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Entries in Mental Illness (14)

Sunday
Jul282013

Pastor Rick Warren Seeks to Remove Stigma Attached to Mental Illness

Michael Kovac/Getty Images for The Elton John AIDS Foundation(LAKE FOREST, Calif.) -- Pastor Rick Warren, returning to his Saddleback Church pulpit for the first time since his son's suicide, said Saturday he hoped to be able to remove the stigma that is attached to a person suffering from mental illness.

Dressed in a black T-shirt and jeans, Warren preached a sermon focused on how he and his family had struggled to help his son Matthew through his illness, and how they have struggled to deal with their loss since his suicide in April.

Warren, the author of The Purpose Driven Life, said the sermon was to be the first in a series titled, "How to Get Through What You're Going Through," which, "will show you how the Bible can bring you comfort and encouragement."

He and his wife Kay Warren walked out to a standing ovation after being absent for four months since the suicide of their son Matthew Warren, both appeared to fight back tears as they greeted the audience.

Warren first thanked his staff, fellow pastors and family before starting his sermon.

During the sermon Warren deconstructed the stages of grief he experienced after his son's death and said he had spent 27 years praying for "God to heal [his] son's mental illness."

"It was the number one prayer of my life," Warren said.

Throughout his sermon Warren talked in more detail about the toll mental illness had on Matthew Warren, describing his son having a "tender heart and tortured mind."

At the end of the sermon Warren said he wanted to help remove the stigma of suffering from a mental illness.

"In any other organ of your body breaks down there's no stigma," said Warren. "But if your brain doesn't work, why are you ashamed of that?"

Warren said for the next six weeks he would give sermons about different stages of grief and would talk more about how his faith helped him after his son's death.

He also said the church would offer support groups for people suffering from mental illness.
Warren's son committed suicide in early April after what the pastor said at the time had been a lifelong battle with mental illness.

"No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now," Warren wrote April 6 in a letter to his 20,000-strong congregation. "Our youngest son, Matthew, age 27, and a lifelong member of Saddleback, died today."

Warren wrote that his son was "an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man."

"But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts," Warren wrote. "In spite of America's best doctors, meds, counselors and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided."

Warren gained international fame for his 2002 bestseller, The Purpose Driven Life.

Since Warren's first public service on Easter Sunday in 1980, Saddleback Church has grown into a church with more than 200 ministries.

In his 1995 book, The Purpose Driven Church, Warren shared the principles that led to the success of Saddleback. The follow-up, The Purpose Driven Life, catapulted him into the world spotlight and has sold tens of millions of copies.

According to the Saddleback website, The Purpose Driven Life is the best-selling non-fiction hardback book in history.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb182013

Medical Bills Bankrupt Families of Mentally Ill Children

Comstock/Thinkstock(OMAHA, Neb.) -- Ted Morrissey, a middle-class Nebraska insurance agent with a good health care policy, has spent "hundreds of thousands of dollars" on treatments for his 16-year-old daughter who has complex mental health problems that get worse by the day. At the age of 5, Jaimie was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, as well as accompanying obsessive-compulsive disorder.

"She had no control over her muscle movement, so we would wrap her in a sheet like a burrito just to keep her from straining her muscles," said her father.

Medication has helped, but it's also caused obesity. Teasing at school by students and teachers triggered life-threatening anorexia by the time she was 12, according to Morrissey. Refusing to eat, the teen developed a gastrointestinal disorder and required a feeding tube.

"We've been battling, doing nothing more than jumping hurdles and falling into pits for 11 years," he said. "This has milked us dry financially."

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which was passed in 2008, tagged on to the financial bailout, mandates that health insurance benefits cover equally both mental health and medical services -- so that those with, say, depression are treated the same way as those with diabetes or AIDS.

The law, which went into effect in 2010, applies to both in-network and out-of-network care and hung its success on a coalition of lawmakers who all had been touched by mental illness.

But a study published on Monday in Pediatrics magazine suggests that this is not enough for struggling families.

