________________________________________________________________________ Mass killers may suffer from deadly syndrome Copyright ) 1997 Nando.net Copyright ) 1997 Reuters LONDON (December 19, 1997 6:30 p.m. EST http://www.nando.net) - From Rwanda to Cambodia mass killers may have fallen victim to a deadly syndrome that turns them into callous murderers, research showed on Friday. Sufferers from so-called "Syndrome E" show no emotion about killing frequently. They can spend the day herding children into gas chambers and then return home to supper with their families. "The transformation of groups of previously non-violent individuals into repetitive killers of defenceless members of society has been a recurring phenomenon throughout history," said Professor Itzhak Fried of the UCLA Medical Center at the University of California. Fried, writing in The Lancet scientific magazine, said this sinister transformation is characterised by a set of symptoms that suggest a common syndrome. These repeat killers on a mass scale are obsessed with beliefs directed against minorities. "Metaphors such as 'cleansing' are often used to justify violence," he said. The killers are not seized by a burst of frenzied battlefield emotion. Instead they kill calmly "with flat effect." They show no outward signs of acting abnormally and rapidly become desensitised to the enormity of their crimes, Fried said. "They may lead a normal family life while in parallel engaging in killing of families," he wrote. Fried believed that manifestations of Syndrome E were due to what he called a "cognitive fracture" between various parts of the brain that determine emotion, mood and reaction to events. The neurosurgeon argued that it was vital to isolate victims showing signs of Syndrome E because their blood lust could be contagious to others who might be similarly inclined. "Prompt diagnosis would be of paramount importance as prevention may be effective only in the early stages," he said.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Apr 13 2001 - 12:57:19 PDT