Crime & Law Enforcement Issues & Death Penalty/James Holmes
Hi. My question is regarding James Holmes, the suspect in the Colorado movie theater massacre. I know what he did was a terrible thing, but I can't help but feel some sympathy for him. I truly believe that he is mentally ill, but I am not a professional in this field, and I also know from personal experience that some criminals (particularly those who possess a great deal of intelligence like Mr. Holmes) can be very good manipulators. So my question is do you believe that Mr. Holmes is mentally ill, and therefore deserving of being shown some compassion despite the horrific act he committed, OR do you believe that he is just evil? I have a hard time believing that any sane person could do such a thing or behave in the manner that Mr. Holmes has been behaving in. Also, when a suspect is evaluated by a court appointed psychiatrist, how can he/she be sure that the suspect is not putting on an act? How can you tell the difference between someone who is really suffering from a mental illness, and someone who is just pretending to be mentally ill in order to engender public sympathy and hopefully get a more lenient sentence or perhaps avoid the death penalty if applicable? Thank you.
Excellent question and I have been researching Mr. Holmes as well as pulling out my other research on Anders Breivik, The Norwegian Killer, and Jared Loughner, The Arizona Shooter. If you copy and paste this link, I am honored that Bloomberg News here in the states quoted me in their Colorado Shooting coverage this morning: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-30/colorado-shooting-suspect-holmes-to-hea
You can also check out our forensics blog and read my recent article I posted on July 25th on Mass Killer Traits: http://darkpsychology.co/
As you will read in the Bloomberg article, I state I think he is possibly suffering from Schizoid Personality Disorder that moved into a Grandiose Type Delusional Disorder. Given I can only base my observations on what has been reported by the media and online, my insight is observational conjecture.
Over the last couple days, here in the states the news has reported he was seeing a psychiatrist for some undisclosed reason before the commission of his attack. It is also this same psychiatrist that he sent the notebook too before the attack. As for a court appointed evaluator, it is the job of that forensic psychiatrist or psychologist to assess if he is malingering or genuinely suffering from a debilitating Axis I psychiatric illness.
In the past when I have conducted forensic evaluations, I would extensively interview the defendant, interview their loved ones, colleagues and peers, conduct a mental status exam to assess reality testing and then possibly have the client complete psychological assessments. I would also collect their past criminal, educational, mental health and medical histories.
After compiling all this data, the forensic psychologist or psychiatrist makes a determination if the client is malingering or truly ill. But I tell ya Rose....there are some defendants who are true sociopaths and even Sigmund Freud wouldn't be able to accurately diagnose the client. This is why psychology and psychiatry is and always will be an art and not a science. I hope I answered your question and excellent questions. You have a knack for forensic inquiry.
Dr. Michael Nuccitelli