Addiction in Society

Addiction—the thematic malady for our society—entails every type of psychological and societal problem

Did the NIH Fund the Aurora Killer?

Has the NIH caused more misery than it solves?

Investigators have wondered how the Aurora shooter, James Holmes, was able to afford the 6,000 rounds of ammunition he purchased online, along with four guns (including a semi-automatic rifle) he bought at local stores, in the months prior to murdering 12 people and wounding innumerable others. According to the New York Times,

Mr. Holmes might have paid for the weapons and other materials he acquired. He was receiving a $26,000 stipend, in monthly installments of $2,166, for a National Institutes of Health neuroscience training grant for the graduate program he was enrolled in at the University of Colorado-Denver Anschutz Medical Campus.

Naturally, we may wonder about the clearance process for NIH grant recipients (particularly in the mental health field).  We might further wonder whether Mr. Holmes was seeking solace and answers for his own torment by studying neuroscience. According to the New York Times,

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Before dropping out he took a class that explored the biological origins of psychiatric and neurological disorders, and was scheduled to give a presentation on “MicroRNA Biomarkers,” according to a class schedule published online. The topic appears to demonstrate an interest in the genetic basis of mental illness.

Perhaps Mr. Holmes believed whatever feelings he was having were anchored in his DNA, and couldn't be rooted out—that perhaps he was destined to act out.

Neuroscience research and theory can't be blamed for Mr. Holmes violent, anguished and anguishing violence.  But it certainly wasn't capable of preventing it, even for a person intensely interested in what the neuroscience of mental illness has to tell us.

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Stanton Peele, PhD, JD, is the author of Recover! He has been a pioneer in the addiction field since publication of Love and Addiction in 1975.

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