BY JIMMY AND MARTIN RIGS
PART 1 LONER
“Since Oswald is dead, the Commission is not able to reach any definite conclusions as to whether or not he was “sane” under prevailing legal standards. Under our system of justice no forum could properly make that determination unless Oswald were before it. It certainly could not be made by this Commission which, as has been pointed out above, ascertained the facts surrounding the assassination but did not draw conclusions concerning Oswald’s legal guilt.”
(wcr:ch 7: lee Harvey oswald: background and possible motives)
How do you separate the Oswald of history from the Oswald of myth?
In the above statement the Warren Commision points out the problem with that question in the first line mainly that Oswald is dead and is stating that the commission itself can’t be sure of its own conclusions. In the absence of a definite conclusion one surely can only make an assumption?
Yet typically as the WC had already decided that Oswald WAS guilty there follows, through an historical and psychological analysis, the reasons why Oswald WAS the lone assassin. As evidenced on page 376, far from being unable to reach any definite conclusion, the commission now states as fact that Oswald
“…shot General Walker, assassinated the President, shot Officer Tippit…”
This kind of erroneous statement and reversal typifies the theme that runs throughout the Commissions often ambiguous observations on Oswald and it is some of these statements (or assumptions) and observations that Jimmy and I would like to explore and “debunk” if you like.
Farther down in its assassination of Oswald the Commission makes the famous statement/assumption that:
“Oswald was a Sociopathic loner and malcontent and thus had no associates who would aid him in the crime”
Loner: A person who avoids or does not actively seek human interaction.
Perusing the WCs observations and the observations of those who met Oswald, be it a doctor, friend, carer or family one is confronted with opinions and evaluations that go from one end of the spectrum to the other. Some observations have it seems no bearing on what the report is trying to achieve..What is clear though is that observations seem to be contradictory, often in the same statement, and as a result there is no definitive assessment of Oswald’s state of mind.
For example (and using the WC reports own observations) take two principal observers of Oswald during a part of his childhood years.
John Carro his probation officer in one of his reports noted that Oswald was disruptive in class , refused to salute the flag and generally had a problem with authority..yet he concluded that:
“There was nothing that would lead me to believe when I saw him at the age of 12 that there would be seeds of destruction for somebody. I couldn’t in all honesty sincerely say such a thing”
And this typifies an example of a statement that hasn’t any bearing on who Oswald might become and indeed Carro’s concluding statement supports this. It should be noted that Carro out of three advisors was the only one who recommended Oswald be placed in a home but
“..was quite specific that his recommendation was based primarily on the adverse factors in Lee’s environment–his lack of friends, the apparent unavailability of any agency assistance and the ineffectualness of his mother–and not on any particular mental disturbance, in the boy himself”
An unruly boy in class causing trouble, generally misbehaving, going against perceived authority..could this not be the demeanor of a typical teenager as much as a portent of something else..we shall see later on how I believe the WC used the idea of Oswald’s disruptiveness and problem with authority as a child to build upon their picture of Oswald as a Communist, an unwilling soldier, a defector and finally a lone assassin
Another principal observer, Oswald’s social worker, Evelyn Siegel described Oswald as a
“seriously detached, withdrawn youngster.”
yet on the other hand there was,
“..a rather pleasant, appealing quality about this emotionally starved, affectionless youngster which grows as one speaks to him”
In conclusion Siegel stated that
“Despite his withdrawal, he gives the impression that he is not so difficult to reach as he appears and patient, prolonged effort in a sustained relationship with one therapist might bring results”
Although Oswald never saw a therapist his behaviour improved once he relocated to New Orleans according to the WC.
Again I ask what can we gain from these statements, to me we can gain no insight into Oswald the “loner”…we simply see a child without a father.. intelligent, withdrawn, solitary and in a state of flux .however I can see an attempt at setting the foundations psychologically on which to build the case of Oswald as loner. There is a problem with that assumption though because
“…it could arise from any number of diverse conditions, not all of which need to be tied to a personality ‘disorder’, or pathology.”
Under psychological evaluation in 1953 his assessor Dr Hartog wrote:
“This 13 year old well built boy has superior mental resources and functions only slightly below his capacity level.” but he did find..“Oswald to be a tense, withdrawn, and evasive boy who intensely disliked talking about himself and his feeling.” And whilst Hartog then diagnosed this 13yr old boy as having a “personality pattern disturbance with schizoid features and passive–aggressive tendencies.” the WC admitted that“…the psychiatric examination did not indicate that Lee Oswald was a potential assassin, potentially dangerous, that “his outlook on life had strongly paranoid overtones” or that he should be institutionalized.”
