Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jared Loughner's Possible Mental Illness

Originally posted at Firedoglake/MyFDL

As more details are revealed about the background of purported 22-year-old shooter Jared Loughner, who is in custody currently for the shooting in Tucson today of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Federal Judge John Rell and a number of others, at least five of whom have died, a number of people are speculating about his possible mental illness. One diagnosis that keeps arising is schizophrenia. It's worth looking into what that might mean.

Over the course of my psychology career, I have worked with schizophrenic individuals, and most are quite afraid of the world, and are far more likely to be victims than victimizers. However, there are a small minority whose delusions have led them to commit crimes.

I am a licensed psychologist and from afar, and am not in the position to diagnose Mr. Loughner. However, one can make some initial impressionistic comments based upon the video content he posted on YouTube. The autistic, in the sense of highly encapsulated and personal, nature of his thought processes, his emphasis on coercion from without (see his discussion about being taught letters of the alphabet), the strange nature of his logic and language, the paranoid attitude toward the world in general, are consistent with known cases of schizophrenia, paranoid type.

I cannot know if he is the shooter, but his videos do display a garbled mixture of political concerns, and there is a great deal about conscience (“conscience dreams”), about not doing wrong, about the definition of “terrorist”, about “grammar” and “currency”, about “brainwashing” and “mind control”. At times, appears as if he’s grappling with something struggling inside himself.

There are also indications of a sense of multiple internal selves, or a dissociated kind of experience (“conscience dreaming”) that may also mean he had dissociated personality as well. In fact, this combination of dissociated identity and schizophrenia is much more highly associated with violence than schizophrenia alone. Then again, his comments may only appear to indicate such dissociative processes, and be better accounted for by a thought disorder.

If one researches the words “conscience dreaming” online, you will find a YouTube video with that title, not by Mr. Loughner, and no connection with the latter is inferred, except that he may have watched the video. The video concerns three characters, The Agent, The Assassin, and The Dream Maker. There is also one imprisoned anonymous character. I find it quite coincidental to say the least that a phrase the supposed shooter used a number of times links to such a video which has such characters in it.

I would caution against implying any politics to someone who appears so disturbed, as his interpretation of political symbols and phrases are interpreted in a highly idiosyncratic and irrational way. However, if he were susceptible to violence, then the targets available by the given society, i.e., the rhetoric out there in the society, would have pointed him towards liberals, leftists, Muslims, or other minorities, and that kind of rhetoric has mainly been from the right-wing, as has been copiously commented upon.

As for whether such a person could be manipulated, it’s possible, but if he is as insane as he appears, he would have been a very unstable person upon which to base any such conspiracy. I tend to think, despite his talk about mind control and brainwashing, that he was not the subject of any such conspiracy. More likely, these concerns are more about such an individuals anxieties and paranoia about being controlled from without, about things outside himself threatening to invade his personal world. Concern with brainwashing is a common thread in narratives from schizophrenic individuals.

However, this doesn’t mean that mind control conspiracies by the government don’t exist. I’ve documented government documents, including of contemporary vintage, that prove such activity by the government still occurs. If one reads the history of this kind of research, attempts to really use mind control are not applied to schizophrenic individuals, though one does look for highly suggestible individuals, and then apply drugs and hypnosis and other programming techniques. The success or failure of such enterprises is highly classified.

My condolences to all who were affected by this terrible tragedy in Tucson today.


Here’s an example taken from one of Mr. Loughner’s videos, showing the strangeness of his thinking and language, which is circular, syntactically intact, but with extremely opaque meaning, which relies on repetitiveness. The language implies something very profound, which only the thinker understands:

Firstly, the current government officials are in power for their currency, but I’m informing you for your new currency! If you’re treasurer for a new money system, then you’re responsible for the distribution of a new currency! We now know — the treasurer for a new money system, is the distributor of the new currency. As a result, the people approve a new money system which is promising new information that’s accurate, and we truly believe in a new currency. And above else, you have your new currency, listener?

Second, my hope is for you to be — literate! If you’re literate in English grammar, then you comprehend English grammar. The majority of people, who reside in District 8, are illiterate — hilarious! I don’t control your English grammar structure, but you control your English grammar structure.

This is not the ramblings of a right-wing crackpot, which some have claimed Loughner to be, but gibberish. This doesn't take away from the possibility Loughner reacted to right-wing propaganda, but quite likely out of madness, not political motivation, such as we understand such motivation.


lyris said...

I believe that Jared Loughner was influenced by fnc, especially Glenn Beck and/or Bill O'Reilly who have come close to asking their audiences to shoot someone who was different from them.

As far as I'm concerned it is no coincidence that Mr. Loughner shot one of Sarah Palin's cross hair victims on her chart that she reveled to the public on the television.

No doubt Mr Loughner is emotionally disturbed, but he was clearly influenced by people who never think of the consequences their words create when they open their mouths.

Freedom of speech is beautiful, it often creates wonderful ideas that can do so much good, but it can also be abused by the likes of fnc, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Sarah Palin, which can cause us to lose our freedom of speech.

Anonymous said...

Do you know why he looks so scary on the photo?

Lyris said...

I don't know what that has to do with the subject.

Anyone can look scary in photographs. No doubt this young man has a problem, but most people who are mentally ill are more incline to be a danger to themselves. Something and someone influenced Loughner, and as I stated before I don't believe in coincidences. He picked on someone who was on Palin's cross hairs.

The right wing is constantly making inflammatory comments against liberals and minorities. People who are not like the right wingers.

Unfortunately they refuse to be mature and stop their inflammatory talk. Instead they blame the left.

It's time the right wingers, and this also includes politicians to stop behaving like ten year old children.

Valtin said...

I don't think Mr. Loughner looked more scary in photos than a lot of young people who make "ironic" or bizarre photos of themselves. I think this is a projection after the fact of one's own knowledge onto the picture, placing emotional content where none would have existed before.

This is how we view much of the world, investing our internal sensibilities onto otherwise innocuous objects. If you had seen that photo two weeks ago, most likely you wouldn't have remarked anything by it.

Anonymous said...

I guess the problem with liberals is that only people 150 years later will say they are right. People of this time feel that they are difficult to understand.

Anonymous said...

How do you know which photo I referred to? I wish I could do an experiment about this. I would show his picture to people who haven't read the news before to see how many of them would agree with me and how many would not.

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