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.