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Was Andreas Lubitz, who crashed Germanwings flight into mountain, depressed or a psychopath?

Andreas Lubitz

Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot who crashed the GermanWings flight into a mountain, killing all onboard.

Editor’s note: The following email was forwarded to Lovefraud by the reader “Jennifer in NYC.” She originally sent the email to government officials in the United States and Germany.

“Flying below the radar”: The real culprit might (again!) be psychopathy (not depression)

By Jennifer in NYC

After it was determined that the co-pilot on Germanwings Flight 9525, Andreas Lubitz, had deliberately crashed the plane into the French Alps last week, the ongoing investigation has raised many questions about his mental health status and other related health problems.  While reports have confirmed that he was treated for what appears to be depression, attributing this catastrophe to his struggles with depression is both wrong and misleading, for various reasons:

First, individuals who suffer from depression (and the majority of serious mental illnesses) are a great risk to themselves; they are rarely a risk/threat to other people.  In sharp contrast, individuals who suffer from psychopathy rarely suffer from “distress” (due to their severe emotional deficiency and stunning lack of conscience), but they always pose a great threat to (the health and well-being of) other people.  Further, while depressed individuals are at great risk of committing suicide; they rarely/almost never resort to acts of (mass) homicide, as was true in this tragic case.

Second, while Mr. Lubitz may, in fact, have been diagnosed with and treated for depression, his emerging psychological profile is far more “complex,” if not—in many ways—“dark,” or even, “sinister.”  According to news reports, his ex-girlfriend (who was a flight attendant) “broke-off” her relationship with him because it was clear that he had “problems.”  According to her, he said:  “One day I’m going to do something that will change the whole system, and everyone will know my name and remember.”  According to the German publication, Bild, this ex-girlfriend said that if it’s true that he (Lubitz) deliberately brought down the plane, “…it’s because he understood that because of his health problems, his big dream of a job at Lufthansa, as captain, and as a long-haul pilot was practically impossible.”  If Lubitz was solely suffering from a serious depression then, as previously-stated, he most definitely was at great risk of committing suicide.  However, his assertion reveals an undeniable arrogance, grandiosity, and sense of entitlement; these are some of the noted features of psychopathy, not clinical depression.

Third, according to a posting by a licensed clinical social worker on the (previously-recommended) website, Lovefraud, suicide is a viable option for some psychopaths/sociopaths (interchangeable terms for the disorder):  “…it may be less ‘despair’ and ‘depression’ with which the sociopath is left when his act has been shutting-down than his preferring to no longer to deal with an existence he knows will cease supplying the gratifications to which he’s grown accustomed, perhaps addicted and certainly privileged.”

The full article/posting:

Sociopaths and Suicide, by Steve Becker, LCSW, on Lovefraud.com.

And finally, an individual who is suffering (primarily) from depression is less able to hide his/her mental illness, due to the (generally) debilitating effects of the disorder, while an individual who “suffers” from psychopathy is notoriously capable of “fooling” anyone/everyone, including mental health professionals.  According to news reports, Lubitz was “treated by several neurologists and psychologists” for a “range of problems,” including “psychosomatic illness,” and “eye problems” (due to the possibility of having a detached retina).  However, if he also “suffered” from psychopathy, it’s very likely that this most dangerous and destructive mental/personality disorder was not detected by any of the professionals who were treating him, or, by anyone who trained or worked with him.  So, whether they are airplane pilots or other “high-ranking professionals,” such as lawyers, physicians, professors, or university administrators, psychopaths “fly below the radar” (of detection) anywhere they are, and they are, therefore, a great threat to everyone, “in the air,” and everywhere.

Additional comments from Donna Andersen

This morning, CNN reported that Andreas Lubitz was “doctor-shopping.” Apparently he had been to five or six doctors for treatment. A law enforcement source told CNN that Lubitz was “very afraid” he would lose his license to fly because of medical issues.

GERMANWINGS: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz sought help from multiple doctors, on CNN.COM.

