Return to Transcripts main page
Newtown Surviving Tragedy
Aired December 17, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: I am very privileged to have joining me now, Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of "The Dr. Oz Show".
Now, Mehmet, you were in Newtown Friday night. Tell me what alarmed you about that visit.
DR. MEHMET OZ, HOST, "THE DR. OZ SHOW: Well, drew, there are lots of elements of that visit that changed my life. But for sure, several of the kids reported to me the same thing most of us probably thought when we were little kids, which is that nothing ever happens here. They said, Newtown is known for that, nothing ever happens here.
Of course, something big happened, and it reminded me, and probably many of you across the country, that Newtown is just like your town, and be like New England Village, it could have been California or Iowa, it doesn`t matter. If it can happen in a town like Newtown, it can happen in your town.
PINSKY: I got to tell you, the scariest thing that parents say to me is, not my kid. It`s the same. It`s another version of not my town.
And so, we all have to be prepared for this.
Let`s talk for a second about what do we do for the people that are the victims? I want people to understand that a shot like this will knock people to the ground, but the way this community is catching and embracing their members that have suffered so much is really quite beautiful on a certain level.
OZ: It is. You`re reminded of the beauty of humanity. We have it in us. The vigil that I went to on Friday evening at St. Rose, which is the church where actually Adam Lanza and his family were parishioners, it was remarkable because all these folks, teeming amounts of individuals, trotting into this space, with hymns that clearly unify their voice, the humming, the vibration itself was magical.
And you realized in all this pain, there was a beauty that was indescribable in how people stepped up to help each other. Ultimately, that`s always been the message I think throughout the history of our species, we have a unique ability to support each other and I know we`ll talk about this.
But a lot of that because of the structure of our brains. Our brains are as large as they are because we have that capacity for not just empathy but identifying people`s goals and motivations. That`s what makes us so special, and some people don`t just have that --
OZ: -- which I think describes the Adam Lanzas of the world.
PINSKY: I completely agree with you. And as you said, we`re going to look at some of those brains in just a couple of minutes.
But let me talk to you as a dad. I know from me first, for some reason, this hit me in a way that I feel like I can`t even feel the full impact of what this was. Just imagine being one of those parents and to think about somebody that can do this to children. As you say, it`s inhuman behavior.
How did it affect you as a person and as a dad?
OZ: Well, I`ve got four kids. My youngest is 13. I had a very open discussion with him over the weekend.
I wanted to tell my kids in my own words what I think they need to hear. I advise parents across the nation that that`s probably the wisest way to go, in my opinion, because kids are going to hear about this, anyway. You might as well tell them in words that you feel are appropriate for their age, things they need to hear.
But for my son, it was very much about guns, video games and how he needs to react as this issue comes up in school. And I think as much as an opportunity for us to convey a message we want them to hear, it`s also an opportunity for us to have conversations we normally wouldn`t have had with our children.
And as many have said, it`s also, for me, anyway, an opportunity to express how much I care about them, how much I love them.
OZ: And how much I pray it never happens to them.
PINSKY: Yes. Let`s use -- there is a funny language coming -- well, funny. There is a language that`s emerging -- that I want -- we`re physicians, my friend, and we`ve seen death, right? We`ve had to deal with death and you as a cardiothoracic surgeon, and me as an internist.
When you guys are done your patients, we`re the ones that help them die. That`s the reality. And yet, even with death as real as it is for us, the magnitude of this is just stunning.
So let me just say, a language has started to emerge that I think is helping people sort of deal with it, and it`s the language of grace and love as this outreach, this outpouring of positive feeling and prayer is helping people through this.
Talk to me a little about that versus what people are understanding as evil.
OZ: Well, I must say, it touched me a lot to see folks struggle with this issue of evil, absence of good and the like, and then come away with the reality that we can`t make sense out of a senseless event. This is so beyond our ability to engage that you`re left realizing that it is a grace, and a faith that goes along with it.
You know, faith is not about certainty. It`s not about knowing what`s going on. It`s about realizing you can`t control those variables. But there`s an elegance to how we cope, and that comes out over and over again throughout this.
OZ: And you`re right, that verbiage comes up.
PINSKY: And I want to embrace it. It`s not how you and I think as physicians, but I think it`s really something that has a great impact here, and I say we use that language. It helps people really understand it.
And, you know, some people understand God as love, and if that`s the case, that whole community is bathed in it.
I want to take a quick call now from Katie in South Carolina, Dr. Oz. Here we go -- Katie, go ahead.
KATIE, CALLER FROM SOUTH CAROLINA: Hi, Dr. Oz. Hi, Dr. Drew. Thank you for having me on.
PINSKY: You`re welcome.
KATIE: My question to you is do you think a new school should be built so these students and teachers in the community don`t have an omnipresent figure for possible PTSD symptoms?
PINSKY: You know, I don`t think either of us -- I`ll comment on that, Dr. Oz. I don`t think we can say that for sure. I think if these people are getting proper treatment, and kids don`t want to reenter that environment, they shouldn`t have to.
