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By | February 26, 2012 61 Comments

Other aspects of crime and mental disorders

I read two interesting articles in the newspaper this morning. The first was about the original mass murderer, Howard Unruh, who in 1949 walked down a street in Camden, New Jersey, and killed 13 people in 20 minutes. Psychiatrists at the time tried to find out why he did it by giving him “truth serum.”

On Oct. 20, 1949, Camden County Court Judge Bartholomew A. Sheehan signed the final order of commitment for Unruh after a team of four psychiatrists classified him as a case of “dementia praecox, mixed type, with pronounced catatonic and paranoid coloring.”

In modern parlance, he was a paranoid schizophrenic, a classification that would appear again and again in Unruh’s records.

Read Inside the mind of a killer, on Philly.com.

The other article discusses an unintended consequence of many criminals receiving life sentences—a growing population of prisoners with dementia. The California Men’s Colony is teaching some inmates to care for the elderly prisoners—and they are succeeding.

Heriberto G. Sanchez, chief psychologist of the California Men’s Colony, said prisoners “were appreciative that someone from the outside world thought they could do this.” One wrote in an evaluation, “Thank you for allowing me to feel human.”

Read Life, with dementia, on NYTimes.com.

Posted in: Laws and courts

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Ox Drover

When I worked in a freestanding public mental health clinic (mostly for the chronically mentally ill) some of my patients were paranoid schizophrenic and also ex convicts. I sent for the medical records for several of them from the prison system (Arkansas state) and the “treatment” they received there was barbaric at BEST.

Texas and Arkansas do their very best to parole patients who are old and/or sick or demented either to the family (first choice) or to a medicaid nursing home bed. No matter what their crime is unless they have a “life without parole” stipulation on their sentence.

Seriously ill prisoners are generally given parole to get the cost of their care off the backs of the prison system. Any needed surgeries except extreme emergencies are never given unless the family raises heck. I did that for my son once when he needed corrective orthopaedic surgery from an injury to his shoulder he received in a fight.

Dental care is extraction of decayed teeth…forget fillings or cleaning.

I applaud this kind of program and I think that training inmates to care for older and weaker inmates in this fashion is a good way to take care of aging and demented inmates as well as give “jobs” to other inmates.

Male Alzheimer’s patients, and especially in the early stages of dementia, where the person slightly realizes, but wants to deny, “slipping mentally” is the worst stage. The males especially may become combative, and if they are physically strong can be dangerous to care givers.

I have been in a caregiver role with this kind of patient, both with those demented and those with head injuries. New government mandated rules for restraining a patient such as this in hospitals and nursing homes (and I bet in prisons as well, but don’t know) make it doubly difficult to care for this type of patient safely. I can’t even imagine being a prison guard (with a GED) trying to deal with this kind of belligerent convict. How is a prison guard to distinguish between a convict with early dementia and one who is just acting out?

My attorney in Texas assures me that my son Patrick will be let out on parole if he ages out or gets seriously sick. That’s not reassuring to me.

The family in the article who declined to get their family member paroled to them I think is very wise. The system tries very hard to get the families to take responsibility for the convict, demented or not, when they are paroled. That way the system doesn’t have to bear the expense of doing so. Families are conned into feeling responsible for taking back their dysfunctional or psychopathic relative into their homes and lives again…and again…and again.

beth

Hi, brand new here and would like to post a question. How do I do that? Thanks.

witsend

Beth,
Welcome. Post your question the same way you just did 🙂

skylar

Hi Beth,
just ask. The same way you already did!

Oxy,
I read the articles and the confession of the serial killer.
He doesn’t seem to have schizophrenia to me because it doesn’t appear that he has hallucinations. His paranoia is not based on “voices”, but on the actual fact that people didn’t like him and treated him badly.

Does paranoid schizophrenic present differently – without hallucinations?

The guy does seem to be schizotypal along with being a total spath. He had fantasies of sex with his mommy and he hated her at the same time. And he also had sex with men. Spaths all have mommy issues. And one of the guys he killed made fun of him for sponging off his mother.

Mother issues and parasitical lifestyle are spath red flags. If I see someone doing that, along with bizarre behavior, I wouldn’t make fun of them. I’d move slowly toward the door.

