Medicalizing Mass Murder Does No Favors

Article excerpt

What a surprise u that someone who shouts "Allahu akbar" (the "God is great" jihadist battle cry) as he is shooting up a room of American soldiers might have Islamist motives. It certainly was a surprise to the mainstream media, which spent the weekend after the Fort Hood massacre downplaying Nidal HasanAEs religious beliefs.

"I cringe that heAEs a Muslim. . . . I think heAEs probably just a nut case," said NewsweekAEs Evan Thomas. Some were more adamant. TimeAEs Joe Klein decried "odious attempts by Jewish extremists . . . to argue that the massacre perpetrated by Nidal Hasan was somehow a direct consequence of his Islamic beliefs." While none could match KleinAEs peculiar cherchez-le-juif motif, the popular storyline was of an Army psychiatrist driven over the edge by terrible stories he had heard from soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

They suffered. He listened. He snapped.

Really? What about the doctors and nurses, the counselors and physical therapists at Walter Reed Army Medical Center who every day hear and live with the pain and the suffering of returning soldiers? How many of them then picked up a gun and shot 51 innocents?

And what about civilian psychiatrists u not the Upper West Side therapist treating Woody Allen neurotics, but the thousands of doctors working with hospitalized psychotics u who every day hear not just tales but cries of the most excruciating anguish, of the most unimaginable torment? How many of those doctors commit mass murder?

ItAEs been decades since I practiced psychiatry. Perhaps I missed the epidemic.

But, of course, if the shooter is named Nidal Hasan, whom National Public Radio reported had been trying to proselytize doctors and patients, then something must be found. …