For other kids, it could be reassuring to go back in and reclaim and get control over that environment that was so uncontrolled for them.
I want to hear out there if there are parents with kids with mental illness. I`d like you to call in, because really, that`s that`s where the rubber hit the road with this story.
Mehmet, I`ll tell you, for me, people are now talking about the mom of Lanza and saying, oh, you know, she never mentioned this kid. I was never aware that she was struggling with any particular issues.
Listen, I can`t tell you how often I am telling parents do A, B, C things, and of course the neighborhood doesn`t know about it and their friends don`t know about it, and they never do it and things end up bad. Why are we going -- don`t you agree with me, we shouldn`t even be talking with the neighbors and the friends about this because no one would ever know what professionals were telling her about her son.
OZ: I got to say. I think we need a homeland security model for mental health. Just like we need to get a system for people to talk to one another, organizations who are often (INAUDIBLE) settings to communicate, we need that for mental health.
Let`s compare specialty. So, in cardiac surgery, I can do pretty much whatever I want to do to save your life if you`re sick.
OZ: In fact, I can work within my city to make systems available to make people come to me earlier if they`re having a heart attack.
PINSKY: That`s right. But --
OZ: The exact opposite.
PINSKY: Yes, when I`m working in mental health, hold on a second, this kid`s got rights, you know? He`s got rights. And, you know, who are you to say -- I`m sure that`s what happened to the Colorado shooter, I guarantee you. He had such a fine psychiatrist and she couldn`t do her job.
Ginny in Wyoming. Ginny, you got something for us?
GINNY, CALLER FROM WYOMING: My son is 17 years old with autism. He tops off mentally at four. He -- when he has a tantrum and he is 4 years old in his 210-pound body, he becomes violent, he becomes injurious. I have asked the system for help. I`ve been screaming for help.
PINSKY: Have you -- Ginny, let me ask you something. Has anybody recommended or have you asked for placement?
GINNY: Absolutely, and the state told me I needed to get the DHS (ph) involved. They said he was 16 and they wouldn`t help me, and state says, look, then, he`s 18, they won`t help me.
PINSKY: Mehmet, there you go. I mean, this is a vivid example of the problem. What would you say to Ginny?
OZ: This is -- you know, from my perspective, unfortunately, you have to create a paper trail. Literally calling the police, which is the hardest thing to do for a mom, but there is a possibility that he`ll be of harm to himself, to you or the people around him.
So, unfortunately, the only thing left for you, and I`m so happy you called in --
OZ: -- not just because I hope we can be supportive to you, but also because there are many, many moms like you out there. Unless you get police involved --
OZ: Again, these folks aren`t going to cart him off to jail, but you have to know they`re there to support you in your time of need. It might come.
PINSKY: Law enforcement has become the mental health service of last resort, and it`s all we got. And I tell parents all the time to call the cops and they don`t. They won`t do it. They`re fearful of having a record, they`re fearful of mistreatment.
The police are there to help. Now, I`m not asking that there will be flood of -- they`re already overburdened, trust me, and they`re dealing with this already. But if you see it, report it. See it. Report it. Do not stay in denial.
And I`m not talking about Ginny. I`m talking about maybe people around that can support, help Ginny, other parents out there.
But this is something that we must take action. And it`s going to be such a serious problem. I -- my heart just goes out to the Ginnys out there because I know there are a lot of them.
But I`ll you what, Mehmet? You`re absolutely right, I can`t tell you how many times I`ve advised parents to do that and they don`t. And that`s when things -- and, by the way, I guarantee you, whoever was treating the Lanza kid was not saying it was OK for him to go shoot guns, that it was a way to build his self-esteem. I promise you no one said that.
Now, listen, Rebecca Wygal died in the Aurora theater massacre. Five months later her mother feels helpless. Where was the support she needed when she need it? She`s going to talk to Dr. Oz and myself after this.
PINSKY: Welcome back. I hear a lot of programs starting out their broadcast tonight saying, we`re going to make sense of this for you.
I`m not. I`m not going to make sense of this because you can`t make sense of irrational behavior.
But we are going to move this conversation forward. Later this evening, I`m going to have a panel who are going to get into what we can do to fix this country.
Now, I have Dr. Mehmet Oz with me from "The Dr. Oz Show."
And on the line, Shirley Wygal. She lost her daughter Rebecca five months ago in the Colorado movie theater massacre.
Shirley, help us understand what you went through and what you needed at that time and what you think we should be giving the people of Newtown?
SHIRLEY WYGAL, DAUGHTER KILLED IN AURORA, CO SHOOTING (via telephone): Well, I was in a situation that might be somewhat unique because I had moved to Colorado to be with Rebecca who didn`t have other family or roots there, but as an individual who was alone, I needed an awful lot of support.
PINSKY: Let me ask you, Shirley, did you get it from the professional services and the victims` organizations and that sort of thing, or was that just not enough?
WYGAL: Well, the mental health counseling that was made available was definitely done in a traditional, perfunctory way that really didn`t address a tragic loss that I had experienced. So I don`t think they were prepared for that. And as far as the advocates from the different state agencies, there were about five of them.
