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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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September 17th, 2013
06:25 PM ET

Professor: Navy Yard shooter showed signs of psychosis

Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis had violent outbursts, run-ins with the police, and heard voices. Alexis's father told police that his son's issues began more than a decade ago, when he began to suffer from he says was post-traumatic stress disorder after 9/11.

It all paints a troubling picture of the mind of a man responsible for the deaths of 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard.

Alexis also shot at tires, said he had blackouts, heard voices through the wall, and said somebody was sending vibrations through a microwave.

"You're describing symptoms of psychosis, the hearing things through the wall and hearing voices which are called auditory hallucinations, are symptoms of psychotic thinking," said Doctor Gail Saltz, associate professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

"Psychotic thinking can be due to, in some instances, post-traumatic stress disorder, but often it's due to another psychiatric diagnosis like schizophrenia, like severe bipolar disorder, and early 20s is a typical time for those kinds of disorders to first present," said Saltz.

Most psychotic people will not commit a violent act, Saltz said, and are more likely to be victims themselves.

"However, the fact that people say (Alexis) appeared suspicious and paranoid, and that he had had some violent behavior in the past, those are red flags because people who feel that others are out to persecute them as a delusion are more likely to potentially be violent, as are, of course, ones who have committed some violent acts in the past," said Saltz.

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