Church gunman suffered from “Lyme rage”

by Walter Olson on March 11, 2009

Eyebrows are raised at an Illinois excuse.

{ 8 comments }

1 Tom T. 03.11.09 at 11:35 am

PubMed discloses a few studies showing psychosis as a rare but not unheard-of consequence of long-term Lyme infection. What is essentially unheard of is Lyme presenting exclusively psychiatric symptoms, and I haven’t seen any suggestion that the gunman had any other symptoms consistent with Lyme.

Of course, he could still have been mentally ill even without having Lyme disease.

2 Richard Nieporent 03.11.09 at 11:51 am

I guess this is no worse than the twinkie defense . Put this down as just another reason to hate criminal defense lawyers.

3 Mia 03.11.09 at 12:52 pm

I don’t buy the insanity because of Lyme disease defense.

4 Judy 03.11.09 at 3:40 pm

If the gunman didn’t have any other symptoms of Lyme disease besides mental illness, why did the report say he almost died last year? It seemed to have the reader draw the conclusion that his near fatal illness was from Lyme disease. I’ve never heard of mental illness causing the patient to nearly die.

5 Leland D. Davis 03.11.09 at 3:52 pm

I had Lyme disease about ten years ago. Fortunatly, I was quickly diagnosed and then put on strong antibiotics. I had trouble concentrating and lethargy for about a year after being released from the hospital, which gradually improved, until about a year later I felt fully recovered.

So yes, if difficulty concentrating is a psychiatric impairment, I did have one, but note that my symptoms were radically different from what is being alleged here (pulling out a gun and shooting people). It did make for a less productive year in graduate school.

Also, the variety of Lyme disease I had was nerve tropic, which is the most likely kind to cause mental problems. It manifested as Bell’s Palsy (paralysis of one half of the face) and cardiac block (your heart is no longer connected to the brain, so it beats at its inherent rhythm -significantly slower than normal.) The cardiac block was resolved by the time I left the hospital, and subsequent EKG’s were normal. The Bell’s Palsy took a couple of months to clear up.

By the way, I, along with two thirds of Lymes disease patients, never had the classic “bullseye rash”, nor did I find a deer tick on me.

I have to agree with the people who label this use of a lyme disease impairment causing a person to murder a “twinkie defense”. However, Lyme disease would be an excellent excuse for bolluxing up income tax returns.

6 Raymer 03.11.09 at 10:04 pm

His symptoms began in his late teens, and many years before a separate diagnosis of Lyme was considered. The medical therapy described by his mother (medically induced coma with antibiotics for Lyme) is pure quackery.
This guy had run of the mill schizophrenia based on age of presentation and symptoms. Any association with Lyme is highly questionable, and needs a very high burden of proof.
Schizophrenia by itself is not automatic insanity defense. Most know quite well what acts are wrong.

7 Lucy 03.12.09 at 9:35 am

It was reported in 2008 that he was on a number of medications… “enough to knock out a cow” his mother said.

Don’t know what those were, but given the Supreme Court decision last week about suing Drug Manufacturers, those in the psychotropic medicine business ought to be rather scared right now.

8 Todd Rogers 03.12.09 at 3:53 pm

Guilty by reason of insanity – lock him up forever.

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