And they -- I didn`t know them, I didn`t know who they were when they called, I didn`t know which service agency was, with which advocate, I didn`t know who to call about anything.
I was very lucky to have one good advocate.
PINSKY: OK. And let`s be clear. Dr. Oz, I`m going to have you comment on this, too. That`s all you need is that one connection.
I always tell people connection, faith and service is what can get you through. I`m watching that all three of those elements pouring into Newtown, would you agree? Is that what you experienced when you were there?
OZ: I did and faith is a big part of it. Without any question, folks are trying to make something come out that`s probable and tangible from this experience, because you`re right, it`s a senseless one. There`s nothing you can do to make sense of it.
That stated, I got to say if you can find ways to bring love into your life -- I know it sounds like a hokey way of approaching this, just that one counselor that might be able to play role from the state service, because absolutely, there are programs and they`re well-meaning people, but often it`s a broken system and it`s hard to put yourself into.
OZ: It makes a huge amount of difference.
And for folks who come from a faith-based background -- and, Drew, you were wonderful on my show today, thank you for coming on. But we had another guest, Joel Olsteen, he said something very interesting. He`s a man of faith. He said, sometimes, God works through doctors and social workers. So --
PINSKY: Well, right.
OZ: If you believe that`s your main way to salvation, you can still use tools that are available.
PINSKY: That`s absolutely. I mean -- and I heard a lot of people talking about love and connection, and I`m going to go with the doctor speak for just a second, but interpersonal neurobiology. Two brains are how one brain heals, how we have the capacity to regulate our emotions and how we find meaning, and how we build empathy. That`s actually how we build that, is with spending time with another brain.
So, the fact is we do affect one another and we do it just by being there.
I know you must have had that experience as a doctor. I`ve had it a million times.
OZ: Without question. As a heart surgeon, unfortunately, we operate on kids and we lose kids, we have to have that same conversation. It`s incredibly painful.
What gets you through it is that level of empathy. And I must say, part of the reason our brains are as large as they because we grew that empathetic element to it. We got thicker parts of our cortex where we feel compassionate for each other. And although that`s something all species had, humans in particular are able to live in civic societies because that part of us grew robust.
PINSKY: All right.
OZ: It`s imperative for us to help people who don`t have it.
PINSKY: I`m glad. That`s right -- when they don`t have it, we`re going to talk right now. Mehmet, I`m standing up and I`m going to my screen here. I`m going to look at a brain.
Let`s put a brain out. So here is just a basic human brain and the skull. The areas that Dr. Oz is going to talk about are here in the prefrontal cortex. That`s this area here and we`re going to -- there it is -- we`re going to cut this brain in half and we`re going to look back at this half.
So, let`s do that now, and I`m going to show you what happens in the brain of a psychopath. A psychopath`s brain -- and Dr. Oz, you can ring right in here with me at any point, you were talking about this on your show today -- their prefrontal cortex is thinner. It`s under-functioning, it doesn`t work as well.
OZ: The reality is we don`t know why that`s thinner, but no question about it. The part of our brain that`s associated with being human tends to thin out and it has huge ramifications.
I don`t know if, Drew, this caught your attention. In so many of the primary reports of these psychopathic killers, they seem emotionless. They`re very calm in the face of all this. It`s premeditated. They thought it through. But there`s no sense of remorse.
Who out there can think in mental care what`s going on in your life. You could have guilt killing one child, much less 20 of them, without having a sense. These are not normal folks.
And I know, you know, Drew, I love you to share with folks your thoughts on how we can identify these people before they can hurt themselves and others.
PINSKY: Yes. Well, the classic thing of a true psychopath is somebody who hurts animals, hurts other people, is very manipulative. But they`re also very goal-directed, and the reason this story with Lanza caught my attention as something different is psychopaths have a story. They`re trying to accomplish something, they`re trying to get something, do something.
They may feel entitled in a bizarre way to sort of act out their envy, but this is on another level. This is like nothing I`ve ever understood or seen.
And the fact, to me, Mehmet, there`s couple of things her. One is the fact that we have no healthy families anywhere to capture these people. Our own -- this poor kid came from a ruptured family. Our families are dysfunctional. Our communities don`t function like happy families, there`s divisiveness, there`s politicizing, and we need people to come together and create communities again rather than these warring, warring camps.
Don`t you agree?
OZ: Well, without question, Adam Lanza killed a village when he murdered those children and their teachers. And it will take the village to catch the future Adam Lanza.
Let`s put this in perspective. That 15-AR assault rifle that he used to kill those poor people, there have been 3 million of them sold, right?
OZ: Think about it. There are 3 million of those rifles out there in the hands of maybe well-meaning people, but who had family members like Adam Lanza. So it`s going to take us functioning as a community to help each other and give ourselves the confidence to deal with the painful conversation we have to have.
PINSKY: That`s right. Talk about it, educate yourself, see it, report it.
