My mother's sister's son, Hilton Sims (Hil) Hutchinson, Jr., died on St. George Island, Florida, on 20 February 2002, a few months before his 60th birthday 30 May 2002. He had moved to St. George Island, Florida, from Tifton, Georgia (where he was born), after the death of his mother, Anna Frances Ham Hutchinson. Hil killed himself with a .22 revolver in a room at the Buccaneer Inn, where he had moved after he left a house whose rent he could no longer afford. He left a note that referred to

The Mask of Sanity, by Hervey M. Cleckley

( The C. V. Mosby Company, St. Louis, 1941)

An review by hharper from Valdosta, Georgia said: "... Cleckley ... was a therapist in a mental hospital who found that criminals sent there were excellent at playing the therapy game but were actually conning him. From this he developed perhaps 20 definitive characteristics of a type he called "psychopath", a term that had a variety of unclear meanings up until this point. The term has since been changed to sociopath and changed in the last two DSMs to "anti-social personality disorder". Whatever they are called their principal characteristic as far as society and the individuals who have to deal with them are concerned is that they do not have a conscience (a lack that is hard for some people to conceptualize and that is hard to measure). ...".

Here are some characteristics of psycopaths / sociopaths that Cleckley describes:


Although Cleckley says at page 252: "... [a psychopath] does not choose to attain permanent unconsciousness by taking his life. This is true of all psychopaths observed by the writer. ... Many suicides have been reported among psychopaths by various authors. It is contended here, nevertheless, that suicide is extremely rare in typical examples of that particular personality pattern which the present writer is describing. ... No psychopath ever observed by the writer has made a successful attempt at suicide or one that is considered sincere. ...",

it is a fact that Hil, 99 days before his 60th birthday killed himself with a .22 revolver in room at the Buccanner Inn, St. George Island, Florida, leaving a lottery ticket and an 11 page suicide note saying, in part:

"... There is a lottery ticket ... I will probably win it ... with the following directions. ....[a list including over a dozen people to get from $50,000 to $200,000 each]... The rest to establish a chair of Southern Literature at preferably the University of the South - Sewanee, in the name of R. Hilton Hutchinson - George Clinton Ham Foundation. ...".

[The Foundation namesakes are his grandfathers. According to a clerk at a Chevron station in Apalachicola, the lottery ticket was "not a winner".]

Maybe the cases that Cleckley saw in which no suicide occurred were cases involving younger people (many of them men in prison) who did not perceive themselves as getting near old-age-death.

Women as well as men can be psychopaths, and not all pyschopaths go to jail. Robert D. Hare, in his book Without Conscience written in 1993 (published by Guilford in 1999), said: "... There is no shortage of opportunities for white-collar psychopaths who think big. ... thousands of lucrative opportunities ... exist for a fast-talking psychopath with a head for numbers and the social skills to move easily in financial circles. ... the potential for profit is ... enormous ... the chances of getting caught are minimal, and the penalties are often trivial. ... A bank robber may be sentenced to twenty years in prison, whereas a lawyer, businessperson, or politician who defrauds the public out of millions of dollars may receive a fine or a suspended sentence, usually after a trial marked by long delays, adjournments, and obscure legal maneuvers. ...".

It is interesting that Hervey M. Cleckley was a co-author with Corbett H. Thigpen of The Three Faces of Eve, and that Hil was evaluated in Augusta, Georgia, by Thigpen many years ago. If I recall correctly, Thigpen said that Hil was a psycopath and that there was no known therapy or treatment or drug that could cure or even ameliorate that condition. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case today. As Robert D. Hare said in Without Conscience:

"... If you are dealing with a true psychopath it is important to recognize that the current prognosis for significant improvement ... is poor. ... in spite of more than a century of clinical study and speculation and several decades of scientific research, the mystery of the psychopath still remains. ... it is responsible for far more social distress and disruption than all other psychiatric disorders combined. ... The criminal justice system spends billions of dollars every year in a vain attempt to "rehabilitate" or "resocialize" psychopaths ...".


In his suicide statment, Hil began with words due to John Greenleaf Whittier (Maud Muller)

Of all sad words of tongue and pen

the saddest are these it might have been

and ended with a quote from Shakespeare's Macbeth soliloquy upon being told of the death of the Queen (Act V, Scene V)

"A tale told by an idiot

full of sound and fury

signifying nothing"

- The Story of my Life

The phrase Sound and Fury was used as a book title by William Faulkner (see also a web page by Gabriel Weinberg) in which Benjy was an idiot and Quentin was a Harvard student who killed himself.


When I contemplate Hil's suicide, my feelings are expressed by a Bartleby quote of Francis Bret Harte (Mrs. Judge Jenkins) in reply to Whittier:

More sad are these we daily see:

It is, but had n't ought to be.



In my view, a person' spiritual cultivation throughout life should be directed toward increasing spiritual awareness and in getting the person's spiritual components to function harmoniously with each other and with the person's outer world environment. If, at the end of life, a person's spiritual components are not functioning together in a harmonius way, then in my view the components may be disintegrated from each other, as by the Fire of Gehinnom,

and then reconstituted, perhaps in combination with spiritual components of others, in more harmonious new states.


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