Ox Drover

Welcome, Beth! Post your questions anywhere.

Sky, there’s of course NO way to “diagnose” anyone over the internet or from a news article, but that doesn’t keep me from having an “opinion” on what things appear to be.

Remember that article that Donna posted about the guy murdering his wife, and we all jumped on it and presumed the guy had dementia..elderly etc….and it turned out he probably was a high level arsehole (psychopath?) and maybe with dementia or diminished judgment as well….the best we can tell from an article or two.

I was just commenting in my comments above of my former patients who were schizophrenic AND ex convicts and how badly their medical records seemed to indicate they were treated in prison.

Plus, even psychopaths can become demented from organic brain syndrome or whatever….continual head injuries which they are seeing now in NFL and other sports related hobbies or occupations. The chronic injuries of all kinds in even high school football made me not want my sons to participate….look at joe Namath, the poor guy could hardly walk the last I heard or saw him on TV…a total cripple….for what, fame and money?l

When I worked for an orthopaedic sports medicine doc for about a year and a half I saw 15 year old girls who had had multiple bone fractures….and even withh a fracture unhealed the stage moms wanted them back in competition for olympics….by 25 they were cripples from multiple bone fractures in their spines, knees, ankles hips etc. It is BAD enough when we do this to our race horses much less our children.

Anyway, off that stump…back to the subject. There are multiple mental illnesses AND personality disorders which can contribute to criminal behavior…several are schizophrenia, bi polar, ADHD etc. and having ONE mental illness or disorder does not mean you can’t have one or more others. The Trojan Horse Psychopath had 3 that I know of Bi-polar, ADHD and Antisocial personality disorder and he was a pedophile to boot. What can you say ??? No impulse control and mania and no conscience? What a recipe for disaster that is!

skylar

Oxy,
I know that these PD’s and mental illnesses can be comorbid and that they can also contribute to crime. I was just asking if in YOUR PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE, you had ever encountered any person who was professionally diagnosed as schizophrenic but who did not appear TO YOU to have visual or auditory hallucinations. I’m asking you because you’re the only person I know who has dealt with nuts on a professional basis and you had access to their records so you could see what the official diagnosis was.

But yeah, the guy who murdered his wife was a no-brainer for me. I recognized the pattern of lies to be spath and there are lots of old spaths out there. AFAIK, though, there hasn’t been an official diagnosis yet. I’d be curious what the professionals say.

witsend

Skylar,
I read the articles & confession too…..But I wondered if in fact his paronoia was due at least partially because he DID
hear “voices” in his head. The voices along with the possibility that people were also talking “bad” about
him in reality.
In this delusional mental state it would be hard to determine even for a professional (back then especially) what this guys “perception” of reality was real & what wasn’t real.

What I found to be interesting about this case is that once the police sat him down for a confession he spilled his guts. As if he didn’t really know or understand how incriminating what he was saying really was. It certainly doesn’t sound like any of the confessions I see on 48 hours! These criminals usually don’t spill their guts even when their DNA is found all over the scene!

I don’t know what the actual statistics are….But I do believe that years ago there were more people that avoided life sentences/death penalty by claiming the insanity plea…You don’t hear much any more of criminal acts avoiding prison sentences by copping insanity pleas as more information
is known about mental illnesses & personality disorders.

Ana

Hi Skylar & Oxy,
You both know what a crazy state I live in (MA). Well, this govna is INSANE!! Now, he is putting forth legislation for…wait… Assisted living facilities for aging inmates! ARRrggggh

I haven’t had the time to research and find out who he knows in prison yet. But it’s got to be a relative, friend, friend of a friend, kid of a friend/old guy of a friend etc….I’ll find out. Although, it won’t do me a bit of good cause you two know that if you go after a criminal here, you will go to jail/get fined. What a lovely state. Spaths are running the show.

skylar

Ana,
or maybe he’s just planning for his retirement…? just in case.
😆

skylar

Witsend,
there’s another short article here:
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20120226_Kevin_Riordan__Decades_later__Camden_mass_killer_still_poses_a_mystery.html?viewAll=y

Nothing about the killer suggests he was crazy, just pissed off. He has a perfect recollection of each person he killed except for one. He doesn’t rant or say he hears voices.
In 1964 he asks to be released because he’s not crazy anymore.

