Sandy Hook killer’s father searches for answers

Peter Lanza, whose son killed 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, doesn’t understand why his “normal weird” son turned violent, writes Andrew Solomon in a haunting New Yorker profile.

Adam Lanza was diagnosed with sensory integration disorder, then Asperger’s Syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder. He tried a psychotropic drug for a few days, had a bad reaction and never took meds again. He refused therapy. He saw many mental health professionals. Nobody predicted his violence. His father thinks the autism may have masked something else, perhaps schizophrenia.

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  1. Mike in Texas says:

    An idiotic mother who gave him access to guns, and a name only father who hadn’t talked to him for 2 years.

    • It must be comforting to blame “bad parents” when a child has severe mental problems, but it is not realistic. If you bother to actually read the article, you will find that the father was deeply concerned about his son, spent large amounts of time with him, and worked with a wide variety of mental health professionals. It was the son who refused to speak with his father, and this was a source of great anguish to him. Toward the end, Adam Lanza was not speaking to his mother, even though they lived in the same house.

      My dear niece has schizophrenia. Nothing that her devoted parents could do for her could have prevented that. Before they were able to find a combination of medications that worked for her, she was violent. Fortunately her violent episodes were limited to throwing rocks at people.

      It is easy to judge others when you have no real understanding of what they are going through. I pray that you never have to deal with the heartache of having a severely mentally ill child.

      • Mike in Texas says:

        I did read the article, the father did not have contact for 2 years. And the mother bought an arsenal and left it where her mentally damaged teenager could get it. She paid with her life for her carelessness, but unfortunately that was not the end of it, while the father distanced himself from the problems.

      • Its probably easier than being the parent of a murdered child.

      • palisadesk says:

        I’m 110% with Ray on this one. I’ve worked with children with severe mental illness, and their parents went through hell trying to access services, manage the child (which became impossible once the child became a teen), trying to get the child/teen to cooperate with treatment plans, take prescribed meds, and on and on. It’s easy for somebody on the sidelines to point the finger, but it’s highly unlikely that somebody could have done better. These cases are resistant to positive outcomes, no matter what the parents (or schools) do. Institutional care of the right sort might actually benefit someone with these problems, but that is rarely available and too many institutions have been places of abuse rather than treatment. For parents with limited means, there are few options. They live in terror, knowing their child will almost certainly end up in prison, and often suffering violence at the child’s hands themselves.
        (One student of mine had both parents terrorized before he entered Kindergarten). He’s in prison now.

        FRONTLINE did a good program on “Raising Adam Lanza” which you can view online, with additional interviews and resources:

        A lot of this is biologically driven. Adam’s father is almost certainly right that the boy’s autism covered up some deeper pathology, but it is also obvious that Adam was extremely skilled at concealing his most pathological aspects. He had been “weird” since early childhood, but adolescence often triggers some kind of crisis in a variety of mental illnesses (autism is not a mental illness, by the way, it is a neurological condition), schizophrenia included.

        One article I read suggested that Adam’s mother was secretly looking into some kind of hospital placement for him and Adam found out. We may never know, but I think those parents did what they could, and if anyone here thinks he would have done better — well, maybe he will get the chance.

        • SC Math Teacher says:

          Having those unsecured guns around such an unstable person wasn’t such a great idea, though, so there is plenty of blame to heap upon the mother.

    • If a man’s adult son doesn’t want to have contact with him, what is he supposed to do?

  2. I have to wonder what happened in middle school. It doesn’t sound like he rec’d the emotional support he needed. It almost sounded like he was in a hostile environment, where 2e children’s needs aren’t supported.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    It was reported that Mrs. Lanza took Adam shooting to “bond” or something. All things considered, horseback riding might have been a better bet. Or something.