Classic paranoid psychosis

Sunday, January 9th, 2011 · 30 Comments »

Maybe I’ve spent too much time researching schizophrenia and reading up on the lives of mental patients, but my immediate reaction to the Arizona shooting was that the guy was obviously psychotic. As soon as I heard the news Saturday and read an online article (forget where) with the gleanings from the guy’s various communiques, that was my impression. Mind control, grammar, the possible constitutional ramifications and/or mind control of said grammar, strange obsessions with the currency and its frightening message to trust in God, nonsensical ramblings: it could be a page out of Vaslav Nijinksy’s diary. It’s not just the content, but the style. Classic paranoid schizophrenia.

So imagine my surprise when I checked in on the news later last night and saw that Sarah Palin had been blamed for the shooting. Why? Because her PAC had “targeted” that district in Arizona, because the Tea Party people are assholes, etc. Well, yeah, they are, but jesus christ. Is there really any reason to suppose that Mr. Unconstitutional Mind Control Grammar was even functioning on that level? Crazy is crazy, people.

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30 Responses to “Classic paranoid psychosis”

  1. Daphne says:

    You’re exactly right. I tried to watch his videos, and the rambling, disconnected nonsense just screamed “schizophrenia.” There’s not even an ideology there that you can put your finger on. I highly doubt the guy spent any time looking for pointers on Sarah Palin’s website.

  2. Violet Socks says:

    I can’t see that this guy had any connection to Palin or the Tea Party at all.

    This reminds me of when that whackjob mass-murdered all those women in Pennsylvania. Awful misogynist, full of crazy hatred for women. And twits like Markos tried to spin it as an attack on Obama.

  3. Violet Socks says:

    There’s something wrong with a person whose first reaction to this tragedy is “This finishes Sarah Palin’s presidential aspirations.”

  4. myiq2xu says:

    When Timothy McVeigh was arrested he was wearing a shirt that said “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” I don’t recall anyone blaming Thomas Jefferson.

  5. Anglofille says:

    I think it’s possible for the gunman to be mentally ill and influenced by right-wing rhetoric that uses violence (re-load, hit-list, etc.). We don’t know the motives of this guy yet, but even if he is mentally ill, why did he target Giffords, her aides and constituents? That took advance planning and determination. If he was just a crazy guy looking to shoot people, he could have opened fire anywhere, rather than in that specific place. The fact that there are mentally ill people out there with automatic weapons should make people like Sarah Palin think twice before using the kind of language she does. It’s irresponsible and appalling to speak in those terms and has no place in a civilized society. Even if it turns out this guy has never heard of Sarah Palin, I hope she changes her tune after this.

    Right-wing rhetoric caused violence in the past. In the 90s, the abortion clinic bombings and assassinations were usually spurred by rhetoric that called abortion doctors “murderers” and with internet hitlists of such doctors, including their home addresses. Again, we don’t have the full picture of this shooter yet, but it’s possible the same dynamic is at play here. If so, this is an issue that those on the left need to take very seriously.

  6. The blame game and toning it down « Blue Lyon says:

    [...] Violet and myiq2xu have posts up pointing out that the shooter in yesterday’s tragic events is [...]

  7. lynnerkat says:

    He was reportedly disruptive in high school and avoided mental health evaluations. Incredibly sad.

  8. Swannie says:

    The theory that rhetoric from one political side or the other causes behavior that results in the killing of innocent people is insupportable , and is helped by people with an agenda , which is beneath contempt, or the ignorant , which is ridiculous. A psychotic individual is responding to INTERNAL STIMULI .
    Let me repeat that in lay terms .. a psychotic person is responding to the voices INSIDE their head.. not the ones outside . Anything coming in from the outside is garbled cracked and distorted by the lack of ability to connect with reality .
    The people blaming Sarah Palin as a knee jerk reaction or need to blame someone for a situation beyond anyones control ; or right wing anything; are almost as removed from reality as the shooter IMO and do absolutely nothing but exacerbate the situation .
    Schizophrenia has a slow onset , usually , and the first psychotic break is also usually happens between the ages of 17 to 25. Prior to that , there may be some odd or unusual behavior, but after the first break , you see the typical isolation , paranoia , and reclusive behaviors with bizarre ideas. The person may not have even had time to be diagnosed , so if they go to buy a gun there is nothing to stop them .
    There are things on this world over which we have no control , but blaming innocent people for them does not help .

    and the DEMS have their own map btw

  9. Swannie says:

    Dems have their own TARGET MAP

  10. lambert strether says:

    #4 What Anglofille said.

  11. gxm17 says:

    Anglophile @ 4. I respectfully disagree. I think it’s possible for the gunman to be mentally ill and influenced by misogynistic progressive rhetoric. Pro-rape, pro-violence, anti-women rhetoric is the favorite tool of the “progressive” ObamaNation and the androcentric D00dnation blogospheres. Perhaps all their angry, hate-filled words have come home to roost. Yeah, Loughner’s crazy. But IMO the misogynistic havens created online by the so-called “progressive” wing sow the sees for this level of violence. I’m talking about all the young d00d bloggers who feel they can call a woman a c*** with no repercussions (or at least no blame for the repercussions). How anyone can blame Palin’s “cross hairs” map and dismiss the abundance of woman-hate spewed by the Obama and D00d nations is beyond me.

    And, yes, Violet. You are right on. Loughner is certifiable. Now the question remains. Do mommy and daddy have enough money to get him off on an insanity defense?

  12. votermom says:

    Violet, thank you. I find it sickening.

