I think the psychiatry career of Dr. Lynne Fenton may be over.
Worse than that, she must be questioning whether she could have done anything to prevent the “Batman shootings” in Aurora that killed 12, and wounded many others.
James Holmes: Schizophrenia?
So it leaks out that shooter James Holmes has been in “treatment” for schizophrenia. Big Duh. It was only a matter of time before that was revealed, sadly.
The question, though, is this: what kind of “treatment” was he getting?
According to this PBS Report, and interview withCAROL LEONNIG, of The Washington Post
“(New information) shows that James Holmes, the lead and only suspect in this shooting rampage in Aurora, Colo., was seeing a psychotherapist or psychiatrist in his university where he was a graduate student. She was a very senior psychotherapy director, basically the medical director for the outpatient clinic for mental health treatment for students.
And she was seeing him for some time before this tragic event…Lynne Fenton is the doctor in the case. Her specialty and what she has been mostly researching is schizophrenia.”
What has yet to be revealed is whether or not Holmes was taking medication for his schizophrenia, and whether he should have been committed to a hospital stay – whether he “wanted to” or not – if there were any signs of this possibility of violence.
Could Treatment Have Prevented the Tragedy?
This leads us to the issue of “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” well-covered by the Treatment Advocacy Center – so I will say no more about that in this post.
But there is also the issue of James Holmes’ family life.
There are those who will point to his parents as the “cause” of his actions – yes, still. But I know all too well how the best parents can feel powerless in the face of schizophrenia – especially in the absence of support and education.
The Grief of Countless Families
Check out this Open letter “To the parents of James Holmes: Our son has schizophrenia; we know how hard it can be” . In it, the family expresses first-hand empathy for the confusion and chaos that schizophrenia can bring to a family.
and this was my response (among many other comments)
Dear Margaret – and family – Thank you for this empathetic, beautifully written open letter. There will be those who do not believe your point of view; perhaps, before my own son Ben developed schizophrenia, I might have been one of them.
But no longer.
Ben is 30, and we have been through the same confusion, shock, grief, and anger as you. Eight hospitalizations later, a few of them as relapse during the recovery period that began when Ben’s meds began to restore his brain at last (not completely, of course, but enough to allow a slow thaw from his “frozen in time” state), we are grateful for every small step Ben takes to find a new normal for his life.
He has a job, goes to school and does well, and can – at last – take family trips with us with little fear that his behaviors will scare flight attendants.
It has been a long road, and we still monitor Ben’s medications – because in two days without them he will wind up back in relapse. I wish he didn’t need them – and perhaps, as he ages, this may change if he is carefully monitored – but right now he absolutely needs this treatment – medication, support, structure, community, purpose and love.
Perhaps if James Holmes had had treatment that works – involuntary, if necessary – this could have been prevented.
My heart goes out to you, and all affected by this senseless tragedy – including the Holmes family, and even James himself.
We are lucky, perhaps, to have Ben back in our lives in such a positive way – but I know that we were helped immeasurably by education (especially the Family-to-Family program at NAMI, and even the website communities like HealthyPlace that provide info and perspective) and by the stories of others – which is why we wrote our memoir, Ben Behind His Voices (which included some resources that saved our family) –
Thank you for sharing your story and perspective. Perhaps it, too, will make a difference.