But Richard E. Vatz, a professor at Towson University and an editor of Current Psychology, points out that in the psychological literature there is “no serious link” between depression and mass murder. Vatz called Lubitz a “miserable miscreant.”

When evil flies as co-pilot: Some killers are not ‘medically ill,’ but malevolent, on WashingtonTimes.com.

Andreas Lubitz’s co-workers said he was fine the day before the crash, according to media reports. Maybe he had a psychopathic mask in place.

More info:

The minds of those who kill, and kill themselves, on NYTimes.com.



31 Comments on "Was Andreas Lubitz, who crashed Germanwings flight into mountain, depressed or a psychopath?"

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    • Jan7 says:

      The article continues to state:

      “…..They then assessed whether the people in this group met the criteria for a mental disorder, as laid out in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the U.S. bible for psychiatric conditions.

      They found that 38 per cent of SSRI users did not meet the criteria for a mental disorder, and 69 per cent did not meet the criteria for major depressive disorder….”



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      • curls says:

        SSRI’s have a lot of effects beyond depression.

        They add to blood volume, and counter some lyme symptoms, and the list continues for somatic conditions. So even if officially prescribed for depression, it may be a medical condition that prompted the looking for a solution.

        I’m sure they are overdiagnosed since “depression” is often pushed when a patient’s problems can’t be fixed or figured out that easily. And I’ve known people on piles of pills without a clue what was truely effective for them (all pushed by doctors).

        The article is very lacking. So what were people prescribed them for? What improvements did the people see? What about all the other psychiatric conditions they are used with. It looked like a scare article trying to point out that using while pregnancy increases risk of autism, but then they should have just written an article directly about that!



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  1. flicka says:

    Interesting, thought-provoking “take” on this pilot’s illness.



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  2. truth7 says:

    This is a helpful article into the world of sociopathy and offers more understanding about the recent Germanwings tragedy. I learn more and more about sociopaths and their far-reaching impact upon others.



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  3. GoldenGirl says:

    When I heard the news report of the GermanWings crash and the report that when officials listened to the “last sounds” of Andreas Lubitz minutes before the actual crash was “Lubitz’s steady,even breathing” I needed to know NOTHING else.

    Only a Psychopath can be that calm at the moment of death.

    A non-spath, if you have all kinds of other aliments, depression, whatever, when you know you are going to die, you P A N I C.

    Don’t wonder, KNOW Lubitz was a spath of some kind.

    My ex-spath loved to challenge himself and others and when he was in a pickle, he thrived. His body would go into hyper-quiet mode. His breathing slowed. He concentrated on the destruction at hand.

    He would become focused to the point that I could almost see lasers coming from his eyes when he saw something he was after. He knew I knew and wore sunglasses when in public in the church. What he didn’t know, was wearing sunglasses was a sign to me, he was hunting vulnerable females.

    I will never forget when he was delivering a sermon, he stood in front of everyone, inviting the ladies for a sexual-liaison as an aside, right in the middle of the sermon, while the head of the church sat and gloried at how he had captivated the congregation and the collection plate would be full, because the ladies were all titillated.

    Fornication is a huge sin in the church. One time he was reading the Tenants and Rules of the church and I told one of the other evangelists to listen, he would NOT include “fornication” in the list of things not allowed by church members. When he passed it over, the person I told laughed because he knew he never followed the rules.

    I knew what “my” particular ex-spath does, and the way I learned to interpret him, I could see the “double” meanings to his words and actions. The key was “nobody” can be or do better than him. (Narcissist) If you did, you were attacked. Malignant Narcissist)

    If he wanted information or to help me or tell me something or any communication of any kind. He was after something from me that he would gain from it.

    I had to figure out what was the something that was accruing to him. I usually could figure it out, by something he said or did earlier (or later) in casual conversation. It was his covert way of bragging about what he pulled off. Sometimes it took more than one event for me to figure it out and a pattern developed. That’s why I kept a journal of what he said and did and could go back and figure out the relevance to current “strange” events.

