What If You Were The Mother Of James Holmes?

I couldn’t help myself. I had to watch the footage of James Holmes’ appearance in court today. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.  He’s got the look I’ve seen many times in inpatient psychiatric hospitals except that he’s not in the hospital. He’s in jail. Where he belongs, I might add. It is clear he is on some pretty strong psychotropic medications. At one point, he even nods off.

I know most people are thinking: Who is this guy? What makes someone do what he did? What the hell is wrong with him? What was he thinking?

However, the question I kept asking myself over and over again as I watched is: Who is James Holmes mother? Obviously, I know who she is. Her name is Arlene Holmes and she lives in my state. But I want to know what she is thinking. What is she feeling? Was she in court today? Does she support her son? Is she the one he calls from jail when he gets his phone calls?

And the most important question I’m asking: Did she create this monster?  Was she a horrible mother? Was she terribly abusive? How did she bring him up? Did she create a psychotic killer?

We want to believe that there is a simple cause and effect relationship for creating a person who is capable of such a horrible and incomprehensible tragedy. But as I’ve said previously, evil doesn’t have an explanation.

What if his mother is just like me? What if she was a great mother who provided James Holmes with everything he needed to be a healthy, happy, and well adjusted individual in the world? What if she loved him with all of her heart and tucked him into bed every night? Attended each one of his important events throughout his life and took lots of pictures that she proudly posted on Facebook?

You might say that the description above could never happen. A monster like this has to originate from somewhere. His parents have to be monsters themselves, right? Well, this isn’t always the case.

I remember my first year in my doctorate program when I started working in an inpatient psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents. I met my first sociopath there. He was 5. He made my skin crawl and turned my stomach just sitting in the same room with him. I still remember his name because from our very first assessment session I knew if he wasn’t locked up that I would read about him in the news.  He was on his fourth inpatient hospitalization. He’d been under psychiatric care since he was three. He had a long history of hurting animals, cutting his newborn sister with a knife to “see the blood”, and burning down his grandmother’s house. On purpose. What prompted his most recent hospitalization? His parents had gotten him a dog to help him bond. They gave him the puppy and he acted quite pleased. Two minutes later they heard the dog squeal and ran in to see what had happened. The boy had proceeded to snap each one of the puppies legs.

I met his parents. They were wonderful. They were amazing parents who loved their son dearly. They had been getting him help ever since they had noticed he was having problems. They still were willing to do whatever they could to help him. And they were DEVASTATED. Beyond devastated at who their son was.

It can happen. Perfectly loving, well intentioned parents can have a child who grows up to do terrible things. And as a mother of a boy, I can’t help wondering what would I do? What would I do if James Holmes was my son? Would I walk away? Never look back? Refuse to answer phone calls? Would I show up in court? Fund his defense? I don’t know. What an awful decision for a mother to have to make.

I want to be clear that I’m not looking for sympathy for James Holmes. He doesn’t deserve any even if he is mentally ill. I’m thinking about his mother. And I really want to know what would you do if you were James Holmes’ mother?



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74 Responses to What If You Were The Mother Of James Holmes?

  1. Diane says:

    I’d do a lot of praying.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Diane.

    • Richard D. Hardesty says:

      I just wanted to say, I have a brother that is a paranoid schizophrinic. not sure the spelling is correct. my mother has suffered with many ups and downs with him as has the whole family, since I was very young. I hate how everyone blames the family, because now days, you can not have someone committed. I have more to say, but that’s enough for tonight.

  2. Well said and it may be your training and experience that allows you to conclude with confidence that an evil person who does evil things is not necessarily the product of (horribly) poor parenting. One premise of Our Child, Not Yours (plug: please visit our Facebook page) is that parents do not always control the outcome of their children, as much as good parents work hard to ensure their child is healthy, happy and productive as adults. We all parent differently and there is no right way and few wrong ways (so long as not hurting a child and providing for that child).

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, David. I’ve seen lots of great parents with children who have made horrible decisions. Ultimately, we can’t control the acts of our children no matter how much we may want to. And yes, I’ll visit the site:)

  3. skbnvacaville says:

    I’d die.

    I don’t think I could stop crying for a long, long time.

    And he would be in my prayers every second.

    How does a mother EVER get over this.

    Do you know what it was like for Ted Bundy’s mother? It would be like that, poor soul.

    The anguish would be UNDESCRIBABLE.

  4. Carol says:

    I have a masters in counseling, but am not practicing in that field. When I was in school, I read a book called something like Children Without a Conscience and it talked about the bonding process and how it is thought to take place between infant and caretaker. As I read about it, I realized it could be so easy for that bonding not to happen. I thought of a mother in a difficult marriage who had 3 kids in close succession and now pregnant with another one. The baby’s born, the 3 older ones are bouncing around the room and the mother puts the baby in a baby holder and props the bottle or sits there holding it, but not looking at the baby while she’s trying to deal with the other three – then that happens too often and the baby doesn’t bond. Mom isn’t a cruel person. Maybe add to that she has post partem depression. So it doesn’t appear to always be the result of a cruel childhood.

    I don’t think Holmes is a psychopalth. They like staying out of trouble. They are known for doing things on a smaller scale, like killing one by one – in private. Slowly developing a taste for it with repeated experience. Not walking into a crowd in front of everyone and starting shooting.