The study provides the first empirical evidence that the law hailed as a victory for families does not "meaningfully improve" their financial protection. Costs have been reduced overall by about 5 percent, but the average savings is only about $178 a year.

"I think that we worry most about the sickest children," said lead author Colleen L. Barry, associate chair for research and practice at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, because their costs are the greatest.

"The concern is that [high out-of-pocket costs] inhibit treatment seeking and pose a barrier to families trying to get high quality treatment for their children," Barry told ABC News. "There are definitely cases of families being bankrupted from this, taking years to pay off medical expenditures, and making decisions for treatments motivated by cost of care."

Jaimie, which is not her real name to protect her privacy, suffers from anxiety so severe that she goes into a trance-like state called "conversion disorder." Sometimes her parents fear that she might become violent.

"She becomes so overwhelmed that her brain just shuts down and she passes out or goes into seizures," Morrissey said. "We never know when it's going to happen."

The teen has not been in school since September.

This week, she was to go to an expensive residential treatment facility in Durham, N.C., which is 1,200 miles from her home in Omaha. "It's hard to find a place that doesn't want $28,000 up front -- we are at the end of our rope financially."

The Morrisseys have been rejected by Social Security, disability and Medicaid and the out-of-pocket costs have added up, according to her father.

"We have nothing," said Morrissey. "Now I am worried about losing my home. This has been devastating."

The Morrisseys' insurance policy pays 80 percent of Jaimie's costs, but the bills have been overwhelming.

"If you have a $200,000 bill, you have to come up with $40,000 and try to pay that," said her father. "We pride [ourselves] in paying our bills, but you end up buying the groceries on credit."

An estimated 11 percent of children in the United States are affected by mental health and addiction disorders with significant costs, according to the study, and mental health disorders are the primary cause of hospital admissions for early teens.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec242012

NRA Takes Fire for Stance on Mental Illness

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The National Rifle Association has come under fire by an association of psychiatrists for its characterization of people who commit violent crimes as "monsters," "lunatics" and "insane."

The American Psychiatric Association, which represents more than 30,000 mental health professionals, released a statement that expressed its "disappointment" over the gun lobby's use of those terms in the wake of the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn., where Adam Lanza, 20, slaughtered 20 children, six school staffers and his mother.

In a news conference last week, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre repeatedly used the word "monsters" and "insane" to describe people who carry out mass shootings.

In his news conference, LaPierre blamed the tragedy on Hollywood, the media, video games and the courts. His remarks also appeared to explicitly scapegoat those with mental illness.

"How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame …" LaPierre said. "A dozen more killers? A hundred? More? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation's refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?"

APA's President Dr. Dilip Jeste said in a statement over the weekend that LaPierre's comments were unfair and inaccurate.

"Only 4 to 5 percent of violent crimes are committed by people with mental illness," Jeste said. "About one quarter of all Americans have a mental disorder in any given year, and only a very small percentage of them will ever commit violent crimes."

APA's CEO Dr. James H. Scully added that LaPierre's remarks serve to perpetuate the idea that mental illness and evil are one and the same. "This is simply a relic of the past and has no place in our public dialogue. People who are clearly not mentally ill commit violent crimes and perform terrible acts every day. Unfortunately, Mr. LaPierre's statements serve only to increase the stigma around mental illness and further the misconception that those with mental disorders are likely to be dangerous," Scully said.

The NRA remains unmoved. Their director of public affairs, Andrew Arulanandam, said he hadn't seen the APA statement and he wouldn't comment specifically on the Newtown shootings because he said he wasn't aware of any official information about Lanza's mental state -- but it wouldn't be unreasonable for anyone evaluating the Newtown killings to conclude the killer was mentally ill.

"Look at other similar shooting incidences. All of these shooters exhibited warning signs. The signs were there and people ignored them," Arulanandam said. "If the media wants to suggest that there was nothing wrong with these people, that's their concern but we believe -- and believe most Americans will agree -- these people were deranged."

Bob Carolla, a spokesman for the National Alliance on Mental Illness said he agreed with the APA's statements and also pointed out that it hasn't been established that Lanza suffered from any sort of mental illness. Authorities have nothing but anecdotal information on Lanza's mental state at the time of the shootings.