Now, I`m going to try to get those scans up for Dr. Oz, and we`re going to have more with them and maybe some calls after the break.
PINSKY: I`ve been speaking with Dr. Mehmet Oz about the brain, and I promise we`re not going to get into too much doctor speak here.
But I know you and I are fascinated by the biological effects of how this kind of thing can happen. And it helps people understand, sort of, a concrete quality to this.
So, I want to put a scan up, finally, of a psychopath, if I could here. There we go. This shows the wide regions of the brain that are not functioning normally, the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate. Some of the more deeper, visceral functions even are out.
And, Dr. Oz, I think you showed a picture of this on your program today as well, did you not?
OZ: I did. And it`s stunning, actually, when you realize these are important structural differences. I didn`t have a chance to read this kind note sent by groups representing autism and Asperger`s, but I love sense you`re an expert in the area, to highlight the fact that these are not necessarily the same problem.
OZ: In fact, they`re very different. Folks who have Asperger`s and autism, they actually have empathy. They don`t want to hurt people. They feel badly when things don`t go right. They just don`t have the social skills.
PINSKY: That`s right. They lack and miss social cues. Now, sometimes, it can be very severe, where they don`t identify somebody in pain. They have trouble empathizing as a result.
And then if you add a second, what we call comorbid disorder like a manic episode or severe depression, even a psychotic episode, to someone with those proclivities, then it begins to start to make sense how this kind of thing could potentially happen. But it has -- it`s not autism or Asperger`s per se.
Those people are usually quite delightful, quite kind. You would be around somebody like that. They`re not aggressive or violent at all.
Let me put another scan up here just to give the audience a sense of how complicated are various emotions and the brain part involved in it.
This is hatred. The red areas are the hot, very highly functioned areas. These are areas of the brain associated with moral judgment. I`ll remind you again the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate, these visceral areas very important as well.
And, finally, the area involved with empathy is late-developing and relatively sort of specific areas of the brain associated with that. Again, these are the areas that light up hot, and it tends to right- lateralize. The right part of our brain, the part that`s connected to our body, seems to be the one most able to attune to other people and the state of those people are in.
OZ: Those scans you showed are so important. If folks at home are wondering how we`re going to help figure out when people like Adam Lanza are going to help others, this may be the future.
OZ: It will probably be through brain scans, we`ll be able to help families who, of course, are going to be grieving when they find this out, learn that their kids are never going to have the empathy, no matter what kind of great parenting they`re offering.
PINSKY: Or maybe there are things we can intervene upon with those proclivities, with those predispositions. In fact, I`m going to have a doctor on later in the show, who is doing a scan as a psychopath and he took his own scan as a control, and guess what? He had a psychopathic pattern. He was able to get --
OZ: Oh my goodness.
PINSKY: Oh, yes, it`s really quite something. And he was able then to sort of roll back in his life and see how he compensated for that, and he can talk about that. And so, maybe other people can compensate in a similar manner if we pick these things up with a biological scan early. I completely agree with you.
Do we have our next call lined up? Do we have somebody there?
All right, it`s just you and I, my friend. How much time do I have left? I have a minute and a half left.
Dr. Oz, OK, so here we go. So, as you and I try to help people make sense of this, I know we can`t make it understandable. I like the language of faith in times like this. It really is reassuring. People don`t want to hear from doctors and their doctor speak at a time like this. It somehow not, it doesn`t get through quite the way faith-based material does.
Do you agree with me?
OZ: It doesn`t heal us -- I agree with you. And medicine and medical jargon doesn`t heal and it`s hard to fix a feeling. You have to hear and feel -- witness their feeling, validate their feeling and then move on.
And something you said on the show, if I can echo it back to you, because I respect you so much on this. You know, you said there is no time limit, and you can`t make sense out of it, and the anger and frustration and pain and sense of loss that so many of us feel will be very chaotic and very difficult to cope with unless you find people around you that you love. At the end of the day, we`re all like little raindrops falling in the ocean of humanity.
PINSKY: That is exactly right. It`s connection. It is faith that`s being of service. That is going to get us through this.
My friend, I`m concerned about our country. We`re in a zone that -- I feel like we`ve crossed into something here.
So I do so appreciate you joining me for the first half of the show.
On the second half, we`re going to bring a panel together to discuss this. Be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): The nation`s eyes are on Newtown, Connecticut, as they mourn the victims of last week`s school shooting. Thirteen years after Columbine, blood still flows in our schools, our malls, movie theaters and grocery stores. And it just keeps happening. Blame mental illness, violence in the media, godlessness, bad parenting -- no matter what the reason, our country is broken right now and we need to find a way to fix it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: We do, indeed, but I`ll tell you what. Anybody that says they`re going to make sense for you of these irrational acts, don`t believe them. We can`t make sense of them but we can learn from this, and we must.
Rita Cosby is in Newtown, Connecticut, tonight.
Rita, what has changed in the days since you first got there?
RITA COSBY, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Well, in fact, I`m standing right in front of the shooter`s house. It is still a crime scene, a lot of investigation. But the mood here, I think, it`s now just trying to get answers as to what really happened.
