility for the consequences. And there are always consequences, because there are always people who are frustrated, angry, or insane.

Priya Lynn
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

Having read more I think its possible that government in general may have been the target more so then “Democrats”. However I don’t find it at all believable that he was feeling paranoid in general and it was just coincidental that Gifford was the target.

Patrick
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

Americans love violence.

The more violent the hit in football, the more airtime it gets.

Our favorite TV shows are crime scene investigations – just can’t get enough of those, especially if they depict violence.

Violence in music? Bring it on!

Better have violence in our films to avoid the G rating – after all, only kids go to those. Well, I suppose we can feed them a diet of cartoon violence.

You know what would make a great political point? Let’s use violent “us vs them” language or maybe we should use a firing range target to make our point. Nothing like a little violence to appeal to the masses.

I suppose we can always go to church and sing hymns about being good soldiers marching as to war.

And let’s make sure we call every person in the military a “hero”, regardless of what actually went on while they were on duty. Killing innocents in a war that had questionable justifications – a hero! After all, we’re a nation of gun-toting cowboys protecting our self-interests.

Violence, violence, violence.

And now we’re shocked that such a thing could happen here in America. Shocked and horrified. How could such a thing happen?

You reap what you sow America.

Jimmy
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

There is all kinds of evidence that this guy had mental problems, yet he went out and legally bought a firearm which he then used to massacre innocent people.

Just sayin’.

L. Junius Brutus
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

ZRAinSWVA: ” I speak from my personal grief that we as a society are not doing enough to help those who are so troubled…”

Why should society have to pay? Some people argue that pedophiles are “mentally sick” (I think they are just evil, aside from that). So then we have to pay to ensure the well-being of people who brutally molest children. Moreover: it doesn’t even work. There is only one cure for pedophiles, and it’s something they can sit on.

Emily K: “Either way, tax dollars will be spent – at least one of them provides actual rehabilitation, which is what people foolishly claim prison does. ”

Ah, rehabilitation. The thought that no matter how vile and disgusting the person, no matter how brutal and vicious the crime, we just have to let such animals loose again, so that they get another chance (or should I say, another shot) to do what they did. No rehabilitation (except low-level criminals), lock them up and throw away the key.

Luiz: “And most importantly, they are unable to perceive that THEY have a mental disease. It’s ludicrous to demand, from someone who suffers from a psychotic disorder, that he seek treatment entirely on his account. ”

And when that happens, and there is evidence that he is dangerous, that person should be quarantined, just like people with tbc are.

R: “He is only 22 years old, not 40 or 50, ”

You must be 200 years old, if you are suggesting that someone who is 22 does not now what he is doing. If this is about his illness, then what is the relevance of his age?

Timothy Kincaid
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

The legal institutionalization of someone who does not wish to be institutionalized is EXTREMELY difficult. The Supreme Court has repeatedly sided with the mentally ill and has determined that mental illness is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Further is is both legally and physically difficult to force a person suffering with a mental illness to take medications.

While Loughner may have been evidencing signs of mental illness, there is virtually nothing that anyone could have done about it. He was functional – at least in the usual sense of the word.

The efforts of his community college to encourage a mental evaluation simply caused him to choose not to return. Presumably his parents could have encouraged mental health care, but he is an adult and had every legal right to refuse. Rambling videos or ideas about constitutionality – whether conventional or not – are not cause for a loss of rights.

Those who wish that society had “done something” will need to square that with their views on involuntary incarceration or forced medication.

Emily K
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

Actually I was referring to rehabilitation of their medical condition – in this case, schizophrenia – not the rehabilitation of the person’s moral values or personality.

Because in this case, and in many cases, the personality of the person cannot even be seen. It is clouded by a disease.

Given isolation, medication, therapy, and intense treatment, the disease in the man can be controlled, and his mental health state rehabilitated.

Why should society have to pay? Some people argue that pedophiles are “mentally sick” (I think they are just evil, aside from that). So then we have to pay to ensure the well-being of people who brutally molest children. Moreover: it doesn’t even work. There is only one cure for pedophiles, and it’s something they can sit on.

Strawman. Schizophrenics are not pedophiles. Their diseases operate in completely different ways. Just as manic deppresives are not obsessive compulsives. Different diseases. Different treatments.

We would not be paying to enable the mentally disordered person to continue to wreak havoc on society – just the opposite, in fact. We would be paying to treat the mentally disordered person, keeping them FROM wreaking havoc.

We don’t yet know how to cure or treat pedophilia. We DO know how to treat schizophrenia and certain other disorders.

If the choice is between paying to keep them in prison, where rehabilitation wouldn’t happen, or paying to put them through intensive and effective medical treatment to control the disease, the latter is what I want my tax dollars to fund.

Emily K
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

Those who wish that society had “done something” will need to square that with their views on involuntary incarceration or forced medication.

