Peter Lanza courtesy newstimes.com

“With hindsight, I know Adam would have killed me in a heartbeat, if he’d had the chance. I don’t question that for a minute. The reason he shot Nancy four times was one for each of us: one for Nancy; one for him; one for Ryan; one for me.” – Adam Lanza’s father Peter in The Reckoning [at newyorker.com]

68 Responses to Quote of the Day: 20/20 Edition

    • He DID shut up and go away. Not having a solid father figure in the life of an already unhinged adolescent is a bit like dumping gasoline on a fire….

      • After the kid was 18, if I understand this rightly.

        I mean, it isn’t like Adam grew up without a parent his whole life. And honestly, even if he did? Millions do with mass murder.

      • No, apparently he stayed in Adam’s life as long as he was permitted. After age 18, there was little he could do since Adam refused to see him.

        • Well, he could have called the police and said “my 20 year old son has guns, is mentally ill, is obsessed with violence, and his mother, my -ex, is unable to take action, other than taking him to the shooting range.” He had a choice, to either create a family spectacle in order to provide safety to Nancy (against her will) and the community, or to throw up his hands. He made his choice. He didn’t know Adam would kill 26, but he did know that Adam was mentally ill, had guns, and was obsessed with violence.

          What would you do if you knew these things and gave a damn about other people, or even your in-denial ex?

      • If you had bothered to listen to the whole interview, you would know he did try to be in Adams life. The mom and Adam didn’t want the dad around. He doesn’t explain why, but all evidence points to mom poisoning the well, so to speak. It wouldn’t be the first time a mom told lies and spoke badly about a father to turn a child against the father. Know some facts before spouting garbage.

        • Know some facts before spouting garbage.

          Welcome to TTAG. I look forward to your razor wit in the future.

      • Literally just had this talk with my wife. Epic parental fail on both their parts for letting it go so far, seriously fuck the media that they wont let this die.

      • Hear, hear! It’s really starting to feel like the father is ramping up for a book deal. Honestly, if my future child turned out to be Hitler, I’d still love them, though certainly I’d have failed as a parent, and I wouldn’t go so far as to berate them. The right message to get out, if I simply *had* to be a douche and try to get my fifteen minutes of fame out of *this*, of all things, would be to admit that I failed as a parent to show others what to avoid doing. Shitty father is somehow still shitty.

        • I’m not sure bad parenting caused this. There was something very wrong with Adam that even the professionals they sought help from couldn’t fix. The other son turned out ok, apparently.

        • Juliesa: point taken, but as is sometimes recycled by comedians: if one kid becomes and astronaut and the other kid gets robbed by a hooker, you still failed as a parent.

        • Why on earth would anyone suppose that the parents could do nothing? I find such a thought incredible. What they did for Adam regarding his mental health was what? Practically nothing. And Adam’s dysfunction had been going on for years. Nancy got him to Yale/New Haven but then joined Adam in rejecting the medication which was prescribed.

          That one of their sons is normal does not say that the parenting of Adam was good. It says that the parents were able to raise the one, but not willing to face seriously the special issues Adam had. They focused on his educational needs, but not on his psychiatric needs. Both parents, if the public information is accurate. The second Adam refused to cooperate with the psychiatric treatment, both parents should have sought removal of the firearms and mandatory in-patient treatment for Adam at their expense.

          I’m not making up a retrospective theory, but have been in the situation with a family member years ago. It is difficult, painful, and often embarrassing to force intervention, but in the end the active intervention (and safety measures) work. The ill person, whether parent, sibling, or child, often gets their life back. Nobody dies. When an adult child is completely dependent on you financially, that means if he is mentally ill he is totally dependent on you to get him into treatment.

    • He only got press because he was initially identified as the shooter. That’s because his psychopath brother had his ID on him.

  1. Ryan WHO??? Water boarding time anyone??? This guys a jerk at the very least, trying to lay his guilt on his sick son. Just to get a tiny violin response from people. Instead of “what the hell was wrong with your kid, and YOU”?? And why was your foot, not making permanent lodging in your sons ass. NOW YOU KNOW HE HAD A MENTAL ISSUE?? DAH!! Was this before he took his rifle and murdered your ex wife? Some people I swear!

    • How much do you think a divorced father can realistically do with a son that lives with his supplicating overprotective mother in today’s world?

