Autism Plus Psychosis Equals Mass Murder?

According to a new paper, mass shootings such as Sandy Hook and Aurora may be the result of Autism plus psychosis: A ‘one-two punch’ risk for tragic violence?

The first thing to note about this paper is that it’s in Medical Hypotheses.

I don’t normally take seriously anything that appears in this rather unique journal. This paper is, however, co-authored by Edward Shorter, an eminent historian of psychiatry; his book about it was a big influence on me. So it deserves a fair hearing.

The authors set the scene:

In the recent series of mass murders in Connecticut, Colorado, Norway and elsewhere, a pattern seems to be emerging: young men whose social isolation is so extreme as to verge on autism apparently become prey to psychotic ideation. And under the influence of this ideation they wreak terrible violence.

…What is actually the matter with these young men and how should we as a society conceive their pathology?

The answer, we’re told, is a combination of autism, and psychosis. Autism is not associated with violence per se, but psychosis is – and rates of psychosis are higher in autistics. What’s worse, in such cases, psychotic symptoms may go undiagnosed and untreated because they’re written off as just part of the autism.


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