Brian David Mitchell suffers from bizarre delusions, doctor testifies

Published: Thursday, Dec. 2 2010 7:00 a.m. MST

The other was an interview investigators conducted with Smart just days after she was found. It was the first time the video had been shown in public. In the video clip, a young-looking Smart with long blond hair talked about how Mitchell thought his mission was to lead the children out of Israel, have hand-to-hand combat with the Antichrist and establish a new Zion.

Because of Smart's memory and ability to describe events in detail, DeMier said he gave her interview a lot of credence when making a diagnosis on Mitchell.

Prosecutors pointed out that Smart also said several times during the same interview that she did not believe Mitchell's religious beliefs were sincere.

If Mitchell was able to talk about other subjects, did that mean he wasn't delusional because he was constantly preoccupied by his religious delusion? DeMier said he believed Mitchell learned sometimes it was best to keep his mouth shut.

"He learned there was no use talking about his beliefs all the time," DeMier said.

But that didn't mean he wasn't preoccupied internally about his beliefs. Because of that, DeMier said it wouldn't be possible to always be able to pick out a person with paranoid schizophrenia from across the room.

"Apart from the delusional belief, a person with a delusional belief can appear quite unimpaired," he said. "Only when you start to talk about the context of the belief that the person starts to unravel.

"People with delusional beliefs are able to get their day-to-day needs met. They can hold jobs, they can have relationships, they can drive, shop, take care of their hygiene. Except for their delusional belief, they're hard to distinguish from everybody else."

There was also talk Thursday about words that Mitchell made up, oftentimes by combining two regular words to make one. DeMier said that could be another sign of a paranoid schizophrenic.

Prosecutors countered by asking if that meant a person who used the word "refudiate," such as Sarah Palin, or coined phrases such as "three-peat" or "guesstimate" also suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.

Questions were also raised about Mitchell's speech pattern itself, and why he sometimes talked in archaic or biblical language and at other times talked normally. DeMier said Mitchell told him it was because when speaking about religion, he used biblical terms to signify the holiness of what he was talking about.

"Sometimes we use speech to underscore how important something is," Demier said Mitchell told him.

In addition to Mitchell's delusions, "the family history of mental illness just cannot be ignored" when it comes to Mitchell's diagnosis, DeMier said. Mitchell's grandfather was institutionalized for paranoid schizophrenia and though Mitchell's father was never officially diagnosed with a mental illness, his 1,000-page tome has been described as very disorganized and rambling.

Even from his teen years, DeMier said there were signs of mental illness in Mitchell.

As for malingering, DeMier said he didn't see that in Mitchell. He pointed out that people who are malingering want desperately to be seen as mentally ill. Mitchell, on the other hand, felt a finding of mentally ill would be detrimental because no one would listen to his message if he was deemed incompetent.

During cross-examination, prosecutors pointed out that DeMier was only assigned to determine whether Mitchell was, in 2008, competent at that time to stand trial. He was not asked to look at whether Mitchell was mentally ill during the nine months Smart was missing.

Prosecutors also noted that Mitchell was the only person DeMier interviewed for his report.

He countered by saying Mitchell has been very consistent in his delusions. And based on the information he was presented, he didn't believe he needed to put Smart through another interview.

"The volume of information I had was so rich and so thorough, and the information was so consistent, I had no reason to believe I'd get any additional information," he said.

During another video segment of DeMier's interview with Mitchell, prosecutors showed how Mitchell seemed to avoid all questions from DeMier that dealt with delusions.

Try out the new DeseretNews.com design!
try beta learn more
Get The Deseret News Everywhere