I have seen more than one hundred individuals like Aaron Alexis with acute paranoid schizophrenia. They have a disease of their brain and, if it becomes acute, they need immediate hospitalization and medication to control their symptoms. They should be regarded as a medical emergency, similar to how we regard an individual in the early stages of a stroke or subdural hematoma. Alexis had no awareness of his illness — this is commonly the case with schizophrenics because this brain disease affects the part of the brain that we use to think about ourselves. He was absolutely convinced that the Navy was sending the ELF waves into his body: This was the motivation for his rampage, as the FBI recently concluded. It’s unlikely that any rational argument could have cured him of this paranoid delusion. For him, successful treatment — if he had had access to it — would have entailed an involuntary hospitalization.By calling the police, Alexis was unconsciously reaching out for help. But the police in Rhode Island, in contrast to many other states, have not been trained to address psychiatric issues. His contact with them was the one real opportunity we had to avoid this tragedy. But rather than taking Alexis to an emergency room to be evaluated by a psychiatrist, the police merely told him to avoid the people who were following him.And the rest is history.— Fuller Torrey, M.D., is the founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center and author of American Psychosis: How the Federal Government Destroyed the Mental Illness Treatment System.