Feeling No Pain: There's been an awful lot written over the past week about whether the Connecticut school shooter has Asperger syndrome and why no one should jump to conclusions based on vague information, and how even if he did have that diagnosis it shouldn't lead to the conclusion that Asperger's = homicidal mania, and whether parents who would even entertain that notion should ever worry about it in print with their real names attached. I've been gathering a running list of posts on those topics on my About.com site, and urge you to go and read through. It's almost as much of a contentious mess as arguments about gun control, but it's our mess.
One thing that caught my eye in all the reports about the shooter that hasn't gotten as much attention, though, is the anecdotal report that he didn't feel pain. That set my fetal-alcohol radar blinking, because that sure is something I've seen with my son, the boy who once had strep throat for a month without mentioning it and didn't really start to complain about a stomach ache until a previously undiagnosed ulcer had burst. Not that I in any way want to have my sweet, funny boy and his disability associated with mass murder ... but in the part of my brain that's ticked off every time some authority says "aw, heck, a little alcohol here and there during pregnancy won't hurt," I do wonder what would happen if anybody made a connection between prenatal alcohol exposure and this shooter the way they're so eager to do with Asperger's.
If the public had to grapple with, say, the notion that the thing that might make your baby grow up to shoot first-graders is not some roll-of-the-dice genetic disability or mental illness but something very specifically caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy, and very easily prevented by not -- would it make a difference? Would it change behavior? Would it just make people stop talking about the shooter's problems? Would we see a massive "Not Our Fault!" PR battle between the alcohol industry and the NRA? Maybe the only thing that could make Americans think seriously about giving up their guns is the alternative of having to give up alcohol for nine freakin' months.