What a somber week it’s been. I feel like anything I write will be trivial in light of last Friday’s events.
Many of us are now wrestling with the ever-burning question: Why?
This year, I read the book Columbine by Dave Cullen. I highly recommend it to anyone seeking a better understanding of tragic events like those that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut. Mr. Cullen is a journalist who covered the Columbine tragedy from day one. For a decade, he researched why the tragedy happened and debunked the main scapegoats, including: access to weapons, bad parenting, angry music, violent video games, bullying, and lack of access to mental health services.
The real reason the Columbine tragedy happened, Cullen contends, was because of the warped mind chemistry of two individuals. Using evidence such as journals, school papers and personal websites, leading experts diagnosed Dylan Klebold as clinically depressed and Eric Harris as a psychopath.
At this time, there is no cure for psychopathy outside of a miracle of God. There are limited treatment options, which have shown some success in contained environments, such as prison.
We don’t know much about Adam Lanza yet, but if he was a psychopath (which is a considerable possibility given the number of people he killed indiscriminately), there would have been no stopping him. It’s incredibly sad and it’s not an easy answer. However, psychopaths are professional manipulators. In Eric Harris’s case, he had everyone (including his own parents, friends and therapist) completely fooled.
None of us can pick up on warning signs that don’t exist.
If you don’t have time to pick up Columbine, check out this Slate article by the author, written five years after the tragedy, which summarizes the points he made in his book: “The Depressive and the Psychopath: At Last We Know Why The Columbine Killers Did It.”
More recently, The New York Times Magazine published an article titled, “Can You Call A 9-Year-Old a Psychopath?” which discusses studies being done with “callous and unemotional” (or CU) children who exhibit signs of psychopathy. There may be some hope for treating psychopaths, but treatment must begin early.
We may never know why this happened. And, Lord knows, it will happen again. We can only pray for the people of Newtown and hope that researchers will make important strides to help prevent these tragedies.