Adderall Implicated in
Michigan Murder Trial

Kermit Cole
28
645

“This case does not make sense in the normal sense,” Assistant Prosecutor Doug Newton told jurors in the trial of Michael Hamilton for murder. There were no drugs, women, money, jealousy, or a physical fight before the shooting. “He was smiling at me as he pulled the trigger,” the surviving brother of twins said. The defense argues that Hamilton was involuntarily intoxicated by Adderall, which includes hallucinations and unusual behavior in its list of side-effects, and thus temporarily insane.

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Of further interest:
Girlfriend testifies Michael Hamilton bought gun ‘for protection’ one month before shooting (Mlive)

From the article:

When with Hamilton, her boyfriend since December 2010, she said she never felt she was in any danger. He was “warm-hearted” and kind, she said.

It did not occur to her to have him “committed” when he started acting suspicious in the spring of 2012, she said, but she suggested he see his doctor. She thought he might have schizophrenia.

She had helped him find a doctor and he had begun seeing a psychiatrist in November 2011. The doctor then prescribed him Adderall.

Doctor prescribed Michael Hamilton Adderall, increased dosage; prosecution suggests prescription overuse (MLive)

From the article:

“Chief Assistant Prosecutor Kati Rezmierski, in her questioning of  (psychiatrist) Jajo, pointed out multiple instances when Hamilton went to the doctor in need of a new prescription because his had been lost, stolen or damaged.

“The drug is highly addictive and people do overuse it, the doctor said, answering Rezmierski’s questions.”

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]

28 COMMENTS

  1. Well lets face it, lawyers have helped ruin this Country and once again redirected fact and logic in to whatever suits them in their case:

    Fact: Psychotics know right from wrong.
    Fact: Sociopaths do not know right from wrong.

    What kind of Nanny state do we live in, where we blame psycho-stimulants for a crime? All us Adults need to take responsibility for our own actions.

    Based on my research, I’ve concluded Hamilton’s purported Amphetamine Psychosis would not negate his ability to know right from wrong. Therefore, it is this researchers opinion Hamilton had underlying sociopathology.

    Hamilton obviously lost all command of moral value, but this is NOT the doing of Adderal…

    Lawyers will use any excuse out there for their client and the Mental Health excuse has become the old standby.

    Hamilton is a Sociopath, send him to jail.

    • Eyes wide open.

      The man could not be insane unless his motive was sexual.

      “Lyons contends side effects of the prescribed drug, which include hallucinations and unusual behavior, rendered Hamilton legally insane, meaning he could not appreciate the wrongfulness of his acts or conform his conduct to the requirements of the law.”

      Here is the proof the man was aware of wrongfulness:

      “Hamilton fled in the older model BMW, according to testimony. He ditched the car and allegedly stole another vehicle before police caught and arrested him about 90 minutes after the shooting, according to earlier reports.”

      If he truly was unaware of the wrongfulness to kill, he would not have fled to the extend that he did. Only a numbskull would sit around, willful to conform their conduct to the requirements of the law (apprehension and arrest). Is it believed to be right or wrong thinking, to run from the cops? I think most people would die laughing if they heard a story of somebody just sitting there, after shooting somebody to death and smiling about it, waiting to “peacefully” surrender to the police. He fled because he DID know what he did was wrong.

      I agree with SnowyRhodes but I reserve the right to change my mind.

      • Edit button is there but not working (edit box that opens up shows the MIA homepage, not a data entry field).

        I agree that Hamilton belongs in prison but I’d disagree with sociopathy if the criteria is NOT knowing right from wrong. I think Hamilton knew full well and it would be indicated by his sinister smile. I agree with this statement “Hamilton obviously lost all command of moral value”. Yep.

  2. Well, the news story doesn’t indicate there was any understandable motivation for the shooting. Amphetamines (Adderall is just dextroamphetamine) make people do weird things.

    If the jury accepts that the drug caused this killing, it won’t be the first time. Given how every time there is a shooting, it is used as an excuse to take away our rights, it is important to show that these drugs cause events like this. I hope we keep watching this case.