      • Word. The old “everyone shares the blame equally” dodge is true only if all other factors are equal. Nobody blames Joan of Arc for all the children Gilles de Rais buggered, savaged and murdered. de Rais was a rich and powerful man; he owned a CASTLE, for cryin’ out loud!

    • I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. The reality is that there are just some people who are beyond saving. His son appeared to be one of these people. The main failure here is the lack of mental health resources available in this country. This leaves people like the Newtown shooter (I refuse to use his name and give him any additional notoriety) out on the street. Until you’ve walked in the shoes of someone who’s had to deal with a mentally-ill family member, I would reserve judgement.

      On a side note, I learned more about the Sandy Hook massacre reading this article than I did reading the official Connecticut State Police report.

      • “On a side note, I learned more about the Sandy Hook massacre reading this article than I did reading the official Connecticut State Police report.”

        I had the exact same thought.

      • Yes, but the Lanza’s are wealthy and did use mental health care. None of the professionals who treated Adam saw this coming.

        • Aren’t the disorders that Adam was diagnosed with typically considered to be non-violent?

        • Aspberger’s and mild autism-spectrum disorders usually are, but speaking as someone who grew up as a nerd and is friends with a lot of these types (and suffer from a mild similar condition), they tend to have a lot of strong emotional problems attached to these disorders – especially the inability to deal with criticism, and a tendency to hold grudges against those who they believe have wronged them in some way. A lot of these people are mild sociopaths lacking a well-developed sense of empathy, and while they may not be violent-natured, when their emotions get inflamed after a long build-up they can really lash out.

      • “The main failure here is the lack of mental health resources available in this country.”

        No, the main failure here is a violent asshole murdered some people.

        Why do we continue making external excuses for bad behavior?

        No one predicted he’d go this loopy; and no one EVER can. This reminds of something I heard a psychologist say on a talk show in the early 90’s…that all the indicators were there to point to [whatever violent creep he was talking about at THAT time] doing what he did…

        Only, none of the mental health professionals saw it coming BEFORE the fact. Just like here, with I-refuse-to-say-his-name.

        Psychology is not an exact thing with predictive power. At all. Laying the responsibility at the feet of a field that cannot make forecasts with ANY statistical significance is begging for the problem to continue unaccosted.

        • You can’t predict all of the nut-jobs, but this guy had been sending up strong signals for a long time. His mother had been trying to get him into ome sort of residential treatment, if not full-on commiment. If the mother had been a resposible gun owner, she would not have had unsecured guns in the house.

          Please note I am not advocating for new storage laws or something – just saying that gun owners need to be aware of all the factors in their own hom and act accordingly.

        • My point is that people ALWAYS say those signals are there AFTER the fact.

          It’s classical “Begging the Question” fallacy.

          That’s a far, far cry from making predictions.

      • I don’t blame the father, either. Looks like he did the best he could with the cards he was dealt.

        I do take exception to the dearth mental health resources excuse, however. Fact is there are dozens of mental health professionals, including licensed psychiatrists, in and around the Newtown, CT area. His affluent parents no doubt had abundant insurance, too, which we know from the killer’s assistance received with his supposed Aspergers syndrome.

        Failing that, CT has an entire Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services ready to help the 18+ yr. old crowd with their problems, those who cannot afford treatment on their own.

        They offer services such as residential, supportive, rehabilitative and crisis intervention programs, all available within their local communities, including less than an hour’s drive from Newtown. The Region 5 facility, I google mapped it. Ok, hour and fifteen minutes in traffic.

        I don’t know and cannot know what prompted this butchery. I lump it into a convenient category called “evil”, because I don’t have anything better. However, insofar as it was based on a mental condition, resources to treat that were overflowing in availability for this person.

      • The mental health resources are available, Alex. The problem is that the people whom everybody believes are most in need of them, often do not agree with that assessment and will not voluntarily avail themselves of those resources. And, at this point, the laws on the books make it very difficult to FORCE somebody to accept mental health treatment. It is no crime to be crazier than a shit-house rat, and you can’t take custody of a person simply for being “crazy.” It is only when a “crazy” person is, because of his/her craziness, clearly and imminently dangerous to him/herself, or to others, or, because of his/her craziness, cannot provide for his/her basic needs, and there is no one else available to provide for those needs, that the possibility of involuntary hospitalization/treatment arises. And, unfortunately, there is much disagreement among mental health professionals about what behaviors a person might be showing, that would support the determination that the person is imminently dangerous to him/herself or others. Adam Lanza is said to have been an exemplar of Asperger’s Syndome. Such people tend to be socially awkward and to project an aura of interpersonal strangeness, but are not known to be prone to violence. Those who understand this, and also that most parents do the best they can with the hands they’ve been dealt, will raise up off of both of Adam’s parents and cut them some slack. Those who don’t will continue to excoriate them, and, after the fact, hold them responsible for Adam’s heinous behavior. Sad situation all around.

