- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Two government witnesses testified yesterday that more detailed instructions should be imposed on John W. Hinckley Jr. for outings from the mental hospital where he has been confined since attempting to assassinate President Reagan in 1981.

“It is crucial to know the details of a conditional release before going on to another advanced phase,” said forensic psychiatrist Dr. Raymond F. Patterson, who has interviewed Hinckley and St. Elizabeths Hospital staff members several times in the two decades years that Hinckley has been confined there.

“There should be no question what the expectations are,” testified psychiatrist Dr. Robert Phillips, who has also talked with Hinckley and hospital supervisors.

Both psychiatrists agreed that Hinckley’s psychosis, which resulted in a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict, has been in remission for several years, and that he seems to have states of depression under control, although they and a narcissistic personality disorder still exist.

The three-day hearing will resume Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, when hospital officials are to detail instructions for outings supervised by Hinckley’s parents.

Hinckley has been going on outings for several years, sometimes with his parents, but always with supervision by St. Elizabeths personnel. The outings have included trips to malls, restaurants, beaches and bookstores.

Although U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman could issue an order prohibiting any sort of leave, Hinckley’s attorneys are asking only that the hospital supervisors be discontinued and that supervision be left to his parents.

Dr. Patterson and Dr. Phillips both testified that hospital rules and limitations on the outings were not specific enough for parental supervision and required more thorough analysis by the hospital review board.

“The report was devoid of specificity,” Dr. Patterson said of the proposal by St. Elizabeths.

In the beginning, Hinckley would be allowed to go with his parents on outings within a 50-mile radius of St. Elizabeths. If those outings pass muster, they might be expanded to include overnight stays in Washington-area hotels, and eventually to overnight stays with his parents, Jo Ann and John “Jack” W. Hinckley, 78, in their Williamsburg home.

Dr. Phillips said he could accept the hospital regulations if suggestions from him and Dr. Patterson were worked into the plans.

“[Hinckley] wanted to be famous,” said Dr. Patterson, to explain a narcissistic personality disorder. “His response was that he would always be a celebrity. … It’s difficult for him to realize how others may feel.”

Hinckley showed two signs of progress during the hearing, Dr. Patterson said, when he laughed at comments about supervising him at Redskins football games, and when his mother testified.

“His expression [showed that he realized] how tough it was for her,” Dr. Patterson said.

“He doesn’t tell you as much as most people do about what is going on in his head,” Dr. Patterson said.

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