"One of the things that may be especially distressing for individuals who have a mental health condition and their families is this automatic leap based on stereotyped perceptions linking mental illness and violence," Corolla said. "Statistically we know the relationship is very small."

According to Corolla, one in four American adults experience a mental health problem in any given year, yet the U.S. Surgeon General determined over a decade ago that the overall contribution of mental disorders to the total level of violence in society is exceptionally small. He added that people with mental disorders are far more likely to be the victims of crimes, rather than the perpetrators.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec182012

Schools 'First Line of Defense' Against Mental Illness

John Coletti/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- "Weird kid."  "Not well."  "Hated looking at your eyes."

Those are just a few descriptions of Adam Lanza, the young gunman who killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last Friday before turning a gun on himself.

While Lanza's mental health remains a topic of speculation, experts say more should be done to flag "weird" and withdrawn behavior that might signal mental illness -- a job that in our education system largely falls to overstretched teachers and school administrators.

"We're the first line of defense, but we're not mental health professionals," said Mel Riddile, a former principal and associate director of high school services with the Reston, Va.-based National Association for Secondary School Principals.

Half of all cases of mental illness begin by age 14, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.  But it can take decades for those affected to get the treatment they need.

"Most of these kids aren't acting out, they're acting in," Riddile said.  "And kids that act in often get overlooked."

Add to that schools grappling with growing class sizes and shrinking budgets, many are struggling to provide essential psychological and social services, according to Riddile.

"We've seen about four years of budget cuts across the country, and ironically the people who are most in need tend to get hurt the worst," he said.  "But if we see a behavior that might need attention, we have to bring attention.  We can't use lack of resources as an excuse."

While parents may know their kids best, schools are in a special position to compare behavior between students and spot worrying differences.  Doctors say parents often lack the "professional detachment" that may lead to a useful diagnosis.

"That's difficult for parents to do," said Dr. Sandro Galea, chair of epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.  "I think it's a tough to wrap your head around your kids needing treatment for anything, but we may be even more reluctant to accept the notion of mental illness."

But while schools play an essential role in recognizing the need for mental health services, their reach is limited.

"Schools cannot prescribe treatments, nor should they," said Galea, adding that only parents have the power to make treatment decisions.  "This is where system-wide efforts to make sure mental health services are available come into play.  It's a question of what our priorities are as a society, and I think kids and their well being are a priority."

With the right treatment, Galea said children and teens with mental health problems can live normal lives.

"Mental illness is increasingly being seen as an illness that needs treatment and benefits from treatment," he said.  "But I think we need greater societal acceptance of the fact that mental illness is as much an illness as a physical illness."

Galea said that educators should not fear students with mental health disorders, as "the vast majority of violence is committed against them, not by them."

"Mental illness is a pathophysiological imbalance that requires treatment, not fear and stigma," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct222012

Man Petitions World Health Organization: 'We Are Trans, Not Sick'

Youtube/notsick2012(NEW YORK) -- Maxwell Zachs is on a global crusade to normalize what until now has been considered a mental illness -- being transgender.

Zachs, 25, was born female, but three years ago he transitioned to male.  In 2009, he began taking the hormone testosterone and in 2010, he went to Thailand for a double mastectomy and male chest contouring.

"There is nothing wrong with me.  I am perfectly healthy, I just happen to be transgender," the Londoner told ABC News in an email.

Now, he has filed a petition with change.org demanding that the World Health Organization (WHO) eliminate the diagnosis "transsexualism" from the mental disorders section of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).  He says the designation only contributes to discrimination.

"I'm a person like everybody else and I have the right to live my life without stigma, without people telling me I am sick because of how I live or how I look," he says in his petition, which has been signed by 42,000 people.  "Gender is not an illness, it's just part of who I am, like being Jewish or vegetarian or sometimes talking too much!"

Zachs' position is controversial.  When being transgender is no longer considered a medical condition, will insurance companies in the United States refuse to pay for medical treatments -- counseling, hormone treatment and sometimes surgery -- for those whose gender identity doesn't match their DNA?