    The journal helped me to sidestep a lot of nasty things he had planned. Sometimes I got caught. Usually petty things, like stealing a book on con-men or my large-print Bible, or some drill bits or SD cards.

    To counter, I put my hard drives and gold jewelry in a bank safety deposit box and showed him a picture of the contents.

    He said that I was the most intelligent woman he ever met. Compliment…. N O ! It means danger, because no one can be better than him. When he asked what the envelop on the top contained. I told him instructions to the police to know what to do with the contents of the hard drives when I died. I still have laser burn scars in my gut when all he could do was stare at me not saying a word!

    My next step is dwelling security with cameras. But, it just ups the challenge to him. He just loves it.

    I feel like the pilot, banging on the door, begging to be let in as Lubitz breaths slowly, while accelerating the plane into the side of the mountain!



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    • NotWhatHeSaidofMe says:

      GoldenGirl
      ABSOLUTELY spot on. The calmness. It’s a Dead giveaway. The guy is a sociopath. I have not seen any other personality be so disconnected and calm.

      My ex was always in total control when everyone else was freaked out. I, too, agree about the breathing… I did not have to hear anything else.

      My ex also would consult a therapist. I knew he had an angle, a reason, a hidden agenda. It had NOTHING to do with getting help. I may not have figured out the end game, but I KNEW that he had one.

      My ex had MULTIPLE end games. He never had just one hidden agenda. I also knew when My ex was “hunting”. He would be just a regular joe. And when he FOUND his prey, that is when he dolled up, new shirt, haircut, flossed his teeth. But he NEVER pursued them, he just made himself available for them to pursue. What is that saying, He ran as fast as he could so they could catch him?

      The most he made himself available for them to pursue him, the more they wanted him. Early on, before I realized it was a dead end to try to tell the other women to leave us alone, I confronted one of the women chasing him. She said to me, “I don’t even know if he’s married!” TO which I replied, “Yet you know who I am… you know I’m. His. WIFE.

      NOTHING riled my ex. He was known for his calm. What people didn’t realized was that when he was extremely angry, he was DEADLY calm. Smiling. Easy going, good ol boy.



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      • flicka says:

        It seems strange but in 40+ years of dealing with family sociopaths, my only 2 close encounters revealed their hatred by either swollen forehead blood veins or that insane glare/stare. But their breathing rates never did change, that part was true.



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        • curls says:

          Delusional who believes themselves will also have calm heart rates. Delusional is also more likely to kill themselves, and to go for help over the years, and to need to doctor shop instead of convincing the first one.

          I don’t know. I’d still rather wait for more info to judge something this distant from me.

          It’s so hearbreaking to think about the family members and what they are going through.



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          • NotWhatHeSaidofMe says:

            I see what you mean about Delusionals. But this man visited with mental health professionals and seems to me that delusion would be easy to discover. Sociopathy, that’s much harder to uncover.

          • curls says:

            Notwhathesaid

            There’s a whole range of delusional situations (mental health illnesses) many of which can look pretty normal a lot of the time. Also mental health professionals can miss things, or one can flag and pass on the info, then ball gets dropped. A bunch of the mass shootings in the last 5 years were like that. (Fort Hood, Sandy hook, Virginia Tech are the ones I remember.)

            Definitely calm heart rate makes sense on a psychopath. And lack of normal fear reaction.

            The rest of the picture isn’t fitting as well to me.

            The image of mass killing to make a name, fits better with manic depression and schizophrenia, and even there are a host of other medical and mental health conditions that can create transient or low-grade looking delusion.

            Psychopaths usually control everything well, and look perfectly normal. It’s part of why they dup people so well. When delusional about creating a legacy, they seem to rarely kill themselves, and instead get everyone else around them to commit mass murder — like Charles Manson or that Jones guy.

            The sunglasses description is funny — ooh, my goodness, good at controlling the situation…

            That the pilot was already diagnosed with a deep mental illness (severe level of depression at one point), gave me a first impresson of manic depression. …or one of the other delusional illnesses. I was surprised the bi-polar wasn’t coming up in news media reports.