    • Unless you have personally had to get help for mental illness for someone close to you, you have no idea how fvck up the system happens to be.

      CT used to be in the top 10 for help, now it ranks in the bottom 10. The ACLU and the democrats dismantled the system in the mid-80s. To be fair there was plenty of abuse of patients. However, in typical democratic political policy they used a hammer when a scalpel would have been better to address the abuse problem. They had grand plans to replace the system with local, regional and state level programs and pretty much did nothing but close all the facilities they could.

      Today, most who need mental health help get it in prison. Over half who are shot by the police suffer some mental illness issue and police shoot those who are sick and under represented like they do dogs.

      Mental health issues are long term and expensive problems and it is why politicians do not bother to fix what they helped to break.

      We do have the whole story but if they did try to get help it was a mess bad diagnoses from expensive doctors whose only solution is to experiment with a mess of expensive drugs. Even if there are facilities, they are very expensive and for many families the only way to get help to make their family member a ward of the state. Once you are in a facility, which is more often than not a General Hospital, it is under staffed with very few beds in a less than ideal environment or in many states, it is a prison hospital.

      if you care to learn more, here are two links that breaks down the issues state by state:
      http://mentalillnesspolicy.org/
      http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=mental_illness_awareness_week

      The subject is icky for politicians and for democrats, since the mentally can’t really bring them the votes they need, why should they care? They dismantled the system no need to rebuild it — just blame something like “guns’ instead.

      Notice how in CT by emergency decree they pass the gun control bill but almost 15 months later we have a commission for mental health that done exactly zero in terms of recommendations.

      • The ACLU and the democrats dismantled the system in the mid-80s

        I’m about as conservative as you get but I’d bet my bottom dollar that the R’s joined in with this dismantling to say they cut spending.

        I’ll gladly agree that all the roadblocks, hassles, and court orders required to get somebody involuntarily committed for observation were mainly put in place by feel-good lefty types.

        • Yup, it was the worst kind of bi-partisanship.

          But CT is still particularly bad – even NY has implemented new procedures to monitor non-custodial patients and make sure they stay on their drugs, or go back into custody. CT rejected such a program.

        • The Republicans may well have encouraged further cuts in mental health care spending, but the fact is that the dismantling process started long before, in the 60’s and early 70’s. Community integration was well meant and for the vast majority of patients a good thing, but it did mean that a lot of people fell through the cracks. Although only an extremely small percentage of people with mental illness are violent, the sheer numbers meant that there was certain to be a few basket cases among the lot.

          Tom

      • Doesn’t matter in this case. They could seek help from the best in the nation. Hell, they took the kid to Yale for treatment. No excuses. At the very least, treatment aside, they could always havd had him committed.

        And who’s doing this ranking of mental health services that places CT so low, as claim?

        2006 report from the National Alliance on Mental Illness gave CT of “B.” No states received an “A” and only four others score as highly with a “B” as CT did.

        According to the Henry J. kaiser Family Foundation, CT ranked 8th in the nation in mental health spending per capita, 2010 figures.

        Other sources report similarly, so I don’t know where you’re getting that, other than personal anectdotes. If you’re going to go crazy, Connecticut is one of the better places it seems to receive treatment.

  2. Well, he knew enough about his sons mental condition to interpret why his ex caught four. /sarc
    Sounds a little self-centered to me.

  3. Read the entire interview, people. It’s long, but it’ll give you some valuable insights before you start running off at the mouth. When you’re ignorant on the subject of mental illness and start throwing blame around, you just make yourself look like an a$$.

    • I agree. I’m only about 3/4 through it and it sounds like a family struggling with what to do with a situation that was clearly not copacetic. It sounds like they tried, hard.

  4. I have to beleive dad could not deal with a mentally disabled son. He left the home, left the son and left the wife, to deal with it. She did the best she could for the boy, misguided, true but that is the real 20/20.

    Dad needs to go away, just go away!

