Tuesday, 23 June 2015

What Nobody Is Talking About In This Beheading Tragedy

Nicholas Salvador detained over woman's beheading

This case is terribly sad, and at the same time it also presents us with an intriguing consideration of the human mind and the nature of mental illness.

Nicholas Salvador beheaded an elderly lady, believing her to be the human incarnation of a malevolent demon figure. He has now been declared insane on grounds of suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and obviously we all agree he was mistaken about the old lady's demon status. But if you think about it, the mistake is predominantly in the projection of demonic forces, not in the morality of the act.

That is to say, the reason we recoil in horror at what happened is not because we think a malevolent demon figure is benign and undeserving of death, it is because we are upset at her death and because we don't actually think the old lady was demonic. If any of us thought we were face to face with a demonic figure capable of wreaking havoc on men, women and children, we'd be the first to call for its execution (a practice not uncommon in several American States, lest we forget).

So while Nicholas Salvador's mental illness led him to the tragic mistake of killing what he thought was a malevolent demon, thinking he is actually killing a malevolent demon does demonstrate that an element of cogent sanity is very much present in his act - which, as I said at the start, presents us with an interesting consideration of the nature of sanity and insanity.