Tag Archives | Insanity

Aurora Shooter Could Be Given ‘Truth Serum’ To Establish His Insanity

Instances of the age-old sodium pentothal technique in the criminal justice system is exceedingly rare. Could its possible use to get inside the mind of this high-profile mass killer kick off a trend? Via the New York Times:

The defendant in the Aurora theater shooting can be given “truth serum” if he pleads not guilty by reason of insanity, the judge in the case said Monday. James E. Holmes also could be given a polygraph examination as part of an evaluation to determine if he was legally insane at the time of the July 20 shootings.

Judge William Sylvester approved the use of a “narcoanalytic interview,” a decades-old process in which patients are given drugs to reduce their inhibitions. The prospect of such an interview alarmed defense lawyers, who filed documents opposing the technique. Mr. Holmes, 25, is charged with killing 12 people and wounding 70 at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

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If You Hear God You (Usually) Aren’t Crazy

But then again you could be… Tanya Marie (“T.M.”) Luhrmann, a professor in the department of anthropology at Stanford University and author of “When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God,” explains at CNN:

In the Bible, God spoke directly to Abraham. He spoke directly to Moses. He spoke directly to Job. But to your neighbor down the street?

Most people reading the ancient scriptures understand these accounts of hearing God’s voice as miracles that really did happen but no longer take place today, or maybe as folkloric flourishes to ancient stories. Even Christians who believe that miracles can be an everyday affair can hesitate when someone tells them they heard God speak audibly. There’s an old joke: When you talk to God, we call it prayer, but when God talks to you, we call it schizophrenia.

Except that usually it’s not.

Hearing a voice when alone, or seeing something no one else can see, is pretty common.

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We Are All Susceptible To Delusions

Former psychologist Frank Tallis on “monosymptomatic delusion” — in which an otherwise sane person latches onto one big outlandish idea. It is possibly responsible for both demonic possession and falling in love. Via New Scientist:

Once a patient came in and said: “I am possessed by a demon.” This guy wasn’t insane, he wasn’t schizophrenic – he just had this particular belief. In my day we called it “monosymptomatic delusion”, but now it would be called something like “delusional disorder”. That’s when you’re completely sound and reasonable in every respect except you have one belief that is absolutely bonkers.

You have to have an openness to it. Lots of people are open to all kinds of spiritual and magical beliefs. An individual could have a perfectly harmless interest in the supernatural but then something happens that triggers this delusion and they get stuck with it, reinforcing it by piling up one misinterpretation after another.

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Most People With A Mental Disorder Are Happy

headA reminder that “normal” does not necessarily equal “happy”. Via BPS Research Digest:

It’s easy for us to slip into all-or-nothing mindsets. An example would be: a person has some psychological problems so their life must be miserable. But that’s a mistaken assumption. So argue a team of Dutch positive psychologists, who’ve studied over seven thousand people over a three year period.

Yes, those participants with a psychological disorder were less happy than those without, but the majority (68.4 per cent) of the mentally troubled said they “often felt happy” during the preceding four weeks. “The possibility of coexisting happiness and mental disorders is of clinical relevance,” write Ad Bergsma and his team. “A narrow focus on what goes wrong in the lives of the client and forgetting what goes well, may limit therapeutic results.”

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Is One Out Of Ten Wall Street Workers A Psychopath?

MCDAMPS EC020With clinical psychopaths dramatically overrepresented in finance, one can only assume that mentally healthy workers must learn to imitate psychopathic behavior to remain employed. Via the Huffington Post:

One out of every 10 Wall Street employees is likely a clinical psychopath, writes the trade publication CFA Magazine. In the general population the rate is closer to one out of every 100.

Journalist Sherree DeCovny pulls together research from several psychologists for her story, which helpfully suggests that financial firms carefully screen out extreme psychopaths in hiring.

A clinical psychopath is bright and charming, writes DeCovny. He lies easily, and may have trouble feeling empathy for other people. He’s more willing to take dangerous risks…the outcomes matter less than the gambles themselves — and the chemical rush of serotonin and endorphins that accompanies them.

