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Andreas Lubitz

Writing in The New Yorker about the suicidal co-pilot Andreas Lubitz a working psychotherapist, Gary Greenberg, writes:

The depravity of the human heart cannot be contained in a vessel as flimsy as a psychiatric diagnosis.

Mr Greenberg had not been one of those who had examined Lubitz, and I don't know exactly what if anything was wrong organically with his brain that contributed to his becoming depressed or suicidal. But it's common knowledge that some very depressed people don't allow themselves to act on their depression by killing others in addition to themselves.

Whatever was wrong in Lubitz' head, it included his being terribly self-centered. He had to be deficient in empathy or attention to the 153 people whose deaths he willingly caused. And deficient too in attention or concern as to what he was doing to his parents. It was a super-selfie, super-individualism, the kind of self-centeredness exists at the center of depravity.

Of course pain, like being kicked in the stomach, focuses a mind on oneself. But Rosenberg speaks of something else that might explain Lubitz's behavior. Psychotherapy has turned a lot to pill popping since Freud's time, and the psychotherapists are not 100 percent aware of what they are doing.

It is reported that medical records indicate that Lubitz was on medications for depression, anxiety and panic attacks and that it included lorazepam, a tranquilizer that can have dangerous side effects. Some people became psychotic after taking LSD, and some did not. Who knows what kind of side effect might have been working on Lubitz's mind?

But as Rosenberg writes:

To be sure, there are mental disorders in which we know enough of the vectors to say that people who have them should not occupy certain positions.

A contempt for humanity may have been a part of Lubitz's problem. That might explain his willingness to take others with him to make a sensational death. There is not much sensation in a single death. Contempt is at the heart of depravity. Disgust with oneself sometimes transfers to disgust with the whole of humanity or a least an indifference whether numerous people burn in hell or maybe burned and disintegrated in a plane crash. Such an attitude, while depraved, has been quite common.

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