“Spare Me The BS About Mental Illness,” Sen. Murphy Knocks Down Straw Man. Don’t Blame Mass Murders On SMI

(5-26-22) The moment I heard about the 18 year-old shooter in Texas, I knew mental illness would be blamed.

This always is what happens and Texas Gov. Greg Abbot was quick to prove me true. (See: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott blames mass shootings on mental-health concerns, despite noting that there’s no evidence that the Texas-school gunman had mental illness)

Yes, there have been horrific incidents caused by a shooter who has been diagnosed with a serious mental illness and in many of those incidents, the shooter’s parents had tried to get their child psychiatric help without success.

But studies show the most common killers are not being driven by a mental illness – not hearing voices or having wild mood swings. Instead, they are motivated by racism, hate, and feelings of revenge or a desire to be famous. Here’s a list of reasons published in a major study of mass shootings.

Whatever the style of killing, the motives for mass murder are organized around
five primary themes that can occur singly or in combination (Fox & Levin, 1998).
1. Revenge (e.g., a deeply disgruntled individual seeks payback for a host of fail-
ures in career, school, or personal life);
2. Power (e.g., a “pseudo-commando” style massacre perpetrated by some mar-
ginalized individual attempting to wage a personal war against society);
3. Loyalty (e.g., a devoted husband/father kills his entire family and then himself
to spare them all from a miserable existence on earth and to reunite them in the
4. Terror (e.g., a political dissident destroys government property, with several
victims killed as “collateral damage,” to send a strong message to those in
power); and
5. Profit (e.g., a gunman executes the customers and employees at a retail store to
eliminate all witnesses to a robbery

I was pleased to hear Sen. Chris Murphy, (D-Conn.), who helped push through one of the most important mental health laws in recent years, knock down Gov. Abbott’s straw man.

“Spare me the bullshit about mental illness. We don’t have any more mental illness than any other country in the world. You cannot explain this through a prism of mental illness, because we don’t — we’re not an outlier on mental illness. We’re an outlier when it comes to access to firearms and the ability of criminals and very sick people to get their hands on firearms. That’s what makes America different,” Sen. Murphy said.

Thank you Sen. Murphy for speaking out against the further stigmatization of those with diagnosed mental illnesses. They have enough trauma in their lives without being blamed for mass murders.

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.