Ian Brady died last Monday, May 15, 2017.
In England, from 1963 to 1965, Brady, and his cohort, Myra Hindley, killed five children; they sexually assaulted at least four of them. They recorded some of their crimes.
When I was young, I believed in love
. I was vehemently opposed to the death penalty
. I believed that every life
, and that everyone is worth saving.
Now I'm 53. I don't believe in love, at least, not the way I used to, and Ian Brady is one of the reasons why that's so.
It's easy to fall in love, even with an idea, and some ideas prove irresistible, even to those who should know better. The helping professions became smitten with an idea that mental disorder might explain certain criminal behavior, and maybe it does. But explanation can easily become excuse, especially where the criminal element is concerned; an opportunistic lot by definition, naturally, many criminals have sought to escape justice by feigning mental illness.
Through television, and movies like “The Three Faces of Eve”, most of us are familiar with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), or split, or multiple personality, as it's more commonly known. It is often confused with schizophrenia, but DID is a personality disorder, whereas schizophrenia is a major psychiatric illness. The “split” in schizophrenia is not in the personality, but between feeling and thought. In the United States, schizophrenia occurs in roughly 1% of the population, and true cases of multiple personality disorder occur far less often. Some in the mental health field question whether, in fact, DID exists at all.
Danny Rolling, the Gainesviller Ripper, tried it as a defense; having committed a total of eight murders, on October 25, 2006, Danny Rolling was executed by lethal injection. Rolling told doctors that at times, an entity called “Gemini” took possession of him, and that Gemini committed the murders.
Danny Rolling no more believed that than I believe Danny Rolling, about anything; shortly before the killings began, Rolling had seen “The Exorcist III”, a movie about the spirit of an executed serial killer, “Gemini”, that inhabits the bodies of mental patients, making them do all manner of things Danny Rolling would later do.
Kenneth Bianchi didn't fare much better. Bianchi and his cousin, Angelo Buono, were known as “The Hillside Stranglers”. In Los Angeles, from October 1977 to January 1979, Bianchi and Buono killed 12 women from various walks of life, and ranging in age from twelve to twenty-seven. Bianchi managed to convince some experts that his psyche housed had two distinct personalities.
Not long after a doctor interviewing Bianchi informed him that typically three or more personalities manifest themselves, a third personality appeared. While supposedly under hypnosis, Kenneth Bianchi was told that another doctor, with whom Bianchi was familiar, had entered the room.
“Hi, Doc”, Bianchi said, and stood, and pretended to shake the man's hand.
Kenneth Bianchi was a student of psychology, but not a good one; people in a hypnotic state do not act of their own volition, and later, Bianchi admitted to faking the disorder.
Ian Brady was convicted of three murders; he received a life sentence, spent 19 years in prison before he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, and was moved to a mental hospital. Brady claimed he also had been able to fool the doctors, and that he used the same techniques taught in method acting.
Early in the evening of June 16, 1964, Brady's girlfriend/accomplice Myra Hindley lured 12-year-old Keith Bennett into a van, with Ian Brady waiting in the back. They drove to Saddleworth Moor, and while Myra kept watch, Brady walked the boy some distance away from the vehicle. He sexually assaulted Bennett, strangled him, put the body in a hole already dug for just that purpose, and now Ian Brady has gone to his own grave without ever telling anyone where on the moors he buried that little boy.
There are people who are quite ill, mentally, who commit violent crimes. It's rare, but it happens. Dissociative Identity Disorder, if it exists, occurs because of some conflict within the individual, as a way of coping with some event, or situation, that seems otherwise untenable. It is an attempt to keep certain impulses in check, and unsuccessful as it may be, it presupposes one cares.
Schizophrenia, of the paranoid type or not, occurs due to a chemical imbalance, and while it's only my unlettered opinion, none of these men, not Rolling, or Bianchi, nor especially Ian Brady, suffered from multiple personality, or madness.
All too easily, explanation becomes excuse, even to those who should know better. Part and parcel of being a serial killer, and a psychopath, is being a narcissist; at their core, that is what they are. Not multiple personality, or schizophrenic, they're narcissists, and psychopaths, they love themselves and no one else.
If Ian Brady has a legacy, let it be this, that along with him we finally put to rest the old psychology saw that says narcissism is just a cover for low self-esteem. In spite of the truly horrific things they did, Danny Rolling, Kenneth Bianchi, and the recently deceased Ian Brady, all thought they were the greatest thing since banana puddin'.
I don't believe in love the way I used to; I have learned, from Brady, and others like him, not everyone is worth saving.
Love, real love, refuses to be blind.