[DISCLAIMER: I am in no way supporting nor condemning the actions that Jared Loughner took. This is not an article about politics or about the aftermath of his actions, but an inquisition as to what drove him to commit the crime. Everything in this article is based on my opinion and the curiosity that sparked after reading several articles about Loughner. I am not a psycopath or in need of any help. I am just trying to make sense of people.]
I do not deny that Jared Loughner suffers from a serious mental illness. But even people who are mentally ill follow thought processes before acting. Clearly he thought about what he was going to do for a long time before he filled a diaper bag with ammo, put money and ID (along with some odd notes) in a Ziploc bag in his back pocket, and took a taxi to a Safeway in Tuscon, where he fired 31 rounds, killing 6 and injuring 19. I will make it clear now that those people and their identities have nothing to do with Jared’s actions. This was not a political stunt.
An article that was published in this Sunday’s “New York Times” entitled “Looking Behind the Mugshot Grin” explored Loughner’s life before the event. Some of his actions and thoughts made me very curious as to what he was thinking. Thoughts in particular which interested me were his claims to be able to control his dreams. He was fascinated by this idea, and according to an ex-girlfriend of his, he was obsessed with his dreams and their function in the human brain. He wanted to be able to unlock the unused portions of the human brain and thought that he could do it by exploring his dreams.
My theory of “why” revolves around this concept. His drug use can be attributed to this belief: hallucinogenics can “rewire” the brain and lead to new dreams and thoughts. He became so caught up in his dreams that he is quoted as saying to a friend that “this is all not real.”
If any of you have seen the season two finale of “House” entitled “No Reason,” you will remember that House begins to experience hallucinations after being shot by a former patient. It becomes difficult for him to differentiate between his dreams and reality until he creates a test in which he can snap himself out of the hallucinations by creating an outrageous and impossible situation in his dream world. The situation he created was extreme: After he rips apart his current patient with a robotic surgery machine, the patient drops a bullet. This proved to House that the scene that he was in was not possible. He then woke up on his way to surgery to remove the bullets.
This concept applies in this situation: Clearly Jared had become so in tune with his inner thoughts that he convinced himself that reality is false and everything is a dream. He talked about how in dreams people can do normally impossible things such as flying, so he needed to do something major and extreme to escape from reality and therefore live in a dream world. Causing deliberate and massive harm to other people is arguably the most extreme thing any person could ever do.
The reason that Jared smiled and laughed after committing the crime and during his mugshot was because he had entered into a world of dreams and therefore achieved his goal. His actions were extremely selfish, but he clearly is not able to value the worth of a human life. Unfortunately I do not think that there is any way to punish Jared Lee Loughner. He was completely aware of his actions and can still live in a dream world while spending the rest of his life in prison. The best course of action to make him suffer for his actions (if that is what you want to do to him) is to get him help for his mental illnesses. Hopefully treatment will force him back into reality, where he will continue to suffer like the rest of us.