    Most likely, he has schizophrenia, which can start in the late teens. At a camp where he was a counselor at 18, he talked about being involved with “temporal illusion,” and being able to change the past and that he was working on it. I don’t think he was joking around about it. It also sounds like delusional disorder with perhaps a mix of paranoia and grandiosity, but I thought that developed later in life. At any rate, there’s no question that he is ill.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Carol. Your bring up a good point about schizophrenia. However, most individuals with schizophrenia are not violent. Most would not have the cognitive ability to carry out a plan that was this meticulous. Yet again, he was clearly a very smart individual. I would like to be able to read the psychological reports that his treatment team will be writing.

      • Carol says:

        Well, sadly, it does happen – people with schizophrenia killing others – though thankfully rare. If you put “schizophrenics who kill” in Google, you can read about the famous cases. Famous incidents make it feel as though it can happen to us. If this illness or a closely related one is true of this shooter, I guess the real issue is who is helping monitor their meds. That’s as important as the availability of gun. It always seems that these things happen because they are free to manage their own health, which they really can’t. Or had this young man not gotten help and when the voices in his head became too loud, he had to withdraw from school and follow them? Time will hopefully tell. His actions stirred the most basic childhood fear in all of us, that a monster is going to come out from under the the bed or from the closet in the dark and get us.

        But back to your topic of thinking of his mother (or parents), and also people who talk of this being evil, the sadness begins with the shooter himself, that this happened to him, most likely out of his control, that he got an illness that was going to take his life from him and from his family in one way or another, and that he became such a great danger to others. Regardless of what the mental illness is, it is there. His parents had to know something was amiss with their child and are grieving over his loss with all of the others – and what his illness has done to their family and it’s chance at happiness and it’s reputation. It will be with them everyday for the rest of there lives.

        I have a son with Aspergers, now 35. When he was young, there was no Aspergers diagnosis. I put him in Montesori at 3 because he could read by then and didn’t fit in with neighborhood kids. At school, under the pressure to be social, his behaviors became exaggerated and they thought I was abusing him at home. I offered to volunteer at the school because there was a balcony above his room where I could see what was going on (because he wasn’t acting like that at home) and in the process, they learned that I was a pretty okay and loving mom. But for a while I certainly tasted what it was like to have fingers pointed at me about my son’s disorder. Back in those days, it was felt that autism was somehow caused by the parenting. So I do know that it is possible that this shooter has a disorder that was not caused by cruelty or bad parenting at home and that they can be grieving like any other normal parent. Already they’ve had to go through a misconstrued comment from his mother, “Yes you have the right person” to mean a comment about her son. What was really said was when asked is she was (I think) Arlene Holmes, she said, “Yes you have the right person.” Meaning herself. The press is brutal and adds to our turning into a modern day lynch mob.

        • Julie says:

          I read the same conflicting comments. It’s sad that she has to defend herself and her own actions and words along with the trauma of what happened to her son and all the other victims (I’m not saying she’s defending her son- just that she’s dealing with it). I can’t even begin to imagine how hard this is on her. Nothing that I read points to bad parenting, but I’m sure she’s going to get it from all angles. It’s nice that there are blogs like this one that focus on the finer points and bring all aspects of tragedy to light. It also allows others like you to share your stories and in lots of little ways, we can all grieve together. I lived in Aurora when I was younger and for some strange reason, it brings this all a little closer to home for me- even though it’s been years since I lived there.

        • Mommy Psychologist says:

          Thanks, Carol. I can’t imagine what you went through because you are right. It wasn’t very long ago that everyone believed autism and those on the spectrum such as your son were that way because of “refrigerator mothers.” It has taken the field along time to negate this myth.

    • Lee Ann says:

      I was married to a psychopath, and helped him raise his two (diagnosed by a psych eval) daughters for 9 years. They can be so sweet when they are wining and dining you for what they want. After we were married 5 years, he told me that he had killed a man once when he was drunk,and didn’t remember why he killed him. He had put his first wife iin the hospital when he punched her twice in the mouth, and all of us enablers always take them back. Until we get tired of enabling, then we get out and run. I still have dreams that my stepdaughters get off the bus, they smile, and show me the butcher knife they have behind their back. they don’t know where I live and I am glad. There is a vast difference between someone that is psychotic and someone that is a psychopath.

  5. Rhonda Williams says:

    I am the mother of 3 children. (31, 28, 21) Their dad and I were high school sweethearts and married for 17 years. We divorced when my youngest was 3. We remained great friends and worked extremely hard to keep things as stable as possible.
    My oldest child killed himself this past Christmas eve. It was devastating. I knew he had issues and his dad and I were trying so hard to work with him.
    We would have done anything in the world for him. We realized after a certain period of time, there was NOTHING we could do.
    I was always terrified that he would hurt someone else (NOT INTENTIONALLY) He had a heart of gold… I was just scared he would be in his car high or drunk and be in an accident.
    We begged and pleaded and even got him in a rehab at one point and time.
    He had so many people that loved him. He had a great support system.. but he was just convinced his life was meaningless.

    Last summer he was at a restaurant with his new work partner. They left (in separate cars) to go home. My son was behind his friend. A driver from the other lane crossed over (had a seizure) and hit the friend head on. It killed him. He had a family.
    My son could not overcome this. His life hit rock bottom. As I mentioned earlier , we tried everything….. begging, helping, threatening…. NOTHING helped. He was 31 years old.
    We were actually planning to have him legally committed as soon as the holidays were over.
    We never got the chance.