            Only thing is bi-polar rarely are (excessively) violent or harm any one else. So hard to peg it as that all that quickly either.

            It’ll may be hard to know for a long time — as the airline may try to supress anything bad for business.

          • AnnettePK says:

            It’s been reported that his MD’s recommended he be grounded, so they may have recognized a serious problem, possibly involving delusions. Lubitz ignored their instructions, and it fell through the cracks of the system, which relies on pilot’s self reporting medical conditions.

            There is not enough information available yet for even us experienced expert in spathology to make an accurate guess of a diagnosis. More complete and reliable information will come out months or years later when the investigation is finished, and by then it’s old news and not as exciting as the theories and speculation that’s the basis of much information the public gets from the media when a tragedy like this happens.

            There are many possible scenarios – he could have been unconscious, under the influence of drugs, or suffering a serious delusional disconnect with reality.

            The Texas Tower Sniper in 1966 had gone to several MD’s due to mental health symptoms he was experiencing. An autopsy revealed an undiagnosed brain tumor.

            My ex spath would get calmer – heart rate and breathing actually slowed down like in a meditative state – when he was perpetrating someone’s suffering.

            If Lubitz did crash the plane on purpose it is a beyond horrible manifestation of evil to the ultimate degree. But it may not be psychopathy as it’s defined. Some facts that don’t fit the psychopathic paradigm:
            He sought professional help. Most spaths think they are perfect as they are and don’t see a need to change anything about themselves. They blame everyone else.
            He was reported to be diagnosed with depression. Spaths don’t generally have the emotional depth to feel depression. My ex psychopath told me he’d never been depressed (which should have been a red flag – life is hard and it’s normal and natural to go through periods of depression in response to losses and difficult circumstances.)
            Spaths are homicidal if they can get some pleasure in watching others suffer, as in the case of murderers Graham Dwyer and Jesse Matthew. Spaths often link sex with their abuse (as many of us victims well know.) Spaths generally are clear thinkers and are motivated by self preservation. A psychopath generally chooses to enjoy a long life of abusing others rather than to end his life. Lubitz was not going to get any personal pleasure, or any other personal gain out of the suffering he caused, which is a hallmark of the spath’s motivation. A spath generally makes choices that cause suffering while escaping any harm to himself.

            A person suffering a break with reality will do things that harm himself as well as others because he/she doesn’t understand realistic consequences of their actions. They often think they are doing something useful that will have good consequences, in a completely illogical and nonsensical way.

            US airlines have a regulation where if only one pilot is left in the cockpit, a flight attendant has to sit in the cockpit also. The purpose is so that if the pilot becomes incapacitated – loses consciousness or mental clarity for any reason – someone is available to get help.

          • NotWhatHeSaidofMe says:

            AnnettePK and Curls
            My comment disappeared. I think I accidentally sent a report comment rather than reply.

            I just wanted to reply to AnnettePK’s correct observation that sociopaths don’t feel depression. I agree.

            But… my ex would use a therapists diagnosis of depression as a pity play to excuse his behavior when he went too far. Kinda like you see in Hollywood when someone gets caught behaving badly and they go to rehab. See, it’s not their fault!

            So my ex definitely did go seek “help” from therapists, just not for the reason I did.

            It is reported, the breathing was calm, even as he increased the speed of the plane into that mountainside. That tells me he was not unconscious. He was not unconscious when he manually prevented the Captain from re-entering the cockpit.

            But as you say, and I concur, we don’t have all the info. And until we learn more, all I write is conjecture. So I will stop.

            Just wanted to point out, sociopath use therapists, many times. I know my ex manipulated several. And I was blamed for sending my ex into depression, even as I knew he was NOT depressed. It was just a form of pity play and scapegoating, so he would not be held accountable for going beyond what the community would accept. My ex learned the community would excuse anything, as long as he could blame me for making him “depressed”.

