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Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Newtown killer

Yesterday evening the only thing that had come out about the Connecticut killer, Adam Lanza, was that he was "troubled." That adjective is often used to describe young sociopaths as well as other types of misfits, so it didn't really convey any useful information.

Yesterday's mass killing sounded more like the work of a crazy person than a sociopath. (Serial killers are always sociopaths, whereas mass shootings are often committed by people who are genuinely crazy.)

Last night one news service reported that Lanza's mother, whom he had murdered at home before going on his rampage, had been described as "extremely rigid." Rigidity is one of the defining characteristics of autistics, and it is often runs in families. And then someone else was quoted as describing Adam as "shy," which pretty much ruled out sociopathy.

Sure enough, this morning it emerged that Ryan Lanza, Adam's brother, had told authorities that Adam was autistic.

Adam lived with his mother in Newtown. His brother lived alone in Hoboken and worked for a financial firm. His father, who works in finance for GE, had divorced his mother in 2008. So it was just Adam and his mother, who sounds as if she too was somewhere on the spectrum, living together.

Just as two sociopaths will almost never get along (each prefers pliable victims he can bend to his will), two autistics will not get along either. Each will have his own set of rigid beliefs and habits which he will not bend to accommodate the other, and explosive arguments will ensue.

Yesterday's argument tragically ensnared a lot of innocent bystanders.


Anonymous said...

So you think this whole tragic affair was just the result of one Aspie's meltdown?

John Craig said...

Anon --
Oh, absolutely: this was no conspiracy. Now Lanza's meltdown may have had multiple roots, from his general frustration with life to his jealousy at the fact that he perceived his mother as liking her first and second graders more than she liked him, to his general fascination with guns, to his resentment at his own experience at that elementary school. But there was only one guy involved, and that was Lanza.

Anonymous said...

I think you're right in saying that Lanza was simply crazy rather than evil. Have you seen pictures of him? Quite a few are with him having his eyes very wide open, as though he'd seen a ghost. It's not as if a normal person - or even a sociopath, for that matter - would look like that into the camera.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thanks, yes, his pictures don't make him look normal. He had a wide-eyed, expressionless, almost starved look. And the way he acted at school when he was a student, hugging all the walls, was not normal either. Sociopaths tend to be dynamic and charming, Lanza was the opposite.

Anonymous said...

It's been exactly five years since this incident. Scary how time flies, eh? Feels to me like it was just a few months ago.

- Gethin

John Craig said...

Gethin --
I live not too far from where that happened so it feels longer to me. What bothers me more is that to today's young people, the Gulf War of the early 90's was ancient history, the same was WWII was to me when I was 16, in 1970. Yet I was almost 40 when it happened. I suppose that's more bothersome in a "I can't believe how old I've gotten" sort of way than in the "time flies" sort of way you're referring to.