Brian David Mitchell a “Religious Chameleon,” Psychiatrist Testifies for Prosecution

SALT LAKE CITY (CBS/AP) More than eight years after Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped at knifepoint from her Salt Lake City home, the case may finally be coming to an end as prosecutors called the last of their rebuttal witnesses, a New York City-based forensic psychologist, who testified about an evaluation he did of the defendant, Brian David Mitchell.

Dr. Michael Welner testified about his 205-page report, which concluded that the 57-year-old Mitchell was competent to stand trial, but suffers from an anti-social personality disorder, psychopathy and alcohol abuse.

Welner’s evaluation of Mitchell, for which prosecutors paid more than $500,000, was sought by the government after a federal prison hospital evaluator, Dr. Richart DeMier, said he believed Mitchell was not competent for trial.

Authorities say Welner’s 2009 report is the most complete evaluation of Mitchell ever done.

Associated Press, Oct. 1, 2009 report

In making his determination, Welner testified, he reviewed 210 sources of information that included medical, mental health and police reports along with Mitchell’s religious writings. Welner also interviewed 57 people, including Smart, who Welner says is “really one of only two people who actually interacted with Brian David Mitchell when his guard was down.”

Welner testified that he attempted to interview Mitchell but said the defendant refused by sitting mute with his eyes shut for most of the five hours they spent together. Mitchell broke his silence only to sing hymns, and once to shout at Welner to “repent.”

On Tuesday prosecutors called a Utah psychiatrist who was one of two mental health experts who were court-ordered to evaluate Mitchell in 2003 in a parallel state case and who concluded then that Mitchell was competent for trial.

Dr. Noel Gardner said he disagreed with defense experts who have diagnosed Mitchell with a rare delusional disorder and schizophrenia. Gardner testified that he believes Mitchell is more properly diagnosed with an anti-social personality disorder and a narcissistic personality disorder.

Those disorders are characterized by a disregard for the safety of others, a lack of remorse, a grandiose sense of self–importance and arrogant or haughty behavior.

Gardner said he has identified a number of what he called religious personas – the intimidator, the humble penitent, the sadist, the clever magician and the religious chameleon – that provide proof of Mitchell’s cunning and manipulation skills.

“He uses them sometimes to do impression management, to create a situation that makes it more likely that he’ll get what he wants,” Gardner said. “It is simply impossible, in my opinion, for somebody with a severe mental disease or defect to do this range of very clever, very successful, very situationally [sic] attuned presentation in ways that are consistently self-serving.”

On cross-examination, however, Gardner conceded that a narcissistic disorder could progress into a delusional disorder.

– Source / Full Story: Brian David Mitchell a “Religious Chameleon,” Psychiatrist Testifies for Prosecution, Carlin DeGuerin Miller, CBS News, Dec. 8, 2010 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

See Also

Complete coverage of the trial at CBS Crimesider

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday December 9, 2010.
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