by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
My heart goes out to those families in Sandy Hook, Connecticut who so tragically lost their children and loved ones at the hands of Adam Lanza. I watched in horror as scene after scene of police working to get the children safely to their families elapsed over the television. It’s a day many will long remember as one of the most horrific and tragic in the history of the US.
I am totally in support of the President, and the municipalities, clamping down, once and for all on the use of automatic weapons in domestic situations. It’s time they were taken off the streets. Basically aka47’s and other high powered weapons belong on the battle field. Those in possession of them should be enlisted in one of our armed forces, sent to the front to defend our country. That way they can get their rocks off and serve a useful purpose as well.
Those who are still throwbacks to the hunter gatherer era of our evolution really only need hunting rifles to go out in the wild and assuage their primordial needs. Got no problem with the big bad hunter bringing home the kill, cleaning it, tanning the skin, putting the head on the wall to show his prowess. All part of who we evolutionally are. Kool.
But let’s not overlook another factor – one that’s been lurking around for centuries. One that’s walking with us, eating at the table with us; going to college classes with us. One that the parents try to hide or force to stay in the room when company comes, so they won’t say or do something embarrassing. The child who’s just a little bit different. The one who is either a little angrier, or more withdrawn than the rest of the family. The one who shrouds himself under a hood, or a towel over his head; or who sits apart from his siblings. The one you can’t talk to, because they’re not really listening to you. They’re listening to voices.
I’m talking about the child who displays the early onset of pre-schizophrenia. He’s usually about 19 to 26 years old. You’ve begun to notice changes in his demeanor, but you shrug it off as just post adolescence, or generation gap. However, in the back of your mind, you know there is something horribly wrong. But, you say, “not my Johnny, or Susie, or Mark!” He’s just going through a phase. He’ll be alright. But as the weeks, months, years, drag on, and the displayed pathology becomes even more significant, you realize that he’s not getting better, he’s getting worse.
What you may be witnessing is a child descending into the madness of Schizophrenia – from which there may be no return, without help. Worse yet, there are a subset of sufferers who may also be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and may be a danger to you, themselves, their peers and their communities.
It may be what triggered the violence visited upon a mother who had a stash of guns, and was trying desperately to relate to a young son who had begun to exhibit odd behaviors. It may be the explanation behind the Columbine massacres; or Aurora, or the college in Virginia, or the African student who wires himself with explosives to end it all. It certainly bears looking into. We have, for far too long taken a somewhat leave well enough alone attitude toward our youth, thinking that it’s only a stage we all go through in adolescence. However, there is something seriously amiss when so many of those young ones become the instruments of death, and then take their own lives as well.
Not wanting to be an alarmist, not saying that every kid you see who acts withdrawn ought to have his or her head examined; but what I am saying is if there are furtive glances; passive aggressive hostile behavior; if your kid locks himself in a room, plays the Sterio to the top of its volume so he can’t hear what you’re saying; while at the same time yelling invectives at you – have him at least diagnosed. If you find your kid sitting in a corner, just rocking back and forth – check it out – what’s up with that. Time to do some parenting.
And, no, there’s no guilt trip to be had here – that is unless you ignore it. Schizophrenia is a sudden biochemical imbalance in the brain – no on knows why it happens, but it does. When those voices begin to come, and they’re suddenly not the cute, affectionate, genius you raised; when things are suddenly dark and evil, and you’re all against them – get them some help.
However, let me also warn you: what I’m saying sounds simple, but the laws may actually hamper your getting your child help. If they’re over 18 in some states, they have to consent to being diagnosed. In other states, the age is 21. If they are over 21 and it’s clear they really are out of control, in certain states, you have to have a sheriff present, witnessing them doing something in a menacing manner, in order to have them examined. And, there are no house calls, whereby a psychiatrist can come to the home to observe the behavior first hand.
Schizophrenia may be cured, or at least, managed. However, paranoid schizophrenia is far more difficult to mitigate. And the results of confrontation as the result of frustration, may prove disastrous.We may never know what sets the shooter off on his path of destruction in any of these heinous situations – but it may have been someone who loved them, pleading with them to get help. It may have been something they saw on TV, or in the movies.
I’m not a psychiatrist or a doctor. However, one does not need to be to identify abnormal behavior. There are some commonalities in the presenting syndromes of schizophrenia. We may need to have them publicized so that people know what they’re looking at when they’re in the presence of someone who is just a little off kilter, but you don’t know why. And, by the way, according to online sources, while the term schizophrenia means split personality, it’s not the true definition of the problem. It also has no racial boundaries. But, according to statistics, it is more likely to strike young males between the ages of 19 to 26.
In 1994 Diana Ross did a made-for-TV movie about a young Black woman, who was studying to be a doctor, who suddenly became schizophrenic. It was poignant, well written, and well portrayed. In it, a new medication, chlozapine, was revealed to be a possible cure for the disease. In the movie, everything tuned out fine. She regained her life, found a man (that fine Carl Lumley), and continued with her studies.
In real life, unfortunately, it’s not so simple. If the sufferer won’t consent to diagnosis, then there can be no prescription. No prescription, no cure. The problem is that many of the laws allow the person who is incapable of making the decision, to have decision making powers. The book and film A Beautiful Mind chronicles the life of John Forbes Nash, a Nobel Prize-winning mathematician who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. His is the exception, not the rule. We now have to look at what laws there are that may be hampering the medical realm in their assistance and/or cure of these dangerous mental diseases. And we can’t wait until 2014 when Obamacare kicks in. This has to be done immediately, if not sooner.
So, yes, get the guns and the gangs off the streets. Get the kids in Chicago on a program of brotherly and self-love; have a gun buy-back don’t ask, don’t tell program. But above all, recognize that there is something even more sinister eating away at our youth’s psyches, and it may well be paranoid schizophrenia.
Stay Blessed &
bullet Columnist Gloria Dulan-Wilson Is a veteran New York City Journalist. Her experiences, perspective & sense of history are an invaluable combination. “check out my blog:” www.gloria-dulan-wilson.blogspot.com