  13. Sasha CA says:

    Exactly, Anglofille. Most people with schizophrenia are not violent, but it is absolutely possible for someone with schizophrenia to be influenced by the violent, eliminationist rhetoric of right-wing radio and TV personalities. It’s simply incorrect that schizophrenic individuals do not respond to outside stimuli. A member of my family suffers from schizophrenia and he is capable of becoming completely obsessed with stuff he hears or reads somewhere. Without treatment and a solid support system, one of those obsessions could have taken over his entire life.

    While it’s possible that Loughner’s targeting of a Democratic Congresswoman, anti-government rants, and obsession with currency (a favorite topic of right-wing talk radio) had nothing to do with the lies and inflammatory rhetoric of Beck, Savage, O’Reilly, Palin, Coulter, Limbaugh, etc., I can’t fault anyone for jumping to that conclusion. After all, it’s not like it hasn’t happened before. In July, Byron Williams got in a shootout with CHP officers on his way to San Francisco where he was planning to kill employees of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU because he had been convinced by Beck and Fox News that “the Left” was hijacking America’s freedoms with its evil socialist agenda. Then there was Charles Alan Wilson, the dude arrested for threatening to kill Patty Murray. Wilson, a gun owner with a concealed carry permit, had bought into Palin’s “death panels” lie and believed the health care reform bill constituted “socialized medicine” (if only). And let’s not forget Jim Adkisson, the guy who opened fire in the progressive Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee to “rid America of this cancerous pestilence.” He was referring to liberals and liberalism. His apartment was filled with books and newsletters by popular right-wing zealots such as O’Reilly, Savage, Hannity, etc. These are just a few examples, and there are many more.

  14. LabRat says:

    This guy is like a living Rohrshach blot for everyone I know’s personal “other”.

  15. Violet Socks says:

    You people have got to be kidding. Sarah Palin has been the target of lynching-in-effigy, art “exhibits” inviting people to shoot her with a rifle, and outright calls for her death. All of which was considered hilarious and appropriate. And yet her website’s obscure reelection map from a year ago using crosshair icons is responsible for the violent discourse that causes people to shoot? Goddamn, that Derangement Syndrome is some powerful stuff.

  16. votermom says:

    Apparently Loughner fixated on Gifford at least since 2007.

  17. julia says:

    Come on, you all, the gunman is a MAN. Of all the people who kill women 99% are men. He could have tried to shoot the male Democratic Congressman. He picked the woman.

    Don’t boys learn that women are worth less? And don’t these boys grow up to be men?

    I’m in Tucson, and when I went to the local Women’s bookstore yesterday to see if there were any actions planned, the woman there said ‘Oh, this is not about women. It’s political’.

    There are too many men who kill women (or try to kill them) for this not to be political.

    I talked to two women activists I know and one said ‘Oh, she never had enough security!’
    and the other said I was upset and blowing things out of proportion. I felt like I was in a Phyllis Chesler essay, where the women blame each other, instead of the man, for being shot or hit or raped.

    All violence against women is political. The numbers are too high. Everyday in the US men kill three or more women. This was attempted murder.
    A ten year old girl was killed. No one is even talking about that anymore.

  18. Sameol says:

    And before Sarah Palin became the hate object, Hillary Clinton was subjected to non-stop threats and hideously violent rhetoric. Much of it justified on grounds that she, too, propagates violence in her role as #1 National Warmonger. It takes a lot to turn such peaceloving folk to purveyors of rape metaphors, so Hillary and Sarah must truly have done something awful to deserve them.

  19. scott says:

    Causation: once you know what it actually means, you become considerably less ready to claim that Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin “caused” someone to kill a bunch of people. Beck and Palin may be assholes, but they’re not murderers.

  20. myiq2xu says:


    The rooster crows and the sun rises. That’s causation, right?

  21. insanelysane says:

    Thank You Julia @ 9:35. To get at the root of this evil…it is violence against women.

    It is so pervasive in human history that we don’t even see it.

    The killer kept a campaign letter from Cong. Gifford addressed to him in his safe.

    In his mind,
    this was personal.

  22. Three Wickets says:

    #11 What gxm17 said.

  23. gxm17 says:

    Thank chaos for Dr. Socks. You are an oasis of sanity in the wasteland of misogyny.

  24. Sweet Sue says:

    Help, first my comment was in moderation, then it disappeared.
    I know you think I’m doing it wrong, Violet, but I’ve been here for almost two years and remember when you used to have to type in letters and numbers to comment.
    My addy’s changed but that’s not a problem at Confluence and other sites.

  25. Sweet Sue says:

    I give up.

  26. Violet Socks says:

    I’m sorry. I really am. I don’t know why it’s happening.

  27. Abu Nudnik says:

    It gave me a headache to read the YouTube stuff about how time is stuck because he can’t tell the difference between negative and positive integers (BC and AD)(or BCE and CE as it is now called which Loughner gets wrong as BCE and ADE)

    It sort of reminded me of reading that actor’s blog… that Baldwin guy.

  28. Abu Nudnik says:

    Julia: a judge was killed. He was a man.

    insanelysane: Giffords didn’t answer his question “how do we know that words have meanings.” And that, according to him, was stupid. How do you get violence against women from the murky waters of psychosis?

    I believe she was his representative. Isn’t that a reason for attacking her rather than someone in an adjacent district?

  29. funnie says:

    Nudnik, people are complex, weapons are fast, aim is bad, and you are being purposely thick.

    A male friend of mine was shot and killed by a guy whose mental illness combined with woman hate to form the shooting-spree massacre at Virginia Tech. It offed plenty of people of both sexes but still was very much about Cho loathing women. It does the dead male victims no disservice to say so.

  30. funnie says:

    The point of my anecdote is that we really ought to be asking this question much more literally than you did, Abu Nudnik.

    And that, if we actually solve the riddle, fewer MEN would be killed too. So blow it out your ear.

    How do you get violence against women from the murky waters of psychosis?