What if…

Posted by on Mar 13, 2013 in Events | 2 comments
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What if the media stopped describing those who kill innocent school children, movie goers, college students and marathon spectators as evil, mad, insane, fanatical or mentally ill? What if the media, on cue from physicians and scientists, described biologically meaningful conditions that, had they been identified earlier, would have been treatable? Here are some to be ruled out in the Newtown shooter.
1. Undiagnosed neuro Lyme disease (and coinfections). Lyme and coinfections are implicated in numerous psychiatric disorders, including violent psychosis.
2. High copper levels in the brain. High copper distinguishes some criminally psychotic from non criminally psychotic people.
3. Significant levels of lead. We now know that years of exposure to leaded gas created a generation more prone to violence.
4. Excessive levels of brain excitotoxicity from being addicted to energy drinks. Energy drinks are implicated in psychosis and violence.
5. Initiation or cessation of psychiatric medications. Starting or stopping these drugs is linked to numerous deadly consequences.
6. Excessive Internet exposure. Yes, some people do become psychotic secondary to the continuous stimulation from the Internet.

The autopsy on the Newtown shooter was to include a genetic assessment. Did it include tests for Lyme disease and other chronic infections, levels of heavy metals like copper and lead, damage to his brain from excitotoxins? There is no need if we settle for evil, mad, insane or mentally ill. In my first book, I raised this same issue vis-a-vis Timothy McVeigh and others.

“That is well and good,” you say but what about accountability? What about personal responsibility? Personal responsibility is a notion those of us lucky enough to have well functioning brains can indulge in. For those whose brains are broken, personal responsibility is irrelevant. It is up to society-those in the scientific, medical, mental health and justice communities to be responsible. As long as we labor under the “evil/mad” paradigm we are not being responsible. We are blaming and labeling.

The weather man doesn’t rant at Mother Nature because of a hurricane named Sandy? He looks for warnings signs and alerts the population. The government leaders don’t blame Mother Nature for 230,000 lives lost in the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004? They install sensors to warn this region of the next big one.

What if the mother of the Newtown shooter knew that her son’s dysfunctional behavior was caused by brain dysfunction that could be diagnosed and treated? What if her son’s alleged autism was a result of his unique immune response to a unique strain of Lyme disease or other tick borne pathogens to which he was exposed before or after he was born? Approximately 20 to 30% of autistic children have Lyme disease. Didn’t the shooter’s mother have multiple sclerosis? Lyme disease and other chronic infections like C. pneumonia can present and be incorrectly diagnosed as multiple sclerosis.

Donna M. Culbert, Director of Health, Newtown Health District, stated on the town’s website, “It’s no secret that tick-borne diseases are a top public health concern in Newtown. As Newtown’s Health Director, it’s heart wrenching to hear of entire families being impacted, from doing schoolwork to be able to perform at work, effects range from disruptive to devastating and debilitating … all from contracting a tick-borne disease.”

So far, no one knows exactly what was wrong with Adam Lanza’s brain, but there is little doubt that his frontal cortex, the part that mediates primitive impulses from the old brain was severely impaired. If the shooter had gotten the same kind of superficial testing given psychotic patients, the findings might well have come back normal. The only other explanations? He must have had a mental disorder. He was evil.
While we don’t know how his brain was broken, we know that it was and that an in depth analysis may provide answers that could protect us from the next Newtown massacre. No one did this on Timothy McVeigh.

Will we learn anything from Adam Lanza? Who knows what we could learn from the Adam Lanza’s of the world? Maybe the doctrines of mainstream Islamic thought were uniquely altered by the brains of two young men in Boston due to biological processes we still don’t understand. Low serotonin and high dopamine in certain brain regions are associated with aggression. Black and white thinking may be a function of an impaired brain. The study of the broken brains of those who commit such thought-less acts will help to us to more fully understand and prevent them.

Funding for mental health care is being increased across the nation in response to the Newtown shooting and similar episodes across the country. Will these funds be well spent? Will they be used to treat labels or relevant biological biomarkers?

David Moyer, LCSW (Alaska), is a retired Air Force Lt Col who has worked in mental health settings at the federal, state, county, and city levels. He is the author of Too Good to be true? Nutrients Quiet the Unquiet Brain and two books scheduled to be published in 2013, Beyond Mental Illness and Ten Ways to Keep Your Brain from Screaming OUCH!”


  1. Hi Dave, Remember me? What about printing the story about how one brave father worked tirelessly to find answers to his son’s symptoms; and then gotthem and shared them with the world.

    • Helena, Thanks for those kind words. We are cautiously optimistic given that we have reversed the usual course of the syndrome which, usually involves more episodes over shorter periods of time. Hope to get both books out this year. Been a long process.

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