Perhaps the news articles are incomplete.

callmeathena

Sky,

I think your question to Oxy is a good one. You asked this:


I know that these PD’s and mental illnesses can be comorbid and that they can also contribute to crime. I was just asking if in YOUR PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE, you had ever encountered any person who was professionally diagnosed as schizophrenic but who did not appear TO YOU to have visual or auditory hallucinations.”

I understand that a SPLIT SELF contributes to both schitzophrenia and sociopathy. But I wonder where does one become one or the other. Where is the Y in the road? If both are issues of a split self, how does the spath become so much like the devil, and schitzophrenic is simply a split self.

?

Athena

skylar

Athena,
they are both “out of touch with reality” but it seems to be in different ways. The spath doesn’t hallucinate yet he has strange beliefs. AND he is often paranoid. The paranoia though is probably justified because he’s just watching his back from all the people he has screwed over.

Also, some of it is healthy paranoia, I think, because he KNOWS there are other spaths out there. Since I found out about spaths, whenever I take one of those online personality tests, the results come out a little paranoid. 😛

Before I knew about spaths, I lacked healthy paranoia.

Back_from_the_edge

skylar said it best:

“Mother issues and parasitical lifestyle are spath red flags. If I see someone doing that, along with bizarre behavior, I wouldn’t make fun of them. I’d move slowly toward the door.”

YOU GOT THAT RIGHT!!!!!
Giving yourself NO room to excuse their behavior.

Dupey

witsend

Sky,
No I don’t think he said anything that suggested that he was was crazy either. Yet technically the punishment he received wasn’t jail time. So back then they must have determined that he was crazy.

It would be interesting to see what the difference would be if this man went into the courtroom today.

Ana

Hhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c00xbrerRR8i LF Friends,
Here is a link I think you will find inspiring, at least I hope so. Blessings.

Ana
skylar

A beautiful poignant song, sung with so much passion.
thank you Ana.

darwinsmom

Sky,

My cousin was medically diagnozed schizophrenic, but didn’t have hallucinations, neither auditory nor visually. The halluicination type is the most known form, because it’s so spectaculary strange… but it’s actually not the most common form.

But she had racing thoughts, delusions (in that she was out of touch with reality), apathy, poor affective contact (I witnessed this when I visited her with her newborn baby… proud like a queen to be a mom, but no affective connection to her son), highly disorganized, poor memory, would start a task and then end up doing somethign totaly different (going to buy food for the dog, but ended up going on some trip and left the animal by himself for 24 hours… which is why she was NEVER allowed to take her newborn son home with her). She could be violent at times. She hit my aunt couple of times severely.

In many ways it almost seems like a spath… but it was fear that made her violent if she was. She wasn’t actually mallicious.

Here’s a link to the symptoms
http://www.schizophrenia.com/diag.php#common

MiLo

PLEASE PRAY ~ 4 students at the school district next door to mine have just been shot, their conditions are unknown at this time. Grand’s school is in lock down.

We are a rural, safe community, this just does not happen here. Reports are that it was a student shooter.

MiLo

There were 5 students shot, 3 in critical condition. Student shooter is in custody.

Lockdown at Grand’s school is over. I am concerned as to where he was, because he was there early for band, then would have been walking to the school next door. It WAS NOT his school, but the district next door to ours.

The chopper is housed at the small airport in our town and Grand commented on it taking off when he and hubby passed.

Ox Drover

Sky, sorry I didn’t get back to you yesterday on your question. The thing about schizophrenia is that it is a very COMPLEX group of problems. Not all see things we can’t see or hear “command” voices we cant hear, but some do. My personal experience with schizophrenic patients is limited. Here is a reasonably concise definition from the mayo clinic web site

Definition
By Mayo Clinic staff

Schizophrenia is a group of severe brain disorders in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking and behavior.

Contrary to some popular belief, schizophrenia isn’t split personality or multiple personality. The word “schizophrenia” does mean “split mind,” but it refers to a disruption of the usual balance of emotions and thinking.