Two points I am trying to make here. Firstly the almost contradictory nature of these statements..whilst seemingly pointing out a child with serious issues, at the same time the observations show nothing that would reveal a man who might callously take another’s life..secondly it should be noted that the evaluation took place in the early 50s and whilst we shouldn’t dismiss hartogs words out of hand we should however see them through the prism of psychology in a society over 50 years ago..
When Oswald relocated to New Orleans from New York in Jan 54 the WC describes Oswald or rather neighbours and “others who knew him” describe him as introverted and reading a lot. ..visiting museums taking walks in the park..A friend Eric voival said that he was bashful and was not aggressive…
Yet on the other hand William E Wulf ( President of the astronomers club that the Loner Oswald was part of) paints a different picture of the introverted Oswald. After getting into an argument over communism with Oswald, Wulf testified that his father..
“…heard what we were arguing on communism, and that this boy was loud-mouthed, boisterous, and my father asked him to leave the house and politely put him out of the house, “
Again here we have the loud opinionated Oswald, there we have the introverted Oswald.It is unclear what the WC is attempting to achieve at this point except to map Oswald’s early life..but for what purpose? It seems a valid argument can be made that we have a commission that had decided before the fact that Oswald had to be the lone assassin and therefore any testimony of his psychological make up should be made with with a nod to that end. The problem with this is that statements tend to go both ways and against themselves as we have already seen..another example below from a colleague in the marines substantiates this:
“(Daniel) Powers considered Oswald to be meek and easily led,125 an “individual that you would brainwash, and quite easy …” and in the same statement “[but] I think once he believed in something … he stood in his beliefs.””
(Warren Commission Report Page 386)
Yet again the commission is leading us in two directions or at least trying to cover all bases – a man who is easily brainwashed and easily led, yet would stick to his beliefs. This sheds no more light on who Oswald was or would become.
The WC called Oswald a Sociopath. .
Sociopath: a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial,often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.
Already we have shown in WC testimony that Oswald whilst certainly at times inward looking, at times withdrawn there seems to be a lack of evidence pointing toward Oswald as psychopathic or anti-social to the extreme the WC were pushing.As stated earlier Hartog said that Oswald showed signs of personality pattern disturbance or borderline personality disorder as a 13 yr old boy…yet :
“In the general population (regarding BDP) , rapid mood shift, impulsivity, and hostility are normal in childhood and early adolescence, but disappear with maturity.”
According to J.M Cauwels
“it is important to note that borderline personality disorder is *not* a sociopathy, indeed: “depressed and lonely borderline males hide behind sociopathic facades”… Hence, because of certain borderline tendencies and images – ‘feeling of omnipotence’ – it is possible to confuse their condition with that of sociopaths. Clearly, as a probable sufferer of BPD, Lee Harvey Oswald was no sociopath.”
I am not qualified to say whether or not Oswald was a Sociopath, is the warren commission?
By the statement below we can say that the Warren Commission voted not to include a psychological assessment in the report. Why was this? Was this because the Doctors did not feel that Oswald had any mental difficulties or that this would provide any more information about Oswald.
“There was an all day session on Thursday with three psychiatrists who were asked to consult with members of the staff regarding Lee Harvey Oswald and his background. This was an extremely productive session, and I attended the morning portion of it.
As a result of the meeting which was transcribed and is part of the Commission’s records, it was decided that the Commission in its report should not attempt any working psychological hypothesis regarding Lee Harvey Oswald. In this respect it was a major victory for Mr. Redlich and a major defeat for Mr. Liebeler who had been hoping that the testimony of the psychiatrists would assist him in including such [a] psychological analysis in his chapter on motive.”
If he was Sociopathic and craved attention from his deeds, why did he not admit to killing the President and Officer Tippit? Why would he repeatedly protest his innocence? Why not bathe in the fame that this would bring? Of course the way in which he composed himself during his interrogation and arrest can be seen in two ways as above in a scenario where he is actually genuinely protesting his innocence or as the WC put it
“Oswald was overbearing and arrogant throughout much of the time between his arrest and his own death. He consistently refused to admit involvement in the assassination or in the killing of Patrolman Tippit”
Again what can be seen in this statement is a tunnel vision mentality by assuming Oswald’s demeanor is that of a guilty party. Oswald is overbearing and arrogant because he won’t admit killing Tippit..if he did not and there is evidence to the contrary that puts his guilt in doubt, why is it arrogant?
