Tuesday, July 30, 2013

CNN: "Reagan Assassination Attempt" gives interesting early 1980s history, perspective on mental illness (in "Crimes of the Century" series)

The CNN series “Crimes of the Century” has an interesting account of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981, after Reagan had been office for just 70 days. The best video for “Reagan Assassination Attempt” seems to be here
  
I had forgotten that Reagan stayed conscious so long and did not realize for a while he had been shot, and actually was able to walk into GWU Hospital, before collapsing. Reagan was quite articulate in describing the experience on the Larry King show later.
  
Most of the documentary concerned the documentary of John Warnock Hinckley.  The young man first lived with his parents, and tended to stay in his room and play his music. He imagined he could become a popular composer and went to Hollywood, but actually stayed in his room and watched movies, especially “Taxi Driver”, where he developed a one-way infatuation with Jodie Foster, which psychologists call “erotomania”.
   
He actually tried to contact Foster by phone and notes, and she (or a female friend) had to tell him to knock it off.  Imagine the rejection!
   
The psychiatrists described him not as narcissistic, but as rather empty and lifeless, filled with fantasy but little capability to act.
  
I was working in Dallas when the incident happened, and felt relieved early that afternoon (a Monday)  when a coworker identified the perpetrator and already knew that he was “mentally ill”.
Jodie Foster would have to give a deposition at the Hinckley trial, to the effect that she had no contact with him, and Hinckley has enraged.
  
Hinckley would be found “not guilty” by reason of insanity, and has spent his entire life a St. Elizabeth’s, sometimes released to his parents and allowed to live under supervision in Williamsburg, VA.
  
The documentary covered the grievous wounding of Jim Brady and wounds of two Secret Service agents.
I have seen one or two examples of one-way infatuations in my own life. In the  late 1970s, a gay friend in NYC who also played in chess tournaments had an infatuation with another player, and actually disrupted a NYC tournament (I wasn;t there, but he told me about it.)  Then the other person actually wrote him a letter never to contact him again, which “David” showed me.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen another letter like that.  

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