35 years ago, John Hinckley Junior was captured after shooting President Ronald Reagan and sent to a mental facility to fulfill his sentence. A federal judge ruled in July that Hinckley is no longer a threat, and he will be released soon.

Hinckley, today a 61-year-old man, will live full time at his mother’s home in Williamsburg and will have to work or do volunteering activities three days a week. Eventually, he will be allowed to live by himself or with roommates, but for the first year, he must stay with his mother at home.

John Warnock Hinckley Jr. is an American attempted assassin. On March 30, 1981 in Washington, D.C., he attempted to assassinate U.S. President Ronald Reagan with a bullet that ricocheted and hit him in the chest. Image Credit: Wikipedia.

March 30, 1981

Ronald Reagan had 69 days being President of the United States when John Hinckley Jr. attacked him and his security guards when leaving a meeting that took place at Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C. President Reagan received a shot that led to a drilling lung. He was the first American President that survived an attempt to murder.

Hinckley, captured at the moment, was eventually declared not guilty due to mental issues. He was apparently obsessed with Jodie Foster, the famous actress, after watching several times the major film Taxi Driver. The movie apparently inspired Hinckley to stalk relevant political figures to become famous and then capture Foster’s attention. He believed Foster was in love with him but rejected that “reality,” a syndrome recognized in science as erotomania.

Hinckley’s delusional disorder

A study executed by a team of researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge revisited the disorder to understand the clinical course and revise treatments.

“Erotomania is a rare disorder in which an individual has a delusional belief that a person of higher social status falls in love and makes amorous advances towards him/her,” according to the research.  The background, classification and outcome of individuals with this disorder are still unknown to most mental health specialists.

Even though delusional disorders don’t affect daily functioning in social or occupational settings, in the case of Hinckley turned out to be severe enough to make changes in his mood and behavior, which is what specialists declared in his trial. Considering his dementia, he was not sent to jail but a mental facility instead, in Washington D.C., where he remained for years.

At the time, he was considered unpredictably dangerous to himself or others. For a brief period  of time, he exchanged mail with serial killer Ted Bundy. With time, his behavior got more controlled and gradually started to receive privileges. His parents were an important part of his adaptation to normal life.

About his new life

Therapy will still be a part of Hinckley’s routine. The judge ordered him to keep attending group sessions and personal evaluations with his psychiatrist, and he will be able to attend by himself since he received a driver’s license in 2011.

Although he has severe restrictions in terms of leisure time, he might even get permission to create accounts on social networks. Also, he will probably vote for the November presidential election, but he can not have any contact with the press.

Source: LA Times