  3. Ted Chabasinski, the story also indicates that, without his doctor’s knowledge, Hamilton additionally was using marijuana and alcohol, and “Before the homicide, Hamilton praised Adderall,” Indicating his claim of “involuntary” intoxication may be specious. In my view, he is probably a poly-drug abuser, and *that* — NOT simply Adderal, taken as directed in therapeutic doses — may have greatly contributed to his irrational and violent behavior. Alcohol abuse is frequently blamed for violence, why blame only the medication here? Furthermore, in people who may be susceptible to psychosis, marijuana alone can and does push them over into unreality.

    “Only Michael Hamilton was at the house. He came to the back door wearing no shirt. It appeared he had been sleeping, Richard Marcyan said.” He may have been awakened by them in the middle of sleeping off a “speed run” in which taking *abusive* quantities of Adderal (as opposed to therapeutic doses) led to sleep deprivation, both of which (excessive dosing and sleep disturbance) can independently cause psychosis, plus he may have used alcohol and/or pot to “take the edge off” and they may have had some contributing effect to his state of mind. And in the *several days* it can take to feel rested after even a short (1-2-3-night) speed run, irritability, paranoia, etc., are common, and any interference with getting the sleep that now feels absolutely imperative can be greeted with extreme hostility.

    “Amphetamines” don’t make people do weird things. Excessive amounts of amphetamines make people do weird things. What is excessive depends in part on the biochemistry of the individual. Please don’t tar with a broad brush as inherently dangerous and weirdness-producing a medication that, used properly for properly diagnosed problems, without complicating the picture by adding in pot and booze (and who knows what other drugs), can be a real boon to people with certain difficulties.

  4. SnowyRhodes, I agree with you that blaming the stimulants is an evasion of personal responsibility in this case. Psychotics do not *always* know right from wrong in the legal sense however. They may have a developed moral sense, but sometimes their distorted perception of reality brings them to a belief that a particular action is good and right which most people would regard as wrong. And the delusion or hallucination that induces them to commit one wrong act may not affect their ability to know right from wrong in other contexts.
    I agree with MJK that smiling when he pulled the trigger may be an indication of sociopathy. It is not so much that sociopaths don’t “know” right from wrong; they may be fully aware of what *other* people regard as right or wrong and consequently are aware of what might *get them in trouble* and take steps to avoid it (such as fleeing to avoid arrest after killing someone, or blaming Adderal in an attempt to shift blame). sociopathy is characterized by lack of empathy and a sense that they are not *morally* bound by the same rules as everyone else, that they are *entitled* to break laws or treat people as objects for their satisfaction.

    • uomosenzanome:

      I appreciate your thoughts and I am open to other ways of thinking and other perspectives, although I believe your stance on Psychosis demonizes the disorder and doesn’t help the case for recovery. Just because the media and Hollywood sees fit to call dangerous people ‘Psycho’, doesn’t mean we in the APA community need to stoop to their level. Infact we need to stand our ground.

      Just because someone hallucinates and/or hears voices, doesn’t mean they don’t know what is going on: most people realize they are sick and/or having a religious experience and get help either way. This process is routinely done without any violence. Who knows, maybe psychotics are in touch with a spiritual realm science hasn’t caught up with yet??!

      Knowing right from wrong is very much a Sociopathology, not Psychopathology. Although these disorders can combine with devastating results, lets call it what it is and not coin the phrasology and citations of the media. We’re above that.

      I agree Sociopaths lack empathy and even have to ‘act’ as to what is a proper societally acceptable response. In this murderers case, even if he had a chemical imbalance presenting psychotic features: he still must by definition, be sociopathic as well, to do what he did.

      I’m just a Grad Student, but in my 20’s of experience in the field, I have learned a great appreciation of the nature of psychosis. But when it comes to murderous sociopaths, I hope to God they get locked up, stop using psychosis as an excuse, and hope the media stops coining the phrase ‘Psycho’s .. since they have no scientific basis to blankly use the phrase.

