The Insanity of Mass Murder

On the face of it, committing a mass murder is crazy; you would have to be insane to murder several people. But according to a recent New York Times article, mass murderers are typically not insane. The gist of the article is expressed in its title, Are Mass Murderers Insane? Usually Not, Researchers Say.

It is true that severe mental illnesses are found more often among mass murderers. About one in five are likely psychotic or delusional, according to Dr. Michael Stone, a forensic psychiatrist at Columbia University who maintains a database of 350 mass killers going back more than a century. The figure for the general public is closer to 1 percent.

But the rest of these murderers do not have any severe, diagnosable disorder. Though he was abusive to his wife, Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub, had no apparent serious mental illness. Neither did Stephen Paddock, who mowed down 58 concertgoers from a hotel window in Las Vegas. ...
The overall rate of any psychiatric history among mass killers — including such probable diagnoses as depression, learning disabilities or A.D.H.D. — was 48 percent. ...
Researchers define mass killings as an event leaving four or more dead at the same place and time. These incidents occur at an average of about one a day across the United States; few make national headlines.
- BENEDICT CAREY, Are Mass Murderers Insane? Usually Not, Researchers Say, NYT, NOV. 8, 2017

Ms. Wall, 30, a promising and prolific journalist, disappeared after meeting the suspect, Peter Madsen, for an interview aboard the submarine he had invented. Hours later, after text messages to her boyfriend had stopped, the police were called. Parts of her body were later found in Koge Bay, near Copenhagen.

After gathering evidence contradicting Mr. Madsen’s shifting explanations about Ms. Wall’s death, prosecutors charged him with premeditated murder, sexual assault, indecent handling of a body and other crimes. ...

The trial prosecutor, Jakob Buch-Jepsen, spent the morning summarizing the case, the charges and the main evidence that will be presented. He said 37 witnesses would be called, a handful by the defense.

He also warned the court that graphic and disturbing photographs would be presented and said that, according to a psychiatric evaluation, Mr. Madsen was “severely aberrant,” but not insane. He added that Mr. Madsen was manipulative and lacked empathy and feelings of guilt.
- CHRISTINA ANDERSON, Danish Inventor Accused of Submarine Murder Takes the Stand, NYT, MARCH 8, 2018

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