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Jamina Briggs may, in fact, be ‘hearing voices’

Perhaps I’ve become jaded. Usually when I see stories in the newspaper about parents killing their children, my first reaction is to think the parents are sociopaths, and that any claim of “hearing voices” is simply a ruse to escape blame. But some people are, in fact, deranged, and perhaps Jamina Briggs is one of those people.

A short news clip published on Friday stated that Jamina Briggs was fatally charged with stabbing her two young sons, and had previously been arrested for domestic violence and prostitution. Violence plus partner abuse plus indiscriminate sex often add up to sociopathy.

But then I researched this story some more. Briggs called the cops herself after killing her children, and when they arrived, she literally had blood on her hands. A neighbor said she made strange comments, believing “somebody was talking about her all the time.” She chased her boyfriend with a butcher knife, and when he fled to a different house, she stabbed the wooden door multiple times. In another incident, Briggs attacked her mother and bit her in the face.

Stabbing a door? Biting a face? Sociopaths are usually more controlled in their violence.

So perhaps this woman is not faking insanity — she really is crazy. Unfortunately, our society is no longer set up to deal with violent people like her, and two boys are dead.

2 boys fatally stabbed, mother charged in Memphis, on KnoxNews.com.

Jamina Briggs, Tenn. mother charged in the fatal stabbing of her two sons, tells cops “voices” told her to do it, on CBSNews.com.

UPDATE:

New York and some other states have laws that compel patients to seek outpatient mental health treatment. A new study says it’s working.

Program Compelling Outpatient Treatment for Mental Illness Is Working, Study Says, on NYTimes.com.



5 Comments on "Jamina Briggs may, in fact, be ‘hearing voices’"

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  1. onmyown says:

    Reading what you’ve written here, she sounds schizophrenic. I clicked the links and read her history of violence goes back to 2004, which would make her early 20s. Sounds about right with onset of symptoms typically occuring late teens and early 20s, except I’ve never heard of a schizophrenic or person suffering from another type of psychosis going undiagnosed that long.

    The killing of her children sounds sort of similar to Andrea Yates in that she took immediate responsibility for the act. That doesn’t sound like a sociopath. My immediate thought is that a sociopath who wanted her children gone would be more like Susan Smith in blaming it on someone else.



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  2. Redwald says:

    I think you’re right, Donna. Perhaps this woman had been diagnosed at some point in her life, and that’s how she knew what was wrong with her.

    When you said our society is “no longer” set up to deal with violent people like her, is this a reference to the deinstitutionalization of mental patients that took place some decades ago? But was our society ever set up to deal with people like her, who are only violent now and again? Despite her schizophrenia, she seems to have been functional enough to get by in a normal community, except for an occasional outburst that didn’t have lethal consequences. Would she have been institutionalized in 1950, say? Let alone in 1850? I imagine this kind of murder could have happened at any time in history.

    The only thing I can add is that if this woman had been diagnosed, and if (and I do say if) she was on medication, the medication might have been what made her functional enough to live in the community. If that’s the case, fifty or sixty years she might have been institutionalized instead. In part it was the availability of new antipsychotic drugs after the middle of the twentieth century that made it practical to let many mental patients out into the community. Except of course that the drugs might not work all of the time, or some patients would go off their meds. Then all hell could break loose, as it did here.



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  3. Redwald – All of your points are well-taken. I worry that today there are few options when people are really disturbed and/or violent. I’m thinking of the cases like the woman who wrote “I am Adam Lanza’s mother,” trying to cope with a son who consistently acted out, and who one day could possibly turn extremely violent. I’ve also heard from parents of budding sociopaths. The kids were what was once called “incorrigible.” But unless the kid actually broke a law badly enough to get him/her locked up, there are often no resources for these parents.



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  4. I just saw an article relevant to this discussion on NYTimes:

    Program Compelling Outpatient Treatment for Mental Illness Is Working, Study Says, on NYTimes.com.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/30/us/program-compelling-outpatient-treatment-for-mental-illness-is-working-study-says.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&hpw



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  5. carriesguns says:

    i once went off to class, and left my fairly new friend watching my kids. when i returned,(an hour later) my 7 yr-old walked out into the living room as i came in, & i asked where my friend was. she calmly replied that she was in the shower stall in the bathroom, talking to jesus…
    i immediately went in there to find my “newish” friend involved in a total break with reality.
    and discovered later she’d been diagnosed schizophrenic, was currently out of an institution on a trial basis, and also attending the same university. she even lived in student housing close to me. i had seen no symptoms to indicate that she was anything other than any other stressed out single mom.
    fortunately, i had a very calm and level-headed 7 yr-old, who’d actually “babysat” her, calmly noting her aberrant behavior. oh, yes, we had a serious conversation after i’d notified the proper authorities. lol.
    apparently, according to my daughter, she’d become quite verbal & obviously talking to jesus, so my daughter had just followed her on her walk through the apartment to keep an eye on her, keep her from bumping into things- having questioned her enough to realize- in a very adult manner- that she was oblivious to almost everything actually around her.
    it was all very interesting, and very very scary!!! i never again asked someone to watch my kids for me without knowing them much better or getting strong long-known references!! she had seemed entirely dependable, normal, all that!
    schizophrenia is a very terrible disease and the symptoms can sometimes be masked right up to the final”break” with reality. after that, anything can happen. the person suffering is often unaware of occurrences during that period. any resemblance to sociopathy is probably atypical, although several sociopaths of my aquaintance were, long ago, diagnosed schizophrenic, that was later found to be their “cover” for their sociopathic acts. (some kind of “poor me” illusion used to suck in their next victim.) so, for me, while a sociopath may fake schizophrenia, no schizophrenic in my experience will fake sociopathy. i actually believe it to be a completely dissimilar personality type. schizophrenics often, i believe, seem to be too empathetic, whereas sociopaths are entirely dissociated from those kinds of emotions.



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