Pistorius faces month of intensive interviews

OSCAR Pistorius is set to face a month of intensive interviews as he begins his psychological evaluation.

Judge Thokozile Masipa will today order the period and type of evaluation the Blade Runner must undergo.

Last week, she ruled that Pistorius, 27, must undergo observation following the testimony of his witness, psychiatrist Dr Merryll Vorster.

Pistorius is standing trial for the murder of his girlfriend, former Port Elizabeth model Reeva Steenkamp, 29. In her testimony, Vorster said Pistorius suffered from generalised anxiety disorder which was steadily worsening.

Forensic psychologist Ivan de Klerk said yesterday Pistorius would not be subjected to any tests per se.

"What will happen is that he will undergo a number of individual interviews with members of the panel assigned to his evaluation," he said.

De Klerk said the problem with anxiety was that it was more often seen when people came for therapy.

"The available tests are self-report measures, with the difficulty with them being that if you want to have anxiety you can answer them in such a way as to show that you do or visa versa. This is why interviews are preferred."

He said those conducting the interviews would try to rule on generalised anxiety disorder before looking for any other disorders.

"There is what is known as differential diagnosis. With this comes several similar disorders which are grouped together.

"These include obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Those evaluating Pistorius will look to see if what he has meets the generalised anxiety disorder criteria or if the diagnosis of OCD or PTSD fits better."

De Klerk said if found to suffer from other disorders, the court could decide either to dismiss all charges based on the fact that he has a mental illness, order that he undergo treatment for the disorders at his own cost or declare him a state patient until such time as his disorders are cured. He said the questions Pistorius would have to answer were whether he could distinguish between right and wrong, act in accordance with this appreciation and whether the disorder he has has an influence on his actions.

"In terms of diminished responsibility it will be looked at whether he can differentiate between right and wrong and act in accordance, but his understanding of acting in accordance or his appreciation of right and wrong is a bit skewed.

"If so the punishment will be lighter because he has an illness, but this illness has to be confirmed." - Graeme Hosken