“I’ve always been crazy but it’s kept me from going insane
Nobody knows if it’s something to bless or to blame
So far I ain’t found a rhyme or a reason to change
I’ve always been crazy but it’s kept me from going insane.”
There’s a country song for just about everything. Mental illness is not a laughing matter, but the country-music legend sang those lyrics with a smile.
Reflecting on yet another senseless shooting, I flash back to a 12th-grade psychology class in 1966. Our teacher wasn’t trying to be funny, but Mrs. Nancy Larson said, “The trouble with crazy people is that they always think it’s everyone else who is crazy.”
A few days before the Alexandria shooting, I watched a movie: The Killing of Reagan. Even before he tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, John Hinckley Jr. showed signs of serious mental illness. The president quipped from his hospital bed, “I forgot to duck.” Humor is good medicine, but it won’t resolve a mental-health crisis which allows insane shooters to slip through the cracks. Take Adam Lanza, for example. Mental-illness warning bells were clanging, but he still staged that horrific bloodbath at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
And now comes James Hodgkinson. Fortunately, he was the only one to die at that Alexandria ballpark. I read this from someone who knew the gunman: “Do I think he’s capable (of shooting)? Definitely. It sounds really awful, but I’m not surprised. Every interaction I’ve had I’ve thought ‘that guy’s crazy.’”
John Hinckley, Adam Lanza and James Hodgkinson—besides being shooters—had something else in common. They fit Mrs. Larson’s profile: “The trouble with crazy people is that they always think it’s everyone else who is crazy.”
I’ll tell you who else is crazy. We are, if we don’t put more emphasis on mental-health assessment and treatment.