Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, October 06, 2006


I've done a little netsurfing to see what people are saying and wondering about Charles Roberts, the guy who murdered the Amish schoolgirls. As far as his family knows, it came out of nowhere. He was a kind, peaceful, law abiding man. How could such evil lurk in the shadows?

As far as I can tell, and much to my surprise, no-one in the media or law enforcement has mentioned the strong likelihood that he had an organic brain disorder. The fact is, people don't just suddenly change into psychopaths after a lifetime of empathy and sociability. The molestation he said, and evidently believed, he had committed at the age of 12 apparently never occurred. It appears he was delusional. I'm going to pull a Bill Frist here and diagnose frontotemporal dementia. Although the behavioral changes in this case appear to have had an unusually abrupt onset, it is possible that people did not recognize earlier, gradual changes as pathological since they can be subtle. He may also have had a brain tumor, or even some uncommon and unknown organic disease process.

In any case, it is believed that frontotemporal dementia is underdiagnosed. Many people who have it are no doubt in jail, their condition unrecognized. What is the moral status of such people?

I will ponder that until Sunday, when I will return here.

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