Bowe Bergdahl Revelation: Bizarre Behavior Linked To Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Bowe Bergdahl, in documents released today, appears to have had a mental illness at the time that he was captured by the Taliban. Bergdahl, an Army Sgt. captured and held by the Taliban for nearly five years, was diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder by physicians after his return from captivity, along with a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. His physicians say Bergdahl had the first condition before he was captured by the Taliban and it could explain his bizarre behavior leading up to Bowe's capture.

Bergdahl and the strange story of his capture and captivity is the subject of this season of popular podcast Serial, as Inquisitr reported previously, and over the last couple weeks the Bergdahl saga has become something of a national obsession. In Serial, we hear Bergdahl speaking on his own behalf, in conversations recorded by filmmaker Mark Boal, shared with journalist Sara Koenig. Koenig and Serial listeners speculated that Bergdahl might have some form of mental illness, given that he was discharged from the Coast Guard for a nervous breakdown prior to joining the Army.

In court transcripts released today, the Washington Post reports that Bowe Bergdahl's diagnosis and upbringing likely contributed substantially to his perceived paranoia and his unique dedication to his life as a soldier. Bergdahl maintains that he left the U.S. Army base in Afghanistan in hopes of bringing attention to a failure in the command structure of the U.S. Army. Bergdahl suggests that command decisions made by U.S. Army leaders were putting the lives of his fellow soldiers at risk, and he had hoped to draw attention to those alleged leadership failures by leaving the base.

Unfortunately, Bergdahl was captured and held for nearly five years, during which time he was beaten, starved, and tortured by Taliban militants while the U.S. State Department worked tirelessly to see him freed. Bergdahl's state of mind at the time that he left the base is the cornerstone of the court-martial case against him. Why did he do it, and what did he hope to gain? These questions are answered by Bergdahl in a shocking series of conversations with an Army investigator, the transcripts of which were released just today.

According to transcripts released today, Bergdahl was diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder, a mental illness that can affect the way an individual perceives social cues, as well as that individual's tendency to develop significant distrust of others and in particular of authority figures. The diagnosis came from the U.S. Army's Sanity Board Evaluation, which saw that Bergdahl had some of the traits typical among those with schizotypal personality disorder.

"The more Americans know about this case, the better," said Bergdahl's defense attorney, Eugene Fidell, who released the documents today.

The diagnosis explains why Bergdahl did what he did, and why he saw the kinds of threats he saw from the people at the top of the U.S. Army's command structure. Bergdahl's diagnosis, as a sufferer of schizotypal personality disorder, was hinted at in mid-February during an episode of Serial, but it was confirmed today in the documents released by Bergdahl's defense attorney.

"Growing up the way I grew up, I also lacked the understanding of how to move through society," Bergdahl said during his interview with Army investigator Maj. General Kenneth Dahl.

After his lengthy interview with Bergdahl, Maj. General Dahl concluded – and testified to the fact – that he thought Bergdahl should be given a misdemeanor desertion charge, not the full court-martial which could include a sentence of life imprisonment. Dahl, swayed by Bergdahl's sincere desire to help fellow soldiers, and to protect his brothers-in-arms, coupled with the diagnosis made by the Army's Sanity Board, made for a convincing argument.

Bergdahl's legal team has confirmed for the Chicago Tribune that the diagnosis is a key element of Bergdahl's defense.

[Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images]