Hollywood on the Couch: What made Oscar Pistorius run… afoul of the law?

Oscar Pistorius is presumed innocent until proven guilty. But, as a forensic psychiatrist, it’s my opinion Oscar did murder his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, and it was a crime of passion. Why?

Oscar was born with two missing fibulas, necessitating amputations before age one. At his bail hearing, attempting to explain why he shot at an alleged intruder, he reportedly said he was “on his stumps and feeling vulnerable when he opened fire.” Oscar did feel vulnerable, despite his long list of awe-inspiring athletic accomplishments, not just because of his physical congenital disability, but, because of psychological childhood traumas.

Oscar was traumatized at age six by his parents’ divorce, his subsequent estrangement from his father, and at age 15, his mother’s death. She’d been a cheerleader for him, encouraging him not to let his disability define him. Her passing would have been experienced as a profound abandonment to a teen boy who was so dependent upon her love.

In Oscar’s adult life, reports of a darker side surfaced, including a hair-trigger temper, drinking, and a reckless boating accident. There are even reports of the police coming out on domestic altercations between Oscar and Reeva before the shooting. So, there was already trouble in paradise, precisely because Oscar did feel vulnerable. He’d fallen in love with the angelic Reeva – a law school graduate, beautiful model and soon to be TV reality star. Unconsciously, he was terrified she would abandon him, just like the first love of his life - his mother – had done.

Dark voices of deep insecurity badgered Oscar. “Why would Reeva want to be with you?” Despite his Olympic successes, his awareness of his missing legs unconsciously made him feel less of a man. He’d compensated with his long Blade-Runner phallic-shaped substitute limbs, and his testo-composutim supplements, which his defense attorney called merely an “herbal remedy.”
But, deep down he feared that no woman – no less one as sought after as Reeva - would want to be with him for the ‘long run’. Reeva had seemed to want to be his girlfriend, but was she just using him for the attention his international fame would bring her?

That night there was a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances. Valentine’s Day put a microscope on flaws and reasons to feel insecure in his relationship. A rugby player romantic rival texted Reeva, taunting Oscar, whose rugby dreams had been cut short. And Reeva’s reality show was about to air, skyrocketing her career, and making her less needy of his fame. Surely, this perfect storm, on top of insecurities about his manhood and fear of being abandoned, was motivation enough for pulling the trigger to prevent her anticipated rejection and his broken heart.

Carole Lieberman, M.D., America's Psychiatrist, is a 3-time Emmy award-winner, TV personality and radio talk show host. She's an award-winning author of three books, including her latest, Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets.

For more information on Dr. Lieberman check out her website DrCarole.com.

Follow her on Twitter: @DrCaroleMD

Image by Elvar Pálssonderivative work: Coda.coza, via Wikimedia Commons

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