CLEARWATER, Fla. – After recent weeks punctuated by acts of cold-blooded violence, many have rushed to blame the massacres on mental illness. But experts say, in most cases, that's not the reality.
"The statistics show that where mental illness and violence come together is that people with mental illness are the victims of violence,” said Gail Ryder, vice president of behavioral health for the BayCare Health System, adding that the people who commit mass shootings and attack the police most often don't qualify as mentally ill.
“People with a mental illness aren’t the ones, in the large numbers, committing these acts,” said Ryder. "There are people in the world who are bad people, who just don't know right from wrong, it doesn't make them mentally ill."
Dr. Michael Stone, author of the book "The Anatomy of Evil" and an expert on mass murder, agreed, saying people who commit acts like these are sociopaths which, technically, doesn’t fit the definition of a mental illness.
"That's really a brand of mass murder that's usually carried out by disgruntled, disaffected men. Mass murder is almost entirely a male phenomenon,” said Stone in a phone interview from his office at Columbia University in New York City. “When a mentally ill person commits an evil act we try to treat that with putting the person in a forensic hospital and treating him with the proper medication and therapy.”
Sociopaths, on the other hand, can’t be treated in the same way, according to both Ryder and Stone.