This is excerpted and edited from something I put on Facebook.
There is a horrible article going around. I am Adam Lanza’s Mother, it says. It’s the story of a mother who has a mentally ill child.
I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.
We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around
I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am Jason Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.
She is not. She is the mother of a mentally ill child who is NOT the shooter.
She is taking the story of a child, who is, by her own narrative, quite scary to mother, and deciding to generalizing that to a man she knows nothing about. When you do that, when you repost it or share it or hold it up as so inspiring and raw and important to relate to this tragedy, you are saying this:
“People who behave in the way that I am describing are just like Lanza”
“Children who do these things that I am describing turn into Lanza”
“My child has something like X/Y/Z Disorder and I think they’re just like Lanza”
Because when you say that the narrative of your child just like that of a mass murderer, and then you describe some characteristics, things we *do not know* of Adam Lanza’s behavior, you are perpetuating some dangerous beliefs.
Please, please stop.
I’m not going to EVER defend the actions of the shooter.
But I will defend to all hell the people who you’re painting with the same brush.
And in case it wasn’t clear already, I will not accept “but any discussion about mental health is important!”. Nope. Discussions that speak over those who suffer from mental illness, that make them The Other, or that stigmatize them and paint them as gangly children with overbites, are harmful, and nothing more. Please stop.
Secondly, if you are going to discuss Autism Spectrum Disorder/Asperger’s here, please go educate yourself first. I suggest here and here, but I would gladly welcome more links in the comments.