    It is awful to blame parents for a childs behavior. I am sure there will be situations where it may be a direct consequence… but, after the age of ? 10? maybe earlier.. a child has their own set of values and rules. They will ‘obey’ a parent figure because of the rules set up, but they turn into the adults they choose , on their own.

    I think a million ‘what ifs’ with my son. But, ultimately, I am sure I did all I possibly could to help him.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Rhonda. First, I’m so sorry for your own loss. The sad and tragic truth that you have shared with your experience is our inability to control our children’s behaviors. We can guide them and help them, but as adults, we have very little control.

  6. Julie says:

    I don’t know who Holmes mother is but I did read one news article that had a couple quotes from her. I don’t remember where the article was otherwise I would provide a link and exact quotes. What I remember was her saying that she woke up that morning with a sick feeling in her stomach. The Aurora police had not yet contacted her. She turned on the news and that’s how she found out about what had happened and that her son was in custody. She said her first thought was, “They have the right person.” And continued to say she needed to call the police and then get on the first plane from CA to Aurora. So, I would assume she was there in the courtroom with her son. It sounds like she knew that he was having problems. Mental, social, physical, whatever they may be, she knew. It’s sad to know that we all can’t protect our children all the time, especially after they grow up. But just from that short blurb, it sounds like she will be there by his side through this, in whatever way she can.

    I don’t know how I would feel if my child turned into a monster such as this. Devastated doesn’t really seem to cover it, though. It would go much, much deeper than that.

    • Julie says:

      I just read another article claiming that was a misquote. Either way, it still says that her heart goes out to the victims and that she stands behind her son.

    • Lee Ann says:

      I read on MSNBC that she stayed home in the house, and her husband took a flight to Denver. so he is there in the courtroom, I am sure.

  7. Robyn says:

    Here is my two cents worth…. as a parent, yes I would stand by my child as well. A true mother’s connection to her child is stronger than anything in the world. It is an instinct. Do you have to agree or be angry at that child, yes of course. This case is no different- remember she didn’t raise a monster…. I am sure of it.Everyone is always looking to put the blame on someone else for someone’s actions. Most women are good mothers and would be devastated as I am sure she is-but a mother (a good mother) will stand by their child. Most women would probably pick their child over the spouse anyways- have you seen the divorce numbers? It is just not the same thing here with a child- you don’t turn your back on them. As far as the punishment goes that is up to the jury and courts to make that decision- it’s fair game. I would use my faith to get me by and let God’s will be what it may. And I would let my son know that I loved him no matter what the outcome and privately grieve my pain either through church or counseling.

  8. Bob says:

    I had the same feelings you did seeing that boy in the court room. I knew a student in school whose main goal in life was perfect grades. He was very smart but not outgoing with other students. When he didn’t have a perfect exam grade he would go to the Men’s Room, fill the sink with water and attempt to drown himself in the sink. I don’t know if this reaction was the fault of his parents but I do know that he needed some special help before attempting a career, even with his “Good Grade” skills at school. He was very smart but had some real problems dealing with the realities of life. James may be in the same situation. This is a very sad outcome.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Bob. Or he may also be one of those individuals who “peaked” in high school and once in the real adult world didn’t know how to make his way through it. No matter what- it’s tragic.

  9. Rach says:

    Heartbroken. I’d be utterly heartbroken. I’d still love my child, but oh, how could you stand what he did?

  10. Rae says:

    First, I would cry. Then I would go into seclusion and I would pray. All the while I would be wondering what I might have done wrong to cause this horrible thing to happen. Would I still love him? You bet I would.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Rae. I’m sure every mother out there would be asking the same question you mentioned.

  11. nancy says:

    Although in the coming months he will be ‘tagged’ with many titles and observed doing nothing more than brushing his teeth, there will be those of the media who will portray him as a lunitic or with some sort of mental condition which would fit more to the actions he took before and after the murders. Remember this man was finishing up on a PhD and was in control of some of his emotions and bodily functions with the actual ‘event’ climaxing into something no one wanted or thought could happen. The one realization I would like to get across is that the parents are not at fault so quit blaming mommy for a terrible childhood, just doesn’t wash any more. Something changed in his pattern of mental behavior leading this man down a dark dismal road of hate, confusion and murder. We are not meant to understand what went through his mind nor are there many who would. I will not ‘feel’ sorrow for Mr. Holmes but rather the families of the murdered and still suffering individuals; I would rather want to know when he slipped into his delusions and quit being James Holmes the doctor to be and became the man who bought an arsenal of weapons to keep others away. My sorrow and prayers go out to the many people harmed and murdered and my sorrow also to a confused and hurting family searching for answers where there may be none.

  12. Lina says:

    As a Mom, I can not even imagine how she is feeling because it’s just a horrible, horrible act that her son did. I know what it feels like to be by your son at their worst time, but this kind of act is just unthinkable. My 21 years old son has overcome a lot of obstacles. Between 15 to 18 years old my son attempted suicide twice, went through drug rehab, didn’t graduate high school, got in many fights because he has a horrible temper and was hospitalized for depression, but underneath everything I’ve always known he has a huge heart. I’m very lucky that he eventually saw that life is really what we make it out to be. My son has told me many times that he is very thankful that I’ve always stood by his side because that showed him someone really does care. Being a Mom and as horrible as this act is, I know I would still stand by my son no matter what, but it would be incredibly hard because of all the families this guy has distoryed….No matter how we look at this act, it’s just very, very sad for everyone involved. My heart goes out to his Mom and all the families.