The ICD is the listing of medical conditions used by the 194 countries which are part of the World Health Assembly, the governing body of the WHO.  It is used as a standard diagnostic tool for epidemiology, health management and clinical purposes worldwide.

The current edition, ICD-10, was endorsed in 1990 and is being revised.  The ICD-11 is expected to be complete by 2015.

The WHO has five classifications for gender identity disorders in adults and in children, including transsexualism.

According to the ICD-10, transsexualism is defined as "a desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by the wish to make one's body as congruent as possible with one's preferred sex through surgery and hormonal treatment; presence of the transsexual identity for at least two years persistently; and not a symptom of another mental disorder, such as schizophrenia, or associated with chromosome abnormality."

Zachs, who has college degrees in English literature, indigenous studies and constitutional law, is a rabbinical student at a progressive yeshiva in Sweden and wants the classification "transsexualism" to go the same route as "homosexuality," which was discarded as a mental disorder by WHO in 1990, when the ICD-9 was revised.

Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the WHO, said that Zachs' petition should be directed at the international "expert group" that is charged with updating the ICD-10.  Ultimately, they will make recommendations to the World Health Assembly and its member nations will vote on changes.

Two years ago, the WHO secretariat, its administrative body, recommended the ICD-10 be "updated," according to Hartl.  Now, an external expert group, comprising medical professionals from member nations, is debating the matter.

But removing the classification from the ICD could be problematic.

"If they're not 'mentally disordered' than they are 'normal,'" said New York psychiatrist Jack Drescher, who sits on the ICD-11 working group that is evaluating gender identity disorders.

And transgender Americans see that as a double-edged sword.

"Honestly, taking it out of the WHO book completely would surely eliminate the possibility of insurance coverage," said Claire Louise Swinford, executive director of Transhaven, an advocacy organization based in St. Louis.  "You can't bill for what you can't code. And at the end of the day, the ICD is a coding book."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct022012

Technology Addiction Considered a Mental Illness

Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Are you spending too much time on the web?  Suffering blackberry burnout or iPhone fatigue?  Well, doctors say you may have a real psychological problem.  That's why they're adding Internet addiction to their list of treatable mental illnesses.  
 
Author and Stanford Psychologist Kelly McGonigle wrote the Willpower Instinct, and says Internet addiction is a debilitating problem, destroying relationships and threatening job security. “It's amazing,” she says, “how many people sleep with their phones and in the middle of the night check to see what's going on.”
 
She suggests anyone spending too much time online or playing Angry Birds get help.  
 
Psychologists say some gamers have literally exhausted themselves to death playing videogames. McGonigle says computer addiction is isolating because, “People are feeling lonelier the more the time they spend on these technologies. They're feeling more distracted; it's possible the technologies are increasing depression.”
 
And it's not just gaming.  Psychologists are reporting many adults are spending more time friending Facebook acquaintances than seeing actual friends face to face.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul232012

James Holmes Gave No Indication of Violent Delusions

RJ Sangosti-Pool/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Colorado massacre suspect James Holmes gave no outward signs of mental illness or violent delusions, and mental experts said that is common among mass murderers.

Before Friday’s massacre, Holmes had no previous brushes with the law beyond a single traffic violation. Dr. Marisa Randazzo, a psychologist who studies targeted violence, told ABC’s Good Morning America that a clean criminal record is not uncommon for people who commit acts of mass violence.

“In most of these cases, these are not what you would call a psychopath or a sociopath, as hard as it may be to believe,” Randazzo said. “These are often folks who often up onto this point have been functioning fairly normally but went through a series of events, a series of losses, ended up in absolute despair or desperation.”

Other psychologists told ABC News it’s likely that Holmes was living in an alternate reality driven by delusions, which may have fueled him as he bought weapons, 6,000 rounds of ammunition and riot gear in the months before Friday’s attack.