      ~Snowy

  5. I left a comment on mlive.com in response to honeybadger

    “Without a motive it seems like it would be hard to prove the crime was willful, deliberate, or premeditated, which is required for first degree. ” Easy to prove it was deliberate: “Hamilton came outside with a red shirt or cloth over his right arm.” He was covering the gun, so he certainly did know what he was doing. I think for Hamilton, it is more about his belief system than any possible motive. If some part of him thinks murder is okay, acceptable or even normal then the primary factor is his fundamental thought process and anything at all could be a reason. SOMETHING triggered in his head that day, to pick up his gun and shoot. And considering he had a gun, I’m sure he’s thought often of shooting it and which instances he would shoot. That right there is premeditation.

    I like uomosenzanome’s comment about seeing the man as a toxic chemical lab (substance abuse and sleep deprivation) but I think his seemingly calm demeanor of walking away to get his gun, covering it up, and then smile while shooting would show something of control and intent. If he was so toxic, could he possibly be so seemingly “cool, calm and collected” or wouldn’t he be chaotic, spastic and sloppy?

  6. I was taught (quite recently, actually) that sociopathy and psychopathy were just older terms for what we now call Antisocial Personality Disorder. Are they discrete entities? Do they exist under the APD umbrella? I’ve never thought of the term psychopathic being synonymous with psychotic. If somebody has time, please straighten me out on terminology.

  7. “Assistant Prosecutor Doug Newton said Hamilton additionally was using marijuana and alcohol without his doctor’s knowledge”

    If this is true, than I don’t think the Adderall can be blamed. And if this wasn’t an issue, I would need to know more about the defendant before I could say whether the Adderall could be blamed or not.

    Again, I think we have to be careful about automatically assuming psych meds are the reason for someone’s crime without judging each case very carefully.

  8. Hey guys, I had a psychotic break Oct 3rd 2010 … or maybe it was a religious experience, I don’t know… however, I started dating a Widowed Woman with two kids shortly after and was a good and Faithful Father figure. I took 80mg of Adderal every night to complete a CD and a Book: The proceeds of my work I used to support the family I had at the time.

    During my high dosage use of Adderal and untreated psychosis, I hallucinated all the time. Thankfully, I had extensive experiences following a band called Phish, and logged in over a 100 trips on LSD, of which probably helped me distinguish reality from non-reality.

    At no time did I ever experience any problems with not knowing good moral value. And I should mention I *LOVE* guns as well… I can field strip a colt .45 blindfolded; and did on my own time, during writing my book at night.

    At no time was I “a danger to myself or others”: while Smoking, Drinking, using Adderal, or cleaning my Girlfriend’s firearms.

    This Guy Hamilton is of a different bread: to suggest blame on what precipitated his underlying murderous behavior,(Adderal, Weed, Alcohol) of which purportedly led towards murder, is an affront to my first hand experience and my very being as a Human with good moral value.

    I’ve lived through the exact cocktail of chemicals Hamilton used, but instead, I helped to do a good job at Fathering two kids well at all times, while supporting an entire family, and suffering from untreated psychosis taboot.

    I maybe no expert, but I’ve lived the chemical imbalance and I remained a good person at all times!

    This Hamilton guy, should accept responsibility for his own actions and be sent to jail.

    That is all.

    ~Snowy

  9. I don’t know exactly what has happened here, but i have known people who would start to rage on Adderall for seemingly no reason, or start to act weirdly.
    Taking responsibility for ones actions, i’m all for it, but i’m pretty sure this stuff can destabilize a person’s brain.
    I would say the reaction to its effects differs from person to person.
    Also, I don’t believe in the fable that it can ‘unmask’ an underlying ‘mental illness’, though this hasn’t been said in this post.

    • Did you see this adderall case?

      https://www.madinamerica.com/2013/03/adderall-blamed-for-leap-into-tigers-den/

      I don’t doubt that adderall can do bad things to a person but Hamilton’s actions, if they’re true as reported, seem, to me, to be controlled and intentional. Self-possession and self-direction in full effect. The way he got his gun, covered it up, walked to his target, smiled and shot lacks disorganization or bizarreness. If his brain was destabilized, I would think he would behave in the same manner.

