(…and sentenced to 21 years custody, which in practice means life in prison)
…and it’s completely fucking me up.
Sane? Hang on, this is what he has been fighting for throughout the entire trial. He smiled as he was handed the sentence. The asshole got what he wanted? They let him win? I can not fucking believe this.
That’s my first though. My second thought: You’re telling me that a *sane *person can murder 77 people, shoot and kill teenagers at point blank range, and show no remorse? That kind of shit can be *rational *somehow? I had comforted myself that at least I only had to worry about psychopaths pulling those stunts, now you’re telling me I have to worry about mentally un-deranged people coming to the conclusion that mass child murder is a good idea through non-insane thought processes? By way of pure fucking evil?
I was so completely convinced that he would be declared insane that I hadn’t even contemplated the possibility of this. Yes, I know that the legal definition of insanity isn’t the same thing as a medical diagnosis, etc, but… it just seemed obvious to me that the guy was batshit. Now I don’t know what the fuck to think.
I… need some calming down. OK, someone please tell me that this is all legalese and that he is really batty after all.
(And now I see someone has gunned down a bunch of random pedestrians outside the Empire State Building. This day is not turning out well.)
I dunno about Norway but in the US being declared insane means that you don’t understand that what you did was wrong. That’s all. He knew what he was doing and did it anyway. As for him winning, well I see it the same way I see the mathematician in that old joke declaring himself to be on the outside. That’s cute but for all practical purposes, you’re still inside the fence.
Insanity not only isn’t the same as a medical diagnosis, insanity isn’t a medical diagnosis at all - it’s a legal term. In the U.S. insanity is generally a state of mind so divorced from reality that the person cannot understand right from wrong, or cannot understand the nature of his actions, such that the person is not criminally responsible for what he did. You can be what a layperson would call completely bugnuts crazy and still be legally sane. Charles Manson was sane, Jeffery Dahlmer was sane, Ted Kaczynski was sane, Jared Loughner was sane (or at least didn’t make an issue of it), and so on. Norway appears to require a finding of psychosis, which medically is the condition that most often equates to insanity here. Breivik clearly isn’t psychotic, he didn’t shoot those people because he thought they were vampires attacking him, he did it because he’s an asshole.
It’s a legal term. He’s obviously batshit nuts, but not legally insane.
If he were to be found legally insane (in the U.S. anyway) that would mean he was not legally responsible for what he did. That would be worse. It’s like if a toddler stepped on a button that blew up a school full of kids. We don’t punish the two year old, even if he did it “on purpose” because he had no idea what he was doing.
Please remember that he’s not getting out in 21 years. That’s the sentence the court handed down. Norway can choose to keep him in prison for an indefinite period of time if they consider him a danger to others.
Yeah, I tend to think any murder is an automatic guarantee of mental illness. And anything other than crimes of passion / desperation / heat of the moment are a sign that the illness is deeply rooted and ongoing.
I’m not sure why the court only chooses to acknowledge mental illness that manifests as incoherency or irrationality.
Because it’s the best possible answer. If we did this, positive insanity defenses would increase exponentially, and criminal convictions to prison way down. Someone can have a shitty childhood or whatever that creates a lack of empathy, and a willingness to kill to get what they want, but they know that society frowns on what they are doing, and the know that there are consequences.
Psychotic - don’t realize what they’re doing. Say they thought all the victims were zombies, or they believed that they were okay to kill because they were plotting against the person. They get sent to a mental hospital, for what I understand is a longer term than prison, although less rapey.
Psychopathic/Sociopathic* - they know it’s illegal and considered immoral, they just don’t care. Lack of empathy/caring for others, many social actions are just “going through the motions” to fit in. May have a bad childhood/brain abnormalities creating their behavior, but they also should have sought treatment, etc. Should/would not be found insane, but prison. A large portion of the prison population is this way, and I don’t think we can shunt them to mental hospitals.
*I won’t get into the differences between these, mostly because it’s poorly defined.
The Norwegian terms are “tilregnelig” and “utilregnelig”, which basically means capable or incapable of reason. A bit closer, I think. Nobody is saying the guy isn’t as crazy as a bedbug - the court agreed with a psychiatric report that concluded he has at least one personality disorder - just that he was aware of what he was doing, was capable of understanding that it was against the law, and had the ability to stop himself if he had chosen to do so.
Another term is a key issue here, however, and that is “forvaring”. Breivik was sentenced to 21 years’ forvaring, which would translate as something like “custody”. It is not, legally, the same as being sentenced to imprisonment, although at first they are identical. What this means is that at some point, in this case no sooner than the day Breivik has served ten years in prison and no later than the day he has served 21, he must be re-examined to determine if he is still a danger to society. If he is, he can be sentenced to five more years of forvaring. At the end of that period, he must be given a new examination. If he remains a danger to society, he can get five more years. This process can in theory be repeated until the prisoner is dead. It hasn’t happened before, but then, we’ve never had a guy like this before. Effectively, forvaring is a life sentence, but with mandatory parole hearings.
Both sides have indicated that they do not intend to appeal (in Norway the prosecution can appeal under certain circumstances), so this should now be over until the first parole hearing, years from now. And in one final insult, the judge not only told Breivik, once again, to stick to the subject or shut his mouth - she turned his microphone off.
That’s my impression as well. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he is in fact anti-social/a sociopath (which basically means someone who has no empathy for others and no conscience, as thelurkinghorror already explained). However, if that was the criteria for being “insane”, many criminals (including garden variety thieves and drug dealers) as well as many CEOs (the smarter anti-socials tend to be successful in business; the dumb ones become criminals) would be considered too insane to be legally responsible for crimes.
It doesn’t sound like he was so mentally ill that he didn’t understand what he was doing, like a schizophrenic who kills someone because they sincerely believe that person was Satan. He just doesn’t care about the harm he caused to all those people.
There would be no point in putting a sociopath in a mental hospital because there is NO
treatment or cure for sociopathy. Sociopathy is one of the few mental conditions that you DO NOT want to treat with therapy because it actually makes them worse (it may help them learn how to better manipulate normal people, but it won’t make them “normal”).
With current technology, there is simply no way to teach compassion or cause someone to develop a conscience if they don’t have it. It’s scary to think that’s true, but it is. The sooner that normal people understand that, the better that society can protect itself from the sociopaths out there. Sociopaths will always try to trick normal people into thinking they’ve “changed” or “learned their lesson”. They don’t. They just get better at hiding their true selves.
I don’t think it is. Sure, it isn’t moral to murder someone, but there are all sorts of circumstances under which it is perfectly rational. You don’t need to be sociopathic; someone who dislikes someone else enough can easily justify murder to themselves. Many have.
People take positions like yours I think because they’ve been taught (for obvious reasons) from childhood that murder is completely unthinkable and taboo. They internalize this taboo to such an extent that they come to think of murder as inherently irrational.