Oscar Pistorius’ Possible Defense: Was it ‘Roid Rage’?

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Herman Verwey / City Press / Gallo Images / Getty Images

Oscar Pistorius in court during his bail application in the Pretoria Magistrate court in Pretoria, South Africa on Feb. 19, 2013.

Reports emerge that steroids may have been found at Pistorius’ home the night he shot and killed his girlfriend.

Police sources told the South Africa Times that drugs and syringes were found in a drawer in Pistorius’ bedroom. Pistorius admitted to fatally shooting girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day but claimed  he mistook her for an intruder. He was immediately taken for blood and urine tests after his arrest on Feb. 14. The paper reports that the Olympian’s lawyers may be considering a “roid rage” defense, arguing that Pistorius was under the influence of  steroids, which can cause paranoia, jealousy, aggression and irritability, when he shot Steenkamp. Although Steven Tuson, a professor of criminal law at Johannesburg’s Wits University told Reuters that a “roid rage” defense is unlikely to succeed, there is some evidence that synthetic versions of naturally-occurring steroids could trigger unusually aggressive behavior.

(PHOTOSOscar Pistorius On and Off the Track)

Human studies exploring this connection, however, are limited. In a 2008 study, Kevin Beaver, an associate professor at The Florida State University College of Criminology and Criminal Justice and his colleagues analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health involving 20,000 participants and found that steroid users were approximately twice as likely to engage in violent behavior, such as getting into physical fights.

Another study from researchers at Northeastern University revealed that hamsters using steroids behaved more aggressively, and had significantly lower levels of the “feel good” receptor, serotonin, in areas of the brain related to aggression and violence.

Still, the extent to which steroid abuse contributes to violence remains unknown. There are not enough human studies to determine how much of an influence steroids play in triggering aggressive responses vs. other circumstances or factors that steroid-takers might share in common, and who might be most vulnerable to the effects of the drugs. “I think part of the reason for a lot of debate coming out is that we simply don’t know the [biological] mechanisms. If we did, there would be a lot more consensus,” says Beaver.

(MORE‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius Charged with Murder of Model Girlfriend)

But there are intriguing connections between changes in hormone and brain chemical levels and an increased tendency toward violent behaviors. In a recent study, Neil MacLusky, a professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario found that high levels of testosterone in mice, for example, suppresses the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that is involved in depression and inappropriate reactions to stimuli in humans. The results suggest that increased testosterone, which belongs to a family of steroid hormones called androgens, can alter mood, in some cases perhaps even promoting more aggressive tendencies. “These are hypothesizes of course and absolutely not proven for people,”says MacLusky. “Just as people vary a great deal in the extent to which they are predisposed to depression, this may be why people vary a great deal in their response to androgens.”

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MacLusky argues that reactions to androgens may differ from person to person. “It may be in some cases, that treatment with high-dose androgens, like the things athletes have been doing, may increase aggression in some cases, but it is clearly not true for everybody,” he says. “There is some indication from both animal and human studies that it may be the particular type of androgen used. Or there may be different effects depending on what particular treatment a person is using, but it may also just be differences between people. Some people are more susceptible than others. It’s a complicated situation.”

Even if Pistorius’ legal team considers a “roid rage” defense, the gap in human studies means it won’t be easy to make their case.

29 comments
andrea1937n
andrea1937n

The "steroids" found is a herbal remedy and not an illegal substance, get your facts straight.

Grover_Sage
Grover_Sage like.author.displayName 1 Like

Let's execute this piece of shit and move on............

mahipal7638
mahipal7638

Let's see, the Oscars are on the 24th. As my pretend asian friend ponders, what if PistoLius only had an NRA knife? How many stabs would've sufficed?

AnonyMous1234
AnonyMous1234

More like groid rage. When you live in a neighborhood full of black people, you hold your gun extra close.

Montage_Matt
Montage_Matt like.author.displayName 1 Like

@AnonyMous1234 That's called 'paranoid racist rage'.

AnonyMous1234
AnonyMous1234

@Montage_Matt Yea, right. You obviously don't live around blacks, and you obviously don't live in South Africa. If you are a white woman in an black area YOU WILL BE RAPED. I guarantee it.


White people like you piss me off. You make our entire race unsafe with your Liberal nonsense about equality. Promoting this idiotic idea that they are just like us, just because you met one black guy at college that was super-duper smart.  They murder, rob, and rape at a rate far beyond whites, regardless of how much welfare white fa-s like you provide them.