      Why didn’t he do something really weird, like get the gun and start talking to it – or use it in some way that one would not normally use a gun? Like put it on a dinner plate and offer it to somebody. Those would be bizarre, weird behaviors.

      Maybe adderall creates hyper-organization or hyper-function of some sort.

      • My understanding of many of these psych-drug-induced violent incidents is that the person may or may not be acting bizarrely. They usually seem to be able to think and plan and communicate normally, but do things that are completely out of character. My personal theory, based on observations and discussions with a number of people on SSRIs and stimulants, is that it’s more a distancing from the consequences or implications of their actions. Things seem reasonable that wouldn’t normally. A friend of mine was taking Zoloft as prescribed for migraine headaches. Some normal kind of problem arose, and as she went though her array of possible solutions, she thought, “I could just kill myself.” She realized this was a very abnormal thought for her to have, and was astounded it would occur to her as a solution to such a simple problem. I think a less self-aware person might readily be prompted to act on impulses s/he would normally find outlandish or dangerous.

        This guy sounds pretty irresponsible and potentially dangerous in his normal mode of behavior. But I believe it is entirely possible that his ability to ACT on his violent impulses might have been enhanced by his drug-induced state. I don’t think it fully explains and definitely doesn’t excuse the behavior in a functioning adult. But I think it’s quite possible that absent the Adderall, no murder would have occurred.

        —- Steve

        • He owned a gun. Doesn’t gun ownership indicate some capacity and willfulness to shoot it?

          I think most, if not all, can agree that adderall is not the cause or reason for his gun ownership. His belief system is the reason he owned a gun. But who knows – maybe he did obtain a gun after taking adderall and not before. *shrug*

          • As I said, I think there’s plenty to indicate he was a violent and controlling guy before taking anything. The question is, did the Adderall put him over the edge? Did it make him willing to follow through with something he was only fantasizing about? We know that people are more likely to be violent and to be more severely violent when they’ve been drinking. Not everyone gets violent when drinking – I never did. But if a person is already thinking violent thoughts, drinking may drop their inhibitions and make them more willing to follow through. I think the same thing can happen with Adderall or SSRIs. In which case, I can’t absolve the makers or prescribers of responsibility, any more than I can this guy who did it. If they know that Adderall can make people violent or more violent, and they knew this guy was potentially violent, they shouldn’t have prescribed it.

            Two more points: first, there are tons of gun owners who aren’t the least bit violent. They shoot animals for sport or for food, or use them for defense against wild animals, or against violent neighbors if they live in that kind of a neighborhood.

            Second, there do appear to be people who aren’t at all violent but do become so while taking psych drugs. This guy doesn’t sound like he fits that profile, but such cases have been documented.

            Thanks for your comments as always!

            —- Steve

          • “The question is, did the Adderall put him over the edge?”

            When alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and heroin put people over the edge, and they commit a crime, they are usually not found to be “not guilty by reason of insanity”.

            Personally, I think the word “insanity” needs to be ejected from the formula in this case. I think I’m the only commenter who has considered his belief system to be a significant factor – almost secondary to *any* substance Hamilton reportedly had been using (alcohol, marijuana AND adderall).

            If the prescribing doctor was unaware of his drug and alcohol usage, WHY? I know they ask, so the only answer is that Hamilton bold-face lied.

          • I agree, the drug does not absolve him of responsibility, and I absolutely agree his belief system allowed him to absolve himself of responsibility, and it’s also really easy for him to blame the drug. The only difference between this and a drug like Heroin or alcohol is that he was prescribed the drug by a physician, who should have done a better screening and probably not prescribed an addictive and aggression-inducing drug to an aggressive person with an addiction problem. I don’t buy the “insanity defense” in this case. My guess is that he knew what he was doing when he went to get the stimulants in the first place. But that still doesn’t get the doctor off the hook.

            Of course, he could be lying the whole time. He’s got a sociopathic kind of presentation. It’s not ALWAYS the drug that induces the final act. But it can be and might have contributed in this case.

