Harold Schwartz, a Hartford psychiatrist and member of the governor’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, is unimpressed with the Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky’s report on the Newtown school massacre. 

In a piece published by the Huffington Post, Schwartz pushes back at those who say the answer to Newtown, if there is one, rests with the issue of mental health, not guns. 

“This is rife with questionable assumptions,” wrote Schwartz, the psychiatrist in chief at Hartford Hospital/Institute of Living. “By no means do all shooters have a diagnosable mental illness, for one. For those shooters who are mentally ill, the illness may be only one of many factors enabling and driving the violence, including substance abuse and dependence, isolation and social disconnectedness, impairments in the capacity for empathy, festering grievances and political fanaticism, to name a few. What’s more, our ability to predict who, amongst the mentally ill, will actually be a shooter (or exhibit other homicidal behavior) is terribly limited.”

He also adds his voice those who have noted that Sedensky left more questions unanswered than answered about the killer, Adam Lanza. Sedensky referred to significant mental health issues with Lanza.

“But we are given little of the detail that would help us to understand more about Lanza’s troubled mental state and how this conclusion was reached,” he wrote. “I wonder, as well, where did this diagnosis and these descriptions come from? Who assessed Lanza, at what points in his life? What were the conclusions and recommendations – made by whom, and delivered to whom? Did anything come of these? What, if any, were the opportunities for intervention and prevention that were there — and missed?”


Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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