WASHINGTON – John Hinckley's (search) relationships with women are normal, two of his therapists testified Tuesday, disagreeing with suggestions by government attorneys that the presidential assailant is not yet ready for lengthy visits to his parents' home in Virginia.
Hinckley has no symptoms of mental illness and trips would be good therapy, Dr. Sidney Binks testified in federal court. A judge is considering whether to allow Hinckley overnight stays for several days at a time at his parents' home in Williamsburg.
His family lives a three-hour drive from the Washington hospital where he has spent more than two decades for shooting President Ronald Reagan (search) and three other people in 1981.
Binks said he is not concerned about Hinckley's recent approaches to women — including a chaplain and an intern on the hospital staff.
Hinckley "understood the boundary between patients and staff," said the psychologist. Hinckley's perceptions were that he and one of the women were simply being "friendly."
There is a "big difference between these relationships and delusions," said Binks.
Dr. Robert Keisling, a psychiatrist who treated Hinckley in 1998 and 1999, testified that Hinckley's "only problem is that he wants to have a relationship with a woman."
"Do we call that normal?" asked Hinckley attorney Barry Levine.
"I would," Keisling replied.
Hinckley ended a 22-year-long relationship with a former patient at the hospital in January, returned a ring she had given him and broke off all contact in an effort to increase his chances of being granted additional travel privileges.
Government attorneys say Hinckley's recent interactions with the opposite sex are important because of his history of not correctly perceiving when women are not interested in him.
When he shot Reagan, Hinckley suffered from major depression and a psychiatric disorder that led to an obsession with actress Jodie Foster (search). Hinckley, found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982, said he shot Reagan to impress Foster.
Dr. Robert Phillips, a psychiatrist testifying for the government, said the hospital had not done enough research on the Hinckley family's gated community and the surroundings in which he would be allowed to walk unescorted.
"You've got to do your homework. I have not seen that," Phillips testified.