            I’d contrast this with the woman in DC who was shot after driving her car at the White House fence. She was being “treated” for “postpartum depression” and had no history of violence, being in fact a solid, taxpaying citizen with no criminal record prior to receiving the “help” of these drugs. In that case, I’d say the drugs are highly culpable, and she may in fact have been “insane” for legal purposes not knowing ‘right from wrong’) when she drove her care into the fence.

            This guy probably needs to be in jail. He sounds dangerous, on Adderall or off it.

            — Steve

          • “But that still doesn’t get the doctor off the hook.”

            A thought comes to mind: seeing adderall as the bullet for the gun. But, would he still have shot somebody (don’t forget – he smiled) if he hadn’t been using alcohol and marijuana?

            The woman in DC didn’t seem to have the intent to kill somebody. She was stressed to the max – so many factors – including serious thoughts and beliefs that ARE very concerning. She seemed to want to confront somebody, not assault or kill. And if I read correctly, she only started slamming into things when she found herself trapped, and was trying to turn her vehicle around, to escape. I didn’t read into it that she was full-force driving into things, as an intended assault. Maybe I need to re-read but even for the Connecticut woman in DC – it seems to me that her BELIEFS were the primary driving force that caused her behavior that day.

            There’s something about Hamilton that causes me to want to strongly resist consideration of adderall as a factor for what he did. I know the reality of drug toxicity and I even know what it’s like to drive my vehicle into something, on purpose. I think Hamilton is just a junkie and a murderer.

            What personal trauma history does he cry about, if any? At least the woman in DC case is clear as day: she felt like somebody intended harm against her. Did Hamilton feel like the twin brothers were there to harm him? Any reason somebody might want to harm him, to the degree he had a gun for self-protection (if possession of the gun wasn’t for assault)?

          • I can’t argue with you. He sounds sociopathic for sure. He may have gotten the Adderall prescription just for kicks. As to the DC mom, she didn’t appear to have these weird beliefs before she started treatment for “postpartum depression.” I know people can get psychotic after a birth, but it sure doesn’t sound like whatever treatment they gave her helped, does it? Sounds like it made it a lot worse, to the point that she ended up dead!

            — Steve

      • Yes, i noticed that other Adderall case.
        And i think it can make people act on things, they usually would not act on.
        If this was the case here, with the shooting, i don’t know.

        I think different people have different reactions to its effects and i wonder, if it also makes a difference in what circumstances someone is in.
        I’m not trying to defend the shooter, but think the effects these pills can have should not be overlooked.

        Speaking of hyper function: i read sometime ago that some fighter pilots would take so called “go pills”, which where amphetamines of some sort, to stay alert during long missions. It seems some pilots were prone to making more mistakes while on it.

  10. Dude all I’ll say about drugs and mental illness is been there, done that… Recovery is possible from both. Adderall is poor man’s coke, Marijuana calms people down, Alcohol is evil, this dude should be sent to jail because he’s an adult and should know better, whether he’s under the influence or not.

    I followed the Grateful Dead and Phish and am no worse for wear. My buddies and I who went to all these concerts, all have full time high paying jobs now… we’ve never hurt anyone, we contribute to society, we pay our taxes, we have families, money, happiness, and stability…

    The fact violence and drugs are put together in a criminal case as an excuse for Micheal Hamilton’s murderous behavior, is extremely offensive to all us hipsters (Fathers, Mother’s, Veterans, Sisters, Brothers,ect….). The fact it’s come down to putting violence and drugs in the same sentence is not just offensive, but an affront to my friends’ and I’s very soul and being.

    ~Snowy

    • Adderall is poor man’s coke

      lol

      Almost all the violence in my life (life-long violence, it’s all I’ve ever known) is sexual, substance related and verbal atrocity (slang, verbal abuse). It is Hell’s recipe.

      Can’t take the stench out of the dumpster.

      • mjk! oh wow, sorry to hear you’ve experienced violence! I myself am a survivor from childhood trauma’s… Mike Lew’s book “Victim’s No Longer”, was a good book for recovery for me… Sorry to hear about this… thank you for reaching out and thank for this forum www dot madinamerica dot com for facilitating free speech and dialogue necessary for catharsis and recovery.

        Cheers.

        ~Snowy