  13. Steven says:

    I’m not a mother, I was a very, very neglected and sexually abused as a child. As a young adult I used acid and pot, after that I met my future wife, a quadriplegic woman with Spinal Muscular Atrophy when I was 23 and was with her 20 years, I got a full time job and was also her full time caretaker, we had a son together against doctors recommendations, joined a church, we even became foster parents to 25 children about 3 to 5 at a time. Today and for the last 14 years I have lived with and cared for another disabled lady-friend. My heart breaks for less fortunate people. I think I turned out pretty good, I’ve even been called a saint by some. Do I credit or blame my mother for that? She did give me life, but she had no idea of how to raise a child. My best friend for all my high school years who also was the one to introduce me to acid eventually went to prison for life after making some 70 child porn flicks with his wife and her very young children, he just last year died in prison, and his mother, sister and brother still love him. It hurt me to see him go that way. As I remember, they had a good Christian family and he grew up in a very nice neighborhood. By the way, my own father was a Psychiatrist who also had a medical practice and at the time he was also the youngest doctor in California an Osteopath, but he ran away with his office nurse when I was 5, I never knew him except for his writings about mental health he wrote in a column back in the late 40’s. I hope my ramblings help you.

  14. Mama Bear says:

    I would feel deep shame if anyone in my family did such a thing. Whether anyone is blamed or not, we are bound together by fate or biology or love. True love can be so bittersweet.
    I think to have such a child might be a loss worse than a death in the family because the grief and fear and sense of hopelessness would be unending. I say that having lost loved ones both to death and to mental illness.
    You’re right, most parents do our imperfect best and then we have to accept that our grown children are adults, responsible for their own decisions.

  15. amber says:

    I watched part of the trial this morning with my coffee and I found the dazed, nodding off as an over dramatic act. Something about it struck me as an act…His behavior in the courtroom is part of his defense, he is going to plead insanity. I personally would have a hard time standing behind him if he was my son.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Amber. I honestly have no idea what I would do. I do know that I wouldn’t spend one dime supporting his defense.

  16. Natalie says:

    It’s hard to imagine how she must feel being his mother :( I am so sad for her…. I being a parent of 3 children i could never imagine them doing something like this, but if they were to have some sort of mental break or had some sort of un-diagnosed mental sickness i guess things can happen :( I feel sadness and if he were my child i would be there for him to love and help him any way i can because he is still her child regardless of what happened. However i would try and make a positive out of this negative and maybe set up a fund raiser for the victims families and definitely try and meet with them one on one to apologize when and if they would allow me to. I just hope for her sake it was something mental and not something of hate because such hate could destroy her along with these families already destroyed :(

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Natalie. I like your idea of creating a fund raiser for the victims’ families or to help create awareness about mental illness.

  17. MomOfTwo says:

    What would I do if I were Arlene Holmes?
    I’d be horrified by my sons actions, I’d blame myself , I’d go through the millions of “What If’s,” I’d cry and offer a public apology on behalf of our family- although I would know deep down that it’s not my fault, I’d seek counseling and try to come to terms with my child’s choices, I’d try to become reclusive and avoid the teeth-baring media- but most of all, I’d continue to love my child unconditionally, as we mothers are meant to.
    “Like” and “Love” are two very different things…

  18. denise Garnett says:

    If I were his mom, I know I would be in a great deal of emotional pain right now for starters. I would stand by him in the sense of ensuring he got a fair trial, not in the sense of defending his actions.
    Like some other poster’s said, I am a mom of two special needs children, as well as have significant mental illness in my family of origin that was only recognized later in life, and I will tell you it changes your perspective on everything. Namely it changes how you look at these “different” people… There’s nothing real overt, just some little odd things here and there… but when you add them all up it looks a whole lot different.
    Mental illness in this country is still so unrecognized and stigmatized, which is unfortunate, as there is good, quality help for these people. We were fortunate with our children in that I had studied psychology in college and worked with the Austim spectrum population while there. I can’t count the number of times I was told by pediatricians that I was overreacting, that “she’ll grow out of it,” “kids mature at different rates,” etc. etc. My point is that perhaps this is James Holmes mother too… Maybe she suspected something was wrong all along, but got the run around enough times she began to lose trust in her own motherly instinct and began to believe them. This is not meant as a criticism- it’s hard to step outside the lines and demand what you need for your child, to demand your opinion be recognized…It wasn’t easy for me, and still isn’t, and I’m pretty stubborn and opinionated, and don’t generally have too much trouble questioning authority. Not everyone is like that though, and that’s ok… Let those of us who are willing and able to advocate strongly help those who feel they cannot.
    If I were James Holmes’ mother, if indeed it turns out that he’s mentally ill (which I can’t imagine he isn’t), I’d spend the rest of my living days advocating for the mentally ill in some form or fashion- to bring awareness to the fact that high intelligence and mental illness often coexist….in a waayy oversimplified terms- all that intelligence doesn’t leave much room for common sense it seems sometimes.

    Denise G.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Denise. I honestly don’t know what I’d do. Someone above mentioned creating a fund for increasing awareness for mental illness and I think that’s a great idea.

