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August 8, 2012

The Gabby Giffords Shooter Then and Now: Argument for Community Mental Health in One Glance

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“He’s a different person in his appearance and his affect than the first time I laid eyes on him,” said Judge Larry A. Burns, who then accepted the plea agreement and added that he found it to be in the best interest of everyone involved. — from: Jared Lee Loughner pleads guilty to going on deadly shooting rampage, killing 6, wounding 13 (WAPO)

Sure, we’re comparing a drawing of Jared Loughner to a photo. Still, the apparent lucidity (along with the reports of his return to competency) in the link above suggests what a good course of antipsychotics can do. (Wait and see, by the way, what kind of transformation similar treatment produces in James Holmes, the self-proclaimed Joker and florid psychotic whose decompensation led to the killing of all those people at the Batman premier in Aurora.)

Loughner New York Post cover

I know it’s easy to ignore the demands and requirements of community mental health, then just chalk up these rampages to evil when one of these damaged, long suffering and slowly decompensating guys finally goes off. The demons aren’t existential, however (regardless of what The Post caption says), they’re psychological … and often diagnosable and treatable.

What if our society put some investment in that?

(photo 1: Maggie Keane/Reuters. caption: Jared Loughner (C) is shown in a courtroom sketch sitting with his attorney Judy Clark (L) during his hearing in federal court in Tucson, Arizona, August 7, 2012. Loughner pleaded guilty to killing six people and wounding 13 others, including then-U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in an Arizona shooting rampage last year, and will be spared the death penalty in exchange. photo 2: AP)

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