Like many people, I tried to make sense out of what happened. "How could anyone do anything so vile?" I repeatedly asked myself. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around it. Now, a week later, I still have a hard time wrapping my head around it. It just doesn't make sense.
Many people feel a need to point the finger at a cause. If we can only figure out why this horrible event occurred, we can fix the problem and it won't happen again. This is a very natural and rational approach. The problem is, however, that the answer can be hard to determine and can be quite complex.
Nevertheless, the media and others come to conclusions that may be inaccurate and flat-out ignorant. What can happen is a witch-hunt against a group that is misguided and hurtful.
After some people described the killer as bright but withdrawn, many media outlets began speculating about whether the killer had Asperger's. This quickly turned into an assumption that he did have Asperger's and that was the cause of the massacre.
I kept hoping for this speculation to just go away. But it's hasn't. On Facebook, I've seen groups formed called, "Stop Asperger's: For every 50 Likes, a Child with Asperger's Will Be Killed." Facebook took that page down (thankfully). A Facebook friend reported that a local television news station did a story on Asperger's and obsessions, then commented on how the Sandy Hooks shooter was obsessed with guns. Ahem.
Today, a blogger who has a child with autism reported that she received a private email stating that if she didn't stop her child's Asperger's (her child doesn't have Asperger's specifically), she is a negligent mother.
To clear up a misconception: having Asperger's does not make a person into a crazed killer. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Guess what? Sociopaths and psychopaths can be bright and withdrawn as well also. That is where the similarities end.
The following is from a Yahoo article.
Characteristics of a sociopath are as followed :
1. Sociopaths are very charming.
2. Sociopaths can be extremely manipulative and will try to con you whenever possible.
3. Sociopaths feel that they are entitled to everything.
4. Sociopaths will lie continuously to get what they want. They can even sometimes manipulate a lie detector.
5. Sociopaths have no remorse, shame or guilt.
6. Sociopaths will show love and happiness only when it serves their purpose. None of the feelings are genuine.
7. Sociopaths have no room for love in their life.
8. Sociopaths need to have excitement in their lives or live on the edge.
9. Sociopaths have lack of empathy when their victims suffer pain that they have caused.
10. Sociopaths believe that they are all mightier than G_d, there is no concern on how their behavior impacts others.
11. Sociopaths usually have a long history of juvenile delinquency as well as behavior problems.
12. Sociopaths will never take blame for anything they have done to anyone no matter if it is family or friend.
13. Sociopaths have many sexual partners and tend to act out many sexual acts.
14. Sociopaths rarely stay in one place for a long time (home/work).
15. Sociopaths will change themselves if they know it will keep them from being found out.
Characteristics of a psychopath are as followed:
1. Psychopaths use superficial charm to lure their victims.
2. Psychopaths are extremely self-centered.
3. Psychopaths must always do something to keep themselves from boredom.
4. Psychopaths are very deceptive and tend to lie continuously.
5. Psychopaths show no remorse of guilt towards their victims.
6. Psychopaths are very predatory and usually will live off other people.
7. Psychopaths have many sexual partners in their lifetime.
8. Psychopaths are very impulsive with their lifestyle.
9. Psychopaths are always blaming other people for their actions.
10. Psychopaths never have a realistic view of their lives. (king of the world or from another planet)
11. Psychopaths always want psychological gratification in sexual and criminal activities.
12. Psychopaths tend to try suicide, rarely succeeding.
There is very little overlap between these characteristics and those of a person with Asperger's (see my list of traits here). One major difference is that people with Asperger's are not manipulators. What you see is what you get with them. They also tend to be big rule followers and don't like to do things that are illegal. Also, people with Asperger's are capable of empathy and love. In the case of my daughter, empathy didn't come naturally, but she was able to learn to be empathetic. A sociopath can never learn this.
This is a plea for the media and others to stop describing maniacal killers as being autistic or having Asperger's (I believe the Aurora movie theater shooting had the same speculation). They are entirely different things and should not be lumped together.