Tag Archives: Mental Health

Oscar Pistorius trial moves into final phase

OP and Roux

The murder trial of South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius is moving the trial into its final phase, with the prosecution submitting a summary of its case.

The prosecution in the murder trial of South African Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius is to submit a summary of its arguments to the judge, moving the trial into its final phase.

The handover of the documents will take place behind closed doors on Wednesday.

Pistorius’ defence team will follow the same procedure on August 4.

The 27-year-old double-amputee athlete has been on trial since March 3 on charges of the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model.

A total of 36 people testified over 39 days.

The defence and prosecution will publicly present their closing arguments on August 7 and 8, after which Judge Thokozile Masipa will issue her verdict.

There is no trial by jury in South Africa, so Masipa alone will decide Pistorius’ fate.

Pistorius shot Steenkamp through a closed bathroom door in his home in the capital Pretoria on Valentine’s Day last year. Pistorius says he took her for an intruder.

The sprinter, whose legs were amputated at the knee as an infant because of a congenital abnormality, became the first amputee to compete against able-bodied athletes in the 2012 London Olympics.

If found guilty of premeditated murder, he could face a life sentence of at least 25 years in prison.

Source: http://www.sbs.com.au/


Oscar Pistorius – Anxious or angry ?


NEARLY at the end of his murder trial, doubt is being cast on Paralympian Oscar Pistorius’s state of mental health. A forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Meryl Vorster, has diagnosed Pistorius with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

Today, under pressure from prosecutor Gerrie Nel who wants to establish the truth about Pistorius’s sanity and whether his lawyers are using GAD as a “fall-back defence”, Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled that he should be admitted to a psychiatric hospital for independent assessment. Because the testing will take 30 days, and it will need to be scheduled, this could mean a lengthy break in the court case.

Pistorius’s trial has already been going on for two months. Why is his state of mind being questioned now on the brink of a verdict? What is GAD? And does Pistorius in fact display symptoms of GAD?

Vorster’s evidence was requested by Pistorius’s defence, presumably to mitigate a verdict of guilty. GAD is not classed as a mental illness in SA, but Vorster claims it would have made Pistorius paranoid about security and it would have affected his ability to judge the “wrongfulness” of shooting without seeing his target. “People with generalised anxiety probably shouldn’t have firearms,” she added.

GAD is a relatively new diagnostic category that first appeared on the scene in 2000. As its title implies, it is a catch-all category that classifies people suffering from a range of anxieties. It is no surprise that it is the most common cause of disability in the workplace in the USA because it covers every conceivable symptom of anxiety.

The principal symptoms listed for GAD are:

  • Sense of dread
  • Restlessness
  • Feeling constantly “on edge”
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbance.

The GAD sufferer has chronic and exaggerated worry and tension that leads to lack of self-esteem, social withdrawal, and work difficulties. The GAD sufferer also typically anticipates disaster.

Is this Pistorius? And, more importantly, was this Pistorius at the time of Reeva Steenkamp’s murder? Or in the past?

It goes without saying that, guilty or not guilty, being accused of the murder of one’s girlfriend would make even the most innocent and level-headed defendant anxious. Perhaps especially so in the case of Pistorius whose overriding ambition to overcome his disability and his family losses has driven him relentlessly to win a seat among the gods. He has a great deal to lose.

Vorster described Pistorius’s reactions in court – the recurrent retching and tears – as “genuine”. The implication is that Pistorius would not react like this if is he was guilty. But why not? There is just as much reason for him to be anxious if he is guilty – if not more.

It is understandable that, whatever his feelings for his deceased girlfriend, Pistorius would find it hard to stomach this catastrophic blow to his career and reputation. He may well be retching from the realisation of his own self-destructiveness.

While Pistorius would be crazy not to be showing signs of anxiety during his trial, does this mean that he suffered from anxiety on the night that Steenkamp was murdered and prior to that?

Vorster points to a history of trauma and loss as Pistorius grew up, starting with the amputation of his legs when he was 11 months old, to the divorce of his parents when he was aged six, to the death of his mother from a drug reaction following surgery when he was 15. She describes his manic training sessions as a defence against overwhelming anxiety.

It is true that such traumatic losses have repercussions in later life if they are not acknowledged at the time.

But Pistorius does not easily fit into the description of a GAD sufferer. His determination to win and to be better than his fellow sportsmen who are abled is significant.

At the age of 13 months he was fitted with prostheses and at 17 months he was walking. His mother allowed him no slack as a child, expecting him to perform equally with able-bodied children. Pistorius tells a story of his mother getting her two sons off to school, telling her older son to put his shoes on and ordering Oscar to get his legs on – “And that’s the last I want to hear of it.”

Early on in his sporting career, his boxing trainer, Jannie Brooks, admits that it was six months before he realised Pistorius didn’t have legs.

There may have been little comfort available for Pistorius as he was growing up, but he seems to have been given huge confidence in his abilities and his aspirations along with being unusually gifted in sports.

In an extended interview with Pistorius, the New York Times journalist Michael Sokolove was struck by his “uncommon temperament – a fierce, even frenzied need to take on the world at maximum speed with minimum caution. It is an athlete’s disposition, that of a person who believes himself to be royalty of a certain kind – a prince of the physical world.”

This is not the picture of an anxiety ridden man but more of a narcissistic demi-god who will take on the world to achieve his ends – and who might feel he is above the law.

