Who Was Adam Lanza? Mental Health Profile of Disturbed Mass Murderer & Michael Bloomberg's Statement

London, UK - 15th December 2012, 17:00 GMT

Dear ATCA Open & Philanthropia Friends

[Please note that the views presented by individual contributors are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral. ATCA conducts collective Socratic dialogue on global opportunities and threats.]

Post America's worst mass school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Adam Lanza -- the twenty year old -- who is suspected of killing 26, including 20 children, appears to have killed his mother Nancy Lanza at their family home where they lived, before driving to the school to commit the massacre and then taking his own life.

Newtown Mourning

FBI officials are now spread out across New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts interviewing relatives and anyone who may have had a connection with Adam Lanza to try to get answers in regard to his personality and motive for the mass shooting. So far, little is known about the 20-year-old who barely had a digital footprint, and didn't even have a social media profile, such as, on Facebook. That is surprising not only because of his age but because he appears to have been a good student who was really interested in computers and was part of a technology club at Newtown High School.

One thing everyone seems to be able to agree on is that Lanza most probably had some sort of mental disability or developmental disorder. He appears to have displayed several unstable mental health characteristics, combined with above average personality traits, which when taken together paint a complex yet disturbing picture:

1. Academically gifted, extraordinarily bright, he enjoyed playing online computer games. "Brainiac computer kind of kid," according to one family insider. In particular, he liked playing the PlayStation video game Dynasty Warriors, a weapons-based animated fighting game released in the late 1990s. One of the "Smartest kids I know. He was probably a genius," according to Joshua Milas, member of the high school's audio-visual club, also known as the tech club.

2. Suffered from "Asperger’s syndrome" -- a high functioning form of autism -- and "Personality disorder," according to some friends and law enforcement officials. "On medication," according to a 25-year-old neighbour who sometimes watched Adam Lanza when his mother would go out with friends. Several tell-tale signs of personality disorder were visible, including often making those around him nervous because he was painfully shy and seemed to struggle to be social and form connections with people. "Subject to outbursts," according to a family insider.

3. Divorced parents: Nancy Lanza divorced Adam’s father, Peter, in 2008. Peter Lanza agreed to annual alimony payments that started at $240,000 per annum and would have reached $298,800 in 2015. Adam was raised by kind, nurturing parents who would not have hesitated to seek mental help for him if he needed it according to Adam Lanza's aunt. Mother and son appear to have lived in luxury and firearms were kept at home by his parent.

4. Suffered from a condition "where he couldn’t feel pain" and "could get hurt and not feel it," according to a long-time family friend.

5. "Certainly had major issues" according to family insider. Dark and "deeply disturbed kid." "Didn’t speak much," according to Tim Lalli, 20, who graduated with Lanza in 2010. "Lot of mental problems," according to long-time family friend. "Weird kid since we were 5 years old," according to Tim Dalton, neighbour and former classmate. "Troubled for sure for a long time," according to former neighbour Beth Israel.


What are the really significant issues that come out of this tragedy? At one level, humankind simply doesn't have enough resources to track or monitor all the unsteady and unstable people in this world but we ought to focus on what can be done realistically. In this regard, Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City's statement as Co-Chair of "Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns" is worth noting:

“With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it’s still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen. It has come to that. Not even kindergarteners learning their A,B,Cs are safe. We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever.”


What are your thoughts, observations and views? We are hosting an Expert roundtable on this issue at ATCA 24/7 on Yammer.


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