More details will likely come as investigators delve into Holmes’ recent past. But by most estimations so far, nothing about his early life was out of the ordinary. He grew up in San Diego, was a bright student interested in science and enrolled in a neurosciences doctorate program at the University of Colorado at Denver in 2011 before withdrawing in June.

No one who knew him has said he displayed any signs of abnormality. Randazzo told GMA that doesn’t mean he isn’t suffering from mental illness.

“One thing we do know about this age group, he’s 24, is that sometimes major mental illnesses, sometimes involving delusions, will develop in this age group,” she said.

Upon his arrest shortly after the shootings on Friday morning, Holmes allegedly told police that “he was the Joker,” a law enforcement official told ABC News, and he had dyed his hair red.

ABC News reported Sunday on This Week that police also found a Batman poster and Batman mask in Holmes’ apartment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr272012

Anders Breivik: Unraveling Violent Crimes and Mental Illness

ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As a panel of Norwegian judges mull over conflicting reports on Anders Breivik’s mental state during the rampage that killed 77 people in July 2011, a new commentary aims to clarify misconceptions surrounding mental illness and violent crimes.

Breivik, 33, has confessed to a bombing outside the office of the Norwegian prime minister in Oslo and a shooting massacre at a Labor Party youth camp on the island of Utoya.  More than 500 people were camping on the island when Breivik, dressed as a policeman, began firing.

“When people struggle to comprehend what lies behind the mass murder of adolescents gathered for a weekend of discussions and campfires, the simplest response is that the killer ‘must be mad,’” Dr. Simon Wessely, head of psychological medicine at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, wrote in the commentary published Thursday in The Lancet.  “The inexplicable can only be explained as an act of insanity, which by definition cannot be rationally explained.  The act was so monstrous, the consequences so grievous, that the perpetrator had to be insane.”

Some experts say Breivik suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, a mental illness marked by delusions.  In a 1,500-page manifesto posted online before the attacks, Breivik claimed he was an operative in a violent Christian conservative revolution led by members of the new Knights Templar.

But others argue the attacks, meticulously planned for months in advance, were too organized.

“My colleagues in forensic psychiatry struggle to think of anyone [with paranoid schizophrenia] who has had the foresight to bring along a sign stating ‘sewer cleaning in progress’ to avoid drawing attention to the smell of sulfur from the homemade explosives in the back of his vehicle,” Wessely wrote.

Wessely said Breivik’s case also highlights the misconception that people with mental illness get leniency from the courts.  In reality, a mental illness defense “may mean that you will spend more -- not fewer -- years behind bars,” he wrote.

If he’s found guilty, Breivik faces 21 years or more in prison.  If he’s found not guilty by reason of insanity, he will be placed in psychiatric care.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar282012

JetBlue Pilot Rage Likely Not Panic; Drugs or Brain Tumor Possible

Scott Olson/Getty Images(AMARILLO, Texas) -- Clayton Osbon, the pilot who was subdued aboard JetBlue flight 191 after going into a rage, may have had a toxic reaction to infection, drugs or even an encephalitic event caused by a brain tumor.

On a routine flight from JFK Airport in New York to Las Vegas, Osbon "began acting erratically, flipping switches in the cockpit and appearing confused," according to sources.

"The captain of the plane just went berserk," passenger Wayne Holmes told ABC. "He came out of the other end of the plane -- came running back to the cockpit and he was shouting out these numbers -- 500 something. He started banging on the cockpit door."

A passenger subdued Osbon, a veteran captain, and the flight was diverted safely to Amarillo, Texas. There were 131 passengers and six crew members aboard.

Osbon has been "suspended" until questions about his medical condition have been cleared up, ABC has learned.

For now, authorities are saying Osbon, 49, suffered a panic attack. Yet there are still many unanswered questions.

"The JetBlue pilot's behavior is much more than a simple panic attack, which might occur as a result of a phobia or panic disorder," said Una McCann, director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins Medical Institution.

At one point, when a flight attendant asked Osbon what was wrong, he frantically replied, "You'd better start praying right now," and he then began shouting about al Qaeda, a bomb, and warning that the plane would crash, according to passengers on the flight.

