The bed where Adam Lanza’s mother was sleeping when he shot her 4 times in the head, nearly decapitating her, before going on to murder 20 young children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Note the blood stains from Nancy Lanza’s head.
Every class was interrupted when at least one student, and usually three or four, had a breakdown after hearing an unfamiliar noise coming from upstairs, or the hallway, or the parking lot, and understandably so. When we first got to the new school, we were unaware that construction work was being done in the classroom above ours. The sound of someone dragging a box across the floor upstairs was enough to send one little boy into a fetal position. He curled up into himself, shaking and sobbing hysterically.
Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis describing what it was like for her first-graders returning to class after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in her book, Choosing Hope.
‘’I hate going through these extremely rare instances of wild mood swings
that I have. I think this was the only time this year for me. I was as
depressed as I get during my last post, and I’m fine with the
interminable depression that I normally have, but now I’m incoherently
giddy with glee. Well, relative to my baseline… Except now that I’m
giddy, I can’t really say that I hate it because I think everything is
If depressives cut themselves to feel better, I
wonder what cutting a happy-go-lucker would do. Santa’s supposed to be
jolly. I hope he visits me tonight so I can find out.‘‘
The new Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, opened its doors to the public for the first time on Friday. The $50 million, 86,800-square-foot building officially starts hosting students next month when school starts.
Though Adam Lanza was bright, he struggled with profound impairments all his life. He barely functioned socially, rarely spoke, could not tolerate being touched, and has periods of total withdrawal in which he became unresponsive. He was hypersensitive to light and sound, and yet he had a blunted sense of pain. Lanza struggled emotionally in academic settings, as a young adult wondered why he was ‘such a loser.’
Lanza’s parents separated in 2001, when he was nine years old. He lived with his mother and maintained contact with his father until 2010. At that point, Mr Lanza had reportedly begun seeing another woman, and Lanza cut off contact with both his father and older brother.
Lanza’s uncle served in the military and then as a police offier. Lanza admired him and was obsessed with the military. He covered the walls of his basement with military posters and played military video games for hours. He even wanted to join the marines. Though his mother took him target shooting, she dissuaded him from applying to the military. Why did he want to join the marines? Perhaps because that would transform him from a nobody into a somebody. As described by reporter Matthew Lysiak, Lanza created an alter ego as his online persona: ‘The skinny and frail teenager chose to create an imposing, bulky, muscle-bound soldier dressed in desert camouflage.’ No one can argue with the manliness of a marine.
Perhaps Lanza’s need to feel powerful was also behind his interest in Satanism. A classmate said that Lanza created a satanic website with ‘the word Devil on it in red gothic- style letters against a black background. It gave me the chills.’ Lanza was also fascinated by mass-murders. A search of his home revealed a remarkable spreadsheet, seven feet by four feet, covered in nine point type, with Lanza’s collection of data about 500 mass murderers.
Lanza, was not merely shy - he struck people as very odd. One person recalled, ‘There was a weirdness about him.’ Another said, ‘I don’t even think withdrawn is the right word. Removed.’ Someone else stated, ‘He was like a ghost.’
In 2005, Lanza was diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder. This is a ‘pervasive developmental disorder’ which is in the same category that includes autism. Though Lanza’s symptoms could be accounted for by PDD, they also could indicate schizophrenia. Alternatively, perhaps as a child he was on the autism spectrum but as an adult went on to develop schizophrenia. His mother suspected that he wasn’t simply autistic, wondering ‘whether her son had outgrown what had been previously diagnosed as borderline autism into something much more extreme.’ Similarly, Lanza’s father father questioned the diagnosis of Asperger’s: ‘I was thinking it could mask schizophrenia.’
As a child, Lanza played the saxophone, performed in theatre, and was active in a technology club in school. As he grew older, however, he withdrew from these activities, and his functioning declined. This deterioration, as well as his profound social impairment and the inability to converse, suggest schizophrenia. Schizophrenics often have ‘poverty of speech,’ meaning they fail to engage in normal conversation and may barely speak at all. Lanza’s periods of withdrawal and non responsiveness may have been catatonic episodes. He also had blunted or flattened emotions, which is another symptom of schizophrenia.
It is not known is Lanza had hallucinations as an adult, though as a child he smelled odours that were not present. Perceiving nonexistent smells constitutes what are called olfactory hallucinations. There is no clear evidence of delusions.
Without such a document from Lanza, how do we make sense of his attack? He may have sought ‘revenge’ for mistreatment as Sandy Hook, but there is no consensus regarding how much he was picked on. In addition Lanza ‘indicated that he loved school,’ his family remembered his years there as ‘the best times of his life,’ and his father stated, ‘Adam loved Sandy Hook.’
People have speculated that perhaps he was jealous of the students his mother volunteered with at the school. Another possibility is that he felt so impotent that he sought out the only targets he believed he could handle- first graders.
Yet another possibility has to do with Lanza’s enigmatic sexuality. His computer contained ‘materials regarding the topic of pedophilia and advocating rights for pedophiles.’ He also owned a script and a movie that portrayed sexual relationships between children and adults. Was Lanza sexually attracted to children? Was his attack driven by sexual frustration, killing those he desired but could not have?
Even stranger still, Lanza’s computer contained two fictional pieces about having to defend himself against babies who were attacking him. Did he have paranoid delusions about babies and children? Did Lanza murder children as an act of self defence? As early as 5th grade, Lanza cowrote a story about a murderous character who said, ‘I like hurting people…especially children.’
Adapted from ‘School Shooters, Understanding High School, College and Adult Perpetrators’ by Peter Langman.
12/14/12 Never forget. Give a thought to the families of Sandy Hook tonight.
Paying my respects to all who lost children and family members in the Sandy Hook shooting. Newtown is only 15 minutes away from me. I lost a summer camper named Jack to the shooter. My heart is with his family tonight. I think of you all the time you crazy little child. I’ll never forget you and your toy car full of bees. You are very, very missed.
Rest In Peace my mini metal child.
And to my followers, keep those you love close to you tonight. Hug your family, if you have children snuggle them. Because you never know if something like this could happen to you and your loved ones. And remember to keep these families in your heart. The ones who will not spend Christmas or any other holiday with their children this season. The ones who are not buying gifts for their kids, because they are no longer with them. The families who will not see their loved ones show up for any holiday tradition. Remember them, even if it’s just for a moment.
So today my dad walked into Starbucks to get a cup of coffee: but when he went up to the cashier she said, “Sir, a woman paid for the next 26 cups of coffee, so yours is free”. Apparently for the 1-year anniversary of the Newtown shooting, to honor the 26 victims, people in Connecticut have been doing 26 acts of kindness. My faith in humanity has definitely been restored today.