Psychiatrist says Hinckley has had risky romances

John Hinckley, seen here in 2003, has been allowed unsupervised time during visits to his mother.

Story highlights

  • Hinckley currently spends 10 days a month at his elderly mother's home
  • Hinckley tried to have a relationship with a married woman, doctor says
  • Doctor says more freedom doesn't "adequately manage the risk"
  • Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the attempt on President Reagan's life

Hearings to determine whether John Hinckley, Jr., should be granted more visits to his mother's home enter their 10th day Tuesday, a day after a psychiatrist questioned risky romantic relationships in which the presidential assailant had engaged.

Hinckley, who tried to kill President Ronald Reagan in March 1981, is currently allowed to leave St. Elizabeths Hospital for 10 days each month to visit his mother's home in a gated community in Williamsburg, Virginia. St. Elizabeths' proposal calls for that to increase to two visits of 17 days and then to be upped again to six visits of 24 days.

A federal judge is hearing testimony on whether Hinckley will be allowed to spend more time away from the mental hospital where he has been treated for three decades.

On Monday, a psychiatrist testified that he is opposed to the plan and he was concerned about the risks Hinckley's relationships with women cause.

"I do not believe it adequately manages the risk," said Dr. Robert Phillips.

Phillips said there are several areas of major risk for Hinckley, including his relationships with women and the risk he'll grow more isolated away from his hospital support system.

Phillips said Hinckley has formed real relationships with women, although he has not always shown good judgment. He said Hinckley has formed attachments with women who have had their own mental problems and that has not been helpful to him.

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U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman noted Hinckley has spent years in a mental hospital, which has limited the kinds of women he meets. Phillips said that is true but said it is necessary to look at each relationship and ask, "Is it mutual, is it predatory?"

Phillips cited a relationship Hinckley had with a woman identified only as Miss X, who was psychotic but was physically affectionate with Hinckley.

Hinckley's romantic relationships have drawn scrutiny through the years. He tried to kill Reagan in an effort to impress actress Jodie Foster. Hinckley shot Reagan, press secretary James Brady, Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy and police officer Thomas Delahanty.

All four men survived, although Brady was permanently disabled. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Phillips also testified that Hinckley attempted to begin a relationship with a woman who works at Eastern State Hospital, a mental facility where Hinckley works a few hours a week when he's in Williamsburg. Phillips said the co-worker was married and had children. Phillips said the effort to "turn the head" of his married co-worker was "either fantasy or abject narcissism."

Hinckley has been diagnosed with narcissism.

Phillips said Hinckley has not found a likely romantic partner in the town where his mother lives and that he hasn't made any friends with men or women there. He said this is a concern because Hinckley runs the risk of becoming increasingly isolated if he spends more time there on visits and eventually moves there full-time as an outpatient.

According to Phillips, Hinckley, 56, does basically the same solitary activities on all his visits to Williamsburg -- movies, walks, trips to PetSmart -- and has rebuffed suggestions to participate in activities where he might meet people.

"He has not done anything to increase his socialization," said Phillips.

The psychiatrist did say that Hinckley has been successful in "re-connecting" with his mother and two siblings.

During nine days of hearings, various witnesses have expressed concerns about what will happen when Hinckley's mother, a widow in her 80s, passes away. Hinckley's brother and sister live out of state.

The mental hospital has also asked for the authority to decide whether Hinckley should live in Virginia as a permanent outpatient in the future. In December, Friedman indicated the decision on whether Hinckley is eventually released should rest with him.

Phillips, who spent 15 years as a consultant to the U.S. Secret Service, also expressed concern about reports that Hinckley visited bookstores and looked at shelves containing books about presidential assassination, including the Reagan shooting. Secret Service agents who were secretly observing Hinckley said he looked at such books in the history section but never picked any up. They could not say if he showed interest in any particular volume. Hinckley's defense lawyer has noted the shelves also contained various other books and that Hinckley went on to other sections where he bought books about music.

The psychiatrist said such activity indicated a risk factor.

"His target is on this shelf," said Phillips.

Phillips, who spent five hours interviewing Hinckley in 2011, will continue testifying Tuesday.

Friedman has not indicated how quickly he will rule after all the witnesses are finished.