Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Manchurian Candidate Redux?

You may have read about the rash neurological conditions affecting workers and their families at the US embassy in Cuba. They have resulted in the withdrawal of many members of the staff ("Illnesses at U.S. Embassy in Havana Prompt Evacuation of More Diplomats,"NYT, 9/29/17). Which brings us to the question of the motive for the Las Vegas shootings. If someone were meddling with the minds of embassy workers in a foreign country, why couldn’t they get into the head of an unsuspecting individual on our own shores. Remember The Manchurian Candidate, the 1959 Richard Condon novel turned into a movie starring Angela Lansbury, Lawrence Harvey and Frank Sinatra and directed by John Frankenheimer. The idea of the movie deals with a foreign power turning a brainwashed soldier into an assassin. The more that’s revealed about Stephen Paddock the killer who had amassed guns, ammo and ammonium nitrate, the less the crime seems to make sense. Sure many people are thinking he may have snapped. The rumors about a gambling spree that preceded the killings lend credence to that idea. But what if some foreign power were simply trying to get control of his mind to use him like a robot? The Cubans are unlikely but there are many other potential "candidates." Capgras Syndrome is a neurological condition in which the sufferer believes that a familiar figure is occupied by an imposter. Imagine enduring  such a perception and then learning that it’s not a pathology. You may also recall Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) dealing with an alien invasion in which unsuspecting individuals become occupied by pods.

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