Wednesday 13 December 2017

Anxious Oscar, man behind mask?

Who is the real Oscar Pistorius – narcissist or chronic anxiety sufferer, asks psychotherapist Gayle Williamson

Oscar Pistorius leaves the high court in Pretoria
Oscar Pistorius leaves the high court in Pretoria

Gayle Williamson

I have some sympathy with Oscar Pistorius. South Africa isn't an easy place to live – a country of contradictions, it is stunningly beautiful and packed with culture and diversity; but it also has searing poverty and frightening levels of crime.

It's 13 years since I lived there, after emigrating from Scotland as a child with my family; but that sense I developed then, of always looking over my shoulder, always being aware of who was behind me, has stayed with me. Nothing violent ever happened to me in the 20 years I lived there, but there was the ever-present feeling that it easily could because it happened to so many.

Now, as a psychotherapist, I can readily imagine just how many South Africans are potentially suffering from some kind of anxiety disorder as a result of living in a climate of fear and reading or hearing story upon story of horrific crime – that's aside from their own personal life stories, which for many of us are challenging enough.

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