  19. Michelle says:

    Wow, I’m surprised by how many people say they would stand by their child if he/she did something like this. Someone said that they would do anything for their child, they would choose their child over their spouse. This is not a healthy relationship with your child if you would choose them over your spouse. The child has to know his place. This is a huge problem in our society…children aren’t being taught their place. Parent’s worlds are revolving around them and they’re turning into narcissistic, selfish people. If my child did something like this (and did not have a brain tumor, etc.) I would publicly state that my child has become a selfish shadow of a man and his appauling, disgusting crime cries out for justice from heaven. I would not show him any mercy until he fully repented of his atrocious crimes and made every attempt at whatever reparations are humanly possible in this life.

  20. Rachel Perez says:

    I think she should kill herself (that would be the honorable thing to do)-she communicates with an aggressive “cocky” tone instead of a conveying her countenance with shameful humility as the mother of a calculating evil murderer. This monster son of hers is a methodical killer that planned this event for months,studied psychotic disorders in neuroscience, and probably rehearsed this supposed “mental state” for the media show. If people want to buy into his act that he mentally ill rather than simply evil that’s their prerogative however we should BE MAD not sad about the sequence of coddling treatment this person is receiving and push forward with the demise of this individual within the month instead of the 15 to 20 years from now if he is convicted. This is outrageous!

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Rachel. I appreciate your opinion and understand your outrage. However, I don’t think she should commit suicide as you suggested. She doesn’t deserve to lose her own life over the horrible actions of her son.

  21. Holly Birkeland says:

    I live in Canada and I can’t understand the dichotomy of gun laws versus other forbidden objects. AK-47’s? Legal. Kinder Surprise Eggs? Illegal due to choking hazard. Anybody who produces, sells, or distributes guns are the truly evil ones. I wonder how the owner of the gun stores that sold weaponry to a young debt ridden student would feel if one of their children was shot up in that theatre? Was James Holmes in the army? Was he in the police force? Was he a security guard? No he’s a brilliant student that needs thousands of dollars worth of weaponry. Riiiiigght.

  22. Mommy Psychologist says:

    Thanks, Holly.

  23. SarahW says:

    Watch her mouth with the volume off during her public statement. The repeated tics around the mouth are reminiscent of tardive dyskinesia, a condition caused by certain pharmaceuticals, including neuroleptics. Does she have a psychiatric history of her own? If so, the chances that her son is an affected individual go up.

  24. Professor M.M. says:

    I’m not a mother, but I am a human being. Our fundamental brain makeup is ‘wired’ in such a way that it is nearly impossible for a (sane, good) mother to simply quit loving their child under any circumstance. This crime is absolutely appalling and should be treated as such, but of course, one cannot expect a mother to stop loving their own flesh and blood, the fetus that grew in her womb, the child whose hand they held, even though it is plain to see that he is not the man he should have turned out to be, through whatever malfunction caused it. I’m sure she saw warning signs along the way, but what kind of mother would suspect their child of planning a mass murder? I’ll bet with his intelligence and knowledge of psychaitry, he hid his true nature for as long as he needed until he accomplished his deranged ‘goal.’ Perhaps, as some speculate, he does have Antisocial Personality Disorder, psychopathy/sociopathy in laymen’s terms. If this is the case, most if not all of sociopaths are very skilled at appearing normal and often have above-average intelligence. This, or anything else speculated could not in any way excuse this, as it is absolutely dispicable, but it does cause one to ask the question, ‘What would I do if it were my child?’ I don’t believe any of us could answer this truthfully, as it has not happened to us.
    I cannot begin to imagine the horrors the victims and their families are living with and hope sincerely that they someday find peace.
    In reguards to the comment of a fund for the victims, they’ve already established one that’s reached over $2 million, abeit no amount of money could ever erase the pain.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, M.M. I’m glad to hear they have set up a fund for the victims.

    • Mama Bear says:

      I really like what you’ve said, M.M. We mothers helplessly love our children, for better or worse. It would be nice for that to be accepted or even embraced by our society as a given, instead of mothers being judged for that.
      I think intelligence can probably be used to compensate for or cover up certain mental disorders until the person just gets overwhelmed. It also makes it hard to swallow one’s pride and seek help, I’ve observed.

  25. Lee Ann says:

    I just realized, reading through these responses that my life has been a giant psychological joke on me. In 1970 I married a man who had significant mental illness in his family. And I even discussed with a therapist marrying this man because I was afraid it was hereditary. In 1970, the main idea was the schizophrenicgenic Mother. that children learn through their environment. so I married the guy, had two children, got divorced etc. Well, the oldest girl, was always different. IQ of about 240, taught herself to read at 18 months old, read at third year of college in the second grade. She became psychotic, saw talking ducks around her, started failing in school, she had moved in with her Dad, and with his fear of her catching his crazy family’s problems, he couldn’t handle it, she got worse and worse. it was a mess. And I couldn’t get her back, because she was telling people that men in her life were molesting her, including my ex and my present husband. Which she told me years later was all a lie becasue she was so miserable. so I have had my difficulties with my very smart, very schizoaffective daughter, who actually gets EST because the antidepressants don’t work so well.
    Then I married a man, they are not related, who became psychotic at 36, was put on stelazine and prozac. Well the prozac kicked in before the stelazine, in 1987. So he walked 6 miles in a blizzard to rob our bank with a .357. Caught by the cops walking home, put in a suicide watch cell for 3 months, found innocent due to disease or defect, and placed on medical probation for five years. In the next 5 years, he was in the hospital 14 times. I know the sick pit of your stomach, weakness, wanting to just fall down and give up. You haven’t lived until you have heard ALL DAY LONG, ‘”Local man robs bank. More at eleven.” People driving by the house and pointing, going to the grocery store in this little town, staying home with a clearly psychotic man who is convinced that the govt. placed a transistor in him at birth because………he is bionic and they don’t want to lose him. The newspapers aren’t real, they were printed by the govt. The Osage oranges on the bushes aren’t real, they were taped on there by the govt. The microwave towers are listening to everything we say. And if you try to talk him out of his crazies, he just adds your logic into his craziness and ads to the story.