When I first came here, Dr. Drew, and I literally was in this area probably a few hours after the shooting, everyone was in the state of shock. They were just crying and hugging me and almost couldn`t even speak. Now, they`re curious to find out what happened and trying to make sense of this terrible tragedy.
And then, on the other hand, also trying to express their compassion for the victims, because it`s an incredible, it`s a beautiful community tightened it. They have been so kind to me. And even now, when I knock on a neighbor`s door and talk to them, they always answer the door whether they`re ready to talk or not. It`s just been -- it`s a real, beautiful supportive community. Makeshift memorials almost on every single corner.
PINSKY: Yes. It seems like they`re really catching those that have been knocked down. Are you seeing anger? I can`t imagine there isn`t an anger growing amongst them.
COSBY: There is some anger growing and frustration. They would like to get some answers. And, in fact, I think law enforcement would like to get more answers, too. You know, we`ve been told that they have a number of pieces. They`ve been able to trace the guns. They were able to put some of the information together with computers.
They`re still trying to dig on the hard drive of his. We understand they received it. By the way, just even a few hours ago, investigators were repealing (ph) into his house behind us. So, the investigation is still very much active. But I can tell you, almost every neighbor when I see, hey have you heard anymore? What`s happening? We want to try to make sense of this.
And talking to neighbors who knew the Lanza family, this is a strange thing. Think about this, Dr. Drew. You know, these houses are not too far apart. Neighbors on either side of the Lanza family, they didn`t know Adam Lanza, the shooter. They did not know him. They didn`t even know that he lived basically in the house next door. They saw the mother, but they didn`t see him.
PINSKY: That really speaks volumes.
COSBY: And some of them live here for a number of years.
PINSKY: It speaks volumes. And Rita, thanks for that report. We will keep apprised of things. Appreciate it.
Yes. That speaks volumes that this kid was so withdrawn. You wonder if the family was -- who knows? We`ll find out as time goes along.
Now, I`ve got a great panel joining me. I`ve got Lori Haas whose daughter was shot but thankfully survived the shooting at Virginia Tech. I`ve got Pam Geller, commentator and author who says we are too permissive about violence in our society. I believe also I have James Fallon, there he is, neuroscientist at University of California.
He is the one I was talking about with Dr. oz a few minutes ago who was using himself as a control and discovered he had some proclivities. And Attorney Georgianna Kelman who represents emotionally challenge children and their parents. Georgianna, I`m going to go to you. All right. What do you say is wrong with our mental health system that results in these sorts of tragedies?
GEORGIANNA KELMAN, ATTORNEY, FOCUSES ON SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN: Well, I`m going to speak from an educational perspective. I`m a special education law attorney, so I have exposure to these children that have emotional disturbances very early. And what I see in my practice all too often is the educational system fails these children.
There needs to be more application, specifically laws, there has to be services that apply specifically to these children to their needs and not hit them all in the same formula and that`s what happens time and again. These kids fall through the crack because they`re not properly --
PINSKY: Georgianna, you work in the state of California. We`re not only bankrupt here. We`re billions of dollars in debt. Where are the funds going to come from for that? I want to go to Lori. Lori, you have a different perspective. Is that right?
LORI HAAS, DAUGHTER SURVIVED VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTING: Yes, I had been exposed to mental health from the perspective of my daughter being a victim of somebody who suffered from serious mental health issues. And he spiraled out of control with no help whatsoever from a large campus community.
PINSKY: So, you`re saying the same thing as -- Georgianna, you were saying something different?
KELMAN: I`m saying the same thing. I`m saying that these things are unattended (ph), too. These children are not attended to --
PINSKY: That`s what it seems like.
KELMAN: That`s what I`m trying to say is that it takes too long before the system actually stepped in.
PINSKY: When it comes to Virginia Tech, I`ve got to tell you. I don`t understand. He weigh -- he was in the system. Why was he allowed to go back to school without a letter from a physician saying he was clear to go back to school.
KELMAN: Exactly. We are all responsible as teachers, as counselors, as police officers on campus. Everyone has a responsibility. Nobody wants to say anything. There`s such sensitivities when it comes to this issue.
KELMAN: If you see something, you have to speak up.
PINSKY: See it, report it. I agree. I agree, Georgianna. See it, report it.
KELMAN: Teachers have a reasonability to identify children with severe issues, whether they`d be minor or --
PINSKY: See it, report it.
KELMAN: They have to report it.
PINSKY: Agree, Georgianna. Pam, you`ve got a different opinion, though. Pam, what`s you`re point of view?
PAM GELLER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR, AUTHOR: I think that the problem is our societal glorification of violence. And I think we need to teach love and I think we need to teach --
PINSKY: Pam, I`m sorry. I`m going to interrupt you right now. You`ve never -- I can tell you, you`ve never dealt with these kinds of kids, because they`re -- they be -- they are not connected when they get aggressive and violent, but you can`t teach anything. You can contain them and that`s it. When they get into one of these fits, nothing like that gets through. Come on now.
