Why aren’t we talking about Jared Loughner's alleged drug problem?

What Women Really Think
Jan. 13 2011 2:02 PM

Why aren’t we talking about Jared Loughner's alleged drug problem?

As Rachael notes , Kelsey Hawkes, a high school girlfriend of Jared Loughner’s, has been talking to the British tabloid the Daily Mail, which sensationally sums up her account in this headline: "Our high school love split tipped killer over edge." I don’t for a second think that Hawkes’s rejection in 2005 precipitated Loughner’s decision to open fire in a Safeway parking lot in 2011, but here’s what I do find interesting about her account: She says that after she dumped Loughner, he began drinking and doing drugs and, sometime later, cut himself off from their mutual friends.

Why has so much most of the discussion about Loughner this week, both at Slate and elsewhere, taken on faith the idea that he must be schizophrenic first and foremost? We hear from a variety of sources that he was doing a lot of drugs, and drug-induced psychosis (of the sort caused by heavy meth or cocaine use) can be nearly impossible to differentiate from schizophrenia. And yet no one is talking about the role Loughner’s drug use may have played in his mental health crisis.

Advertisement

Was Loughner self-medicating in response to an incipient mental illness, or was it the other way around? Of course, it may not be an either/or – drug use can trigger schizophrenia in susceptible people, and when someone is given a "dual diagnosis" of mental illness and a drug addiction, it's often very hard to figure out which came first. But why, when every other piece of Loughner-related news has been picked to shreds (along with a great many of things that aren’t news, as Jack Shafer has pointed out ), is no one talking about this one?

Kate Julian is an editor of DoubleX.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

160 Countries Host Marches to Demand Action on Climate Change

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.