    • It seems like mom ad her own large dose of Crazy, just no the violent kind. Adam Laza wouldn’t even see his mother face to face, and they lived in he same house. He was a little beyond positive parenting.

      • Not crazy, mostly denial or this unrealistic belief that her son could be better without professional help.

        She is not alone, have you never seen a parent with unrealistic expectations of their children or totally unrealistic belief about how their children behave?

    • I dunno…what I got out of it is the father actually understood something was wrong and was trying the best he could to help the son, but the mother was in such a state of denial that there were any real issues at all. She was far to coddling and quick to acquiesce to the tantrums caused by his mental instability.

  5. Blaming the parents for what this guy did, who was an adult when he did it, bye the way, is the same sort of things the librals do. They blame the tool used, we are blaming the parents. Wrong on both accounts. There is ONE person alone responsible for this horrid act, the killer. Metally ill? No doubt. But, there are millions of mentally ill people who don’t hurt anyone, just like there are many perfectly sane people who are monsters. An evil individual is resonsible for his own actions. There is only one solution to such evil, lifting the restrictions that prevent good people from protecting themselves. Looking for the source is a lost cause. There is, however, a solution, and the readers of this site know what that is.

    • Yes, the vast majority of mentally ill individuals are not violent, and the vast majority of people who commit violent acts are not mentally ill. Maybe better access to mental health care is a good thing(unless it’s government funded then no), but don’t think that will stop people who really want to do harm.

  6. Look.
    To treat a mentally ill person effectively they really have to WANT help. If they don’t…you can try to force them to go to therapy but you can’t force it to be productive. I guess you can randomly give them meds, but if they don’t give honest feedback on how the work for them, that’s no better than a crapshoot.

    You can’t just force effective treatment. It doesn’t work that way. And it’s nearly impossible to lock them up preemptively.

  7. I have Autism, have a hard time in the college, and have an interest with precision bolt action rifles. None of this makes me any more likely to harm anyone than it does to make me able to walk on water. Most adults with Autism tend to be used because they are very trusting,completely honest, and help others without question. No one in the Autism community can understand why the shooter did what he did.

    • I have a dear nephew who is in your exact situation, including the interest in rifles. He enjoys shooting with the whole family. It’s been a great way for all of us to bond with him. His father had to intervene in the first college semester to get him back on track, but he’s doing better now. Best wishes to you for success in getting that degree.
      I think one benefit of this article is that the father makes it clear that there was something else terribly wrong with his kid besides autism.

    • Are you a freakish recluse with an unhealthy interest in mass murder and the decor to prove it? No? Well Adam Lanza was.

      • The problem is that we have no pre-cogs and no Pre-Crime division.

        Human behavior cannot be predicted. Pretending it can is NOT going to solve problems like this.

        There is a tremendous confirmation bias with a healthy dose of tautology going on with this stuff.

        (1) Bad guy did bad thing.
        (2) There must be something wrong with him.
        (3) Things wrong with him are found after looking specifically for justifications of the statement in (2).
        (4) Claims are made that if those things were seen / known / acknowledged BEFORE the fact, (1) would not have happened.

        There is not one single provable instance of any psychology predicting any specific action by a person. It’s all self determining because the evidence is sought after the crime has been committed.

        The dirty little secret is that we will NEVER completely eliminate stuff like this from happening. There are things we can do to reduce it, and to lower the impact when it does happen. But, sometimes people do bad things.

        The rest of this is deflection from an admission of what the world is really like. We all want pat answers, but the world does not bend or our wants.

        “Mental Health” is pretty much a red herring in “preventing crime,” even heinous crime. Criminologists and sociologists have been applying the scientific method to criminal behavior for a bit over a century and there are nearly as many theories as there are people doing the theorizing.

        William Aprill gives some excellent insights on this kind of topic…

      • A lot of people are interested in the “before” or the “after” of the spree killing.

        My focus is on the “during.” Without a “during,” there is no “before” or “after.”

        The only time you are guaranteed to stop someone is the “during.”

        Even then, you need the correct mindset, information, positioning, and tools.

        If you really want to focus on the “before,” then learn how to have the right mindset, gather the right information, and get into the right position in the “during.”

        Having the right tools in a school setting can be difficult unless you live in a state like Utah, but one can still carry SOMETHING. I like hammers and slingshots.

