Soapbox Therapy: Did Delusional Disorder Keep Amanda Knox Unjustly Locked Up?

My gut tells me H to the ELL, Yes...

To the sounds of my joyful sobs, I sat in front of the TV watching and cheering when Amanda Knox landed safely in her hometown of Seattle on Tuesday, after being proven innocent in an appeals case for the murder of her former roommate, Meredith Kercher, almost four years ago in Italy.

The entire case both fascinated and enraged me to intense levels. I was almost unable to stomach my own sadness about the injustice of what was occurring, but as a psychotherapist and admitted mental health junkie, I could hardly turn away from the obvious out-of-touch mental state of prosecutor slash conspiracy theorist, Giuliano Mignini, who treated the case as his personal mission.

Mignini vowed to see Amanda Knox rot in jail for a crime he had a “gut feeling” she committed, regardless of the evidence…or lack thereof.  The real killer -- with DNA blood, footprints, fingerprints, and bodily fluids to boot -- had already been put in jail when Mignini (pictured below) stuck to his gut, continuing his attempts to demolish the life of Amanda Knox.


My fantasy of sitting down with Mignini to assess him for a weakened mental state, which would therefore prove his undeniable inability to act as a responsible and functioning adult within any court of law, will likely not become reality, at least for now. Instead, I can only meet him where he’s at and subsequently go with my gut, which tells me this guy is more diagnosable than, well, Hollywood.

Here’s my guess: Delusional Disorder. Rare, but real as hell. Now, read on and learn something…

Delusional disorder is characterized by the presence of recurrent, persistent non-bizarre delusions.

Delusions are irrational beliefs, held with a high level of conviction, that are highly resistant to change even when the delusional person is exposed to forms of proof that contradict the belief. Non-bizarre delusions are considered to be plausible; that is, there is a possibility that what the person believes to be true could actually occur a small proportion of the time. Conversely, bizarre delusions focus on matters that would be impossible in reality. For example, a non-bizarre delusion might be the belief that one's activities are constantly under observation by federal law enforcement or intelligence agencies, which actually does occur for a small number of people. By contrast, a man who believes he is pregnant with German Shepherd puppies holds a belief that could never come to pass in reality.

Unlike most other psychotic disorders, the person with delusional disorder typically does not appear obviously odd, strange or peculiar during periods of active illness. Yet the person might make unusual choices in day-to-day life because of the delusional beliefs.

Most mental health professionals would concur that until the person with delusional disorder discusses the areas of life affected by the delusions, it would be difficult to distinguish the sufferer from members of the general public who are not psychiatrically disturbed. Another distinction of delusional disorder compared with other psychotic disorders is that hallucinations are either absent or occur infrequently.

The person with delusional disorder may or may not come to the attention of mental health providers. Typically, while delusional disorder sufferers may be distressed about the delusional "reality," they may not have the insight to see that anything is wrong with the way they are thinking or functioning.

…the people suffering the disorder attribute any obstacles or problems in functioning to the delusional reality, separating it from their internal control. Furthermore, whether unable to get a good job or maintain a romantic relationship, the difficulties would be blamed on "government interference"(the delusion) rather than on their own failures or omissions.

Thank you for that delicious description of, what my gut tells me, is a person in need of emotional help, rather than a position of power. As scary as it was that Amanda Knox was in jail for four years for a crime she didn’t commit, it’s scarier that there are people walking around in the world, living from a place of delusion and vomiting all over the rest of us.

Happy mental health. Kiss kiss, Brooke.

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