It's impossible to look at someone like James Holmes, the alleged "Dark Knight Shooter," without wondering what, exactly, went so horribly wrong in that person's head. The brain of an alleged mass murderer can't possibly function like that of the average human being, can it? And in this case, not just an alleged mass murderer, but an alleged mass murderer who reportedly thinks he actually IS The Joker (and dyed his hair accordingly), used evidence bags as hand puppets while in police custody, and supposedly "can't stop spitting" at correction officers. Who also, by the way, is currently claiming amnesia (jailers apparently think he's faking that part).
Some experts think he's faking all of his lunatic behavior, but others suspect he's a schizophrenic. (If he WAS faking, he'd be a sociopath, and his profile doesn't otherwise fit with that diagnosis.)
So what if he is schizophrenic? What does that mean?
It's not like every schizophrenic person ends up opening fire in a movie theatre. Why Holmes? (Allegedly.)
Well, as with most illnesses of the mental and/or physical variety, there are different types of schizophrenia. Most schizophrenics are non-violent. Paranoid schizophrenia, on the other hand, has long been associated with violent crime (the White House even did case studies on the correlation). Grey Hound Bus killer Vince Li: Paranoid Schizophrenic. Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik: Paranoid Schizophrenic. Richard Chase: Paranoid Schizophrenic.
Makes sense when you consider the main difference between schizophrenia and paranoid schizophrenia: "The defining feature of the paranoid subtype (also known as paranoid schizophrenia) is the presence of auditory hallucinations or prominent delusional thoughts about persecution or conspiracy ... Typically, the hallucinations and delusions revolve around some characteristic theme." (Hmm, maybe like Batman/the Joker?)
Also, when symptoms are "exacerbated or worsening," paranoid schizophrenics "may have more trouble than usual remembering recent events." (Hmm, maybe he really does have "amnesia.")
Of course figuring out what's wrong with James Holmes doesn't bring back any of the victims or make up for the pain and loss and horror of that night. But maybe learning more about what makes one (alleged) mass murderer tick can help us to diagnose other potential killers before it's too late.
Do you think James Holmes is a paranoid schizophrenic?