    I’m tired of typing, i could tell you about the psychopath I married after leaving this guy. And helping to raise his two antisocial personality disordered daughters, who liked to drown things (kittens, chicks, rooster, etc. ) I really fear for their children. There is a line that none of us want to cross. doing everything we can for our children, while maintaining our own heart and brain. I can remember sitting in the bathroom at home, and thinking I should just take that hairbrush and scratch the bristles all over me, my arms, my legs, my pubic area, my butt, my face. I guess that was my cutting. I never thought of that one. LOL.

    • Mama Bear says:

      Gee, I think I know what you mean, I have an older sibling with a pretty severe mental illness and my sense of normalcy is certainly broad. A lot of stuff people fuss about seems petty. I hope you’ve found a peaceful life now.

    • Professor M.M. says:

      Firstly, I’m sorry to hear of your struggles, Lee Ann. I can sympathize with you somewhat on the matter; I was married in my late teens to a man I’d been with for 5 years, who, upon returning from Iraq and losing his father, also lost the last shreds of sanity he’d been holding onto.
      Also, concerning your daughter, I have a rather high IQ, myself. It does lead one to wonder the correlations between genius and insanity. Some with abnormally high intelligence are completely ‘normal,’ others utterly lost, and of course a middle ground. I remember reading a while back that the population with IQ’s above the 3rd percentile have a much higher rate of mental illness than the general population, and it seems the higher the intelligence, the more likely it is. This causes me to think, ‘why some and not others?’ but I think that’s a question one could ask about anyone with mental illness.
      I’m in full agreement with Mama Bear, hoping you’ve found peace. You definitely deserve it; it takes nearly unimaginable strength to help a loved one with a mental illness.

  26. Lee Ann says:

    I guess Dylan Klebold’s Mother wrote a book, about her thoughts on the Columbine shootings, and his childhood, and what she did wrong, or right, and why she didn’t see this coming. You can love a child so much that you will do anything to help that child. I knew a man once whose only child, a son, at 18 years old, killed three people in a break in of a home. The pain would be horrible. And every weekend, he went to the prison to visit. I don’t know which would be worse, going to see him, or not going to see him. He said he would visit his son every weekend until he was dead. Its very sad. and it happens.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Lee Ann. I didn’t know she had written a book. I might have to check it out.

  27. minicoopsmom says:

    Shhh. Don’t burst my bubble. I want to believe that evil begets evil and it doesn’t come from good parents. I want to know that there is a reason for senseless acts like this. That something could have been done to prevent this. I want to have someone to blame. Its so much easier than having random occurrences.

    But I think first of all the hardest part as a parent is acknowledging that there is a problem and seeking help. No one wants to think that their child is less than perfect or, even worse, has serious psychological issues. This would truly be my worst nightmare come true. Raising a child who would turn around to hurt others.

    I will be interested to see what the entire story is of this person’s life. If there really were any red flags or anomalies in his past that might have been overlooked. And if he did indeed come from a “perfect mother/family” or if there was more to his upbringing than anyone knows yet. But parents cannot be faulted for mental illness.

    As a mother I would not fund a legal team for him. I would however advocate mental health treatment in an attempt to find out “why??”

    What I wonder is, is there any chance he will “get off” with an insanity plea? I personally don’t think mental illness is an excuse for any acts of violence and leniency in sentencing.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Minicoopsmom. I really don’t know the specifics of how the insanity plea works…

  28. Laurieann says:

    ith us, and we will look after him, as we love him and want to make sure he takes his meds and stays out of the hospital. He has such a lonely life! We mourned his loss as if he was gone. This new person is our son, and we have gotten used to him, and love him. He did not deserve this life sentence of loneliness. We did not deserve to lose our precious son. This is a DISEASE!!! When will the world understand this. They don’t choose to be this way!!! Their brains don’t work properly anymore, and they are struggling every minute of every day to just make it through the day until they can sleep and have a rest from thinking. My heart breaks for their suffering. I am convinced that someday when and if mental illness can be treated more effectively, as diabetes, or cancer is now treated as more of a chronic illness ,then others will just look upon them as people who happen to have a brain illness. When medicines can effectively control them more completely or genetic manipulation can alter the likelihood of getting the illness, then people will understand that it’s another illness, just one which happens in the brain, not your pancreas or heart, or muscles or liver. Every person has a weakness somewhere in their body. Mental illness is an illness of the way parts of the brain communicate with each other. Many people have lived through horrendous things: tortured in Nazi camps etc. They didn’t get schizophrenia. You have to have a change in the brain and how the brain sends messages to its different parts, a physical change in how the brain works to have schizophrenia. Unfortunately the brain is so complex it has not been completely figured out, and it will take a very long time . I believe we need to devise better ways of keeping track of the way a person with schizophrenia is given medication. Our son has us to watch after him, as well as our local ACT team. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a village to HELP those who are sick and unable to care entirely for themselves. We need to do it in a humane way. While some make headlines , many many more just need their regular medication, some tweaking of their meds from time to time, hospitalization if needed, and most of all some humans that show them they care, and that they are still loved. Heaven help all of us if we forget that lepers are humans, badly burned and disfigured people are humans, tattooed and pierced people , other ethnicities, and on and on, and yes, even schizophrenics are humans.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Laurie Ann. Schizophrenia is a devastating illness. And you are absolutely correct that the brain experiences a significant change which is out of their control. I do have to point out, though, that no one has diagnosed Holmes as having schizophrenia yet. At this point, whether or not he has schizophrenia is purely speculation.

