Part 3: After Umpqua, Isn’t It Time To Consider MSbP?

The nation is in mourning yet again following a mass shooting at a school, this time in Oregon. Immediately, the usual mental health vs. gun control sides were drawn in the aftermath of the latest shooting, each expressing its frustration with the other.

munchausen by proxy stop signA Fresh Look

Perhaps it’s time for a fresh look at the problem, and perhaps we who follow cases of Munchhausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP) can offer a new perspective. It will take time to investigate the Oregon shooting fully, but right off the bat, glaring similarities between the Umpqua Community College and Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings sit right there on the surface. One need only go so far as distant as well as recent news reports to notice that in both the cases of Adam Lanza (the Sandy Hook perpetrator) and Christopher Harper-Mercer (the Umpqua perpetrator), an unusual dynamic existed between the health care system, the mother, and the adult son. I wrote about this Adam Lanza’s relationship with his mother, and her unusual behavior here.

The blog post here on Lanza and the one here on Harper-Mercer indicate three important commonalities:

  1. A Common Claim of an Asperger’s Diagnosis
  2. An Overly Protective Mother who Overruled Medical and Educational Professionals
  3. Family Members who Knew of These Diagnoses Armed the Perpetrator Anyway

gifting son gun satire

Coincidence? I think not…

These similarities may be more than coincidences. Harper-Mercer’s acitivity online just three days before he carried out his shootings in Oregon was of none other than a documentary on the Sandy Hook Massacre. Harper Mercer may have been a direct copycat of Lanza.

This is not to say in any way that the mothers are responsible for these mass killings. It is important to note with sadness that in the Sandy Hook Massacre Lanza’s mother was, in fact, his first victim. He shot her at home before proceeding to shoot others at the school. Her life might have been spared, along with the lives of over two dozen children, if there had been intervention earlier.

However, in the interest of public health, many lives may have been saved if the law had overruled Mrs. Lanza’s fateful unilateral decision to end his treatment and have him stop taking his medication. Likewise, Mrs. Harper-Mercer reportedly wrote online that her son had Aspberger’s and that she was an Aspberger’s expert. Yet we see what happened when his treatment was left to her and her alone. She tried to create a wall around him, but no one shielded the public from her bad decisions concerning his mental health care.

mom with mask holding child

This is not to villainize the mothers here, but to suggest that at the very least, both mothers were in well over their heads in caring for these young men who exploded in mass violence. It would appear that both mothers got in the way of treatment for their sons and that both armed them instead. A US culture that holds family values and gun ownership sacred may be blinded by its cultural bias to a public health issue requiring attention here to save lives. Looking at these shootings from an MSbP perspective might open the nation’s eyes in a new way.

After Umpqua, isn’t it time to consider Munchhausen Syndrome by Proxy as a possible contributing factor in these recurring tragedies?

Images from Pixabay.

Do you think that MSbP played a role in these mass shootings?

Leave a comment and let us know! We’d love to discuss this issue.


One thought on “Part 3: After Umpqua, Isn’t It Time To Consider MSbP?

  1. I can’t say if MSbP was involved, but I think the signs are distressing. The mothers’ control over the children’s health care, restriction thereof, self-advertised expertise, speak to mothers who needed help themselves.
    The timing of this blog entry is rather fortuitous. A mother of one of the Columbine mass murderers (Klebold) has released a book about a mother’s POV on being the parent of someone who parented a child who became a murderer. Not to say there’s a link to MSbP by any means in that case, but what would the Umpqua and Sandy Hook shooters’ mothers say (if they could)? I will be reading the book with this blog in mind, and wondering what other mothers of mass murderers would say, particularly those who focused on schools of any level.


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