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No link between Asperger’s disorder and killing sprees, says psychologist


No link between Asperger’s disorder and killing sprees, says psychologist .There is no direct link between Asperger’s disorder and brutal killing sprees, said University of Malaya consultant psychiatrist Dr Subash Kumar Pillai.

Suspected killer Elliot Rodger is believed to have had Asperger's disorder.

Suspected killer Elliot Rodger is believed to have had Asperger’s disorder.

Subash was responding to claims that Elliot Rodger who killed six people and wounded 13 in a massacre in Santa Barbara, California last Friday became a killer in part due to Asperger’s disorder, said “anyone with a mental condition, given the right environment is capable of violence.”

Subash emphasized that it would  be unethical to guess a diagnosis of the 22-year old Rodger, who died following the killing spree without examining him.

“There are so many episodes of shooting sprees reported in the United States. I feel a lot of it is related to the environment that the child is brought up in,” he added.

The Department of Psychological Medicine associate professor added that at this stage it was “merely conjecture” that Rodger had this condition, which was also cited as being possibly linked to the killing spree committed by 20-year old Adam Lanza  on December 14 2012.

In that killing spree, Lanza killed 27 people, including his mother and 20 children.

“As far as I can remember no one said or confirmed that Rogers has this condition. There is no evidence that this condition (Asperger’s Disorder) is linked clearly to violence. Much has been said about this condition and maybe too much of it is myth,” added Subash.

On the disorder itself, Subash said that unlike classical autism where a person does not like to socialize with others, those with Asperger’s like to socialize with other people – but don’t seem to know how to.

“The quality of interaction is an issue. They are often intelligent and even have a high IQ, so there is often an imbalance between the IQ and EQ,” said Subash.

He added that many people only have traits of Asperger’s Disorder and are able to live full lives, and children with this disorder have grown up able to work, get married and live lives like regular people.

“Many people with traits of this condition are professionals, often they are engineers,accountants and even doctors. Some of people with these traits may be odd or different in some ways, but then again how many of us can claim to be totally ‘normal’,” said Subash.

He said that he feels that everyone has to adjust to the differences of other people, and called for more awareness about Asperger’s Disorder, adding that children with this condition are often bullied at school, leading to resentment of going to school and depression.

“Some of these kids become depressed as a result of years of abuse. Often this is compounded by parents who also don’t understand this condition. Some of these kids have even contemplated suicide as a result of depression and the lack of friends or social support they have,” said Subash.
Subash called for increased tolerance for those living with Asperger’s disorder, which he said would minimise the problems associated with the condition.

“These people may have some idiosyncratic behaviour that may seem odd to us but they don’t feel that. In the end it is us who feel it, and so in a lot of ways it is us who have to adjust to them. Understanding them is the first step to a better future for them,” said Subash.