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What a slap in the face to the victims family.

I understand that the man is mentally ill. I do not think anyone would argue that. But to get away with a criminal record?? Obscene.
 

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Frankly, I think I'd rather do my time in a prison than in a mental institution.

I'm not sure why our justice systems can't come up with a middle ground such as guilty but insane. You'd still end up in a mental institution but you also wouldn't be able to get out someday without any record of having sliced off a guy's head.

It seems to me like a reasonable recognition of the guy's illness and the family and society's need to have somebody punished.
 

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I'm not sure why our justice systems can't come up with a middle ground such as guilty but insane.
I think just under half of the states here have that, some call it guilty but mentally ill.
 

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Nick, doesn't "guilt" in the legal sense imply an understanding of the action?

He was mentally ill, experiencing a psychotic episode, and in my humble opinion, this is the correct response from a judicial perspective. I can appreciate that the victim's family is unhappy, and sympathize.
 

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Nick, doesn't "guilt" in the legal sense imply an understanding of the action?

He was mentally ill, experiencing a psychotic episode, and in my humble opinion, this is the correct response from a judicial perspective. I can appreciate that the victim's family is unhappy, and sympathize.
Yeah, and that's why it's so controversial and why the APA hates it. You're saying they're guilty of the crime, but the definition of the crime (which at least in most of the states that adopted the Model Penal Code) includes a requirement that they intended or knew that death would result from their actions ("mens rea" in fancy legal speak). To me, it seems inconsistent to say "You're guilty of knowingly killing someone, but you won't go to jail because you didn't know what you're doing." Makes no sense to me other than it exists because it's seen as a compromise like Robin was saying. I guess I should say it makes no since from a philosophical standpoint, but I can understand the practical application.
 

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Wherever they put him, he should be in there for life. If you are that crazy, there is no coming back. No getting "better". Life in a mental institution. If you are that fucked up, you don't get a second chance. You can't "rehabilitate" or "fix" insane.
 

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Nick, doesn't "guilt" in the legal sense imply an understanding of the action?

He was mentally ill, experiencing a psychotic episode, and in my humble opinion, this is the correct response from a judicial perspective. I can appreciate that the victim's family is unhappy, and sympathize.
Was mentally ill? Was? No, dude is fucking insane. This was not an "episode". There are no psychotic "episodes"...he is psychotic. YOu do not saw off a person's head & start eating it, unless you ARE insane. He needs to be put in a mental facility for life. He can't be fixed.
 

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ECM, have you any experience with mental illness? My husband had a "near-psychotic" episode years ago, as part of a one-time manic period (bipolar). He was not in any way a danger to me or anyone else, and is totally fine now.

It gave me a way better understanding of things - yes, people can be "crazy" and get better, well enough to function in society. I don't know about the Greyhound situation, and trust the judiciary and health experts to make the determination. Maybe he will be locked up for life, who knows.

There was a case some years ago of a father who killed his teenage son (in Toronto, I think) during such an episode. Later, when he was back in reality, the grief and guilt he felt was overwhelming, and there was something in the media about it. He was a person, just as this individual is.

I agree that some individuals are truly damaged, and will never get better. Picton-guy, for example. I don't believe in "evil" so don't want to bandy that term about.
 

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ECM, have you any experience with mental illness? My husband had a "near-psychotic" episode years ago, as part of a one-time manic period (bipolar). He was not in any way a danger to me or anyone else, and is totally fine now.

It gave me a way better understanding of things - yes, people can be "crazy" and get better, well enough to function in society. I don't know about the Greyhound situation, and trust the judiciary and health experts to make the determination. Maybe he will be locked up for life, who knows.

There was a case some years ago of a father who killed his teenage son (in Toronto, I think) during such an episode. Later, when he was back in reality, the grief and guilt he felt was overwhelming, and there was something in the media about it. He was a person, just as this individual is.

I agree that some individuals are truly damaged, and will never get better. Picton-guy, for example. I don't believe in "evil" so don't want to bandy that term about.
No, admittedly my knowledge of the vast array of mental illnesses is quite limited, though I do have more access to information than most, as part of my job at the hospital involves processing the charts, case notes, evaluations & reports for the provincial Mental Health Department.

I just cannot fathom that someone who beheads a total stranger, starts eating part of his face, all in public, in front of witnesses, with not a shred of emotion, could ever, EVER be 'safe" to be in the general public again. To me, that is snapping in the worst way, and I honestly don't feel anyone can "fix" that kind of snap. I don't believe for a second you can be "behead & canibalize-crazy" and get better, I just don't. but, I am certainly no expert. To do that, that has to be permanent damage.
 

