Criminal Justice System Mental Health

The Slender Man Case: Where Mental Health And The Criminal Justice System Clash

Schizophrenia is the most stigmatized and misunderstood disorder of them all.  It is undoubtedly the scariest to people on the street, especially in regions where it is not well known, understood properly. Just because it is known as ‘Schizoprehenia’ does not mean that every nation in this planet calls it that. The symptoms and signs may even differ, but what is common is the disturbance and stigma it causes across every nation and tribe.

“Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality” (NIMH, 2018).

Basic factors

  • Schizophrenia is a disorder where people lose touch with logical thinking
  • People with schizophrenia have their cognition intruded upon by odd and strange experiences.
  • Occurs in about 1% to 2% of the population worldwide
  • It appears in every nation, every ethnic group, male and female
  • It has its onset usually later in life
  • It often follows an apparently normal period of childhood
  • Causes great anxiety in the media
  • Sufferers are often shunned, abused or locked up in most cases
  • Split Mind- but has nothing to do with multiple personality disorder.  Instead, it means a split from reality.
  • Multiple personality disorder is a completely different kind of condition.
  • A chronic condition that comes on usually in the early years of life.  Usually comes on gradually.
  • Triggered by stress, but no event can cause the disorder.
  • Vary on how they are expressed or how long they last. ( DSM-5, Maddux & Winstead, 2016)

Characterized by disorganized thinking, emotions, and behaviors that are often incongruent with their situation; and disturbed perceptions, including delusions and hallucinations.

Loss of contact with reality on some level and resulting from delusion.

  • Schizophrenia literally means shattered or broken mind, leads to a break with reality, (although some people living with schizophrenia do not necessarily agree with this description or definition).
  • Withdrawal from social activity is certainly a very common symptom in the period called prodrome, the period before the clinical onset
  • The most common symptom is what is called thought disorder

The Slender man case – 2014 – Where Mental Health & The Justice System Clash

Morgan Geyser & Annissa Weier

In this case, both girls are believed to have suffered from schizophrenia because of their actions and reasoning behind why they did what they did. Although, the girls later both asked for forgiveness and regretted what they did to their friend. But the moment of the incident they were fully convinced it was the right thing to do.

Morgan Geyser & Annissa Weier were both 12 years old at the time of the attack, and Payton Leutner was their classmate & friend. The two girls lured Payton Leutner into the woods and stabbed her 19 times.The girls orchestrated the whole plan by having a sleepover, and they wanted to carry out their plan during the night, but fortunately, they weren’t able to do so.

Reason / inspiration behind the incident

The two girls orchestrated this whole incident due to the inspiration from reading or playing Slender Man.

Morgan and Annissa are both fans of the fictional character named Slenderman.

They wanted to impress him by stabbing their friend to death. The girls confessed they were trying to protect their families from Slenderman because they believed that Slenderman would come after their families if they did not kill Payton.

Slenderman’s case update: 2017

Pleading – Weier

  • Pled guilty to second-degree homicide
  • The jury found her not “Guilty By Reason of Mental Health Disease/Defect” or Reason of Insanity

Geyser’s pleading

  • Accepted a plea bargain offered to her by the prosecutor

Case update – Sentencing time : Feb 2018

Annissa Weier – Photo by Los Angeles Times

Weier’s sentencing

  • Sentenced to 25 years to life (with an indeterminate sentence – 3 years locked confinement & involuntary treatment in a state psychiatric hospital/institute)
  • Mandatory supervision until she turns 40

Geyser’s sentencing

Morgan Geyster – Photo by Los Angeles Times
  • Received sentencing maximum 40 years to life
  • Involuntary treatment in a psychiatric hospital

Signs & symptoms of schizophrenia/psychotic Order

  • Both girls showed some signs or symptoms of schizophrenia and psychotic disorders
  • According to Geyser’s lawyers & doctors – she was out of touch with reality
  • Delusional – Both girls were showed to be delusional
  • Hallucination (the girls formed friendships with some characters from the movies of Harry Potter, and get a visit from them)

Parents & school administration perception of the girls

  • According to Geyser’s mother, Geyser never presented to be violent by any means; she is just like any other teenager
  • No records of violent internet engagement
  • She is constantly monitored and never left alone
  • According to the school principal, there were no disciplinary issues regarding the girls

Public reaction to the Slenderman case

  • Creator of Slenderman – Posted a video and expressed his sympathy to the parties
  • Fundraising – There was a 24-hour funding established by YouTube
  • Judge’s reaction – The then presiding judge felt that sentencing ‘was fair and reasonable.’

