Pistorius at risk of suicide, says psychiatrist's report

Oscar Pistorius arrives at court in Pretoria. Photo / AP
Oscar Pistorius arrives at court in Pretoria. Photo / AP

Oscar Pistorius, the Paralympic champion accused of murdering his girlfriend, has been left suicidal by her death and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression, a court-appointed psychologist has found.

"The degree of anxiety and depression is significant," said Prof Jonathan Scholtz, the head of psychology at Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital, where the 27-year-old athlete has spent the past month being evaluated.

Prof Scholtz's report, read in court yesterday for the first time, also provided powerful backing for the defence case that Pistorius fired four shots at Reeva Steenkamp through a locked lavatory door at his home because he thought she was an intruder and felt intensely vulnerable because of his disability.

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Prof Scholtz said Pistorius's "fight or flight" response could have been exaggerated by his vulnerability without his prostheses and his heightened fear of crime.

While his actions might seem "extraordinary" for an able-bodied person, they could be classed as "normal in the context of a disabled person with his history".

Prof Scholtz said he also found no evidence of "abnormal aggression or explosive violence" in the athlete.

"He does not display the personality characteristics of narcissism and/or psychopathy that are mostly associated with men in abusive relationships and have been linked to rage-type murders in intimate relationships," he wrote.

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"Those who know him describe him as gentle, respectful and conflict-avoidant. His style of conflict resolution is to talk through the situation or remove himself from [it]."

Prof Scholtz's evidence was backed by another defence witness, Dr Wayne Derman, the team physician for South Africa's Paralympic team at the 2012 London and 2008 Beijing Games.

Further details in Dr Scholtz's evaluation of Pistorius's mental state were blocked after the defence successfully appealed for a ban on reporting its contents on the grounds that it contained "intimate" information.

Pistorius had been sent for psychiatric evaluation after a defence-appointed psychiatrist claimed he suffered from a generalised anxiety disorder. A four-man panel found that he did not do so.

The athlete denies murder.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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