GELLER: He was wearing a protective vest. It was planned. There`s a systematic failure, and we can talk about that, but you asked me what I thought the problem was. And I think that the problem is a societal nihilism. It`s not just the games, and it`s not just the movies. I mean, how many open caucuses do we have to see on CSI?
There`s a dehumanization and a desensitivity to human life in this country. And I think it`s very dangerous.
PINSKY: Of course. Dr. Fallon, you actually have some of these biological proclivities. What do you think can be done?
JAMES FALLON, PH.D., NEUROSCIENTIST, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA: I think very little can be done, unless, we start really tearing apart our constitution. These -- you know, murder, killing, is burnished within the very core of our DNA. It`s part of being human. And, it`s usually put in balance by the society and by natural ethics and morality.
So, it`s something that I don`t think you can really control. It`s something that we can determine early on, but that is going to get in the way of families and the individual rights of people that are young.
PINSKY: Well, I think that`s the point is there`s always this balance between the rights of the individual, the rights of the community, and the ability to help these people even when you have to violate some of those rights.
OK. I`m going to keep this discussion going just a seconds. And reminder, I wrote an article about what you or your children may be going through after this tragedy. Read it at HLNTV.com/Dr.Drew. More of the panel, more of your calls when we get back.
PINSKY: Trying to understand this thing, trying to look for fixes. Georgianna, I want to go to you first. One of the things I try recommending frequently when situations are completely unmanageable is conservatorship. Parents never do it, particularly, when it`s an adult child. It`s expensive. It`s time consuming. It`s hard to get. Can we make that easier?
PINSKY: Is that all -- will that be a solution here?
KELMAN: It can be a solution, but like you said, it`s very difficult. Typically, families higher income families, educated families, have this access, and they can go ahead and do so, but it is very complicated. You need a probate attorney.
PINSKY: That`s my point. Can`t we make it easier?
KELMAN: How do we do that?
PINSKY: I don`t know.
PINSKY: I`m not an attorney. I`m not a legislator. I`m saying we -- as a physician, I recommend that all the time. People look at me with blank faces like, you got to be kidding.
KELMAN: You know what, we can talk about conservatorships. We can talk about changing gun laws. But we need to talk about immediately what needs to be done. Something has to be done now.
KELMAN: And that`s our problem.
KELMAN: And I believe it starts in schools. I am so angry because this person that slaughtered those children on Friday, I represent that person. I`ve had many, many of those types of clients and I have to fight so hard to make sure that the district does the right thing by these kids in their place, in the proper setting so they can get the help that they need.
PINSKY: You really caught my interest now. So, what do you do that prevents that and what should have happened there?
KELMAN: Here`s the injustice in all of this. The educational system shouldn`t have attorneys involved. I have a job because the districts don`t do theirs. Families come to me for support because they can`t do it on their own. What happens to the families that can`t afford an attorney, their kids fall through the cracks.
PINSKY: Listen --
KELMAN: And it angers me.
PINSKY: I am with you. Lori, do you have anything to add to this?
HAAS: Well, I have picked a different -- I have a different perspective on this, not that I take a different perspective. You know, I`m looking at the positive things that we`re doing. There are -- and the Nexus between dangerously mental ill and access to firearms.
And, we need to help these people, you know, the almost 30,000 Americans murdered with guns every year, almost half of those are suicides. And we need to protect those people as well as dangerous people who would do harm --
HAAS: If I might finish, the state of California gives the tools to mental health providers to access and to disrupt that flow of firearms to dangerously mental ill people.
PINSKY: It`s very difficult to do, I must tell you. Let me take a call. Brent --
PINSKY: Go ahead, Brent.
BRENT, FLORIDA: Good evening, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Good evening.
BRENT: I`ve watched non-healthy amount of coverage (ph) about this shooting, and believe me, I`m sicken to my core. My heart is out to all the people concern. However, nobody is saying how to keep this from happening again.
PINSKY: Well --
BRENT: -- and platform get this to the powers.
PINSKY: Pam, go ahead. Well, hang on a second. Let`s see what our panel says. Pam, do you have a point on that?
GELLER: I think there are so many issues here. The idea of ripping up the constitution for this historical monster is absolutely the wrong- headed approach that we could take. I think you need to end the mental health exclusion from the Medicaid law. The bottom line is, the feds tell the states if you release these patients, we`ll reimburse you 50 percent of the costs.
And so, if you have -- if any other organ in your body has a disease that needs long-term care, Medicare pays, except the brain. You were just talking about the brain. So, this is federal discrimination of the mentally ill. Why not remove that exclusion? You can do that immediately. You showed me not to rip off the constitution. I think that`s --
PINSKY: It`s interesting.
KELMAN: You don`t have to rip off the constitution. We don`t have to repeal the Second Amendment, but we also don`t need to have families in their homes with mentally ill children have 15 AK-47 or assault rifles, either. That needs to have -- that`s a conversation that needs to be had. But before the conversation --
KELMAN: -- service these kids early on. We tackled the problem with just mental illness. And we don`t wait until --
GELLER: You`re referring to certain weapons. These are military style. These are not military weapons. Outside aesthetically, yes, they look like AK-49s.
