Psychiatric Experts Weigh In On What Could Have Motivated Germanwings Co-Pilot

LONDON (AP) — A disgruntled worker shoots up a workplace. A student opens fire at a high school. A pilot crashes a planeload of people into a mountainside.

There may never be a convincing explanation for such devastating acts of violence, but experts say certain personality disorders such as extreme narcissism can help push people who want to take their own lives to take those of others at the same time.

But as German prosecutors search for what might have motivated co-pilot Andreas Lubitz to deliberately smash the Germanwings plane carrying 149 other people into the French Alps, many experts caution against speculating on a diagnosis.

“We don’t have a clue what was going through his mind,” said Dr. Simon Wessely, of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London. “Even if we had all of his medical records and had conducted interviews with him, it would probably still be impossible to explain such an inexplicable act.”

Ripped-up sick notes from a doctor found at Lubitz’s home by German prosecutors suggest the27-year-old had an illness he hid from his employers at Germanwings. Medical documents showed he had an existing illness — which wasn’t specified — but no suicide note was found. A Dusseldorf hospital confirmed Friday that Lubitz had been treated recently, but didn’t say for what.

Neighbors of Lubitz were shocked at allegations he could have deliberately smashed the plane and said he had seemed thrilled with his job at Germanwings. They described a man whose physical health was excellent and records show Lubitz took part in several long-distance runs. Germanwings said he had passed all required medical check-ups.

Some experts said it was possible that people who commit such horrific acts of violence might be suffering from mental illnesses like narcissism or psychosis.

Dr. Raj Persaud, a fellow of Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists, says —> Read More