Shooters

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This article originally appeared at Reality Sandwich.

Several writers of my acquaintance, such as Allen Ginsberg and Ed
Sanders, developed the habit of keeping extensive files of press
clippings on stories of personal interest. Noam Chomsky, we’re told,
does the same thing. An individual news report may mention something in
passing that may seem secondary to the main narrative, but when multiple
stories collected over time repeat the same seemingly secondary data,
important patterns can become apparent.

For example, for many years Ginsberg clipped New York Times
articles having to do with the international traffic in narcotics. This
collection eventually served as one of the sources for historian Alfred
W. McCoy’s definitive study linking the heroin trade to U. S. government
agencies, The Politics of Heroin.  

Now, amid the
sickening media parade endlessly looping, one aspect of the mass shooter
phenomenon is continually skipped, but a survey of press reports on the
spate of bizarre violence that has arisen since the 1990s reveals a
pattern.

In the past few
days, following the Newtown murders, various experts have weighed in on the
difficulty of profiling the mass shooter type. (An accurate psychological
profile, presumably — and hideously problematically — could enable parents,
teachers, doctors, and law enforcers to predict which individual is headed
toward being the next shooter.)

Despite the
difficulty of such profiles and predictions, there are two things that
such
characters have in common. First, they are mostly young white males.
Second, many of the perpetrators are reported to have been taking
psychoactive prescription medication.

The
website “SSRI Stories: Antidepressant Nightmares” offers a sortable database of more than 4,800 newspaper articles, scientific
journal reports, and TV news items linking
antidepressant use to cases of extreme violence.

It is important
to note that this site is not peddling some conspiracy theory. It is not
speculative at all. The website is an index to reputable sources reporting on
actual criminal cases, and inall cases reported, prescription meds are implicated.

The articles show
that these violent acts were perpetrated by consumers in the 50 billion dollar
a year
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) industry. This is a class
of drugs whose warning labels and pharmaceutical literature note that a
small percentage of SSRI consumers fantasize about and/or exhibit extreme violence.

I was originally
tipped to this in July of 2012 in an article by RS regular Jonathan Zap, which
he wrote in the wake of the so-called Batman shootings of that summer. 

Zap notes as
follows.   

“Mass
shootings, like the one that just happened in Aurora [Colorado], have become a recurrent
nightmare that haunts the collective psyche. As the nightmare repeats, we see
patterns emerging. One, which we don’t have confirmation on yet in this case,
is that the shooter will almost always turn out to be on an SSRI (selective
serotonin reuptake inhibitor).  For example, Colorado’s other most famous
mass shooting, Columbine, was masterminded by 18-year-old Eric Harris who was
on the SSRI medication Luvox. Here’s an index of shootings and the SSRI
connection someone put together.” 

The
website Jonathan links us to, “SSRI Stories: Antidepressant Nightmares,” concentrates on reports implicating Prozac (the
FDA’s number 2 drug for violence), Zoloft, Paxil (number 3 for violence),
Celexa, Lexapro, Luvox, Remeron, Anafranil, Effexor, Cymbalta, Pristiq, and
Wellbutrin.

Here are a few samples of reports from the site, with comments.

“Tim
Kretschmer . . . walked into Albertville Secondary in Winnenden, near
Stuttgart, at 9.30am on Wednesday armed with a 9mm Beretta he had stolen from
his gun enthusiast father and wearing a K4-Schutz bulletproof vest and the
black fatigues of Germany’s elite forces, the Kommando Spezialkräfte. . .
.  He killed nine pupils at
Albertville, all but one a girl, and three teachers, all women, in less than 10
minutes. He then shot and killed three bystanders as he tried to escape, before
taking his own life after a shootout with police. . . .  It emerged that Kretschmer had been
suffering from depression . . . and receiving medication for the condition.” –-Scotland On Sunday, Edinburgh, March
14 2009. 

“Hours before he
walked into a Northern Illinois University lecture hall and inexplicably started
a shooting rampage that ended five lives and his own, Steve Kazmierczak called
one of the people he was closest to and said what would be a final goodbye. . .
. [According to his girlfriend] ‘he was anything but a monster. He was probably
the nicest, most caring person ever’. . . . [She said] he saw a
psychiatrist monthly but stopped taking Prozac a few weeks ago. She said the
medicine ‘made him feel like a zombie’.” —Chicago Sun Times, February 8, 2008.

What we might call the “zombie effect” seems to come up in many of these cases.
Also common is that the violent behavior tends to occur when the patient is
either having the dosage adjusted, or
has just stopped taking the pills.

The
“SSRI Stories” site notes the following.

“The danger of withdrawal from antidepressants and antipsychotics is
well documented. The brain tries to compensate for the blockage of the
serotonin and dopamine receptors by growing additional receptors for
these
neurotransmitters.  When the medications are discontinued, these
additional receptors contribute to an ‘overload’ of serotonin and
dopamine
flooding the receptor. This is known as ‘supersensitivity psychosis’ and
‘antidepressant discontinuation syndrome’.” 

“BEMIDJI,
MINN. — Jeffrey Weise had ‘a good relationship’ with the grandfather he shot
and killed on Monday as prelude to his deadly assault on students and others at
Red Lake High School, according to relatives who are struggling to understand
what might have pushed the teenager from sometimes bizarre behavior to mass
murder and suicide. . . .  They
wondered, too, about medication he was supposedly taking for depression, and a
recent increase in his prescribed dosage. . . . 60 milligrams a day of Prozac.”
Star Tribune (Minnesota), March 24, 2005.

Read the rest of this story at Reality Sandwich.

Image by Carsten Achertzer,licensed under Creative Commons

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