Arizona Shooting Is Jared Loughner Girlfriend’s Fault?

Jeanne Sager
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Jared LoughnerYou don't need song lyrics to remind you love can make you go crazy. Just watch the news. Or read a history book.

There's Shelley Malil, the 40-Year-Old Virgin star who was sentenced to prison last month for stabbing his girlfriend 23 times after finding her in bed with another guy. Or Lisa Nowak, the NASA astronaut who drove 900 miles in diapers a few years ago with plans to kidnap a romantic rival. And now we might be able to add Arizona shooter Jared Lee Loughner to the list.

In one of the strangest twists in the shooting case yet, Loughner's high school girlfriend, Kelsey Hawkes, has come out to say he was normal ... until she broke up with him.

Wait a minute. Did Hawkes just say she made him crazy? Not exactly. But in speaking to the British tabloid, The Daily Mail, Hawkes indicated the break-up was a symptom:

My breaking up with him was not the cause of him going off the rails but it was definitely the start of it. Something changed in him, he was not the same person when I told him it was over. I remember his face clearly -- he just looked like he had nothing to live for. It was my first relationship and it was his first relationship .... Jared used to care about everything, his grades, school, his friends. That was when Jared was a normal person. It all stopped when we broke up.

The timeline matches up with what some other folks familiar with Loughner have said. Hawkes said they dated for a year, in 2005. And certain friends and classmates said he didn't begin to show signs of any mental imbalance until around 2006, as he was nearing adulthood. It's also a more valid argument than blaming his problems on some random punk songs he listened to.

But they were still, technically, just kids. Could puppy love really drive someone over the edge? If they're already teetering, the answer is yes.

According to statistics, 96 percent of American teenagers say that they have been emotionally and/or psychologically abused by a dating partner at some point. Typical of this kind of abuse is an extreme jealousy or possessiveness, often with one partner threatening to commit suicide if the other ends the relationship.

Explain the folks at LoveIsNotAbuse:

It’s not easy being a guy these days. Society puts all kinds of pressure on boys, right from the day they’re born. They are bombarded with messages from popular culture and sometimes from their families about how they should behave and what it means to be a man ... Some boys learn that being a real man means dominating or controlling their partner.

It isn't simply boys who can have trouble with their emotions, and studies have shown the kids who pull this sort of behavior are not necessarily from broken homes or from any particular income level or cultural background. The fact is, it simply happens to some people, and to some people it doesn't. But it's not simply "all in the head."

Neuroscientists have even produced brain scan images of people in love -- showing some people's brains had actual blood flow changes, which reflected changes in neural activity. The effect of the "love" on the brain varied dependent on length of the relationship and by person, but there was still an effect. Now throw in an already existing mental instability -- becoming more and more obvious in someone like Jared Lee Loughner -- and imagine the changes in the brain competing with one another. It seems love can indeed make you crazy.

 

Image via Splash News

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