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Breivik's actions don't imply insanity, says expert

Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik is insisting in court that attempts to label him as insane are misplaced -- and some psychiatrists agree that committing such monstrous crimes does not mean a person is mentally ill.

Breivik has already confessed to committing Norway's worst mass murder in a bomb-and-shooting rampage that killed 77 people last July. Whether or not Breivik is sane is at the crux of his ongoing trial.

"Everyone's first assumption is that Breivik must be insane because he's done such terrible things," said Dr Simon Wessely, of the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London. "But it doesn't automatically follow that he must be mad just because what he has done is inexplicable."

In yesterday's edition of 'The Lancet', Dr Wessely writes that explanation is too simplistic.

Delusions

For the 33-year-old to be schizophrenic, his actions would have to be the result of delusions, or based on beliefs not shared by others.

"As ghastly as his views are, there are other people in society who believe countries are being destroyed by multiculturalism," Dr Wessely said.

Breivik's methodical massacre undermines the theory of mental illness. "It doesn't tally with the kinds of disorganised crimes usually committed by people with mental health problems," Dr Wessely said.

One Norwegian psychiatric report found Breivik to be insane, while a second concluded that he was sane.

If found guilty and sane, Breivik will face 21 years in prison. If declared insane, he would be committed to mandatory psychiatric care.

Irish Independent