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Dangerous Extremes: Introversion, Dreams and the Madness of Mass Murder
Can too much introversion (or extraversion) be hazardous to mental health?
Some recent stories regarding alleged mass murderer Jared Lee Loughner's (see my previous post) state of mind leading up to last Saturday's massacre in an Arizona Safeway store suggest he was "obsessed" with dreams, and with so-called "lucid dreaming" in particular. According to one of Loughner's friends, he kept a detailed dream journal, and apparently came to prefer his inner dream world over his outer "real" life. He purportedly had become increasingly confused between inner and outer reality in the months and weeks prior to the Tucson shootings. While I have no way of knowing whether these reports are in fact accurate, this is precisely the sort of information a forensic psychologist or psychiatrist tries to ascertain as part of his or her forensic evaluation of such a defendant. Such information can shed valuable light on the defendant's probable state of mind at the moment the alleged crime was committed. And it is precisely this state of mind which the insanity defense stands upon: Was the defendent able to differentiate between right and wrong and to appreciate the nature and quality of his or her actions when committing the alleged crime?