Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 62, Issue 3, pp 247–269 | Cite as

John W. Hinckley, Jr.: A Case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder



This article is about John W. Hinckley, Jr., whose attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981 was unsuccessful and whose trial in 1982 resulted in a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. It focuses on the view of psychiatric experts that he has a narcissistic personality disorder and on the fact that this diagnosis is the primary rationale for his continuing confinement to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. I conclude that the question of his release raises the difficult issue of the possible conflict between justice and care.


John Forbes Nash, Jr. John W. Hinckley, Jr. President Ronald Reagan Assassination Schizophrenia Dysthymia Schizotypal personality disorder Schizoid personality disorder Narcissistic personality disorder Delusion Jodie Foster Justice Care 


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (1980). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders-DSM-III. Washington: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders-DSM-IV-TR. Washington: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  3. Berman, J. (1990). Narcissism and the novel. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bonnie, R. J., Jeffries, J. C., Jr., & Low, P. W. (2008). A case study in the insanity defense: The trial of John W. Hinckley, Jr (3rd ed.). New York: Thomson/Foundation Press. First edition published in 1986.Google Scholar
  5. Caplin, L. (1984). The insanity defense and the trial of John W. Hinckley, Jr. Boston: David R. Godine.Google Scholar
  6. Capps, D. (1993). The depleted self: Sin in a narcissistic age. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.Google Scholar
  7. Capps, D. (1999). Don Quixote as moral narcissist: Implications for mid-career male ministers. Pastoral Psychology, 47, 401–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Capps, D. (2001). Giving counsel: A minister’s guidebook. St. Louis: Chalice Press.Google Scholar
  9. Capps, D. (2002). Men and their religion: Honor, hope, and humor. Harrisburg: Trinity Press International.Google Scholar
  10. Capps, D. (2003). John Nash’s predelusional phase: A case of acute identity confusion. Pastoral Psychology, 51, 361–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Capps, D. (2004a). John Nash’s delusional decade: A case of paranoid schizophrenia. Pastoral Psychology, 52, 193–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Capps, D. (2004b). John Nash’s post-delusional period: A case of transformed narcissism. Pastoral Psychology, 52, 289–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Capps, D. (2005). John Nash: Three phases in the career of a beautiful mind. Journal of Religion & Health, 44, 363–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Capps, D. (2009). God diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. Pastoral Psychology, 58, 193–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Capps, D. (2010a). Social phobia: Alleviating anxiety in an age of self-promotion. Eugene: Wipf & Stock. Original published in 1999.Google Scholar
  16. Capps, D. (2010b). Understanding psychosis: Issues and challenges for sufferers, families, and friends. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  17. Capps, D. (2011a). John Nash, game theory, and the schizophrenic brain. Journal of Religion & Health, 50, 145–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Capps, D. (2011b). Striking out: The religious journey of teenage boys. Eugene: Cascade Books.Google Scholar
  19. Capps, D. (2012). The parable of the squirrel: Alleviating the anxiety of agoraphobia. Pastoral Psychology, 61, 63–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Cataldo, L. M. (2007). Religious experience and the transformation of narcissism: Kohutian theory and the life of St. Francis of Assisi. Journal of Religion & Health, 46, 527–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fine, R. (1986). Narcissism, the self, and society. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  22. French, P., & Morrison, A. P. (2004). Early detection and cognitive therapy for people at high risk of developing psychosis: A treatment approach. West Sussex: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Freud, S. (1960). The ego and the id. (Trans. J. Riviere). New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  24. Frost, R. (1979). In E. C. Lathem (Ed.), The poetry of Robert Frost: The collected poems, complete and unabridged. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  25. Goode, E. (2002). A conversation with Glen Gabbard. The New York Times. February 5, 2002, p. D6.Google Scholar
  26. Granitz, P. (2011). What happens to the criminally insane?’s-on-todays-show (accessed 11/30/2011)
  27. Green, A. (1980–1981). Moral narcissism. N. Osthues (Trans.). International Journal of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 8, 243–269.Google Scholar
  28. Hinckley, J., & Hinckley, J. (1986). Breaking points. With E. Sherrill. New York: Berkley Books.Google Scholar
