Sunday 17 December 2017

Oscar Pistorius has anxiety disorder due to unstable childhood, court told

Oscar Pistorius arrives at court in Pretoria, South Africa (AP)
Oscar Pistorius arrives at court in Pretoria, South Africa (AP)
Oscar Pistorius yawns as he listens to evidence in court for his ongoing murder trial in Pretoria, South Africa
The red light from a laser lines up bullet holes on the bathroom door during the trial of Oscar Pistorius at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria
Ballistics expert for the defence Tom "Wollie" Wolmarans gestures during the trial of Oscar Pistorius at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria
The red light from a laser lines up bullet holes on the bathroom wall during the trial of Oscar Pistorius at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, May 12, 2014. The Olympic and Paralympic track star is standing in the Pretoria dock to face a charge of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentines Day 2013. REUTERS/Chris Collingridge/Pool (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT ATHLETICS CRIME LAW)
Family members of Oscar Pistorius sit in court during his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria
Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria
Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria
Children react as Oscar Pistorius leaves the high court in Pretoria
Oscar Pistorius weeps in the dock during his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria

Oscar Pistorius has an anxiety disorder brought on by an unstable childhood and the "traumatic assault" of having his lower legs amputated as a baby, a psychologist told the court hearing the South African track star's murder trial on Monday.

Pistorius was born with fibulas in his lower legs, leading to amputation at the age of 11 months.

Testifying for the defence about his mental state, forensic psychiatrist Merryl Vorster said that because the surgery was at such a young age, it would have been impossible to reason with the baby, making the pyschological scars much deeper.

"He was too young to understand why," Vorster told the court. "His mother could not have comforted him because he was pre-language phase. It would been perceived as traumatic assault."

Pistorius is on trial for murder after shooting and killing his girlfriend, 29-year-old law graduate and model, Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.

The athlete says the shooting was a tragic mistake, and that he shot at a closed toilet door in his luxury Pretoria home thinking an intruder was hiding behind it.

The states alleges he fired at Steenkamp in a fit of rage after the couple had a row in the early hours of the morning.

If convicted of murder, Pistorius faces life in prison.

Vorster also said his parents' divorce when he was a child would have added to the 27-year-old's general feelings of anxiety and insecurity.

After his parents split, Pistorius was brought up by his mother, who died of cancer when he was aged 15. Pistorius has frequently spoken of his love for his mother and the difficulty her death caused him.

However, in her assessment of the athlete, Vorster said Pistorius' mother grew increasingly anxious and drank excessively, making it impossible for her to address the fears and concerns of her children.

Terrified of intruders breaking into the house, she slept with a pistol under her pillow, Vorster told the court.

Pistorius competed against able-bodied spinters on carbon-fibre prosthetics, becoming one of the most recognised names in athletics. Besides a clutch of Paralympic medals, he reached the semi-finals of the 400m at the London 2012 Olympics.

Irish Independent

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