Schizophrenia is a chronic condition, requiring lifelong treatment.
Symptoms

Most of the patients I saw that were schizophrenic were outpatients who were well managed on medication so I didn’t see many who were at least at that time experiencing hallucinations or other problems like command voices. I did briefly treat some of the ex convicts but by the time I got them they were fairly well controlled on medication….at least for a while.

In the inpatient facilities where I worked we had only 1-2 patients who were schizophrenic. So I don’t have a lot of experience with schizophrenics per se. Depending on the units I worked on we had mostly “pre-persionality disordered” adolescents who were generally as dangerous as rattle snakes, or the other units were elderly dementia patients or older adults who were depressed. We had the occasional PPD older patient.

So anyway sky, I hope that answers your question.

Ox Drover

Oh, MiLo,

I am so sorry for you and your community and the families of those shot, and for the family of the shooter as well. These are such traumatic events and the do so much more damage to communities and families by taking away our sense of “safety” and making us paranoid. I will keep them all in my mind and my prayers. (((hugs))))

MiLo

Oxy ~ Hubby had just got off duty 25 minutes before. I am thankful for that.

All three of my boys called from work, the one because of time difference, it would have been before 6:00am. Other friends and relatives have called. NOTHING from mommie dearest.

I am worried about how Grand would have handled being locked inside a classroom, etc. We are not allowed to go get him and I guess it is better that he goes through what the school does in counseling.

darwinsmom

The link I posted names several types of schizophrenia, and one of them is normally never accompanied with hallucinations. Also a delusion is different from a hallucination… a delusion is a pervasive belief contrary to the evidence, but it does not need to come from a hallucination. But many peope assume you cannot have a delusion without hallucinating first (even if these people have held lifelong beliefs without any corroborating evidence for it). Another factor that amplifies the belief that schizophrenia is always accompanied with hallucinations, are the diagnostic rules: if someone has strong hallucination symptoms (and that for over a month), then only one negative symptom (flat affect, and such) is enough to make the diagnosis for schizophrenic.

Milo,

I’m very sorry about what has occurred near you. Very sad. I’m glad to hear that Grand’s ok though.

Ox Drover

I just read about it on the news…it has already hit national news on the web of course. Well, I know while this kind of a thing is traumatic, we can’t protect them from everything that happens in the world so we just have to hope and pray for the best. Schools are more equipped to handle the aftermath of this kind of thing now than they used to be (unfortunately they have to be) so I hope that they will take good care of Grand while the school is in lock down. You are in my thoughts and prayers! (((hugs)))

MiLo

One student has died.

witsend

MiLo,
This was just on our local news. I hope that your grandson didn’t actually witness what happened. I feel for those kids that did. Hopefully they will have specialist in grief/trauma counseling at the school for as long as needed.

((hugs)) to you and your family.

witsend

MiLo,
Oh that is so very sad. I can’t even imagine how the family must feel.

skylar

((Milo)),
what a terrible thing to experience. I’m so sorry, you must be sick with worry for Grand.

MiLo

witsend ~ Grand is in the school district next to the one where the shooting happened. All surrounding school districts were put into lock down because students are often bused to neighboring schools.

Grand is in 5th grade, 11 years old. He has neurological diagnosis of ADHD, High Functioning Autism. Because of past trauma, he has emotional problems. We just had a meeting with school officials last week, which became quite heated on our part, because he is picked on at school. The school views him as behavior problem and refuses to look at evidence that he is constantly picked on. I think we got through to them.

Everytime I hear the common thread of these violent kids, I get so scared. He has been in some sort of therapy since age 3, plus we are constantly here for him and encourage him to talk about things here at home. I pray that is enough.

Sky ~ I am so scared, I don’t want him ever to think there aren’t options. I also try to make his home life, community life loving and structured, showing him school is not everything.

witsend

MiLo,
Does Grand have a IEP at his school? If he does maybe it needs some tweaking. If he doesn’t have an IEP, he should have one. Because there can be specifics in an IEP that cover what the school wants to call “behavior problems” (to cover their butts…..But what you know to be emotional problems.

