Time magazine reports today on the statements made public by the infamous Austrian man who'd imprisoned his daughter in the cellar.
Ever since Josef Fritzl, the authoritarian patriarch of a sprawling family in the north Austrian town of Amstetten, was discovered to have imprisoned his daughter as a sex slave in a cellar for 24 years and fathered seven children with her, Austria has been locked in an emotional debate over what could cause such a crime.
After considering several possibilities, the psychiatrists decided the explanation behind these crimes was personal rather than societal. Fritzl had been severely abused himself as a child. Consistent with the increasingly popular modern interpretation, the doctors in Austria concluded that in this case the victim became the perpetrator.
Fritzl himself has a different explanation.
Fritzl reportedly blamed his behavior not on his upbringing but on an innate "evil streak" that he battled against his whole life. "I was born to rape, and I held myself back for a relatively long time," Fritzl reportedly told Kastner. "I could have behaved a lot worse than locking up my daughter."
Psychiatrist Adelheid Kastner wrote a 130-page report in which she says Fritzl suffers from severe combined personality disorder and a serious sexual disorder. Kastner recommends that Fritzl remain in psychiatric care for the rest of his life, regardless of the outcome of his prosecution.
Austrian authorities meanwhile are focusing on the rehabilitation of Fritzl's 42-year-old daughter Elisabeth and her six children. Psychiatrists say the children are more likely to suffer from a range of psychological problems in adulthood, including becoming abusive themselves. As a nation obsesses over one man's evil, the challenge now is to help his children escape their dark past.
What's your opinion? Is he evil or damaged? Should he receive psychiatric treatment or plain old incarceration? Do you agree that victims of abuse often become abusers themselves, and they should receive leniency as a result?