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Holmes described counseling Schizophrenic child, rational thought in graduate applications

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James E. Holmes

James E. Holmes at his first court appearance Monday, July 23, 2012.

AURORA, Colo. — As his lawyers appear to be preparing an insanity defense, suspected Aurora theater gunman James Holmes’ opinions on rational thought and his personal experiences with a mentally ill child have been made public in a pair of recently-released graduate applications.

“Rational people act based on incentives for self-fulfillment, including fulfilling needs of self-development and needs of feeling useful and helpful to others,” Holmes wrote in the essay portion of an application to the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

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Holmes’ application for admission to the school’s graduate neuroscience program, which was released Thursday, was rejected by UAB. Holmes withdrew a similar application to the University of Kansas from consideration before the school offered him an interview. The KU application was made public Wednesday.

View Holmes’ complete application to UAB

View Holmes’ complete application to the University of Kansas

The application to UAB also contained comments from three graduate professors who interviewed Holmes. All three were complimentary of the graduate applicant.

Even the one interviewer who appeared hesitant about Holmes didn’t express his doubt with the same fervor of the Iowa graduate professor who advised an admissions board not to admit Holmes “under any circumstances.”

“Not sure,” the UAB interviewer wrote of Holmes. “He may be extremely smart, but difficult to engage. Hard to tell how interested he is. Maybe he just wasn’t interested in my research.”

On a scale of 1 to 5, the UAB interviewer ranked Holmes a “4” in three of five categories — “overall knowledge of science,” “it appears student would commit 4-5- years for Ph.D” and “ability to describe research experience with clarity and depth.”

The UAB interviewer gave Holmes the lowest mark (3) in “student has clear goals,” and the highest mark (5) in “research background.”

One of the other two UAB interviewers rated Holmes a 5 in all five categories, saying “Excellent applicant! Great GPA and GRE scores.” The final UAB interviewer went so far as to dismiss Holmes’ introverted nature.

“His personality may not be as engaging as some applicants, but he is going to be a leader in the future,” the final UAB interviewer wrote.

Despite those reviews, UAB returned this message to Holmes: “Many well qualified students applied, which forced the admissions committee to make difficult decisions. We regret to inform you that you have not been recommended for admission.”

Holmes revealed a bit more about his personality in the essay portion of both the UAB and Kansas applications.

In the essay to Kansas, Holmes described his childhood growing up in the town of Castroville, or, as he called it, “The Artichoke Center of The World.” He described wearing a uniform to school every day, a mandate he said he later discovered was in place “to curb gang rivalry.”

“Looking back,” Holmes wrote, “my life could have gone in a completely different direction had I not possessed the foresight to choose the path of knowledge.”

Continuing on in the Kansas essay, Holmes wrote about serving as a camp counselor for underprivileged children. At the camp, Holmes described interacting with three particular children — two of whom had been diagnosed with ADHD and one whom had been diagnosed with Schizophrenia.

In the middle of one night, Holmes described waking up to find the child with Schizophrenia vacuuming the ceiling of his cabin.

“These kids were heavily medicated but this did not solve their problems, only create new ones,” Holmes wrote. “I wanted to help them but couldn’t. This is where neuroscience research becomes available.”

Holmes’ application essay to UAB contained fewer personal anecdotes and more about the research he had done. In particular, Holmes described what he called “the illusion between cause and effect relationships.”

In a particular study he said he performed in high school, Holmes described creating an “illusion” in which “the mind is actually tricked into believing an action precedes the event that caused it.”

Holmes is accused of murdering 12 and injuring 58 others at a midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora.