Has Anxiety Disorder, Psychiatrist Tells Court
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[May 12, 2014]
PRETORIA (Reuters) - 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 defense 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
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
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Terrified of intruders breaking into the house, she slept with a
pistol under her pillow, Vorster told the court.
Pistorius competed against able-bodied sprinters on carbon-fiber
prosthetics, becoming one of the most recognized names in athletics.
Besides a clutch of Paralympic medals, he reached the semi-finals of
the 400m at the London 2012 Olympics.
(Reporting by Lynette Ndabambi, Editing by Ed Cropley and Angus
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