Re “Kaczynski Admits Guilt and Will Get Life Term,” Jan. 23:
Ted Kaczynski did not murder three people and maim 29 others. The Unabomber was untreated schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a neurobiological disorder of the brain, physical in nature. With medical treatment (medication) people with paranoid schizophrenia are no more dangerous than the general public.
Kaczynski suffers a common symptom of schizophrenia known as anosognosia, a symptom experienced in other brain disorders such as strokes. “Anosognosia” in layman’s terms means that he did not have the capacity to recognize his own illness and thus could not access treatment voluntarily. If you do not know you have a disease, you do not seek treatment for it.
When his family recognized the devastation and degree of his illness, they were not able to obtain treatment for him because the law in Montana, like California, relies on an antiquated idea that the person must be dangerous before the community offers help. No one knew that Kaczynski’s schizophrenia had turned into the danger represented by the Unabomber.
In my own family, we experienced the tragedy of the victim and being the relatives of the perpetrator. My sister-in-law, also suffering anosognosia, refused treatment voluntarily and the family could not obtain it for her because no one thought she was dangerous. Her untreated schizophrenia murdered my 78-year-old mother-in-law.
Coming from both sides of the dilemma, I ache for the victims and Kaczynski’s family. Mostly I hate a system that precludes us from obtaining medical help for a sufferer of a brain disorder before tragedy occurs. Waiting for danger is too late. A fitting tribute to the Unabomber’s victims would be a national movement to change our involuntary treatment laws.
Kaczynski’s admission of guilt in exchange for life in prison was an ideal resolution of the Unabomber trial. It saved taxpayers the cost of a long trial; it provides the prison system with a gifted math teacher; it pleased millions who oppose capital punishment; it encourages others to identify family members as lawbreakers; and there will be no blood on the hands of David Kaczynski, who turned in his brother.
ROBERT Q. CUNNINGHAM
Kaczynski killed three, maimed or injured 29 more, behaved in a bizarre manner pretrial, and is now granted the balance of his life supported in a manner more comfortable than he probably would be able to achieve on his own. What a mockery of justice. It is as if there were no victims.
RICHARD J. ORFORD
There is eloquent irony that Kaczynski, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, displayed greater intelligence than the American government.