Thursday, January 13, 2011

What I Want From ClinkShrink, by Dinah



Dear ClinkShrink,

Thank you for writing your post yesterday in response to requests for your input on the tragedy in Arizona. I liked reading about The Killers I've Known (or rather the killers you've known) and certainly I enjoyed revisiting your article on Shooter Psychology. And it does seem to be true that we all pester you every time there is a mass shooting.

I know you can't really comment on the motives of a mass murderer whom you've never examined.

Here is what I think it would be interesting for you to write about, if you want to. Or maybe if our readers bother you because they seem to have more influence than I do.

I'd like to read about the process of what will happen to the man who committed this heinous act. The descriptions in the news paint a picture of a man who may have been mentally ill or under the influence of drugs, or both. So what happens from here? Does he go to jail or to a psychiatric facility? How is it determined if he was mentally ill? What sorts of documents are examined and what sorts of people (if any) are interviewed? If he's found to be unable to stand trial, how does that work? Will he be treated with medicines? If he's very psychotic, might the medicines make him much better, and how would play out? Could he then stand trial? I'm going to assume that there's no chance (I hope) that he will be released back into free society, at least not now. What factors influence whether he is found not guilty by reason of insanity (does that designation even exist anymore?) And where does he go if he's found to be a) mentally ill and unable to understand the consequences of his actions, b) mentally ill but able to understand that what he did was wrong, c) that drugs were part of the picture or d) not mentally ill and fully able to understand what he did. How much difference does it make as to which state someone lives in who does something like this in terms of where he might end up? And in death penalty cases, does his mental state matter at the time of the crime? At the time of the trial? At the time of execution?

So perhaps I want you to give us a full forensic fellowship in a blog post. You are a good sport. It seems we're going to hear a lot about gun control and tea party's and political agendas and obstacles to treatment of the mentally ill and what obligation society has to prevent such atrocities. You have something different and important to add.

Cheers,
Dinah