I had a terrible time with the school district when my son entered into high school. In our district if a child wasn’t set up with an IEP in elementary grades…You had to jump through hoops to get one. I had many heated discussions with school officials…Ugh!

MiLo

Thank you Donna.

Yes, Grand has had an IEP since he started school. This is where the problem is coming from though. He sees and it is true, that because he is “special needs” he is constantly watched and gets into trouble for any misstep. Other kids get away with the same actions.

Also, a group of kids have realized that by “tattling” on Grand, gets Grand in trouble (even if he has not done anything) So, they will tell on him and then later say – ha-ha, I got you in trouble. Just last week, Grand was working on a computer, doing a report (he is a straight A student) and a girl threw a pencil, hitting him in the head. He picked up the pencil. The girl walked over and nastily demanded it back. He said No, I don’t want it hitting me in the head again. She went and “tattled” to the teacher that he stole her pencil and would not give it back. Because the teacher had not seen the flying pencil, Grand had to write his name on the board as misbehaving. That kind of stuff, non stop.

Also, when he brought home his last report card, something he should have been so proud of, there was a comment from the art teacher “does not get along with peers, has no friends.” He was in tears. He said, I have friends, a lot of kids like me. How cruel of that teacher.

witsend

MiLo,
This just breaks my heart. Kids can be so mean. I don’t even have WORDS for the teacher. Shame on her.

Bullying is such a huge problem in the schools nowdays more than ever because of the internet. Now kids can’t even escape from the bullying once away from school. The internet also brings this same bullying into the home.

Ox Drover

That teacher should be fired for writing that kind of a thing on the report card of any kind, much less a special needs kid. I would take that to the superintendent or the school board MiLo! UGH (grinding teeth here)

skylar

Milo,
that is really aggravating to hear about.
There are ways to “catch” bullies in the act…

But, remember that Grand lied when he got in trouble with the basketball coach. You will need to be very careful when stepping up to defend him. In fact, maybe it’s best to let him learn to handle these things without expecting justice because that’s life. You can’t always fight his battles and there are going to be jerks everywhere he goes. He’s going to have to learn to let little things like stupidity in people run off his back. It’s hard. I’m still learning.

MiLo

Yes, Oxy ~ we are following up on the comment from the art teacher. Seeing he is in special ed., any concerns she had should have gone directly to the special ed teacher – NOT ON THE REPORT CARD

And, this is not the first time she has made comments similar to this on the card. I told the special ed. teacher to tell her to STOP last time.

Another kid, a couple of weeks ago, had a laser pointer and was shining it in Grand’s eyes. Grand told teacher and she took it away – BUT no punishment to the kid. IF that would have been Grand, she would have notified Special Ed. who would have notified principal and Grand would have been suspended for using a “weapon” – DOUBLE STANDARDS and Grand notices this. I think this is the school district “bullying” Grand.

MiLo

Sky ~ Oh, I do remember Sky. These things have ALL been checked out and verified. I have even witnessed some of this stuff and the special ed. teacher is now looking beyond the surface and is also noticing the same.

Problem with him handling things himself is I don’t want him to be so overwhelmed HE resorts to violence. A lot of little things went on recently that had him completely overwhelmed and with a feeling of “Why bother?”. I kept him home for a day, before the long weekend, just to talk and get some good interactions here in the neighborhood. It is so hard.

witsend

MiLo,
I totally agree. He is still so young and although life isn’t fair & people DON’T act right…He needs you to help give him the tools of the right way deal with these things.
High functioning autism is one of those Dx that is hard to actually define. If he has trouble engaging or if he is withdrawn in different aspects of dealing with his peers…
The end result of this can always be huge frustration on his part.

And frustration can turn into anger….And anger can turn into violence.

I know what you mean about fearing this. Kids hold alot of stuff inside of them. Boys especially.

Does he have a “safe place” to go if he does become overwhelmed at school? Guidance counselor or someplace like this? This is something that could be in his IEP.

MiLo

He can go into the special ed room if he needs to get away. Only problem is he feels embarassed going in there. He just very recently started “telling” somone when he was having trouble with another child. He did feel he could handle it himself, but not very well, I’m afraid.