  29. Johnson, C. (2011). Hearing may grant John Hinckley more privileges. (accessed 12/1/2011)
  30. Kernberg, O. (1975). Borderline conditions and pathological narcissism. Northvale: Jason Aronson.Google Scholar
  31. Kohut, H. (1966). Forms and transformations of narcissism. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 14, 243–272.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kohut, H. (1971). The analysis of the self: A systematic approach to the psychoanalytic treatment of narcissistic personality disorders. New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  33. Kohut, H. (1977). The restoration of the self. New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  34. Kohut, H. (1984). In A. Goldberg (Ed.), How does analysis cure? Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kohut, H. (1985). In C. B. Strozier (Ed.), Self psychology and the humanities: Reflections on a new psychoanalytic approach. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  36. Kuhn, M. (1991). No stone unturned: The life and times of Maggie Kuhn. With C. Long and L. Quinn. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
  37. Lachmann, F. M. (2008). Transforming narcissism: Reflections on empathy, humor, and expectations. New York: The Analytic Press.Google Scholar
  38. Lasch, C. (1977). Haven in a heartless world: The family besieged. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  39. Lasch, C. (1979). The culture of narcissism: American life in an age of diminishing expectations. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  40. Lasch, C. (1984). The minimal self: Psychic survival in troubled times. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  41. Layton, L., & Schapiro, B. A. (Eds.). (1986). Narcissism and the text: Studies in literature and the psychology of self. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Levinson, D. J. (1996). The seasons of a woman’s life. With J. D. Levinson. New York: Alfred J. Knopf.Google Scholar
  43. Levinson, D. J., et al. (1978). The seasons of a man’s life. New York: Alfred J. Knopf.Google Scholar
  44. Lowen, A. (1983). Narcissism: Denial of the true self. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  45. Masterson, J. F. (1981). The narcissistic and borderline disorders: An integrated developmental approach. New York: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  46. Masterson, J. F. (1988). The search for the real self: Unmasking the personality disorders of our age. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  47. McGoldrick, M. (1995). You can go home again: Reconnecting with your family. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  48. Meloy, J. (1986). Narcissistic pathology and the clergy. Pastoral Psychology, 35, 50–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Morrison, A. P. (Ed.). (1986). Essential papers on narcissism. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Morrison, A. P. (1989). Shame: The underside of narcissism. Hillsdale: The Analytic Press.Google Scholar
  51. Morrison, A. P. (1996). The culture of shame. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
  52. Nasar, S. (1998). A beautiful mind: The life of mathematical genius and Nobel laureate John Nash. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  53. New York Times (2011). White House shooting suspect’s path to extremism. (accessed 12/12/2011)
  54. Patrick, J. (1990). Assessment of narcissistic psychopathology in the clergy. Pastoral Psychology, 38, 173–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sonnenschein, A. (1983). John W. Hinckley, Jr.: Interview. Penthouse, 14, 103–105. 164–168.Google Scholar
  56. Szasz, T. (1960). The myth of mental illness: Foundations of a theory of personal conduct. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  57. Szasz, T. (1984). The therapeutic state: Psychiatry in the mirror of current events. Buffalo: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  58. Sulloway, F. J. (1996). Born to rebel: Birth order, family dynamics, and creative lives. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  59. Torrey, E. F. (1988). Surviving schizophrenia. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  60. Torrey, E. F. (2008). The insanity offense: How America’s failure to treat the seriously mentally ill endangers its citizens. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  61. Torrey, E. F., & Miller, J. (2001). The invisible plague: The rise of mental illness from 1750 to the present. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  62. Zanor, C. (2010). A fate that narcissists will hate: Being ignored. (accessed 12/2.2010)
  63. Zondag, H. J. (2004). Just like other people: Narcissism among pastors. Pastoral Psychology, 52, 423–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Zondag, H. J. (2007). Unconditional giving and unconditional taking: Empathy and narcissism among pastors. The Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling, 61, 85–97.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Princeton Theological SeminaryPrincetonUSA

Personalised recommendations