Loughner’s Shooting Spree; Williams’s Homicides
Canadians were horrified when it was revealed that a top military leader, former Commander Russell Williams, was guilty of the murder of two women. In the reporting prior to his trial his mental condition was not emphasized, nor was his military training, nor was his cornucopia of medications. The shooting spree of a non-military man much younger than Williams, Jared Loughner, brings “mental instability” into the news again this weekend for having gravely injured a US Senator, killed a federal judge and five other people, and wounding perhaps a dozen others. Notably absent from the reporting is the young man’s self-concept as a “terrorist against terrorists,” although a trail of “vaguely violent” maundering on the Internet attests to the unravelling of his rationality.
There is not much inherently stable about the human brain. It is held in the state we call “sanity,” which is the dominance of the left cerebral hemisphere over the right, by the activity of the smallest muscle in the body, the stapedius muscle, which is part of the mechanism of hearing in the right middle ear. Most people do not know that. Most doctors and psychiatrists do not know that. I know that because my son lost his sanity and I eventually figured out how and why and how to cure it.
Most people are born with a propensity towards right lateralization via a functional right ear that keeps the left brain dominant. The maturation and socialization process reinforces the dominance of the left brain through language networks that ensure rational use of language, including of the belief system, and of self-control. Dysfunction in the right ear—usually through chemical or viral or other kinds of assaults on the right ear, but also through genetic impairments of the ear—compromise the language structures, i.e., mental stability. It is not mere coincidence that Loughner’s Internet language had become ungrammatical and that he himself noted the shifting of his concepts of grammar paralleled by increasingly bizarre beliefs, for example, about the US monetary system.
Usually, the left ear takes over when the right ear is damaged, but it produces a relatively less stable form of left-dominance. (Schizophrenia is associated with left-handedness.) The level of socializing of a left-lateralized person may tend to offset that instability, for example, US Pres. Obama, but apparently not so much so US Pres. Clinton (judging from his much publicized sexual behaviour). When what Tomatis called “flip-flopping” laterality occurs, that is, non-laterality that alternates between left and right brain resurgence, the mild condition is called dyslexia and the most severe condition is called schizophrenia. Tens of thousands of children have been healed of dyslexia at Tomatis Method and Bérard AIT centres; as such places do not treat schizophrenics I had to improvise a listening intervention for our son at home.
The foundational neurological science pertaining to the ear was described by Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis, a French otolaryngologist who was decorated by the French government for his discoveries concerning the ear and the voice (The Tomatis Effect, 1957). While he was certain that severely aberrant behaviour (what we usually call “mental illness” of “mental instability”) was related to ear function, he became distracted from his neurological science by psychiatric theory. My research surrounding our son’s diagnosed schizophrenia builds on and corrects Tomatis’s work. During our son’s long episodes of psychosis I noticed aspects of his behaviour and especially his ungrammatical use of language that through research I became able to describe as losses of left-brain dominance. Left dominance is essential to normal integration of the cerebral hemispheres. During psychosis he was in a condition of such low hemispheric integration he was approaching that of the dual-brain patient where the bridge between the hemispheres, the corpus callosum, has been severed surgically. As neuroleptic medications further damage the stapedius muscle it is fortunate that he did not continue on medication between psychotic episodes.
By analyzing his language I explicated the very low level of integration between his two hemispheres, which normally have disparate functions. During psychosis those differences erode as the left brain becomes progressively more like the right brain (the right ear can no longer organize the perceptions of the other senses in the temporal lobe) in the looseness of its associations between perceptions and its decreasing ability to take deliberate action and the increasing likelihood of acting spontaneously and irrationally. Loughner and Williams killed when they were in an intermediate stage of deterioration where they retained some capacity for deliberate action despite their psychotic inability to reason, in Williams’s case probably because military training instils some kinds of behaviour in procedural memory. It is highly likely Williams’s psychosis was induced by his medication prednisone, which is known to induce at least the bipolar level of ear/brain dysfunction. It is a disservice to the public that his other medications were not made public.
The application of high-frequency sound to our son’s right ear that reactivated the damaged stapedius muscle also gradually reduced his symptoms. During his recovery he passed through phases of improving right ear function, i.e., of decreasing schizophrenia, then bipolarity (first with, then without, hallucinations), obsessive compulsive behaviour, depression, and dyslexia before attaining normal hemispheric integration. Since he learned how to protect and take care of his ears (late 2008), he has been able to maintain his own mental health and has had no signs of schizophrenia for over two years, although he still has some addictive behaviours (e.g., tobacco). Our son has never been trained to kill people as was Williams nor taught to think terrorism is justifiable even against terrorists, which is one aspect of US policy that may have influenced Loughner. Our son was raised as a pacifist, which no doubt significantly influenced the nature of his behaviour during psychosis, but is certainly not a guarantee of non-violence during psychosis.
The charting of specific audio-processing deficits that define particular phases in the spectrum of mental disorder was begun most notably by Tomatis’s colleague Dr. Guy Bérard for suicidal depression. Bérard tested the ears of 235 of his patients who were suicidally depressed and found the “2-8” profile that characterized their condition. That is, they had audio-processing deficits at 2 and 8 kHz (2,000 and 8,000 Hertz) in either ear (unfortunately, he does not specify laterality). He cured 97.7% of them, most of them within two weeks, by exposing their deficient ear to electronically filtered music for about an hour and a half or two hours every day. He noted that moderate depression also has a characteristic profile: 1.5 and 8 kHz; and that mild depression is characterized by deficits at 1 and 8 kHz.
I have no doubt that characteristic profiles for all forms of ear-related aberrant behaviour will be determined. Unfortunately, that will not solve the problem of a culture that socializes some people to kill other people and makes weapons easily available for them to do so. The report of Paul Korning for Toronto’s Globe and Mail most reasonably draws attention to Sarah Palin’s website for having shown a picture of Gabrielle Gifford in the cross-hairs of a gun sight. Such irresponsible behaviour on the part of one politician does not tend to ensure the safety of fellow politicians or of anyone else. A person in the state of hemispheric dysfunction of Jared Loughner doubtless would be nudged in the direction of homicide by such an image.