Bundy's mental health and psychiatric state have long been called into question. When Bundy was on death watch in 1986 for three murders in Florida, his attorney Polly Nelson attempted to delay the death penalty by proving that Bundy was not mentally competent to stand trial. "We were hoping to find some clear mental illness that we could use as an issue in the case," she said on episode four in the Netflix documentary. So, they enlisted Dorothy Lewis, MD, a psychiatrist who specialized in "understanding the brain chemistry of violent men."
Throughout Dr. Lewis' examination, Bundy insisted that he was competent. "I knew I wasn’t crazy, insane, or incompetent, or anything else," Bundy said in an interview featured in Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. "I was insulted by even the suggestion by my attorneys that we should consider the defense. They knew damn well I wasn’t crazy."
Some have argued that connecting his crimes to his mental illness creates harmful generalizations about people with mental illnesses. There are 43.8 million adults in the United States who experience mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, but the vast majority of people with mental illness do not engage in violent behavior. But given the internet's endless fascination with Bundy, here's what we know about his mental health and neurological anatomy, based on the revelations in the documentary.
If you are experiencing depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
If you are struggling with bipolar disorder and are in need of information and support, please call the National Alliance on Mental Illness at 1-800-950-6264. For a 24-hour crisis line, text “NAMI” to 741741.