Asylum Light is a book about what was one of the larger Mental Hospitals in the country, Peoria State Hospital – with 7,000 inmates/patients on 200 acres before it closed its doors in 1973. My father worked there as a psychiatrist, and my family lived on the grounds of this Mega-Institution. I also became a physician with a background, since pre-teen years, of interacting with insanity. Dealing with the insane on a daily basis has given me a different perspective on the insane mind. If you look at the last decade of mass shootings, every one of them was caused by an insane person. The normal mind does not go into a school, workplace, mall, or anywhere and open fire on random people who had very little or nothing to do with the shooter.
Take a look at the last school shooting at Uvalde, Texas. An 18-year-old first shoots his grandmother in the face, then heads to the school, texting his intent to kill children and then proceeding to kill 19 children and two teachers. To give you a window into this insane boy’s brain, he pointed the gun at a teacher, whom he did not know, said “good night” to her, then shot her in the head – no regret, no conscience, no filter – typical of the psychopathic personality. He was a psychopath long before then. His multiple fights at school, his bragging about cruelty to animals, his act of shooting a BB gun at random people from his car window, and his loner mentality were strong clues.
The most lethal school shooting in the US was at Sandy Hook School in Connecticut. Twenty children and six adults died from a 20-year-old gunman who also killed his mother that day. Do you think he might have been crazy? In 2017 another crazy person fired on a crowd attending the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas. He shot over 1,000 bullets from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, killing 60 people and wounding 411. They were all unknown to him, and his motives are still unknown.
But I know the cause. An insane mind does not need a logical motive. The most recent shooting in Chicago was again done by a schizophrenic. It is interesting to me that few mentioned this obvious fact to me which is the root and only cause of this tragedy. His internet postings are classic. The references to his mission. His hallucinated preordained actions – “it is my destiny” are typical of his altered mind which no laws can change. The anti-psychotic class of drugs has the only hope of changing his delusional brain chemistry. The problem is that he must ingest them if they are to work.
Insanity remains a mystery. Brain scans and genetic studies hint at an alteration of brain chemistry. Unfortunately, insanity is not curable to date. Most gun laws will not prevent crazy people from shooting innocent children. The insane pay little heed to the law. Small capacity magazines, background checks, and red flag laws will make little difference to the insane person. THE MAJORITY, IF NOT ALL, OF THESE CRIMES, ARE DUE TO MENTAL ILLNESS! This is the main issue that needs to be addressed, and it is mostly ignored and hardly mentioned. It is not PC. It is considered reactionary and outdated.
Unfortunately, no psychotherapy, no pills, and no laws will fix it. Anyone who has demonstrated a risk to themselves or others needs some kind of restraint up to and including confinement in a facility for the good of themselves and society. For some, there is no other answer than institutionalization. It is not cruel. It is not unjust. It is necessary and cruel not to do it, and the only solution!
Recently a 27-year-old man from Califonia was apprehended near Justice Kavanaugh’s home, threatening to kill him. He had been on the phone with 911 expressing suicidal thoughts and death threats to Justice Kavanaugh. Crazy? Absolutely! John Hinkley who shot President Reagan in 1982 to call attention to himself, in order to impress movie actress Jodie Foster, was recently released, presumably cured of his mental illness. From what I know of mental illness, he will never be cured. As soon as he stops his medications, he will start his delusional thinking.
Keeping guns out of the hands of a crazy person certainly is an admirable goal, but with all the guns in circulation, that is a near-impossible task, but that is not to say that it should not be implemented. Certainly, an effort to identify insane people is a reasonable approach but difficult to enact. A history of strange behavior is a hint. Animal cruelty, a strong indicator of a psychopathic personality, is a good predictor of homicidal tendencies, which should be taken far more seriously than it is. Certainly, shooting at people with a BB gun should ring alarm bells and certainly must be reported to the police. Medications might have helped. A physician, especially one dealing with mental illness, is probably the best judge of homicidal tendencies. So a certificate from a doctor of mental stability might be a simple requirement to own a gun. It is easy to implement and not stepping on anyone’s rights. It works in Italy, and they also have their share of crazy people and guns.
An insane person who has homicidal thinking needs to be confined. His medications must be administered under supervision to ensure that he takes them. Just like a sex offender is monitored, an insane person who has demonstrated danger to others needs to be institutionalized. Peoria State Hospital for the Incurably Insane dropped the “Incurably Insane” part because it was not PC, but unfortunately, true. Asylums were life savers! Mass shootings were unheard of then. Our society will need to reconsider the only option that so far has a proven track record, bringing back the Asylum for the Incurably Insane.