Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tragic De-realization

Having experienced a long bout of what is called "derealization" after recovering from a serious drug overdose, I have developed a theory of the bizarre behavior exhibited by the perpetrator of the Aurora, Colorado Massacre. When you are in a state of derealization, everything seems like a figment of your imagination, not "real," like the way things used to be. You may think you are in an elaborate dream, purgatory, the afterlife, or merely inside your head depending on your beliefs.

Holmes' actions are consistent with someone who experienced a psychotic break and entered a prolonged state of derealization. Why would Holmes booby trap his house with the intention of killing any law enforcement who entered, then tell the same law enforcement that his house was booby trapped? Why the palpable look of remorse on his face in the courtroom? How can someone spend weeks planning out a mass murder, carry it out, and then suddenly feel remorse? This would be bizarre if one did not consider the concept of derealization. When Holmes carried out the act, something snapped him back to reality and his psychotic break of derealization ended. In this light Holmes, too, is a victim, and we should do what we can to further our understanding of the state of derealization. If

this theory turns out to be correct, we must then ask: should a person in a state of derealization be held responsible for his actions? The remedy would seem to be increasing public awareness of derealization, and vastly improving the quantity, quality, and accessibility of available mental healthcare, as well as de-stigmatizing mental illness and increasing awareness of it so as to encourage people to seek help before terrible things happen.

By Tim LaDuca