Because of complicated custody issues, he was put in a position to have to “handle” things on his own. This was so unfair and that is when he started to “handle” things at school too.

Knowing him, we will not be able to talk to him about this shooting. He will shut down at first. We will have to take it slow and wait for him to want to talk.

Luckily, this past week, he has had many positive things happen at school and at basketball. He made his first basket and had 8 rebounds. All the kids on the team were giving him high fives and cheering him. It is funny how a little thing like that makes SUCH a difference.

coping

Milo,
I am so sorry to hear about this. This type of shit brings tears to my eyes. I just can’t understand it. I talent watch the news except CNN and didn’t hear of it. It breaks my heart. It seems as though there is always some sick sad stuff going on. Missing and abused children, penn state, school shootings. It so sad and breaks my heart and scares the he’ll out of me at the same time.
I’m sorry about grand. That little one has been through allot. Your doing a good job. He is very lucky to have you. I can’t imagine for one minute it’s easy. Give him a a hug.. I wish I could! Bullies are horrible and adults can be worse!!!
I’ll say a prayer..
Take care.

MiLo

Grand is home and talking about the lock down. Even though the shooting was not his school, but the next district over, all surrounding schools went into lockdown because they did not know if there were more than one shooter that may have boarded a bus for another district.

He said sheet metal was placed over their windows. They were not allowed out of their classrooms, even for bathroom breaks. They walk to the school next door for lunch – they were escorted by armed guards for this. No school official told the kids why they were in lockdown. Some kids had cell phones and found out and rumors started.

How scary

The shooter lived with his grandparents…

coping

Milo,
How scary!! Really scary. I think it’s good grand is talking about it. He must feel safe with family and that’s a good thing.
What a horrible tragedy. For all the victims, family and the community. How does this happen? How does a child do these things?
I feel for the victims, and the family as well a the shooter.. How does this happen???
Please don’t put much stock into the fact he was raised by his grandparents. Grand will be ok!!
God bless.. No bs.

skylar

Milo,
at least he’s talking to you about it. That’s a positive thing.

Please don’t think about the comparisons. You are making the difference in his life.

MiLo

Thanks Coping & Sky ~ It’s hard not to think of comparisons. I know Grand is a sweet loving kid NOW…

All the kids that were shot were waiting for a bus to take them to a county vocational school. The shooter was waiting to be taken to a school for behavioral problems.

Ox Drover

MiLo,

Well it was obvious the kid had behavioral problems, and the most likely event about him being raised by his grandparents is that he had no nurturing parents, and who knows if the grandparents are like you and Hubby or if they are problematic themselves. You just can’t tell by the few details that are coming out now, but I am sure that they will very soon have the color of the kid’s last bowel movement on the nightly news!

MiLo

They did show the grandparent’s home – a beautiful home on 40 acres.

Father had been charged with attempted murder and was convicted of felony assault, so that tells alot.

There is one local news channel that I could not believe, they were so responsible and caring, refusing to report anything that was not confirmed. The reporter is a National Guard officer and has spent several tours in combat situations, he stopped an interview and told the Dad to take the kid in for counseling, he was in shock.

skylar

OK this is weird but there are conflicting reports as to where the student who was killed was. First they said that the shooter entered the cafeteria and targeted 5 students at a table. The one who died was seen trying to duck under the table. Then there is another report saying that the dead student was waiting for a bus outside to take him to the auburn vocational school.

so… which is it?
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57386080/suspect-in-deadly-high-school-shooting-identified/?tag=cbsContent;cbsCarousel

MiLo

From what I understand, 3 or 4 students were shot in the cafeteria and at least one more in another classroom. They were waiting for the bus to take them to auburn vocational school. The football coach chased the shooter out the front door while the kid was shooting at him.

I have not heard there was any shooting outside the building.

callmeathena

It’s so sad.

Milo, I understand how close to home this can be.

My son could have gone either direction. He brought weapons to school once — stuff from MY KITCHEN — and was discovered, and had to go to an alternative school (with counseling) for a couple of years.

He turned out great, but who knows what could have pushed him in another direction.

Hugs.

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