  29. Mama Bear says:

    Laurieann, schizophrenia has got to be one of the cruelest diseases. It says nothing good about human nature that people are so judgemtal of the victims of that disease and their families. My brother’s suffering and loneliness breaks my heart and it has taken me years to recover from growing up with him. Like you said, No one would choose to be schizophrenic.
    I always make an effort to converse with people who seem ‘off’ because they must feel so isolated. I think my brother and we who love him know the angels who walk among us-those people who are kind and respectful to him even as they obviously notice he’s ‘out there.’

  30. Diane says:

    Sadly, I know some aspects of what these parents are feeling…. the accusations, the stigma, the misunderstandings of a brain disease. If James had had a disease like cancer, he and his family would have sympathy…. but metal illness, especially involving delusions and hallucinations, is met by harsh accusatory judgement. It all comes down to a simple consideration: there but for the grace of God, go I. A neural misfiring, an imbalance of dopamine, a flawed chemical response to stress…. any one of us, there but for the grace of God.

    And to those who think this happens only to others, think again. I’ve seen “normal” people in psychiatric wards because of an accidental bump on the head –a “simple” car accident on the way home from work, that rearranges an entire life. Hallucinations, anger, isolation. It can happen to any of us under certain circumstances. The tragedy is that some people have more fragile, more susceptible brains…. people with Aspergers, for example…. who are persecuted every day for their inability to respond to social cues.

    James Holmes needed a safety net… a support system that could recognize his struggles, treat his disease. When you don’t have a grasp of what is real, any darkness is possible. I feel deeply for the victims and their families, for the parents of James Holmes, and for James Holmes himself. I can’t imagine the realizations he faces now, as his brain cycles in moments of lucidity, when the neurons connect, when the dopamine balances. His disease has taken both his life, and the lives of others. Like someone with a deadly disease like Ebola, that never “in sane heart” intended to infect others. This is a tragedy that deserves our compassion, and our understanding that: there but for the grace of God, go I.

  31. Shawnna says:

    I’m very intrigued by James himself and I would love to know what his mother and father are doing right now, what’s going through their head. I’ve read a bunch of articles of how his father was supposed to testify for bank fraud, just makes you wonder if this was staged. Was he brainwashed, is he someone’s puppet? The media portrays his life like everything was “fine” until he reaches CO.

    I’m actually going to be starting school and hope to one day be a clinical psychologist. I’m very intrigued by schizophrenia, the mind is a complex thing.

    If I were his mother I’d like to say I’d be there for him, that unconditional love you have for your children, then again I’d like to say his childhood was happy and I did everything I could to love him and care for him to the fullest. So I could say I didn’t create that monster. It’s hard to put yourself in his Arlene’s position.

  32. I come from a family of mom, dad, older brother and myself. My parents are no longer alive. Dad died of cancer ,and my mom died a couple years later in 1999 with a cerebral vascular incident . They both actually died of a broken heart years before.My brother murdered a lady by strangulation, then robbed her. Arrested in 1987-convicted 1993. We live in NC and he is in California. No one can possibly comprehend the impact until God forbid it should happen to you. Going from disbelief to acceptance that he actually did it is a rollercoaster of pain and despair. People drop you like hot rocks when they find out, including family. They look at you like you’ve done something wrong. Some even say ya’ll must have one something to him. Many of the ones left say stupid remarks-“he made his bed let him lie in it”, “just forget him,it only hurts you to keep in touch” A priest told me to forget also. There are so many memories that are painful. There is a sadness that won’t ever not be there,a feeling of loss,guilt I know there shouldn’t be-but it is there, especially when some people think it because of something we did as a family. Everyday things can make you cry. He loves animals so much,but a life sentence with no parole says to bad. When there is a lockdown because of fights or riots-you can’t call anyone to see if his is safe. You Wait, and wait.Lockdown means no mail for however long it lasts . It means alot of other lost privileges to them–but families are left in the dark. Talking about our childhood with a bit sadness. The rest of the family dropped us like a rock as well. An embarrassment .There are very few places to go to deal with things for families. When my parents died, telling him was harder than you can imagine over the phone. I had to deal with my parents alone there was no help for me. No family to help me help them, and no family to help me when they passed . I looked for help for families of prisoners, there is so much to learn dealing with even the littlest things. There wasn’t any unless you pay for advice, we couldn’t afford it, it costs money to have a relative in prison in Ca. Phone calls especially. Buying things have to meet certain standards.I could go on forever.
    So, in answer to your question the mother is torn, loving her son and hating what he did. I doubt she has gotten past being numb yet. The feelings will be jumbled for a long long time.Hate how he ruined his life and the families life,anger,guilt,blame searching for an answer-that probably wont be there, shame, Then loving her son,being there for him while others are against it. It truly is as if he died and someone else lives in his body. Any hope for normal is gone.
    I even thought of starting a support group,called LOOP( loved ones of prisoners ) I don’t have the health now. I have MS now along with a few other health issues. Prisoners have a support system-families need one. Alot of folks don’t see families of prisoners as victims, but trust me we are victims, our lives are destroyed and we didn’t do anything wrong .

