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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

61 Comments on "Other aspects of crime and mental disorders"

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  1. hens says:

    Milo – What a stressful situation for you….what a screwed up society we live in, just relax and breathe…hug.



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  2. Ox Drover says:

    Dear MiLo,

    I understand that you want to freeze Grand where he is now, where he can ride off on his pony and no one will make fun of him.

    Maybe though, this will be a teaching moment for the school, and maybe they will take the BULLYING seriously now….because maybe if the bullying had been prevented this whole thing never would have happened.

    Troubled kid with bad DNA+ bullying= TIME BOMB

    Maybe you can use this as an example when you talk to the teachers and principal about the bullying that is happening to Grand.

    Put your arms firmly around yourself and squeeze tightly and know that is from me. (((hugs))) God bless.



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  3. KatyDid says:

    Oh MilO
    My heart goes out to you. What a treasure you are. And, sadly, you know that Grand has a higher risk for behaviors and it causes you pause to think. While I wish I could tell you it’s not going to happen, the fact is, I almost call this a gift.

    From your writings, Grand is being bullied. He is being singled out as different, that kids can be mean to him and at least in Grand’s perspective, they get away with it, while he has to submit to their abuse. I can’t help, as one who submitted to abuse from my spath/family/hisfriends and was VERY resentful of it, but UNDERSTAND the desire to “even the score”, even though I defined “evening the score” as them being stuck with HIM.

    I see Grand as needing a way to feel empowered to stop others picking on him. He needs to learn ways to deal with bullies, and to deal with the inevitable and NORMAL feelings of hurt when others get away with things he Can’t. He needs to learn what to do about the unfairness of life, b/c life is unfair and that is NORMAL too.

    I read the response from the shooter. He did not get a thrill, he fell apart. That doesn’t sound spath to me. It doesn’t sound planned. It sounds impulsive. That he wrote dark things is Not unusual. I’ve read dark things by my daughter’s classmates in their English Lit class, and they were all stellar kids, now doctors, architects, ballet dancer, bank manager, etc. I think it too soon to make conclusions other than he committed an act of unspeakable violence on the vulnerable. WHY is not yet established. What he was thinking is Unknown.

    But for Grand, I am going to validate your feelings and tell you that you have an intuition I think you should listen to. Not that he is going to commit violence, but that he is at risk and therefore needs extra programs to teach him to manage the flustrations that ALL of us feel. B/c I think Grand thinks he’s cursed with feelings the rest of us don’t have. We do have them. And we had to learn what to do with them. That becomes even more important with kids who have impulse control problems and VERY important to establish that management BEFORE major teen years.

    All my best,
    Katy, who keeps feeling respect for how you step up and parent Grand.



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  4. MiLo says:

    Oxy ~ thanks for the warm hug – I can feel it. I hope I can make the school SEE that Grand is being bullied, because it is a strange kind of “under the radar” type bullying.

    Katy ~ I am so glad you posted to me, I was hoping you would. Your insight is so important to me. You are so right, Grand needs to feel empowered, and that it is NORMAL to feel hurt and it is NORMAL for other kids to tease, not RIGHT, but NORMAL. You are so right, he does feel cursed and can’t connect that we all have hurt feelings and resentment sometimes.

    No, it didn’t seem that the shooter got any kind of a thrill or that he even planned that well. I guess that he didn’t even know if the gun would fire. He sat in the lunch room for awhile, then went into the bathroom and fired the gun into his book bag, just to see if it would work. Neighbors of the grandparents said they were wonderful people and he was a great kid, often walking down the road and offering to help with yard work etc. Even the people that stopped him on the road, found out he was the shooter, but were not afraid of him. They said he seemed so fragile. He didn’t have a JV record and was in a school for “at risk” kids mostly because of truancy. I agree with the dark things he wrote, many kids do that. I just don’t know.

    Something else, the kids he targeted were not the “popular jocks” of the school. They were kids that went to the vocational school. A lot of these kids have had trouble in the regular school setting also. They didn’t seem to be the kids that bullied him.

    Again, thank you all for all the support. I can’t begin to tell you how strange it feels to see a headline here on LF that mentions a horror like this with the name of a town I grew up near and have lived my entire life.



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  5. Ox Drover says:

    MiLo and Katy,

    That’s the thing, KNOWING the bullying is going on and not being able to get the school to cooperate…well NOW MAYBE THEY WILL.

    Milo I took my ADHD kid out of public school and home schooled him for a little while (back when it was ILLEGAL to do so! LOL) but then I found a church run school that used the PACE system. The kids face the wall in their own little cubical and the teacher is behind them. It is QUIET and each kid works at his own PACE with his own books, etc. There is NO violence or bullying and the religious part of it is not stressed too much. It was also CHEAP. This is a nationally recognized program with studies and I was pleased with BOTH of the schools I had him in that used these materials and way of running a school. It is I think IDEAL for an ADHD kid. Or one who is “different” They wear uniforms and there is a very low ratio of kids to each teacher. It allowed son C some time to mature without having to worry about bullies.

    In the meantime I think I would take a HARD LINE with the school where he is STOP THE BULLYING OR YOU WILL HEAR FROM MY ATTORNEY… Gran may be 11 physically but my guess is he is not taht emotionally mature and needs some PEACE in order to mature and being bullied is not going to give him that. (((hugs))))



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  6. KatyDid says:

    Oxy
    You are so right about the bullying. My cousin’s daughter was bullied mercilessly and I noticed she looked mean in her holiday pic and told my cousin about the change. She found out about the bullying which was instigated and encouraged by her TEACHER. She is now being homeschooled and boy what a dif. Her face is back to her sweet happy self, pictures show a relaxed girl, not the tense, vicious look from last Sept school pics.

    Kids need space to learn without having to be defensive or onguard. Such hostility destroys us and we’re adults! I do think MiLO might do well to look at moving Grand into an atmosphere such as what you describe. A quiet place without worry about bullies. Wish it had been available for my daughter.



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  7. KatyDid says:

    MiLO
    Just wanted to give you a heads up about Grand’s bullying. Chances are if he’s telling you about it, it’s worse than what he’s saying. In my experience, kids tolerate a LOT of abuse before they say anything, if they tell at all.

    Grand is in a high pressure situation with his mom/dad. He’s gonna be more sensitive than others, which is a good thing on one level, means he’s capable of sensitivity, and on another level, means that until he developes healthy coping for snotty rudeness, he’s vulnerable.

    Think Oxy gives great advice about finding him a learning environment that is quiet and empowering and respectful. I don’t think it sounds like his current school gives him that.

    Even if they institute anti bullying rules, kids still whisper the comments, the “accidental ” trips/bumps, one word threats and putdowns. If you have any way to move him to better environment, I’d support such a plan. One less problem for Grand increases his chances for success. Just Imho.

    Best
    Katy



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