    • Exactly, and someone like you should certainly not be penalized because of that. I see the new mental health thing as a back door way for gun grabbers to deprive many people of their 2A rights. Where does it end? Ever been depressed? Autism? Maybe learning disabilities? That is all way different than crazy rantings and threating behavior which demands intervention regardless of who is doing it. Threating behavior is just that, from anybody. We need to be careful and on guard against the slippery slopes.

  8. Mental illness is WAY more complex than “he was crazy” or “his father did a bad job”. If we’re looking for someone to blame there may not be a tidy solution to this puzzle. Tragedy all around, no doubt.

    • That’s the thing. Victor Davis Hanson writes of tragedy vs the unrealistic therapeutic world view, in which there’s a fix for everything if we just “care” enough. In real life, there are bad situations that cannot be solved.

      • Bingo.

        It amazes me how all these ‘fixes’ are tautological in nature, and thus have no predictive basis at all.

    • The only blame to be had is squarely on the shooter. If he had been “perfectly healthy” with no signs of a clinical mental disorder we would write him off as a “lone nut.” And a single, individual determined to cause harm is impossible to guard against.

      As insensitive as it may sound given his various conditions, that summary still applies.

  9. +1 Curtis in Illinois…I have a 36year old son grappling with mental health issues. I have NO influence on his behavior( other than prayer). I don’t think Mr. Lanza is looking for his 15minutes. How’d you like to be Jeffrey Dahmers dad? And from what I understand it was Adams mother who taught him to shoot,babied him, DIDN’T SECURE HER WEAPONS with a lunatic in the house.

  10. Wow. Lot of detail that hasn’t been offered up anywhere else, that I know of. Conn. SP and the mainstream media generated more questions than answers in their handling of the horror.

  11. Here’s my $0.02, worth all you paid for it. Many wont agree with me, but… i’m gonna say this anyway. both parents failed here. The kid was sick beyond all ordinary help and hope, and a timebomb just waiting to go off. the signs were there, they just didnt know how to recognize it, or react to it. Simply put, that kid belonged IN PATIENT, in a mental institute BEFORE he was 18 and not let out til the doctors found him sane and normal, which we all know never would have happened.

    Is that possible? i dont know, but i think thats the only way he doesn’t get to commit the profoundly evil act he perpetrated. I’m not going to beat up on the dad so much. He wasnt really able to do a lot more than he did. he tried, he did what he was capable of, and im not sure i would have had the answers if i was in his shoes. but that mother, she saw it all and KNEW how far gone, how ill, how prone to outbursts he had become and due to denial and her own issues, she was unable to recognize the danger. That kid belonged in a mental ward, committed. And she simply did not put him there, and this is the result. Its profoundly sad that something so terrible had to happen simply because someone(s) werent brave enough to force someone to get the help they need.

    -Paulus

    • agreed.
      I’ll add:
      “Everyone tried to encourage Adam and looked for ways to engage with him. Nancy would take him on trips to the shooting range.”

      Adam also had an obsession with video games and when Nancy was looking for something to “engage” him with, she taught the lunatic how to shoot real guns. I’m not saying video games contributed to Adam’s violent tendencies. I’m saying she could have plopped her a$$ down in front of a TV with her own Xbox and let Adam kill her virtually over and over again where they could have bonded afterwards. This would not have fixed the problem. Adam could have learned how to operate (yes that word) an AR watching youtube videos. Everyone would have been better off had he never be given access to a real gun by his mother. The experience of shooting in real life is not the same as seeing it on TV/computer or else all of America would be sharp shots. How is it with his sensory “overload” of itchy clothes tags, colorful pictures and changing classes he was able to “process” the loud gunshots, muzzle flash, smoke and recoil of real life shooting? Practice and repetition. I guess he played his video games on a black & white TV and (with his metal phobia) he had an all polymer AR with polymer mags which his mother loaded. “You must practice, practice, practice” has been repeated here more times than I can count. Well, his mother provided him the practice he needed.

  12. In ancient Roman times, a father, seeing his son behave in a corrupt, out of control manner, had a duty to correct him. If this failed, and the son continued to defy the paterfamilias, and continued in debauched and debased ways, the father had a duty to kill the son. This was to prevent the spread of youth defiance.

    This also the case in ancient Jewish times. In this case the father would appeal to the elders at the city gate, and if the offense was grave enough, they would stone the offending son to death.

    But we live in modern times.

    Perhaps a visit to the Marines recruitment centre?

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