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Expert: Mental Patients In The White House Magnet

Washington (wusa9) -- in the past few months, three people have independently and jump in the White House fence, one of them through the front door, armed with a knife.
Psychiatrists say the fence jumper most not to harm the president's intentions, but by their mental illness.

"Tell the CIA to stop sending the voices into my head. Tell the army intelligence to take the chip out of my brain," said Dr. Fuller Torrey, quoting some of his previous patients.

Through the 1980s, Dr. Torrey was the treating psychiatrist for many of the so-called "White House cases" brought by the Secret Service to St. Elizabeth's Hospital.

"This is the center of power in the United States," he said. "So if there's anything wrong, that's where you go!"

White House cases are nothing new. St. Elizabeth's began treating these patients in the 1850s. What is new is the increasing number of intruders.

"The best predictor of future violence was a history of prior violence," said Dr. David Shore, a former NIH researcher who studied more than 320 White House cases concerning delusional people who felt compelled to bring a message to the president.

"Messages that would save the country," he said. "Some people thought that they had already done something great and were there to collect an award."

It is also not uncommon for women to believe they're married to the president.

"One of whom would sit at Lafayette Park for days at a time waiting for the president to call her," Dr. Torrey said.

Experts say the White House will remain a magnet for the mentally ill until there is more treatment available.

"We have about 20% of the beds that we need," said Dr. Torrey. "There is nowhere to put people to get them treated."

All Americans should be concerned about that lack of treatment, according to experts who say it's led to more mentally ill who are homeless, in jails and prisons, and committing mass killings.

To see a state-by-state breakdown of available beds to treat the mentally ill, check out this recent report by the Treatment Advocacy

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