  33. kapura says:

    From conversations that I have had with multiple counselors/therapists in the past, I learned that it is a misconception that schizophrenics are violent.
    This incident is confusing me….People are leaning towards his illness as the trigger for the violence. So, which is it? Fear the capabilities of a schizophrenic? Or stop using it as an excuse for murder when the two are not related?

  34. Jeanne says:

    If I were Arlene Holmes, and in a normal state of being, both psychologically, mentally and physically, (this is just in case, for some bizarre reason, Holmes isn’t there because she’s a blind nurse, or a parapalegic, or in a Clinically fragile state of mind, etc.) I would be in Aurora, Colorado right now, instead of San Diego, where my son is in jail. In spite of the shame, ridicule, horror, despair, trauma, the strength of my heart, money, lack of money, my job, my life, my other family (including my son’s siblings), my controlling husband, or anything else, I would be in Aurora. I would be compelled by my mothering instincts and love, no matter how much I hated what happened; what my son most likely did, to be by his side, to stand by him so that he knew I was outside where he was. It could keep maybe a few of the normal neurons in his brain firing. I would have nightmares, I would be sick from the stress. But one very mentally ill, full of whatever disorder, very, very young man (despite what many say- 24 years is extremely young, regardless of going to graduate school. It actually means very little in how a 24 year old guy conducts his personal life, even normal ones), is in a jail, messed up and freaked out. Even if I wasn’t permitted to see him, I’d be in Colorado, not San Diego. I don’t think in even the worst killers worlds their mothers ever denied them. Ted Bundy and other notorious killers had their moms back them up until the day they died. It’s in the DNA, or an innate quality. Mothers protect their offspring. When all others forsake their son, mothers stand by.
    I’d be a mess, yes. Devastated and beyond speaking to anyone, even the media, yes. But I’d be in Colorado.

    I have a grown son. He’s 40 and an artist and father. He hasn’t ever been in jail, rehab, or done anything to harm others. I wasn’t a perfect mother, who is? Sometimes my son got in trouble a little bit in high school. I was there, no matter what was going to happen. I have to be an advocate for both my children, no matter what. My child’s being would take precedence over everything. Over CNN, over FoxNews, over reporters in my face, over stares and glares, threats to my well being. Really true. I’d be in Colorado.

    I write this because I’m extremely confused and perplexed as to why Arlene Holmes is in her house and not in Colorado. I’d go no matter if lawyers advised against it. If the Holmes parents “stand behind their son”, as all the headlines insist on repeating over and over, how would we really know? Does their son actually know this? I don’t see the parents as innocent bystanders that are suffering like all the rest of us from James Holmes. They are not like the rest of us…they’re the parents, James should be allowed this one human aspect to his now deeply compromised life.

    • Diane says:

      “Deeply compromised life.” Jeanne, I cannot even begin to imagine the confusion and terror and cycling remorse James Holmes may or may not be experiencing. He is no longer the man he was. He is surrounded by strangers who dislike every thing about him, or as revealed in the press, are ridiculing his psychotic confusion. A disease has sent him down a rabbit hole, has destroyed his life, and the precious lives of others. He now has to bear the actions and the consequences.

      I don’t think we can second guess Arlene Holmes… none of us are in her tragic position. We don’t know what this has done to her…. we can only be grateful that we are not enduring the same fate. My heart goes out to all the victims in this tragedy… including his parents. They too are victims of a disease. How does one even begin to cope in these circumstances? I can tell you…I have spoken with many parents (in NAMI) whose children have experienced psychosis, whose lives have teetered and toppled from the misfiring of neurotransmitters… and these parents are doing all they can do to hold on to their own sanity while trying to negotiate a society that stigmatizes their children, and a mental health system that is underfunded and often unresponsive. Many times these parents have been in the depths of despair, and have felt expressed the need for a way out, any way out. James Holmes has one of the most cruel diseases that one can have, cruel because society chooses to judge and blame, instead of empathize. Today’s news revealed that James Holmes saw as many as THREE mental health doctors before the shooting. That suggests to me a person who was desperate to find something, someone, who could help alleviate the intensifying illness in his brain.

      I do understand what you are saying about his isolation… is very very sad. You are compassionate to think of him. But maybe his mother is also experiencing isolation and despair. I don’t know. I feel that we, as a society, have a great deal to learn from this tragedy… if we chose to learn.

    • Julie says:

      She is in her home in California for what ever reason she decided she needs to be there. From reading the comments on this post alone, it’s pretty clear that there are vast opinions about what one would do if they were in Arlene Holme’s shoes. Going to Colorado and standing by your son would be your choice. Just because some people think that’s what she needs to do and that’s where she needs to be doesn’t mean that she’s going to do it. I can’t even begin to imagine what her emotional state is like at this time and I don’t believe it’s my place to speculate. With that said, I think it’s perfectly fine that she stayed in CA if that’s where she feels she needs to be.

  35. Devon Holmes says:

    Wonder no more…

  36. Devon Holmes says:

    you may enjoy this article…Reclaiming James: Of Life of James Holmes. I wrote it. I am his mother.

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