Breivik has Asperger’s and Tourette’s: expert
I shudder whenever I see news stories suggesting that an individual accused of heinous crimes may have Tourette’s Disorder or some related diagnosis, as such stories may mislead the public into thinking that these conditions cause or increase the risk of bad or criminal behavior.
In Norway, Anders Breivik is on trial for actions that he has already confessed to: the bombing of government buildings in Oslo and then an attack on a youth camp in Utøya. All told, he left 77 dead. The only issue before the court at this time is whether Breivik was legally sane at the time of his terrorist actions or if he was insane.
Enter the psychiatric opinions, stage left. The Local reports:
Ulrik Fredrik Malt, a psychiatry professor at the University of Oslo, said the 33-year-old Breivik was suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, Tourette’s syndrome and narcissistic personality disorder, but was likely not psychotic.
The question of Breivik’s sanity is key to his ongoing trial. Though judges are certain to find him guilty, they must decide if he was criminally sane or not.
Their decision would affect whether he gets mental treatment in a secure psychiatric facility.
Asperger’s is a developmental disorder on the autistic spectrum that often is characterized by a lack of empathy. Tourette’s is a neurological disorder marked by tics and verbal outbursts.
Malt said Tourette’s could explain why Breivik has frequently smiled inappropriately throughout the trial.
The psychiatrist left open the possibility that Breivik was suffering from paranoid psychosis but said the chances of such a condition were less than 25 percent.
Breivik, who admitted killing 77 people in a July 22nd bomb attack and shooting rampage, wants to prove his sanity because he thinks more people would give credence to his extremist ideology — described as a crusade against multiculturalism and a pending “Muslim invasion” of Norway and Europe.
Malt’s opinion is based on his observations of Breivik during his trial, which started on April 16th, but he has not interviewed the defendant.
So what impression do such media reports create in the public’s mind? Is it any wonder that some parents are reluctant to have others know their children’s diagnoses?
We really need to do a better job of educating the public.