          • AnnettePK says:

            Not,
            I also thought about using seeking mental health help as a pity ploy or some other manipulative purpose. My ex P did a bit of that; and it turned into a complicated mess involving several counselors some of whom joined him in blaming me, even calling me up, SA and abuser groups (in which he lied and manipulated everyone including his sponsor) and then misquoted (lied) a ministerial counselor in our church to justify stopping attending when it no longer suited his purpose (which was not to stop abusing and using porn). Exhausting to remember.

            Back to Lubitz – I think that if there were underground reasons he sought mental health help, we may never know because it may involve friends and family. There isn’t much information now other than he did see mental health professionals.

            There was also a bit of info that his flight training was interrupted for some reason. Again, not enough info to diagnose his motive.

            If he had a brain tumor or some other discernible organic brain problem, we’ll never know as I doubt an autopsy is possible.

            I don’t understand how steady breathing indicates he was conscious though?

            Not likely of course, but private pilots have fallen asleep while flying. Maybe meds could have affected him. There is a strong link between anti depressants and suicide. The pharmaceuticals work hard to keep this information from getting out, but a couple of MD’s are trying to get the info out and make changes in prescribing. I looked into it because an in law suddenly made many attempts after taking anti depressants for some mild depression due to marriage problems.

            At one time, a pilot alone in the cockpit had to go on oxygen (because loss of cabin oxygen due to depressurization results in loss of consciousness in seconds). I don’t know if this practice is still in force, though.

            Mental disorder diagnosis is a continuum with lots of grey areas. I discern that my ex P would not have crashed a plane with a bunch of people on board. He’d rather fly around the world feeling like a big shot because he’s a pilot sleeping with and exploiting as many women, men, children, whatever he’s into that he can.
            Do others here on LF think their ex spaths would have done something like this?

          • AnnettePK says:

            Another thing to consider is when that Malaysian airliner went missing, the press put a lot of emphasis on the possibility that the pilots might have done it deliberately. The best theory was published right after it happened, and it made sense to most pilots, but wasn’t exciting or interesting for media reports. It’s here:

            http://www.wired.com/2014/03/mh370-electrical-fire/

        • SoOverMySPath says:

          My ex-Spath also glared at me once. I left him. But then he sweet talked me back. Then I saw his disease even more up close and personal. We broke up and now I have implemented No Contact. Best decision ever!



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  4. Here’s more on the crash from NY Times:

    “Studies over the last decades have begun to piece together characteristics that many who carry out such violence seem to share, among them a towering narcissism, a strong sense of grievance and a desire for infamy.”

    The mind of those who kill, and kill themselves

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/07/science/the-mind-of-those-who-kill-and-kill-themselves.html?_r=0



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    • AnnettePK says:

      Interesting, sounds like the combination of traits behind suicide bombers and shooting/suicides. It’s maybe realted, but not the same as the traits and behaviors my ex P has.



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    • flicka says:

      Re: the Lubitz case, I doubt that we will ever conclude that he was a sociopath. For one thing, the spath’s main goal of “getting the (one) victim back” is not present. This one trait is why a spath’s supposed loved one may be in imminent danger. Second, my experience with sociopaths has been that they all feel superior to the rest of humanity and though they often threaten suicide for attention, few ever follow through. That he had some form of mental illness is clear, I just don’t personally think that his traits ‘fit’ that of a true sociopath somehow.



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  5. Jan7 says:

    I want to add that the “Columbine Shooting” (shooting at a high school in the US that wounded/killed countless students while at school) the authorities did determined that one teen shooter was indeed a psychopath while the other was under the psychopath’s influence of mind control.

    So this is why I am complexed about this pilot and the horrible act that he did to his fellow crew/passengers.

    Was he himself under the influence of a psychopath say a psychologist or other person? (act of terrorism by a group or individual through this pilot)

    Or was he a psychopath?

    May the victims RIP & their family find some type of peace for the rest of their lives. So very sad for the families/friends.



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