GELLER: But inside the guns, they`re hunting rifles using the same bullets, the same machination, and the same rapidity.
PINSKY: Ladies, I`m just going to say also that you`ve got to understand something that -- you`ve got a parent in this story, too, who thought it was a good idea to go teach this kid how to shoot to give him self-esteem. I`d promise you, no mental health professionals told her to do that. In fact, I guarantee you, they fought like crazy against that, but where do we go in terms of getting requiring parents to follow through on these things.
Gary in South Carolina. Gary?
GARY, SOUTH CAROLINA: Dr. Drew, it`s time to make an action here. Every principal, vice principal, they need to carry a firearm in this school everyday they go.
PINSKY: All right. Hang on, Gary. We`re going -- that`s going a different direction. Dr. Fallon, you have a last word here. Any thoughts on this? You haven`t rung in yet.
FALLON: Yes. A couple of points. First of all, the most lethal weapon there is is the human brain. And the human brain will always find a way to kill if it wants to kill. The second thing is that we`re now seeing the lowest amount of killing since 1963, and it continues to decrease. So, in context to make this sound like either a new problem or worst problem is not true.
And I think we have to keep cool heads and I think we need more fundamental research on what makes people who do this tick (ph).
PINSKY: But Dr. Fallon, I would argue that the -- reduction criminality and an increase in mental health associated violence. Yes or no?
FALLON: That`s true. That`s why we need fundamental research. We don`t have any, really.
PINSKY: Got to go. We`ll be right back.
PINSKY: OK. We`re having a discussion about where the fix might be following this slaughter so this should not have happened in vain. Dr. Fallon, I want to go to you first. You`ve been what my previously -- brutally honest, which I appreciate, and some of that maybe because you have a brain with the same as a psychopathic tendency, right?
You have no problem being brutally honest. I have a more provocative question for you. Do you have any feelings about this carnage in Newtown?
FALLON: The type of empathy I have is actually more for strangers. So, I do. I have improperly low empathy for people closer to me. So, yes, I really do. But I`m a scientist, too, and the quicker I can draw myself away to look at this whole thing and not only in details but in context, the better it is for me. That`s my job, really.
PINSKY: OK. Let`s go to calls. Melissa in Indiana. Melissa, you got a comment for us?
MELISSA, INDIANA: Yes, if I was to go and purchase a gun, are they going to do an extensive background first to find out I have a son with the mental illness?
GELLER: Every sate is different. I have no idea where you live. And --
KELMAN: Those are privacy laws. You can be acted about other individuals other than yourself.
KELMAN: And that may be a problem.
GELLER: You asked me a question, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Pam, go ahead.
GELLER: I don`t believe in giving up personal --
PINSKY: Go ahead.
GELLER: I do not believe of bridging my freedoms for savages (ph) as far as --
GELLER: She keeps interrupting me.
PINSKY: I understand that. Go ahead, Pam. Please.
GELLER: OK. The movie monster, you know, there were seven movies playing Batman that were -- three were closer to where he lived. He went to the movie theater that was the gun free zone. Would you put a sign in front of your house that said, there are no guns here? I am telling you that --
GELLER: Thank you very much for allowing me to finish, miss.
PINSKY: Pam, finish quick.
GELLER: Outlawing guns -- the outlaws will get the guns and all you will do is render the populous more defenseless. The Clackamas shooter was stopped by a mall -- by a person in the mall who had a concealed weapon and pulled the weapon.
PINSKY: Hold on.
GELLER: And then the Clackamas shooter --
PINSKY: I want to stay more in the zone where Dr. Fallon is, whether (ph) these humans are the ones that murder and they`ll find a way to murder if they can. Georgianna, talk to me again about personal privacy and liberties versus keeping our community safe. Tell me about that?
KELMAN: There are sacrifices we have to think about. And we might have to give up some personal freedom, some privacy rights. Perhaps, we need better screening when we go to obtain a permit for a gun. We, perhaps, have to (INAUDIBLE) that we may have an individual in our home that might be mental --
PINSKY: Forget, perhaps. Why don`t we do that? We have to do that, right? I mean, come on now.
KELMAN: Something has to change. And we do a lot of talking in this horrific act occur. Two months go by, we forget. We go back about our lives and nothing changes. Five months later, we find 20 children slaughtered. Something has to happen now. It may be getting that --
PINSKY: I think so, too. Dr. Fallon --
KELMAN: I`m not talking about repealing the Second Amendment --
PINSKY: Right. I get you. I get you. And Dr. Fallon, last word here. Really quick. I mean, don`t you think it`s important to help people contain? Are we doing them a favor by containing them if they have these impulses?
FALLON: Yes, but it has to be done so early in their life. And that`s a call that the parents have to make in --
FALLON: But you know, after that, not a lot can be done.
