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NCJ Number: 136026 Find in a Library
Title: Religion, Political Leadership, Charisma, and Mental Illness: The Strange Story of Louis Riel
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:37  Issue:2  Dated:(March 1992)  Pages:574-584
Author(s): I N Perr
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 11
Type: Historical Overview; Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article reviews the history of the case of Louis Riel (excluding the trial), examines analyses of Riel from psychiatrists published as early as 1887 as well as succeeding historical commentary, documents the nature of Riel's mental illness, and discusses the issue of the charismatic mentally ill leader.
Abstract: Louis Riel, a French Canadian half-breed, was hanged for high treason in 1885, after leading natives against the Canadian government. Riel was intelligent, articulate, sincere, committed to a number of causes -- religion, the French Canadians, the Metis, the underprivileged, and the dispossessed -- and he was devoted to the property rights, civil rights, and political rights of those whom he championed. Based on the data reviewed, however, this study concludes that Riel today would be diagnosed as having a bipolar disorder, primarily manic. His followers had no sense of control over their lives; they were dispossessed, hungry, and fearful. Such persons are vulnerable to the influence of a self-proclaimed and manic messiah. Louis Riel died because of his bad judgment, which was at least partially determined by a mental disorder that today is often treatable. He was also a product of his times and has thus become a symbol and icon for French-Canadian culture. 17 references
Main Term(s): Mentally ill offenders
Index Term(s): Canada; Treason
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