Asperger’s Disorder and Violence

Fred Volkmar, M.D., director of the Yale Child Study Center offers a statement on the recent school shootings and the mental health issues it has raised.

Following the recent horrific events here in Connecticut, there has been much speculation about the relationship of mental health problems and violence. Only with time and further investigation will we know all the facts about this case.

Asperger’s disorder has been much discussed in this context. The issues are complex because the literature on this issue is quite limited. Frequently, the concept is used in an overly broad and imprecise way, and, finally, young adulthood is a frequent time to have other serious mental health problems emerge. In our experience individuals with Asperger’s tend to be much more frequently victims rather than victimizers.

The sad events of last week should be used to help all of us reflect on the obvious issues of guns and violence in our society, as well as questions about better ways to provide mental health support to educators and primary care providers. 

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