Local psychiatrist Dr. Dale Archer, medical director of The Institute for Neuropsychiatry, said there were clues to the mental state of 24-year-old James Holmes, the man who opened fire in this Aurora, Colo., movie theater recently. (mgnonline.com)
Last Modified: Sunday, July 29, 2012 8:30 PM
Local psychiatrist Dr. Dale Archer, medical director of The Institute for Neuropsychiatry, said there were clues to the mental state of 24-year-old James Holmes, the man who opened fire in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater recently.
He killed 12 people and injured 58.
Archer said those in the middle of a mental health crisis often see others as the enemy.
“Their perspective of life can be completely opposite of true reality. They often feel that the world is crazy; they are the only ones with clear vision. In some cases, the overwhelming drive for attention propels them to commit a crime on a massive scale,” he said.
Archer said Holmes’ failing an important college exam could have sent him over the edge. Afterward, he bought a high-powered rifle and dropped out of school.
“The stress of failure may have been a trigger for an underlying mental illness,” Archer said. Schizophrenia usually develops in the late teens to early 20s and symptoms can come on suddenly.
“Someone in a psychotic mindset still has the ability to intricately plan a complicated event such as this. Delusional people are often highly intelligent,” Archer said. “Mental illness doesn’t occur out of the blue. There are clues that should not be ignored.”
Archer said someone with one or more of the following symptoms should see a mental health expert:
• Strange or elaborate ideas.
• Extreme highs and lows in personality.
• Excessive anger, hostility or urges toward violent behavior.
• Abuse of alcohol or drugs.
• Distinct change in personality.
• Difficulty coping with problems.
• Isolation and having few friends.
• Marked changes in eating or sleeping patterns.
“It may take several attempts to reach out to someone in need. They will probably resist, as they are not viewing themselves rationally,” he said.
“We think someone just snaps, but they have dropped hints that things were not right in their mind all along. We need to be more aware.”