The July 22 attacks were so carefully planned and executed that it would be difficult to argue they were the work of a delusional madman, said Dr. Tarjei Rygnestad, who heads the Norwegian Board of Forensic Medicine.Oooh, ooh, I now, that's because "delusional madman" doesn't mean anything, right?
No, of course:
In Norway, an insanity defense requires that a defendant be in a state of psychosis while committing the crime with which he or she is charged. That means the defendant has lost contact with reality to the point that he's no longer in control of his own actions.The Norwegian insanity defense might require a psychotic state, but a psychotic state is not equivalent to no longer being in control of one's own actions, at least not in the sense of actually being dangerous: psychotic patients are harmless, but obviously very ill and emotionally vulnerable. They might not state their names, or make up a name, or claim to share the name of whoever they're talking to (you might think this is funny, but it really isn't, even when the name's gender-specific). They might not be wearing much. If they're female, they might be worried about pregnancy even if there's no risk of that. Sometimes, they arrive at hospital dangerously underweight, not because they're anorexic but because buying and consuming food are difficult tasks (of course, the police doesn't pick them up because they're confused and in need of help, they get picked up because their clothes fall off and people are complaining of the indecent exposure). Their state is not one which justifies anger, except at the mistreatment they experience from strangers, or fear, except fear of being in a similarly helpless situation and not receiving help.
That isn't Breivik. It's not a "delusional madman" either, because that is a TV trope. Dr Rygnestad is right when he points out that careful, lengthy planning and complex execution are evidence against, not for, the possibility of an NGRI verdict, but he is wrong to call the severely ill people that NGRI verdicts are supposed to help "madmen" ("delusional" is a technical term, but that doesn't mean it's the right term to use outside of medical papers, or even in them): sympathy for the lawbreaker might not be the emotion actually elicited by specific incidents that result in NGRI verdicts—the legal border between the verdicts might not always match precisely the emotional limit—but, in aggregate, that's what they're about: there is a class of lawbreakers, sometimes violent but more often negligent or untruthful, that it would be wrong to seek revenge from, because the overwhelming reaction should be one of sympathy.
And that's simply not compatible with ever calling any of them a madman.
(It's not quite true that NGRI verdicts are supposed to help the mentally ill: it's cynical, but they're more about helping judges and lawyers sleep at night. I don't know how wrong it is that Norway apparently considers NGRI verdict incidents a strict subset of situations in which a person is psychotic, but Rygnestad's statement is a missed opportunity to remind people that the operative syllable in that is sub. Most likely missed by the journalist, of course.)