Surprise in Norway over Breivik insanity ruling

Thu, Dec 1, 2011, 00:00

MANY NORWEGIANS have expressed surprise at the results of the psychiatric evaluation of Anders Behring Breivik after he was declared insane by court-appointed psychiatrists.

Before the conclusions of the 243-page report were presented, the general consensus was that Breivik would be found criminally sane and face trial for the murder of 77 people in Oslo and on Utoya island on July 22nd last.

For many, Breivik did not fit the profile of a mentally troubled individual. Up to July 22nd, he seemed to be a normal, functioning member of society.

But there were signs that all was not well. Psychiatrists Torgeir Husby and Synne Sorheim detected that, between 2006 and 2010, Breivik showed signs of progressive paranoia with bizarre delusions where “he thought he was part of a civil war with a coup-like situation”. This was also the time that he moved back in with his mother.

Breivik’s home life is now a focus, especially his early life. In 1983, the four-year-old Breivik was psychologically assessed as in need of care to such an extent that the psychologist recommended that he be permanently removed from the home he shared with his mother and older sister.

The psychologist wrote two reports where he concluded that Breivik was “a four-year-old who is in danger of developing psychological problems”.

According to Norwegian daily Dagbladet, the relationship between mother and son was the source of the problem. There has also been media speculation that Breivik was sexually abused as a child but this has not been supported by the police.

Nevertheless, many Norwegians are surprised at how experts reached a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia when there is no doubt that Breivik carefully planned and carried out the attacks with precision and determination. His 1,500-page manifesto is another sign of a detailed action plan to rid Norway and the world of Muslims and “cultural Marxists”.

Prof Ola Andreas Andreassen from the centre of psychosis research at the University of Oslo told Dagbladethe “was surprised that he [Breivik] received a schizophrenic diagnosis because the functional level is often very low in such individuals, but at the same time it is fully possible that he is sick”.

John Christian Elden, a lawyer representing the victims, told Dagbladethe was not surprised at the verdict.

“I have never before seen such strong conclusions emerge from a court-appointed psychiatric report,” he said.

There has been a mixed reaction from those directly involved.

Sondre Lindhagen Nilssen (16) hid for hours in a cave on Utoya and watched two teenagers being shot right in front of him.

“I am disappointed,” he said yesterday. “I was at the hearing and heard him declare and admit what he had done. I know that he will not be a free man but now he will only be remembered as mentally sick.”

As long as the diagnosis is upheld, many survivors hope Breivik will be locked up for life. “Insane is a legal word but I feel that anyone who saw him could see he was mad. I hope he never gets out,”, Utoya survivor of Utøya,Christina Nessa told Aftenpostennewspaper.