Psychotropic Drugs and Mass Murder
Categories: New Release Psychology & Personal Growth Society & Politics
Excerpt from Nine Dimensions of Madness by Robert L. Gallon, PhD
Drawing on his extensive experience as a psychologist who has worked with thousands of patients, he argues that there are no objective indicators of mental disorders and therefore no way of drawing a distinct line between people who have them and people who don’t.
In this excerpt, Dr. Gallon discusses the connection between psychotropic drugs and the rise of mass murders in the United States.
There is a highly controversial association between mass shootings and the use of psychotropic medications. The facts are these. Attorney General Eric Holder reported that mass shooting incidents tripled between 2009 and 2013. At the same time, there had been a rapid increase in the number of psychotropic drugs prescribed. It is estimated that as many as 90 percent of shooters during that period were taking (or were suspected of taking) psychiatric medications. (1)
Correlations do not prove cause, but the association is troubling. Studies have shown that acts of violence may be “a genuine and serious drug event” with several classes of drugs, especially the antidepressants that affect serotonin levels (SSRIs). (2) Daren Savage compiled a list of twenty-six individuals who either committed or attempted mass murder and were taking psychotropic drugs at the time. The list begins with John Hinckley, who attempted to kill President Ronald Reagan in 1981. It also includes Kip Kinkel, who killed his parents and opened fire
at his school in Oregon the next day; Eric Harris, one of the shooters in the Columbine High School massacre; Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children; Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter; and Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter. (3)
As of writing Nine Dimensions of Madness, the most recent mass murderer was Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings copilot who locked the pilot out of the cockpit and intentionally crashed the plane into the Alps. Newspaper reports indicate that Lubitz had a history of psychiatric treatment, and SSRI antidepressant drugs were found in his home.(4) Lubitz is suspected of trying to hide his psychiatric treatment, and it may never be known if he was taking the drugs at the time of the crash. Nonetheless, it is within the realm of possibility that taking an SSRI contributed to his suicidal action, which killed so many others.
There is a model for drug-influenced action that we are all familiar with, and that is alcohol. Drinking does not directly make anyone violent, but it does disinhibit emotional constraints. Sometimes this allows people to become funny or sexually aroused, and sometimes it is anger or hatred that they reveal. People under the influence often do things they would be unlikely to do when sober. Antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs may have an analogous effect on some people.
Currently, we cannot definitively connect psychotropic medications to homicidal behavior, because people with violent tendencies may just be more likely to be prescribed them. However, such a strong association raises red flags. Today, SSRIs are prescribed with almost no thought about potential consequences. Should doctors be handing them out so cavalierly, assuming that they do no harm?
- KellyP.O’Meara,“Dramatic Increase of Mass Shooting in America: The Role of Prescription Psychiatric Drugs,” Global Research News, November 21, 2013.
- T.J.Moore,J. Glenmullen, and C.D. Furberg,“Prescription Drugs Associated with Reports of Violence towards Others,” PlosOne, December 15, 2010.
- Daren Savage,“A Brief History of Psychotropic Drugs Prescribed to Mass Murderers,” Los Alamos Daily Post, January 16, 2013.
- Mike Adams,“Psychiatric Medications Found in the Home of Germanwings Pilot Andreas Lubitz, Who Underwent 18 Months of Psychiatric Treatment,” Global Research, March 31, 2015.