October 21, 1959 – This was when (just three days after his 20th birthday) a slightly disturbed young American came into touch with the Soviet system of psychiatric care. He had tried to kill himself.
If his pathetic half-hearted suicide attempt had succeeded, then a few years later President John F. Kennedy might have returned from Dallas alive.
I can and will be brief here, as the life of this young ex-Marine has already been examined in hundreds of books and a zillion websites, up to the minutest detail. I don’t even need to mention his name anymore, but OK, I will.
Lee Harvey Oswald, 1959: about to go to Russia
Lee Harvey Oswald had arrived in Moscow a few days before on a one-week tourist visa, with the intention to apply for Soviet citizenship and stay there. But on this day he was told that his application was rejected and that due to his visa expiring, the authorities expected him to leave right away.
In his room in the Moscow Hotel Berlin, Oswald (as he later described in his diary) held his left wrist under the cold tap to make it numb, then slashed it open and put his bleeding wrist in a bathtub with hot water.
He knew that his KGB-assigned sightseeing guide, Rima Shirokova, would return an hour later. Did he expect to be dead by then?
The guide found him half-conscious next to the bathtub. An ambulance rushed him to the hospital emergency unit where he got five stitches in his wrist. The medical report was later retrieved from the hospital archive: the wrist slash had been a fairly superficial one, two inches long and not really deep.
Gate of the Botkinskaya Hospital, about 1959 (Oswald’s time)
Oswald found himself in the Moscow Botkinskaya Hospital, where the next morning he awoke in a room with twelve patients and three nurses. He described both the room and the breakfast given to him as “drab”. It took him two hours before he realized that he was in a psychiatric ward.
Later that afternoon he was interviewed by two doctors (with his tourist guide serving as interpreter) who had to laugh when he complained about the bad food.
The next day, having been diagnosed as not insane and not dangerous, Oswald was transferred to another ward that was partly reserved for foreign patients. This was not an exclusively psychiatric ward, but the nurses kept a close watch on him (and Oswald noted with relief that the food was much better now).
For a week, he was kept under observation here in the Botkinskaya Hospital. His tourist guide came to visit him every afternoon; the lady who ran the hotel reception counter payed him a visit too.
Same gate of the Botkinskaya Hospital, about 1959 (Oswald’s time)
28 October 1959, one week after his suicide attempt, Oswald was released from the hospital. The Russian authorities made him check into another, more luxurious hotel and in the next days they let him know they would consider his citizenship application one more time.
Trying to force the issue, Oswald went to the American embassy to renounce his American citizenship, handing over his American passport.
In one sense, we may say that his suicide attempt was successful: for in the end it helped him get what he wanted. The next month the Russians gave him a one-year permit to stay. In January 1960 they got him a job, at an electronics factory in Minsk. Because by then he was broke, the Russians even gave him $500 to settle his unpaid hotel bill.
Surprisingly, Minsk soon began to bore him… In the summer of 1962 he would return (with his Russian wife and baby daughter) to the USA. This time it was the American embassy that loaned him $435 to pay the journey home.
Oswald with wife Marina and baby June, 1962
November 1963 was not far away.
The doctors in the Botkinskaya Hospital were right: Oswald probably was not truly suicidal. But was he sane?
Countless people have tried (and still are trying) to analyze him and his motives to murder JFK. A true diagnosis will forever remain difficult. Some conclude that Oswald was crazy indeed, while some others are sure there was nothing wrong with him.
However, many experts have come to the more-or-less final conclusion that while Oswald was not insane, he was not quite of sound mind either. I think I can agree with this more nuanced impression.
So to cap this off, here is a tentative diagnostic quote:
Based on his reported behavior, some of the early signs of sociopathy seem to have been present in Oswald, along with narcissistic traits, as evidenced by grandiosity, inflation, and his reportedly rude, egocentric, and arrogant attitude toward others, including his wife, whom he allegedly physically and emotionally abused on more than one occasion. This is a syndrome I have previously referred to as “psychopathic narcissism”.
Before I forget, sorry for the complete lack of conspiracy theories in this post.
No Conspiracy Theories?
No. Believe me. This is it.
REALLY? No Conspiracy Theories?
Well, if you insist. But listen carefully, for I will say this only once: this is a deeeep secret. They don’t want you to know this.
In truth, Oswald was no human being. Oh no no no no no! Actually Oswald was a very advanced cyborg. He was the very first result of a CIA experiment with electronic brain implants. The CIA had pulled this technology from the alien flying saucer that crashed in Roswell. Unfortunately, something went wrong with Oswald’s experimental brain implant. You know, Kennedy’s lover Marilyn Monroe had hired the Mexican drug mafia to kill her rival, Jacqueline Kennedy. As part of a devious plan, Marilyn first faked her own death, and then the mafia hacked Oswald’s CIA cyborg brain and programmed it to shoot the First Lady. But due to his android battery running low (it had been sabotaged by jealous anti-CIA FBI agents) Oswald missed the mark and by accident shot the President instead.
As for Jack Ruby… but need I say more? And when Ruby shot Oswald, why do you think he didn’t dare to shoot Oswald in the head? Right! That brain implant! The CIA has done everything to… No, for my own safety I cannot say more now.
- The yellow quote is from a 2013 Psychology Today blog post that briefly analyzes Oswald’s life and his mental problems, by clinical and forensic psychologist Stephen Diamond: Why Did Lee Harvey Oswald Kill John Fitzgerald Kennedy?
The bold emphasis in the yellow quote was added by me.