Vol. 4, No. 3, 1998 Page 1


Psychiatry failed again So did Ritalin and "tough love." This time it happened in Springfield, Oregon.

Kipland Phillip Kinkel's parents tried everything from psychiatric medications to anger-management counseling and psychotherapy in an effort to help their son. Their attempts ended this May, when Kinkel shot his parents to death and then turned a gun on his high school classmates, killing two of them.

The usual scapegoats-parents, school, TV-can't be blamed this time. By all accounts, Kinkel's mother and father were model parents. According to newspaper accounts, they disconnected their TV to avoid violent programs, home-schooled their son to keep him away from bad influences, and provided him with sailing, skiing, and tennis lessons.

Professionals and the media seem stymied as to who or what to blame for Kinkel's rampage. That's because, once again, they are overlooking the obvious.

The real cause of such senseless violence is almost certainly the malfunctioning brains of the offenders. (Kinkel, for instance, was identified as having learning disabilities, dyslexia, and attention deficit disorder.) And what causes these troubled brains to malfunction? The culprits include prenatal exposure to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs; perinatal birth trauma; seizures; brain tumors; neurotoxins; food and/or chemical sensitivities; nutritionally deficient diets; head injuries; and pollutants in our air, water, and soil. Additionally, many of America's killer children suffer from genetically caused or influenced brain dysfunction.

The results of such brain dysfunction include a lack of empathy toward people or animals; impulsivity; perseveration; an inability to understand social cues; a low frustration threshold; severe depression; dyslogical thinking; and an inability to realize the consequences of actions. It's a dangerous mix that all too frequently leads to a life of crime and violence.

The incidence of such violence is increasing in America's youngest citizens. Until we make a major effort to identify and address the real causes of this violence, and to prevent or treat brain dysfunction in our children, there is much more violence to come.

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