Arm-chair psychiatric speculation no help

Dec. 18, 2012 at 11:58 PM
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NEW YORK, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- As many grapple with why anyone would kill small children, a U.S. psychiatrist says it's a mistake to blame Sandy Hook on Asperger's or a personality disorder.

Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, a psychiatrist and president of the Child Mind Institute in New York, said whatever motivated 20-year-old Adam Lanza, it was not from a place of good mental health.

"We don't know whether he had a history of psychiatric illness or if had been exhibiting signs of a psychotic breakdown. Unfortunately, that hasn't stopped extensive speculation that Lanza had Asperger's disorder, or a personality disorder, and even obsessive-compulsive disorder," Koplewicz said in a statement. "Much has been made of the reports that Lanza was a smart but quiet kid who carried a briefcase to class instead of a backpack and felt at home with computers, perhaps more so than with his peers."

These amateur diagnoses based on unconfirmed information are very harmful, Koplewicz said.

"To my mind perhaps the worst is the suggestion that the unimaginable nature of this violence -- the fact that children were targeted -- somehow indicates a lack of empathy that can be associated with autism spectrum disorders. This is completely untrue. Individuals on the spectrum are in no way predisposed to this kind of violent behavior," Koplewicz said.

"Ample research proves otherwise. And while individuals with autism may be less adept at picking up non-verbal social cues, they are just as capable of experiencing emotional empathy as anyone else. I have known many autistic children who would be crushed knowing that a sibling, a parent, or even a spider was suffering."

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