John Hinckley, seen here in 2003, has been allowed brief furloughs from a Washington mental hospital to visit his mother.

Story highlights

Hinckley "continues to be mentally ill now," Dr. Raymond Patterson testifies

Experts testifying previously said his top mental problems are in full remission

Would-be assassin is seeking longer release time from a mental hospital

He was found not guilty by reason of insanity after 1981 shooting of President Reagan

Washington CNN  — 

A psychiatrist who treated John Hinckley Jr. in the 1980s and who interviewed him in recent months described the presidential assailant Tuesday as having “a sense of entitlement” and being “absorbed with himself.”

During federal court testimony, Dr. Raymond Patterson also said Hinckley “dives right in” when it comes to romantic relationships with women, but has not always shown a lot of empathy toward them.

Federal prosecutors called Patterson as an expert witness in their effort to block a proposal from St. Elizabeths, the Washington mental hospital where Hinckley has undergone treatment for three decades, to increase Hinckley’s periods of visitation to his mother’s home in Williamsburg, Virginia, and his possible eventual release as a permanent outpatient.

In March of 1981, Hinckley shot President Ronald Reagan, his press secretary James Brady, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and Washington policeman Thomas Delahanty. All four men survived, and Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity

Patterson, the former director of forensics services at St. Elizabeths, said Hinckley continues to suffer from both narcissistic and schizoid personality disorders. He said the latter problem has led Hinckley to be somewhat removed in personal relationships.

In December, experts called by Hinckley’s lawyers testified his two most serious mental problems– major depressive disorder and an unspecified psychotic disorder– are in full remission.

Patterson agreed with the diagnosis on the depressive disorder. He was more circumspect about the psychosis, saying his condition “tends not to present with obvious symptoms.”

The psychiatrist said that in the late1990s he had recommended Hinckley start taking the antipsychotic drug Risperdal to prevent any new symptoms. That was of particular concern, Patterson said, because Hinckley was leaving the hospital periodically. Hinckley is still taking that drug along with Zoloft for anxiety.

Patterson said that in his opinion, Hinckley “continues to be mentally ill now.”

The issue of Hinckley’s relationships with women has frequently come up during the discussion of increasing his freedom. Witnesses have testified about his girlfriends, including a woman identified only as Miss CB, a former mental patient at Hinckley’s hospital. Patterson said Hinckley said he was engaged to CB and was unhappy his mother would not allow her to visit him during his stays at her Virginia home.

Hinckley’s mother was concerned CB might have a mental breakdown. Patterson said Hinckley showed “little regard” for his mother’s views.

According to Patterson, Hinckley said he had ended his engagement to CB anticipating he would be spending more time at his mother’s and would not be able to see her there. Patterson said he was not sure if Hinckley had, in fact, told CB the engagement was over because she continues to visit him when he is at the hospital.

The psychiatrist said he asked Hinckley what the impact would be on CB if he were to go to Williamsburg and no longer see her, and Hinckley replied that she has other friends. Patterson said Hinckley showed “not a lot of empathy.”

Hinckley’s defense team will get a chance to question Patterson on Wednesday.

In his opening arguments in late November, attorney Barry Levine said the central issue is whether Hinckley is dangerous and said no one has offered any proof that he represents a danger to himself or others. Levine said Hinckley is “flawed,” but insisted he is “fundamentally decent.”

Hinckley currently spends 10 days a month visiting his mother in Virginia. Doctors at St. Elizabeths have proposed the visits be increased, first to two stays totaling 17 days. That would be followed by six trips totaling 24 days. Following the extended visits the hospital would like the authority to decide whether Hinckley can be released as a permanent outpatient.

In December, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman said the decision should rest with him.