There has been much talk about the latest shooting, this time in Isla Vista. As an aside, it is the definition of tragic that posts, articles, and discussions about massacres in the United States need to be qualified so they can be distinguished from one another.
The pro gun groups (mostly the NRA) blame mental illness. If we just had better health care they say. Apparently the NRA has therapeutic advances for schizophrenia, depression, and sociopathic personalities that have thus far evaded modern medicine.
Other groups say don’t blame mental illness because that is stigmatizing, that this was an act of rage and misogyny. The stigma associated with mental illness in this country (and likely everywhere) is terrible and the term is often thrown around loosely when it should not be.
There was rage and misogyny at play, but I also believe that Elliot Rodger was ill. That does not mean that he wasn’t capable of distinguishing right from wrong, but a man who dreams of enacting revenge because of slights, real or imagined, many years ago is at the very least devoid of empathy. I can only imagine a sociopath or someone who is severely paranoid or delusional believing in such a rambling, hate filled manifesto.
The diagnosis in this kind of case can be hard to make underscoring some of the problems with mental health care. How do you treat when the diagnosis is hard to pin down? He may have been a schizophrenic with paranoid delusions. He may have had homicidal depression. He may have simply been a sociopath. As he had access to a therapist if treatments existed it is likely they would have been offered. However, unless someone is an immediate danger to themselves or someone else then no treatment can be forced upon a person. My mental health colleagues say the signs of immediate danger are not always so easy to spot.
I doubt if this man lived in any other country that his health care would have been different in some kind of revolutionary way. He would not, however, had access to guns and so it is likely if he had descended into a misogynistic fueled murderous rampage in another country that fewer people would have died.