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Psychopaths need to be put on a leash

By Brian Holden - posted Tuesday, 29 November 2011

There was a knock on the door. The woman of the house opened it. Before her was a 10 year-old boy from her neighbourhood. He said with a smirk: "I have just hung your cat". The woman went outside to see the dead animal hanging off the clothesline. When this story was related to me many years ago, I wondered what would have been the legal and parental response if there was a move to have the child psychiatrically assessed.

By 12, Martin Bryant was deemed by a psychiatrist that he was already exhibiting the characteristics of a psychopath. This was evident in his inability to relate to the feelings of others. This revelation came too late for the 35 victims he shot in the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre in Tasmania.

Had the cat-hanging child been correctly assessed and treated at 10 or even 12, the cruelty may have stopped there. Nevertheless, Bryant should have had his teenage years formally monitored for incidents of psychopathology including ongoing incidents of animal cruelty. These acts, performed by a young adult, would have confirmed a diagnosis of psychopath.


When a youth or an adult kills a helpless animal it is considered indicative of future adult behavior. By not providing appropriate penalties or treatment for acts of animal cruelty, society, including the legal and health system, is ignoring aspects of a perpetrators action that speak to their mental health.

The psychopath has a latent urge to degrade and destroy for no other reason than to feel powerful. Criminologist Robert Hare estimates one in 100 people have the tendency. The danger of the psychopath is real. And yet, the police inform us that the explicit details of crimes such as Virginia Morse's murder are too gruesome for public knowledge. Are we to believe that what one person endures, the majority of us are too emotionally fragile to read about? It is then possible that the policy of secrecy makes it easier for heinous crimes to be committed.

The public must know that there are psychopaths out there in far greater numbers than what the incidence of heinous crimes indicate. The public also must know that the psychopathic brain consciously has no intention of striking, but is subconsciously awaiting an opportunity to strike. The public should also know what the victims of a psychopath endured.

The psychopathic brain in action

Farmer Brian Morse went off to his fields and left his wife alone in the house as he had done many times before. But on this day, fate deemed that two psychopaths would step into her space. On the back seat of their car, his wife was bound and gagged and repeatedly raped for the next 200 kilometers.

To her abductors the captive was but a living, warm object to degrade and then destroy. Her begging for mercy only heightened her captors' crazed lust. Sticks were rammed into her vagina and a bottle rammed into her rectum. Some 20-hour later, and when near insane with fear, she was shot and killed. Before leaving, her captors could not resist having one more sexual experience with her, even though she was now a corpse. That is how different the psychopath's brain is to your own.


Allan Baker and Kevin Crump cannot to blamed for having brains wired to be worthless brutes. It is we who believe that until a serious crime is committed, every citizen has a right to remain completely free to go wherever he pleases. But, then, we need to be clear on what a serious crime is. Is the coinciding of one's orgasm with the cutting of an animal's throat a serious crime? The law does not think the joint act it is, even if such an act was solid evidence that the teenage John Travers had the potential to one day do the same to a young woman's throat.

Today, the parents of Ebony Simpson should rightfully be enjoying Ebony's children. Rather her killer Andrew Garforth was free to commit a crime because society deems only after a crime can freedom be withdrawn. The police where shocked at the cold manner in which Garforth described his crime. Why were they shocked? Didn't they know how the psychopathic brain ticks? When a person is charged with a serious anti-social crime we are presented with a window into the mind.

Through repeated criminal activity, Garforth had proven himself to be a person who had no fear of the system's capacity to punish. He had proven to be a person who had no respect for society, but who lived to satisfy his immediate needs. Everybody who knew him would have seen the danger and did nothing because there was nothing in the law to confine his movements.

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About the Author

Brian Holden has been retired since 1988. He advises that if you can keep physically and mentally active, retirement can be the best time of your life.

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