PINSKY: OK. Tomorrow night, we`re going to be checking in with victims and survivors of past tragedies like the Aurora movie theater or gun mall shootings, see how they`re doing, and of course, how they`re doing after watching all these carnage that we`re we`re seeing in Newton. It`s just the media is creating -- stress reactions and posttraumatic stress reactions in all of us. Thank you, my panel. We`ll be right back.
PINSKY: Going out to calls. Dennis in Georgia. Dennis, go right ahead.
DENNIS, GEORGIA: Hey, Dr. Drew. You know, I`ve been watching the media on this young man that created this tragedy, and my son, he`s ten years old and he has Asperger`s syndrome. He has similar ideals and ways about him that this young man did, but I wanted to advocate for my son and other children like him that has Asperger`s syndrome that they`re not monsters.
DENNIS: This was an individual case. You know, I just want to let the world know that everybody isn`t like him that has Asperger`s syndrome.
PINSKY: Of course. Listen, Dennis -- listen, and remember that autism and Asperger`s are neurodevelopmental disorders. They`re not even really in the same category as mental illness. Probably this kid, this monster, had mental illness on top of these other liabilities. Dr. Fallon, do you agree with me on that?
FALLON: Yes. The Asperger`s -- people with Asperger`s can be very, very sweet people. It`s that characteristic.
FALLON: It could have contributed to his frustration, but not the cause.
PINSKY: Absolutely. Michelle in Kansas -- Michelle.
MICHELLE, KANSAS: Yes. Hi, Dr. Drew. My son is 15 years old and we`ve been trying to help him for years. He`s threatened us and he talks about slitting my throat, and we`re talking about, you know, trying to help kids early on before they snap. And I`m just figuring out what to do because every time we go for help, they turn us away.
PINSKY: Have you gotten him help yet, Michelle?
MICHELLE: Yes. He`s currently receiving services in our county.
PINSKY: OK. Hold on. Hold on.
MICHELLE: But we want residential treatment.
PINSKY: I get it. Georgianna, go.
KELMAN: Michelle, can I ask you? Is he in a regular setting, a regular education classroom or is he being supported in a more restrictive environment that`s going to --
MICHELLE: We have him -- we don`t have him in school (ph). We have him in a restricted environment.
KELMAN: Is he in a special --
MICHELLE: He lives at home.
KELMAN: So, you are home schooling him?
MICHELLE: No, no. He`s at a school.
PINSKY: He`s not at a residential program --
MICHELLE: We want him in a residential program, but they tell us we can`t do it.
KELMAN: That`s my point.
PINSKY: And this is a core. This is where the rubber hits the road, guys, right here.
PINSKY: There just are not adequate resources. And so, Georgianna, let`s look in our crystal ball. What poor Michelle is in for is lots of (INAUDIBLE) with law enforcement because that ends up where this ends (ph) up going. Am I wrong?
KELMAN: Michelle, you need to hire an attorney. You get your resources together. Whatever it is you need to do, you hire a special education law attorney, because without our support, sadly, it does not bear well for you.
PINSKY: Am I incorrect in where it ends up?
KELMAN: No, you`re not.
PINSKY: OK. And Michelle, please take that. Tammy, real quick, in Pennsylvania.
TAMMY, PENNSYLVANIA: My concern is over the lack of mental facilities, I hear a lot of people calling in and they`re asking for help.
TAMMY: And it seems we`re trying to replace --
TAMMY: What happened to the safe hospital and institution?
PINSKY: Well, OK. I`ve got limited time, Tammy. Pam, go with that, because I absolutely agree with that. I think that (INAUDIBLE) hospitals was a tragedy. People have this bizarre idea that institutionalization is some sort of hell on earth. It`s -- people are very happy in these environments. They`re contained. And they can live one day under after proper supervision. You tell me what you think, Pam.
GELLER: I agree with you 100 percent. This is the deinstitutionalization of these hospitals in the late 20th century. It was a huge mistake. What the previous call that needs to demand is this assisted outpatient treatment projects. They are very effective. The court can order treatment and the person can live in these communities, but they have to take part in the treatment. They`ve been very successful.
There have been demonstrated crime rate reductions. It`s AOT, Assisted Outpatient Treatment. This is the climb -- this is what we should be looking at, these results-oriented programs that work.
GELLER: And, the federal government must define what serious mental illness is and the majority of federal funds, mental illness funds, should be -- should go to serious mental illness. It is a child that gets absolutely no funds whatsoever.
PINSKY: People are happier when they`re intervene on behalf. Even though, they don`t want the intervention, they are happy. They are grateful for when it occurs. We have to get this through to everybody, that it`s not being cruel to somebody to help them on their behalf.
Thank you to Dr. Mehmet Oz, Truly Wigel (ph), Rita Cosby, James Fallon, Pamela Geller, Georgianna Kelman, and Lori Haas. Thank you guys so much. It`s complicated. There`s a lot we must do, but we`re going to make it. We`re going to learn from this. This will not have happened in vain.
We must, must keep our eye on this ball. This was a slaughter. It was carnage, and it cannot happen again. See you next time. Nancy.