Song lyrics, classic literature and films. Can such things be responsible for personal demise let alone homicide? How can a person seem so “normal” at certain periods in time, yet all the while, seriously mentally ill? Mark Chapman is one of these people. Throughout his unstable life, he lived the status quo while teetering on the lines of insanity; however, the silence of others eventually contributed to the death of John Lennon at the hands of Chapman.
Mark Chapman had a tumultuous childhood. His father, David, was in the Air Force and his mother, Diane, was a nurse. He had a little sister, Susan, who was seven years younger than him. The family seemed normal from the outside. Tony Adams, the director of the YMCA in Mark’s hometown, said, “I’d say it was a very happy family and Mark was a happy, well-adjusted boy.”(Gaines?) Little did Tony or anyone else know that Mark’s family was actually very dysfunctional. David beat his wife which contributed to Mark’s serious mental health issues. He also struggled to be accepted by his peers. Mark wasn’t good at sports and other kids called him degrading names. Between his unsteady home life and his steady position as an outsider, Mark retreated to his own mind- a nation, ruled by him. He had followers in his mind, “little people,” which adored him and eventually started to influence his choices. Mark states:
I used to fantasize that I was a king, and I had all these Little People around me and that they lived in the walls. … And that I was their hero and was in the paper every day and I was on TV every day, their TV, and that I was important. … They all kind of worshipped me, you know. It was like I could do no wrong. (McGunagle)
If he was in a bad mood, he envisioned blowing up some of his little people, as well as his father.
As Mark got older, he had a defined personality of addiction. He fiercely followed whatever came along. He first tried marijuana in 1967, as a freshman. The next year, he moved onto heavier drugs, such as LSD. Friends say he was constantly tripping and that his drug of choice was heroin because it “turned everything white, like heaven.” (Gaines) One of Mark’s friends also said that Mark didn’t take drugs for avocation purposes, but more so for trying to expand his mind. Mark’s drug problem threw a wrench into his already bizarre life at home. Constant trouble from his mother about the drugs made Mark resentful and angry toward her. (Gaines)
Mark became a Christian when he was sixteen. He dated Jessica Blankenship, who was also a Christian. His grades, attitude, and involvement in positive events, such as the summertime YMCA camp, improved. Along with his newfound religion, Mark became incredibly angry at his one- time hero, John Lennon. Lennon said that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Mark changed the words of the song “Imagine” to say, “Imagine John Lennon is dead.” Around this time, a friend had recommended the...