By now, many of you have probably read about, or at least heard about, Liza Long’s blog post, I am Adam Lanza’s Mother, which details the issues of raising a child prone to violent outbursts. At The Huffington Post, Jon Paul Fiorentino has penned a thoughtful response. He respects the intentions of Ms. Long, but objects to much of content, linking violence to mental health issues:
The truth is, the great majority of people with Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, as well as those with other forms of mental health challenges are not to be feared. As Dr. Heather Stuart quite rightly points out, “mental disorders are neither necessary, nor sufficient causes of violence. The major determinants of violence continue to be socio-demographic and socio-economic factors such as being young, male, and of lower socio-economic status … [Further], members of the public undoubtedly exaggerate both the strength of the relationship between major mental disorders and violence, as well as their own personal risk from the severely mentally ill.”
It’s difficult to comprehend that an argument based on facts (such as Stuart’s) may go largely unnoticed and an argument based purely on feelings (such as Long’s) is currently being lauded as persuasive and groundbreaking. I believe we have been taken in too easily by the myth of the “violent madman” whether it be through depictions in entertainment or by the media. In fact, Stuart’s and countless other studies have concluded that those with mental health challenges aremore likely to be victims of violent crimes.