Major Hasan’s mental responsibility (insanity)

Here’s the question, I think., as with many other media outlets are reporting:

Nidal Malik Hasan’s overly zealous religious views and strange behavior worried the doctors overseeing his medical training, but they saw no evidence that he was violent or a threat.

The question, a legitimate question, has been raised about Major Hasan’s mental responsibility (read sanity or insanity) for his acts at Fort Hood.  His lawyers – military lawyers and civilian – will rightly be investigating sanity issues as a defense or mitigation.  The court-martial is going to hear sufficient evidence of what he did, the central question will be why – why from a mental health standpoint, not motive.  And, as I and others recommend, the command ought to be doing that themselves rather quickly — getting the R.C.M. 706 examination discussed in an earlier post.  Here’s some interesting observations from OpinionBlog.

People who are stirring up fear and hatred along these lines are completely missing the point. It doesn’t matter what Maj. Hasan’s religion is. It matters a lot what his sanity level is and was. His sanity level was off the charts. In medical/psychological terms, I think the technical term is "nut-case loony." Anyone who’s been listening to Daniel Zwerdling’s reports on NPR over the past day would know that Hasan’s colleagues had been worried about him for years, concerned that he was psychotic and capable of inflicting harm. The reason he was assigned to Fort Hood was that he would be further out of harm’s way there. At least, that’s what they thought. They knew he was in significant psychological trouble, but no one seems to have done anything about it.

Now, Major Hasan has been with and around a lot of psysch’s over the years, and apparently some had questions about his fitness.  But does the input and the day to day contact between Major Hasan and these mental health professionals cause doubt over the validity of an insanity defense in this case.  Surely, these trained professionals would have identified someone who did not know right from wrong and who could not follow the law.  This and other questions will be central to Major Hasan’s likely insanity defense.  Will this case call into question the overall quality of mental care and providers in the Army?

Contact Information