It’s difficult, yes. I agree.

One thing I say for certain is that a person, ACCURATELY DIAGNOSED, should be involuntarily incarcerated for treatment AFTER committing a brutal crime such as this.

How can one see when someone will make a destructive decision? How can we know when they will “snap?” This should be studied more. Maybe we can find the answers.

And although medical facilities are not luxury resorts, there are plenty that also aren’t Cuckoo’s Nests run by “The Combine.” Electro-shock and lobotomies are no longer standard practice.

Candace
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

Homeland Security said he may have a link to anti-Jew white supremists, and Giffords is a Reformed Jew. It also came out that he spoke with her in 2007 and was angry because he didn’t like the answer to some question he asked her. Eye witnesses said he came right up to her, shot her, and then started shooting into the crowd.

Schizophrenic, yes. Random act of a mentally ill person, no. Will we ever know the reason for actions? He probably doesn’t even know what it is.

Still, that doesn’t absolve the responsibility of politicians who deliberately rile up America’s mentally unstable and sit back to see what happens. That’s why Westboro pickets the funerals of veterans, hoping that some unstable family member will go completely off their nut and kill some gays. It’s a deliberate strategy on their part. Throw a whole bunch of shit out there and see if any of it sticks to teh crazee.

As for treatment, most schizophrenics can be succesfully brought out of psychosis and their symptoms managed reasonably well with out-patient visits– but the dealbreaker is that as a group, they are notorious for being noncompliant about taking their meds. They go into a psychotic episode, get hospitalized… stablized on meds, some effort at socialization and rehabilitation in the hospital or halfway house setting… then they’re back under their own supervision, where — because they feel OK– they decide they don’t need their medication. And it goes to round 2… and 3, and 4, and on and on. I’m familiar with the cycle because my mother was a violent (not common, but it happens) paranoid schizophrenic, in and out of mental hospitals like they had a revolving door. She just refused to believe that anything was wrong with her, and did everything possible not to take her meds. (Yeah, the childhood fun was endless. & I’m adopted, thank god.)

There is a fine line between sucessful treatment of the mentally ill and the loss of their civil rights, and so far the issue has eluded a satisfactory solution.

Jim Burroway
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

Candace.

Your points about mental illness are spot on. Absolutely. However, homeland security said no such thing. A blog atFox News erroneously posted something that they claimed was somehow based on what someone from DHS said, but they are now backing off.

There are lots of rumors flying around. Please don’t repeat them.

So far, the only evidence remains is that of a deeply disturbedmentally ill man who lives in a state whose assinine laws allow anyone to walk around with a semiautomated weapon. So far — and I
am willing to emphasise, SO FAR — that is all the hard FACTS that
we have so far. Everything else is rumor and speculation. Please,
let’s leave the rumors where you found them Believe me, if we learn
more HARD EVIDENCE, you will see it here.

Candace
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

Jim, I read the info on a location other than Fox and if, in the two hours since I read it, the information has been discounted, then so be it. That doesn’t mean I’m “repeating false rumours.” It means I’m relaying what a News source reported as credible.

After all, the report HERE that the shooter had an accomplice has been PROVEN to be false. That doesn’t mean that the news item shouldn’t have been mentioned, does it?

Candace
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

This is where I got the information… it doesn’t mention Fox News as their source, nor has it been updated to include any retraction by Fox or anyone else.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/09/jared-loughner-youtube-videos-_n_806370.html

Rick Brentlinger
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

Selective memory in these comments:

“Palin’s detestable cross hairs graphics are still inexcusable though.”

“he is more vulnerable than ever to political climates, especially ones that tolerate and utilize allusions to violence on a routine basis.”

“on a moral level. Palin IS worse than the dude who made that movie in the sense that you expect a former VP candidate from one of the two major U.S. parties to show better judgment”

POTUS: “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” -Barrack Obama, June, 2008

Jim Burroway
January 9th, 2011 | LINK

Candace,

The report HERE was there was a second person of interest, not that there was a second accomplice. My only comment there is that we may learn more once they find that person.

The very second paragraph of your source cites a blog at Fox News. TPM has the walk-back:

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2011/01/dont_jump_to_conclusions.php

But Fox has walked back its initial description of the memo as coming from the Department of Homeland Security. Now it uses a labored description: “a law enforcement memo based on information provided by DHS.”

That’s not the same thing as a DHS memo, and it suggests somewhat less certainty about whether Loughner’s reference to the group in his internet ramblings is getting special attention from law enforcement.

One can never go wrong by being extremely careful with anything from Fox News, even if they may, on extremely rare occasions, happen to coincide with our deeper suppositions.

Mykelb
January 12th, 2011 | LINK

Unfortunately, schizophrenia does develop during the college years and many families do not know how to cope with it. It’s sad that his parents couldn’t see his mental illness and get him some help.

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