This is hardly the first time that mental illness has been equated with a certain capacity for professional success — especially in the financial sector, where some stock traders have actually scored higher than diagnosed psychopaths on tests that measure competitiveness and attraction to risk.

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Confessions Of A Serial Killer Groupie

A look at the strange boundaries of love from First Person, a briefly ran, ten-year-old television series created by documentary filmmaker Errol Morris, featuring interviews with notorious and strange people. Sandra London describes her idyllic days spent in high school and going steady with a serial sex killer, which lead to several decades of similar romantic obsession:
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How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy

catnapIs a microscopic, mind-altering parasite spread by cats responsible for car accidents, hoarding behaviors, and schizophrenia? Respected scientists are now saying that “crazy cat lady” disease is real and millions of people are infected. Shocker from Kathleen McAuliffe in the Atlantic:

Jaroslav Flegr is no kook. And yet, for years, he suspected his mind had been taken over by parasites that had invaded his brain. So the prolific biologist took his science-fiction hunch into the lab. What he’s now discovering will startle you. Could tiny organisms carried by house cats be creeping into our brains, causing everything from car wrecks to schizophrenia?

The parasite, which is excreted by cats in their feces, is called Toxoplasma gondii and is the microbe that causes toxoplasmosis — the reason pregnant women are told to avoid cats’ litter boxes. Since the 1920s, doctors have recognized that a woman who becomes infected during pregnancy can transmit the disease to the fetus, in some cases resulting in severe brain damage or death.

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Color Preferences Of The Insane

colorwheelDoes a shift towards favoring yellow, and then orange, occur among the mentally disturbed? This was the finding of an admittedly questionable 1931 study on the link between aesthetic preference and insanity. (Purple must be beyond all reason.) Via Neatorama:

The year 1931 stands out in the history of research about insane people’s favorite colors. That summer, Siegfried E. Katz of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Hospital published a study called “Color Preference in the Insane.” The full citation is:

“Color Preference in the Insane,” Siegfried E. Katz, Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, vol. 26, no. 2, July 1931, pp. 203–11.

Assisted by a Dr. Cheney, Dr. Katz tested 134 hospitalized mental patients. For simplicity’s sake, he limited the testing to six colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. No black. No white. No shades of gray.

“These colors,” he wrote, “rectangular in shape, one and one-half inches square, cut from Bradley colored papers were pasted in two rows on a gray cardboard.

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Woman Mauls Elderly Man In Another Gulf Coast Vampire Attack

110909-pcso-hmed-8a.grid-4x2In a brutal incident reminiscent of one in Houston three weeks ago, a wheelchair-bound Florida man taking shelter from a storm had part of his face eaten off at an abandoned Hooters restaurant by a young woman claiming to be a vampire. Someone once told me that Pensacola is one of the worst places on Earth, and I’m starting to understand why. Via ABC Action News:

A St. Petersburg man who had dozed off in his motorized wheelchair woke up to find himself being attacked by a woman, according to police. Morton Ellis, 69, said he fell asleep after parking his wheelchair on the porch of a vacant Hooters to escape the rain.

He said the woman, 22-year-old Josephine Rebecca Smith, told him she was a vampire as she bit off chunks of his face and part of his lip.

Ellis managed to fend her off and called police.

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40 Percent Of Europeans Have Mental Illness

blogstagefright2The percentage will only increase, with an aging population, the stresses of modern life, et cetera, which leads to the question: What happens when the majority of the public across an entire continent are classified as ‘mentally ill’? Via Reuters:

Europeans are plagued by mental and neurological illnesses, with almost 165 million people or 38 percent of the population suffering each year from a brain disorder such as depression, anxiety, insomnia or dementia, according to a large new study.

With only about a third of cases receiving the therapy or medication needed, mental illnesses cause a huge economic and social burden — measured in the hundreds of billions of euros — as sufferers become too unwell to work and personal relationships break down.

“The immense treatment gap … for mental disorders has to be closed,” said Hans Ulrich Wittchen, director of the institute of clinical psychology and psychotherapy at Germany’s Dresden University and the lead investigator on the European study.

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