It is for the benefit or the protection of the society

Research: Schizophrenia is one of the most heavily researched areas

  • Schizophrenia is not all genetics
  • The factors that predispose a person to schizophrenia are not all genetic. Researchers are beginning to zero in on the prenatal environment

Factors/risk for schizophrenia (Wright et al., 1996) & (Brown et al, 2001)

  • *Maternal viral infections during pregnancy
  • * Oxygen insufficiency during pregnancy
  • * Maternal exposure to rubella or German measles, maternal stress

Research: identical twins

  • Studies of identical twins, one with and one without schizophrenia, have found when that the region of the brain called the hippocampus is significantly smaller in the affected twin.
  • There was also diminished function in certain areas of the brain, particularly in the pre-frontal region of the affected patient’s brain.  This is the area where we synthesize information, make decisions, and reason.
  • According to the Biological Theories “Research has identified two sources of constitutional vulnerability: gene factors and environmental factors…illness can be inherited” (Maddux & Winstead, 2016, p. 324)
  •  The Diathesis-stress models suggest that “The interaction between vulnerability and stress is critical” (Maddux & Winstead, 2016, p. 318)

Reaction / Controversy

  • The girls need more ‘Empathy’ than institutionalization
  • Wasted life – they will spend their whole youthful, and most of their adult lives in mental institutions
  • Mental Illness or Disorder cannot be seen or felt like physical illness, but that should not eliminate its reality or undermine the pains that come with it
  • The media’s highlights of certain violent incidents involving mental health tend to provide a bad connotation for mental health and therefore forces many to suffer in silence rather than be labeled as ‘violent’ or weak.
  • What Morgan and Annissa did are inexcusable and almost cost the life of Payton, yet imprisonment is not the solution either.
  • There is more of a need than ever for the Justice System to revisit its guidelines concerning people living with mental health issues.

References

Beaty, S. (2006). Going to Extremes. doi:10.4135/9781473956773

Brown, A. S., Cohen, P., Harkavy-Friedman, J., Babulas, V., Malaspina, D., Gorman, J. M., & Susser, E. S. (2001). Prenatal rubella, premorbid abnormalities, and adult schizophrenia. Biological Psychiatry, 49(6), 473-486. doi:10.1016/s0006-3223(01)01068-x

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. (2013). Arlington, VA: American

Psychiatric Association.

Hedman, A. M., Haren, N. E., Baal, G. C., Brouwer, R. M., Brans, R. G., Schnack, H. G., . . . Pol, H. E. (2016). Heritability of cortical thickness changes over time in twin pairs discordant for schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 173(3), 192-199. doi:10.1016/j.schres.2015.06.021

Maddux, J. E., & Winstead, B. A. (2015). Psychopathology: Foundations for a contemporary understanding. London: Routledge.

Wright, P., Takei, N., Rifkin, L., & Murray, R. (1996). Maternal influenza, obstetric complications, birth weight and schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 18(2-3), 100. doi:10.1016/0920-9964(96)85353-9

Schizophrenia. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/
schizophrenia/index.shtml

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I am a food lover, and cooking is therapeutic for me; it relaxes me and transports me to a quieter universe away from the noisy, busy modern world. I am a Counseling Mental Health & Wellness graduate student, wife, and stepmother. I love connecting with people from different cultural backgrounds through food, fashion, wisdom, and lifestyle in general. To be continued because I am still in the process of discovering who I am as I continue this journey called life. I promise to keep you all posted in the meantime.

2 comments on “The Slender Man Case: Where Mental Health And The Criminal Justice System Clash

  1. JacsSpoor

    This post reminds me of how some one told me recently that scientist has been able to find medicine for almost everything except the one of emotion disorder and this is where Jesus comes in….

    Thanks for educating me on this…. I learnt a lot

    Liked by 1 person

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