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Janelle Dvorak

Well done, Lance.


I wonder, if the state of modern psychiatry had been slightly more advanced in 1914, if there would have been a discussion of Gavrilo Princip's mental stability.
Would the Black Hand have denied complicity?
I guess the Russians and Austrians could have written it off as the act of a nut, regardless of whatever material support he received.

Dr X


I don't know about those cases, but there is a difference between psychotic and non-psychotic violence. Recognition of the difference is nothing new.

See Richard Lawrence (1835), attempted murder of President Andrew Jackson. Lawrence tried to shoot Jackson at point blank range. The gun misfired. He was found not guilty be reason of insanity. In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt was shot in the chest by John Schrank. Schrank was also found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Dr X

Forgive me, coozledad. I may have misunderstood where you were coming from--a hazard of my excessive exposure to right-wing frames. Insanity was recognized in the 19th century, but perhaps you were suggesting that some genuine cases of insanity were overlooked in the early days of psychiatry. My initial read assumed that you were lamenting the insights of modern psychiatry. I must be more careful.


I was just wondering how a presumption of insanity might be used as a way for culpable parties to distance themselves from the actions of a recruit. Princip was clearly a recruit, but there are strong indications he was also non compos mentis.
Digby's got an interesting take on Loughner's word saladry that might indicate it's more "sovereignty movement" code than logorrhea.

Kevin Wolf

Excellent, Lance. Sadly, I have family members who fall exactly into this strain of right wing "thought." They are, above all else, aggrieved. Example: They believe that taxes are not only too high but targeted to them specifically - to extract every last dollar. (These people are not poorly off.) The last time I saw them, they had bought into the meme that Christianity was under attack in this country. I usually try to avoid "debate" with them on any subject, but when I heard this latest I couldn't stop myself from saying, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard." With effort, I then let it drop.

Dr X

Sullivan posted my initial take here (beginning at 5:47 pm).

A psychiatrist reposted Erick 'red state' Erickson's religious take, as well a post by another psychologist, Jeff Kaye, as counterpoint to Erickson. Kaye's observations were virtually identical to mine, but he fleshes things out a bit more. The psychiatrist's comments, after Erickson and after Kaye, are worth reading as well.

The same psychiatrist posted more on the subject today. He discusses the nature of thought disorders and he also offers evidence that Giffords has perhaps been the object of a psychotic obsession since 2007, long before most of us even knew of Sarah Palin.

It may be very difficult to believe, but given the nature of paranoid schizophrenia, there is a strong possibility that Loughner's actions had absolutely nothing to do with recent, inflammatory political rhetoric. Typically, psychotic obsessions are related to idiosyncratic interpretations of the world that don't even remotely fit the semi-sane narratives we attempt to superimpose.


Really good post, Lance.


Thank you for this post, Lance.

Just to be clear, however, people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia alone are *not* more likely to engage in violence. Data suggests that people with diagnoses of schizophrenia AND substance abuse are more likely to demonstrate violence (which may very well apply in the case here).

Jeff Boatright

Lance, one nit to pick. You wrote: "For the most part, with the Right, we’re dealing with people who have built their identities around the way things used to be."

I think it should be "For the most part, with the Right, we’re dealing with people who have built their identities around the way things used to be or how they think things OUGHT to be."

It's sort of a longing for days gone by (that never existed) AND and desire for a Randian future (that hopefully will never exist).

chris the cop

"What the Right wants to feel is tough.
What they feel is weak and afraid."

Are you kldding me? Two months after gaining 65 seats in the House, they feel "weak and afraid?" A majority of the country with Independents leading the way
decided they didn't like what the President and Congress were doing and dumped the Democrats from the House.

Nice of you to absolve the Right of responsibility for Loughner, but adding that conservatives can be blamed for other psycho shootings is disingenuous at best. Don't ever, ever think for a monent that the Right has the corner on asinine hyperbole. It was a Democrat who said the Republican health plan was for people to "die quickly" and a Democrat who compared Guantanamo Bay treatment of detainees with what Nazis and the Khmer Rouge did.

Both of the major political parties are SO full of shit on a regular basis, it's frightening, but in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting the Democrats and the Left have outdone themselves trying to connect it to the Tea Party or conservatives or Rush Limbaugh. Paul Krugman--the stupidest person to ever win Nobel Prize---said on Jan.10 two days after the shooting:

"We've been asking Republicans to moderate their rhetoric and their behavior, but they've done precisely the opposite," with the Tucson shooting being the seemingly inevitable result.

Compare this to the reaction over the Fort Hood massacre. The President felt the need to tell the nation not to jump to conclusions over the shooter being a Muslim. There was an absolute refusal to acknowledge even the possibility of it being a terroristic attack until it was shown that that is exactly waht it was. The NY Times went to far as to publish a front page story on the high rate of domestic homicides amoung soldiers stationed at the base as if that anything with one man in repeated contact with a radical Muslim cleric in Yemen shooting more than 40 people.

Lance Mannion


You and I have been back and forth on this and we're just not going to agree, but I'll say it again. The Republicans won where they won and as much as they won because more Republicans came out to vote. The Independents didn't do it. You live in a district that just went back to Republican because Democrats in the city didn't come out in the numbers they did in '08. But that's really a separate issue, because the Right is not the same as the Republicans, they've just taken over the party.

If you want to argue that Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, etc are brave and tough, I'm all ears. If you want to argue that the people who show up at political events packing heat, are brave and tough, as opposed to scary, again I'll listen. If you want to argue that all those Tea Party types whining about wanting their country back and how they're oppressed by immigrants and socialists in the White House are facing the future with courage and stoicism, lay it on me.

It is a political movement of the terrified hellbent on terrifying everybody else in revenge.

I didn't add The Insurrection Timeline to the post because I think it does imply too many direct connections between something stupid some stupid person said and something violent a crazy person did around the same time, but it does show that a number of violent and crazy people have been motivated by Right Wing political rage over the last few years.

Lance Mannion

PS. I wouldn't say the Republican health care plan was "Die Quickly" as much as "Figure out for yourself and if you don't manage to and happen to die instead please do it out of my sight so I don't have to have my conscience bothered by it." But out in Arizona, "Die Quickly" seems to have become the state Republicans only answer to their health care problems.

chris the cop

And like I said back then, if you want to argue voter turnout was the reason for the Nov. results, your side will continue to lose elections. (My side isn't represented -Both the Left and Right are overly populated with squirrels.)

I'm not arguing anyone is brave or tough; I'm saying that blaming mass murder on heated political rhetoric in general and in this instance in particluar is not accurate. Loughner was most likely psychotic, not a Tea Party stooge. He was described by one high school classmate as a "left wing pothead." Does that mean he fell under the influence of Air America? Of course not.

I'm not saying it's your opinion that the GOP's health plan is "die quickly." I'm saying it was the opinion of Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson in a speech on the floor of the House of Represntatives and is just as imflammatory as anything a conservative has said.


WOW! I couldn't agree more Lance. Such people must have such a sad life. I wonder if they realize this?

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