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When they are in those periods, T, they don't have control over what they do. They are completely out of control. He definitely needs to be monitored the rest of his life, but to say he can not be "fixed", w/out knowing a diagnosis is untrue. I'm playing devil's advocate here, I have no idea what his diagnosis is, other than insane. It should be on his record, certainly the authorities should have a "mental" record on him. I have no idea how the system works though.
 

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True. It is just my feeling that to be able something so unspeakably horrific, you can't come back from that. I think on the whole we are so desensitized by graphic movies, videos, video games that we don't really grasp the magnitude of this "episode", or the sheer horror of violence. The man hacked off a live, screaming, bleeding, human's head, and proceeded to canibalize it. This is not a snap and stab someone, or a snap & shoot someone. During his "episode" he beheaded a person & started to eat him. If you really think hard about how that must have played oiut, imagine it, scene by scene, minute by minute,how long it took, the blood, the mess, the screaming, the standoff... really consider the weight of hat happened. It is almost beyond understanding, if we stop saying it like a news report, and really humanize it. I don't understand how the human mind can fracture so horribly and "normalize" again.

Just my personal feelings though, and no, I am not a medical professional.
 

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I do understand what you are saying T. I guess, I'm an optimist and really want to believe that their mind has to split almost and that the human side gets lost and can be found again. Do I think he needs to be out on the street? Not really, he should always be watched closely in a clinical setting.
 

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I worked for 12 years as a psychologist at Topeka (KS) State Hospital (now closed) and during that time had excellent mentoring in working with schizophrenics and other psychotic patients and, in turn, spent many of those years supervising psychiatric residents, psychology interns, and other mental health personnel in working with them.

The legal system and the mental health system sometimes have views that are harmonious BUT often not. And when those 2 systems are at odds, that can lead to tragic outcomes (e.g., examine the Virginia Tech massacres).

I don't doubt for a minute that this person can function at a rehabilitated level.

I don't doubt for a minute that this person could suddenly cease to function at a rehabilitated level and revert to a psychotic level.

The legal system has no/little provision for those sudden changes.

The mental health delivery system WOULD IF ONLY the legal system supported it.

However, from the 1970s on, in the USA the pendulum has swung from the side on which anyone suspected of having a mental illness could be ordered into treatment to the far opposite side in which ordering a person into treatment is VERY difficult and ANY communication to colleagues, associates, supervisors, about the potential dangerousness of a person is VERY limited and restricted.

WHEN a psychotic person is adequately medicated (taking meds regularly) and IS in weekly supportive therapy and monitored for any regression, the likelihood of asocial acts recurring is extremely low -- probably much less than the likelihood of someone in the general population.

BUT WHEN there is NOT that support -- who knows?

This problem has arisen in the USA (and possibly other countries) BECAUSE there's been a movement to shut down mental health inpatient facilities/insane asylums and promote community mental health centers (CMHCs).

BUT, the staff in CMHCs very seldom/NEVER can develop the skills, sensitivity and expertise to treat and monitor the more profoundly mentally ill that those staff develop in hospitals when they are constantly working with many such people 24/7.

Mental health hospitals COST a LOT for the 24 hr. custodial treatment of each patient. Outpatient treatment at CMHCs costs far less.

BUT, are the CMHCs effective enough for all the patients who need treatment?

Today in the USA, the majority of our mentally ill are the homeless, on the street, sleeping under bridges, in jails or prisons -- without treatment.

We're reaping what we've sown.

I voice these concerns from my experience in state mental hospitals, as chief psychologist for my state system overseeing all state institutions and CMHCs, as the clinical director of a CMHC, and many years in private practice.

 

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Thanks, Bob, that was informative.

A huge issue for people with mental illness is family support. I see now that the Greyhound beheader is schizophrenic (sp?) and without someone to ensure he takes his meds, he probably will remain a danger.

I simply cannot imagine the pain I would feel to have one of my sons diagnosed with schizophrenia - that has to be the worst illness on the planet... for the person and for all who love that person (and, of course, for other victims of the illness, like in the Greyhound case)
 

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Great post, Bob. I feel for the safety of society, he should be in a mental facility for the rest of his life. It is tragic that our systems cannot serve him better, and I wish they could, but if they cannot prevent this from happening in his mind again, then they need to keep him out of the public. A facility is the only place they can ensure he gets his meds on time and gets the support he needs.
 
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