Psychiatrists have expressed doubt over claims made by Kung Chung-an (龔重安), the 29-year-old man accused of murdering a second-grader on Friday, that he heard voices that told him to attack the girl, adding that further medical examinations would be required to prove such a claim.
Kung allegedly slipped into Wenhua Elementary School in Taipei’s Beitou District (北投) at about 4pm on Friday, attacking and fatally wounding the eight-year-old girl as she was going to the restroom.
Kung, who reportedly confessed to the murder, said that he was under a great deal of pressure and suffered from hallucinations.
He reportedly alerted police after slitting the girl’s throat.
The girl died at Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Saturday despite significant efforts to save her.
According to psychiatrist Yang Tsung-tsai (楊聰財), there are a number of causes of auditory hallucinations, including the consumption of drugs, severe sleep deprivation, severe bipolar disorder, psychosis and brain damage.
Yang said that individuals who experience auditory hallucinations might also hear and interpret speech in a tone different from that which was used. For example, an ordinary phrase might be misinterpreted as demanding or critical.
In one case, Yang said, a patient experiencing auditory hallucinations said he kept hearing a voice telling him that his family meant him harm and to attack them first.
The patient later attacked his family members with a club, Yang said.
While emphasizing that he was not trying to legitimize Kung’s actions, Yang said that Kang required further examination to test his claims.
Taiwanese Society of Psychiatry president Frank Chou (周煌智) said Kung’s actions were evidence of the effects of extreme antisocial behavior.
As opposed to pranks or destruction of public property — which can be observed from those diagnosed with antisocial problems — Kung’s actions were extreme, Chou said, adding that it would require a lengthy diagnostic period to determine whether such behavior evolved from an antisocial personality disorder.
Such disorders are formed over long periods of time and sufferers only display such tendencies by performing antisocial acts, Chou said.
However, Chou said that even if Kung is diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder, such a diagnosis would not serve to protect him from the death penalty, as it is not an exempted condition, nor is it a psychological illness.
Meanwhile, Central Police University professor Bill Hsu (許福生), urged the public and the girl’s family to show more concern for people who are alienated from society.
Hsu said Kung was venting his anger when he targeted the child.
Hsu said that an alienated society can result in alienated individuals. During periods of economic uncertainty and high unemployment, people with poor emotional management who cannot find an appropriate outlet for their frustrations are prone to venting their anger on defenseless children.
He said that people with mental illnesses are different from those with antisocial personalities, adding that the latter lack empathy.
Whether Kung is mentally ill will require further assessment, he said.
“The number of these human time bombs will only increase,” Hsu said, calling for families to act as the first line of defense by caring more about those around them.
Additional reporting by CNA
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