updated 9/21/2005 5:42:53 PM ET 2005-09-21T21:42:53

A psychiatrist on Wednesday criticized John Hinckley’s therapist for concluding that the presidential assailant’s recent approaches to women constitute normal behavior.

Testifying on behalf of the federal government, Dr. Robert Phillips said Hinckley’s relationships with women have been an issue dating back to the time that he shot President Reagan and three other people in 1981.

“His approach, potential infatuation and stalking-like behavior are historical problems,” Phillips said.

To see no connection between Hinckley’s latest approaches to women and his previous activities “is absurd,” Phillips testified.

A federal judge is considering Hinckley’s request for half a dozen visits of several days each to his parents’ gated community in Williamsburg, Va., a three-hour drive from the forensic hospital where Hinckley has been held for more than two decades.

Phillips said that St. Elizabeths Hospital has failed to spell out details such as precisely what Hinckley would do during such visits and how far from his parents’ home he would be allowed to walk unescorted. Phillips also said it is vital for Hinckley to meet with a trained mental health professional during each trip.

When he shot Reagan, Hinckley was suffering from major depression and a psychiatric disorder that led to an obsession with actress Jodie Foster. Hinckley, found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982, said he shot Reagan to impress Foster.

Doctors say Hinckley’s depression and psychosis are in full remission. Phillips said that while that is so, mental illness is chronic and that Hinckley is not cured.

Hinckley’s therapist, Dr. Sidney Binks, testified Tuesday that he is not concerned about Hinckley’s recent approaches to women — including a chaplain and an intern on the hospital staff.

Phillips disagreed, saying Hinckley’s interaction with staff is a source of great clinical concern.

Hinckley said he had sought a meeting with the chaplain because she was a pretty lady and he walked the intern to her car and offered to play the guitar for her. Hinckley and the intern shared an interest in animals.

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