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Who is Dr Dorothy Otnow Lewis? The killers of Star Studies ‘Crazy, Not Insane’

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“I think each of us, including myself, could kill, ”says Dr Dorothy Otnow Lewis in trailer for new HBO documentary Crazy, not crazy. Directed by Alex Gibney (Agents of chaos), the film (out now) follows the life’s work of Dr Lewis, a psychiatrist and author who has dedicated his career to studying murderers and why they kill. Are killers born or are they made? Are we all capable of murder? “Do you ever wonder why you do not kill? She asks in the trailer. These are all questions that she, Gibney, and the movie try to answer for real crime obsessives looking for more.

As a clinical psychiatrist, Dr Lewis interviewed 100 murderers, death row inmates and serial killers, according to doc. Crazy, not crazy delves into some of these cases, many of which are famous, to explore not only the groundbreaking work of Dr. Lewis, but also to try to overthrow the death penalty system in America. As Gibney put it in the film’s press notes, through his team’s research and in collaboration with Dr. Lewis, “We have found that the death penalty has no deterrent effect. Plus, it seems to encourage behavior. homicides. Deathly states have a higher murder rate than those without. “

Read on to find out more about Dr. Lewis below.

His killer references

Dr. Dorothy Otnow Lewis is a graduate of the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Radcliffe College and Yale University School of Medicine. According to the doc, she started her career working with children and violent juvenile offenders. Early in her career, according to the film’s press notes, she began to explore how childhood traumas might lead to lethal impulses in adulthood. Link this trauma to neurological damage and the recipe for a serial killer might be complete.

“You get a combination of factors, environmental and intrinsic, that create a very violent personLewis says The Guardian. “I don’t think anyone was born wrong. Or, maybe you’d say we were all born with an ability to hurt, and you handle it differently.”

Dr Lewis then went on to become an expert in dissociative identity disorder (ADD), formerly known as multiple personality disorder, and recounted how some killers alternated between their alternate personalities, also known as “alterations”, at the time. during his exams. and interviews. These alterations were “developed in childhood, often as a way to endure, and sometimes to avenge, the pain they suffered,” read the HBO press notes.

Of her long career, she wrote the book Guilty by reason of madness: a psychiatrist explores the minds of the killers, what was released in 1998.

Famous cases of Dr Lewis

Dr. Lewis has testified in several high-profile cases. According to the doc, she examined and interviewed John Lennon’s killer Mark David Chapman, serial killers Joel Rifkin, David Wilson, Marie Moore and Joseph Paul Franklin, and “DC Sniper” John Allen Muhammad.

One of Dr. Lewis’s most famous cases was that of Arthur Shawcross. Shawcross was arrested in 1991 for the murder of 11 women, according to New York Times. Recorded interviews with Dr Lewis show Shawcross inhabit a number of Quirks, including his own mother and a 13th century cannibal, according to the doc.

Dr Lewis also interviewed and assessed notorious serial killer Ted Bundy shortly before his execution. Bundy, according to the doc’s press notes, “has been unusually candid with the psychiatrist, revealing new details that overturn conventional wisdom about her. One of Lewis’s regrets is that she never did. was able to examine Bundys’ brain for clues as to what made one of the world’s most infamous serial killers. “

How she became the subject of Crazy, not crazy

Gibney met Dr Lewis by writing a fictional character with similarities to his life and work, The Los Angeles Daily News written. Once she met her, however, Gibney’s focus shifted and he became fascinated with Dr. Lewis’ career.

“Over time, I thought it would make a really good documentary,” Gibney told the DNA. “Dorothy had these videotapes of her interrogations of various murderers or people who had attempted murder, and these were fascinating.

Of his subject, Gibney told the DNA, “Her curiosity is truly extraordinary. And it’s so consuming to her that she can sometimes get a little distracted, a little disorganized. She can’t resist being overwhelmed with material. She’s like a mind sleuth. human.” He also adds that “Dorothy has a great and mean sense of humor too.”

The role played by the death penalty in the doc

The document is also Gibney and Lewis’s withdrawal from the current American system of the death penalty. The title Crazy, not crazy refers to the “conflict that the legal system framed by demands for justice that can turn into a desire for revenge has with the world of medical science to define serious mental illness,” HBO wrote in press notes. “For many years Dorothy has testified in death penalty cases to find out whether convicted murderers were sane enough to be executed. His knowledge and forensic skills have helped change the laws and the way death row lawyers approach the cases of their clients.

“He plays with an obsolete system, Dr Lewis told DNA. “We should tell the law what’s crazy and what’s not, and crazy and crazy should have roughly the same definition, but they don’t.”

“Why would we engage in the death penalty unless it’s some sort of revenge mechanism, to vent our anger and to reassure us that these were the right people, these murderers are the wrong ones,” Gibney adds. Daily News from LA. “Which, I think, leads to a bigger question about the legal system in general: are we in the business of judging character? Or are we in the realm of judging action?

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