Gods and demi-gods don’t like to be crossed or to lose. A former girlfriend describes Pistorius, after being stopped for speeding by the police, taking the gun by his side and shooting a lamp-post.

In his fiery correspondence with Steenkamp, Pistorius comes across as possessive and controlling. Steenkamp complained that Pistorius “picked” on her and told him, “I’m scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me and how you will react to me.”

Despite Pistorius’s physical triumphs, the ever-present frustration of having to manage his disability would also explain his sudden unleashed anger. Whatever judgment may be made about his sanity, is this Pistorius’s real Achilles heel?

Credits:  http://www.theweek.co.uk/world-news/oscar-pistorius/58519/is-oscar-pistorius-anxious-or-just-angry-an-analysts-view#ixzz31x8WJAH4


I found this interesting article describing a Sociopath.

Antisocial Personality Disorder is also known as psychopathy or sociopathy. Individuals with this disorder have little regard for the feeling and welfare of others. As a clinical diagnosis it is usually limited to those over age 18. It can be diagnosed in younger people if the they commit isolated antisocial acts and do not show signs of another mental disorder.

Antisocial Personality Disorder is chronic, beginning in adolescence and continuing throughout adulthood. There are ten general symptoms:

not learning from experience
no sense of responsibility
inability to form meaningful relationships
inability to control impulses
lack of moral sense
chronically antisocial behavior
no change in behavior after punishment
emotional immaturity
lack of guilt

People with this disorder may exhibit criminal behavior. They perhaps do not work. If they do work, they are frequently absent or may quit suddenly. They do not consider other people’s wishes, welfare or rights. They can be manipulative and may lie to gain personal pleasure or profit. They may default on loans, fail to provide child support, or fail to care for their dependents adequately. High risk sexual behavior and substance abuse are common. Impulsiveness, failure to plan ahead, aggressiveness, irritability, irresponsibility, and a reckless disregard for their own safety and the safety of others are traits of the antisocial personality.

Socioeconomic status, gender, and genetic factors play a role. Males are more likely to be antisocial than females. Those from lower socioeconomic groups are more susceptible. A family history of the disorder puts one at higher risk.

There are many theories about the cause of Antisocial Personality Disorder including experiencing neglectful parenting as a child, low levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, and belief that antisocial behavior is justified because of difficult circumstances. Psychotherapy, group therapy, and family therapy are common treatments. The effects of medical treatment are inconclusive. Unfortunately, most people with Antisocial Personality Disorder reject treatment. Therefore, recovery rates are low.

Here is a very different, minority perspective from someone who believes himself to be a sociopath:
“Sociopath” is a misleading word: it implies a disorder, something wrong and unnatural with the person, and this couldn’t be further from the truth. We, the people you refer to as sociopaths, have nothing wrong with us.

We are necessary for the survival and sucess of the human species. Though we are found disporportionatly in prisons we are found with even greater frequency in your governments, your corporations, your military. Who else but someone devoid of concience could order thousands of soldiers to die, regardless of how noble the cause? Who can fire hundreds of workers to save a company from bankrupcy and then go to sleep that night? Who can so elegantly tell the lies that must be told, to protect the very people to whom the lies are told? It takes one of us to make those calls, the calls that the rest of humanity cannot make.

It is no coincidence that our lack of guilt comes with abnormally high intelligence and charisma; we are born to lead, all our traits support this conclusion. We are born knowing it, and the rest of you know it when you see us. Its why you elect us, follow us, and gives your lives by our command.

And yet a distressing number of us become the very thing you fear us all to be; criminals and abusers. This creates a cycle of ignorance, as all the “sociopaths” identified by the news are killers or wife-beaters, and so we identify this collection of gifts as evil, as pathological, and thus those of us in our proper roles feel the need to disguise ourselves for fear of being labeled evil. A simmilar cycle of ignorance has kept homosexuals oppressed for decades; homosexualty has been associated with childmolesters and perverts, drug use and desease, and it was called “evil” for this.

We are not evil, you simply do not recognise the good ones as the same phenomena. Google “Sociopath” and all you find is ways to recover from contact with a sociopath, information advising you to run from relationsships with sociopaths, and misinformation that will claim that “sociopaths cannot feel love” or that we “cannot think of others as human beings” or that we are “parasitic”.

It is very distressing to discover, for a child who has always known that he was different, that he is a monster… that he is doomed to live a loveless life and become a criminal, that he will never be able to hold a job or raise a family. Indeed, one must wonder how often one of us discoveres what he is and buys into the paranoid misinformation and simply does what he is expected to do.

Your question: “What is a sociopath?” is answered thusly: a sociopath is one of your potential leaders, labelled by the paranoid masses as something sick and evil, and is left no alternative but an evil path. “Sociopath” is a negative label which only serves to further alienate people who simply need to be allowed to embrace their gifts. Getting rid of this misleading term should be the first step towards fully understanding who we are and the role we play in this world.

Comment on last answer

The notion that all sociopaths are very clever is a myth. Many are failures who make others suffer for their inadequacies. Most sociopaths are profoundly chaotic types.

It’s a myth that sociopaths are born leaders. Instead of providing leadership, they treat others as their playthings, just as a bully or sadist does.

A true leader has emotional maturity and earns respect. Fear isn’t respect: the notion that the two are the same is pathetic. One cannot respect people who are incapable accept responsibility for their actions and constantly pretend to be victims when they are perpetrators.