"Rage is not a typical feature of uncomplicated panic, so there is clearly something additional that took place here," said McCann. "While JetBlue may not be misinforming the public when they say their pilot had a panic attack, they are not telling the full story."

Panic attacks can also occur in conjunction with paranoid psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder flashbacks, but McCann said that Osbon's behavior looked more like a drug-induced toxic reaction.

Even a simple fever from an infection can cause hallucinations and confusion, she said. Also, psychotic disorders like schizophrenia are more apt to surface in the teens and 20s. Osbon was 49.

The pilot remains in custody of authorities while under the care of medical professionals in Amarillo. He is expected be released from the medical facility later this week after a 72-hour hold, according to airline sources.

The rest of the flight crew has been taken off duty to help with the investigation and to decompress after the incident, sources said.

More than 40 million Americans suffer from panic attacks, which are characterized by a sudden and repeated fear of disaster or losing control, even when there is no real danger, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Anxiety disorder sufferers are mostly women.

Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event, anxiety disorders last at least six months and can get worse if they are not treated.

They can also occur along with other mental and physical illnesses, including substance abuse.

McCann said that doctors should be able to determine the cause of the pilot's erratic behavior during the next few days.

While hospitalized Osbon is expected to undergo toxic screening, including blood counts to make sure he has no infection, vital signs to see if his temperature is within normal ranges and a neurological exam that might include a scan of the brain, according to McCann.

"A brain tumor could do this," she said of his erratic behavior.

"They will also investigate things that can impact the central nervous system, like drugs," said McCann. "Drugs prescribed over the counter, and, in particular sleep deprivation, can turn someone over the edge."

Doctors will also look for use of stimulants for a potential toxic reaction. "Pilots often have weird shift work," according to McCann, and stimulant abuse is said to be prevalent.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar122012

Could US Soldier's Afghan Killing Spree Have Been Prevented?

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Whether it was a psychotic break or an underlying mental illness that led a United States Army soldier to allegedly massacre 16 Afghan civilians -- including women and children -- is still unclear.

But as military investigators reportedly interrogate the 38-year-old staff sergeant they believe is behind the Sunday morning killing spree, psychological experts said such actions are generally preceded by strong signals that something is wrong -- signals that, in this case, may have been missed or gone unreported.

The soldier, whose name has not been released, is believed to have returned to the base on his own volition after the killings and turned himself in.  According to military statements, investigators have the soldier in custody and are trying to learn more about what happened, and what may have precipitated the incident.

All of the mental health experts contacted by ABC News said that until more information is made available they could only speculate as to exactly what happened.  But most said that warning signs generally presage violent actions like this one.

"This could have been signaled by erratic and changed behavior in the soldier including strange or unusual behavior, insomnia, weight loss, talking nonsensically or incoherently, making threatening statements and using drugs," said Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chairman of psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, in an email.  "Rarely do such incidents of extreme behavior occur without some preceding signs."

"The individuals responsible for mass murders similar to this in the United States... have often given off strong signals of serious mental illness to friends, parents, associates, etc. prior to the incident," said Dr. Paul Newhouse, director of the Center for Cognitive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn., and a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, in an email.  "If this individual was seriously mentally ill, then it is possible that he may have showed signs of this type of disturbance to fellow soldiers and NCOs or medical personnel."

Dr. Simon Rego, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, said in an email that warning signs "are not always obvious," but he noted that some of the more well-known ones -- such as "difficulty regulating emotions, discipline problems, getting into fights, withdrawal from others, damaging/destroying property [and] increasing risk-taking behavior" -- may be observed before an act of extreme violence.

Whether any of these warning signs were present before the alleged mass killing is not yet known.  But Dr. Bengt Arnetz, professor of occupational and environmental medicine at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., said that even if these signals were present, the current system used by the military is woefully inadequate at detecting them.

"All the systems have never been evaluated," said Arnetz, whose research focuses on the effects of stress on the psychological well being of police, first responders and soldiers.  "I think that they're very, very bad at monitoring people close to the breaking point.  We don't have good surveillance tools."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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