On October 21st 1959, Oswald attempted suicide by cutting his left wrist and putting it into a bath full of warm water. This was an attempt to prolong his in stay in Russia as his application for citizenship had been refused and he would have been sent back home that day. He was found by Rimma and rushed to hospital. He spent a week at the hospital, the first three days in the psychiatric ward where he was evaluated. Here are a few statements from that report and the initial medical report:
“The character of the injury is considered light without functional disturbances. The patient is of clear mind, no sign of psychotic phenomena”
“During his stay in the [admission] department, his attitude was completely normal”
“His mind is clear. Perception is correct. No hallucinations or delirium. He answers the questions [illegible] and logically. He has a firm desire to remain in the Soviet Union. No psychotic symptoms were noted. The patient is not dangerous for other people.”
After this he was moved to a normal ward. The aim here is not trying to prove that Oswald was “normal” or that he didn’t have any social problems, I am trying to show that with a few statements we can shed a different light on his mental state. What we can gather from this is that he was in a clear state of mind at this time.
The theme is clear throughout what we have been looking at and that is that there are two ways in which to view the information at hand.
Since the release of The Warren Commission report we have had opportunity to look at Oswald from other viewpoints and this adds to the different picture we can see of Oswald psychologically at least other than the picture we are shown by the WC.
Joan Mellen writes:
“Nor was Oswald particularly solitary in New Orleans during the summer of 1963 where his presence was noted at anti-Castro training camps north of Lake Pontchartrain.
Almost from the moment of his arrival in New Orleans from Texas in April 1963, Oswald sought the acquaintance of CIA and FBI assets. He attempted to infiltrate anti-Castro groups. By the time he was arrested on Canal Street in August, he was so well acquainted with the FBI field office that he told the officer interviewing him, Lieutenant Francis Martello of New Orleans police intelligence, “Call the FBI. Tell them you have Lee Oswald in custody”
He made membership inquiries to such organizations as the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Labor Party, The Gus Hall-Benjamin Davis Defense Committee, the Daily Worker, The Fair Play for Cuba Committee and the Communist Party, USA.
Having made contact with the FPCC he had no problems talking to people and the media whilst handing out flyers in the street, he had it seems no problem in introducing himself to Carlos Bringuier and also partaking in a debate on radio with Bringuier.During his time in Minsk he is remembered fondly by friends and co-workers such as Ernst Titovets who said he was “not capable of killing anybody” or Inna Markava who remembers him as someone who would laugh very loudly in public.
Oswald is portrayed as being unable to “adapt and make meaningful relationships” but he nevertheless met and fell in love with Ella German whilst in Minsk and proposed to her, though he was rebuffed… Later he was of course able to marry Marina Prusakova, a pharmacy employee, of Minsk, Russia (then the Soviet Union), whom he married in 1959. Although they had problems with their marriage, they had two children together. ..
On John Mcadams site Mel Ayton, in line with WC thinking, attempts to view Oswalds mind as one of a guilty party rather than trying to ask the question of whether Oswald’s state of mind could make him a killer. Although he does quote Dr Martin Kelly right at the beginning of his essay “Lee Harvey Oswald’s Motives” who states:
“Oswald’s mental state does not have crisp, sharp-edged concepts, so it is problematic for (anyone) to write a causally structured account easily.”
In other words, as already we know from the Warren Commission’s own statement, NO DEFINITIVE CONCLUSION CAN BE DRAWN because as Mel also admits (though tempered again with the assumption that Oswald is guilty :
“the explanation of Oswald’s motive for killing President Kennedy was buried with him.”
The advantage for the commission at the time of its release is that it was the perceived authority on whom Oswald was..there were of course critics to the report but by enlarge the WC held sway with the populace and especially with the backing of the mainstream media. It would take time for its dissenters to be heard.
There are numerous occasions throughout Oswalds life that point as much away from the label he carries as sociopath loner as toward it, though these observations in themselves don’t make Oswald an innocent man they do however widen the gap between the Lee of the WC and the Lee of history.
In part 2 we will look at Oswald the Malcontent
Thanks for reading