Friday, August 24, 2012

Anders Breivik's psychiatrist speaks to Channel 4 News Home Affairs Correspondent Simon Israel about how she found Breivik to be "a normal man with quite weird ideas".

Forensic psychiatrist: Breivik is not a monster

Friday 24 August 2012
Simon IsraelHome Affairs Correspondent
Simon Israel is a Home Affairs Correspondent for Channel 4 News 
Anders Breivik's psychiatrist speaks to Channel 4 News Home Affairs Correspondent Simon Israel about how she found Breivik to be "a normal man with quite weird ideas".
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The forensic psychiatrist employed by Norwegian's prison service rarely gives interviews.
In fact Dr Randi Rosenqvist has turned down all requests from the media in her own country. Yet she agreed to talk to me.
She's in demand because of one person: Anders Behring Breivik, Norway's most notorious mass murderer - the man who went on a killing spree on 22 July last year, the educated white 33-year old who first with a bomb and then with high powered rifles claimed 77 lives in total and injured 242 others.
Late last year she was asked to risk-assess this self-confessed right-wing anti-muslim extremist. She went in to Ila Prison in Olso not knowing anything of his mental health background.
She asssessed him as sane and as someone devoid of psychotic tendencies - someone who could survive isolation at least for the short-term.
He's not a monster. He's a well-behaved young man. Dr Randi Rosenqvist
Weird ideas
She visited him four times. Each time she came to the same conclusion. In her report to the court she wrote that Breivik found it 'funny' that he had been classified as a schizophrenic.
She told me: "He has not been insane in the last 7-8 months. Whether he was in July last year. I don't know. I found him a normal man with quite weird ideas, politically.
"I was quite surprised he seemed quite normal. He wanted to persuade me to accept his right-wing views but he was not rigid in his arguments.
"He didn't have this quality of psychotic delusions where you insist and insist and insist and where you are fixated and there is no possibility of changing one's opinion.
"Of course his ideas are not normal and he still insists what he did is right. He's not a monster. He's a well behaved young man."
Difficult diagnosis
Dr Rosenqvist has spent 30 years in forensic psychiatry and most of her work has been within Norway's prisons system. Her reports on her prisoners are confidential.
But her analysis of Breivik became public during his 10 week trial so she feels more free to talk. She says Breivik is not typical at all of either a sane offender or an insane offender. She accepts there it will difficult in diagnosing him.
She said what he's done is so monstrous so it's difficult to understand it. She has little interest in what sentence Breivik receives; her fascination is with how his case will redefine what is and is not legal insanity.
The longest-serving prisoner in Norway has been inside for 30 years. Anders Behring Breivik may well break that record. He has a suite of three cells, compensation for isolation. One he sleeps in, one he studies in and one he exercises in.
His only human contact is with prison and health staff, police and his lawyers. He is not allowed contact with any other inmate on the wing.
He has become the most expensive prisoner in Norway and will remain so for many years to come.

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