White people are not safe around blacks. Pistorious, being handicapped, shot while still being disoriented from awaking in the early morning hours. He had a good reason to suspect his home was being invaded, and he had good reason to shoot.  His pretty white girlfriend would have been definitely raped had it been a home invading ni--er. 

White people like you are fu--ing blind.

AnonyMous1234
AnonyMous1234

@Montage_Matt @AnonyMous1234 Yea, right. People like you set the exception to be the rule, and the rule to be the exception. Except in this case, Pistorius committed manslaughter, not murder, so he is not the exception you need to cement your nonsensical Liberal views on racial equality.

Wake up and smell the real world.

Montage_Matt
Montage_Matt like.author.displayName 1 Like

@AnonyMous1234 If you don't believe in equality then you are a blind racist fool living in the 19th century. I live in a very large city with as many black people as white. They don't scare me because - you know - why the hell would anyone be scared of a person with dark skin?

Sorry to see that you have an infantile mind that for some odd reason can't see that it was a WHITE man who killed a WHITE woman. The fact that you would defend such nonsense shows that maybe the world should be more scared of people like you [and maybe Pistorius] than black people. Think once in a while.... If you can with that 'white' and small mind of yours.

AnonyMous1234
AnonyMous1234

@Grover_Sage I don't live in SA, and frankly, I think we should swap all the Blacks in the States with all the White South Africans. Blacks shouldn't live among white people.

HeidiMorgan
HeidiMorgan

For some reason, I can forgive him, if he was on drugs. Except that when he wasn't 'taken' for that face disfiguring boat accident or given a BLOOD TEST for ANYTHING, because driving UNDER the Influence can ALSO include DRUGS!! And THE gun thing. GUNS are a REAL issue here. Have a Gun Will Shoot!

DailyComments
DailyComments like.author.displayName 1 Like

Anyone who would shoot someone to death-through a door-without knowing who or what they are shooting at, should go to prison for plain stupidity-whether they hit anyone or not. In this case he killed someone. No matter what the reason, she is dead and he did it, without verifying what he was shooting at. He's fortunate that I am not the judge.

AndyLord
AndyLord like.author.displayName 1 Like

The jury would have to include Oscar's mother and 11 of her clones to accept the utterly inexplicable series of decisions he claims to have made that led to the "accidental" shooting of a "burglar" in a locked bathroom. He thought his girlfriend was asleep in bed, so he was going to wake her up with pistol shots into a closed bathroom door? Or did he whisper, "Honey, I think there's a burglar in the bathroom, don't say a word, I'm gonna blast them."? He hears a noise behind a closed bathroom door and doesn't assume it's the only other person in the house? Not one person in 50 million would think anything but that his sleepmate was in the john. His story is absurd. As for the steroid excuse, that too would require a jury of 12 Oscar Moms to work. For one thing, it means his original story of a burglar was a complete lie; for another, unless he had a prescription, self-induced drug rage is not a defense. There are literally tens of thousands of drunks and meth freaks doing long prison sentences for crimes committed under the influence. Oscar's going down for a long time.

crwlspace
crwlspace like.author.displayName 1 Like

@AndyLord It would take 12 Soccer mom's and dad's to for a roid rage defense to work.     After shooting the "assailant", i believe Oscar felt it was necessary to bash the burgler's head in with a cricket bat.    Then perform cpr on it in front of his neighbors, what a true inspiration this guy is...   I'm sure he'll make a lovely toy for the many HIV infected vacationers who stay  at the south african prison resorts. 

keysersozae
keysersozae

Cerebral Smartie: Take off your tinfoil hat. "Roid Rage" is nonsense and has been refuted in human studies; it just periodically appears in the media as a legal excuse.

Instead of googling nonsense terms, maybe you should read a scientific article, such as this paper published in The New England Journal of Medicine, one of the top medical journals in the world.

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199607043350101#t=articleTop

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

@keysersozae Good article. 

It seems likely that Pistorious was a drug abuser-that whatever he was doing was not at all under doctor's orders... we will watch this closely as it unfolds. Let us extend our deepest symptathy to the murder victim's family for their loss.

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie like.author.displayName 1 Like

Steroid psychosis.  Google it and you'll see all sorts of stuff.   http://www.drrichardhall.com/steroid.htm 

When doctors prescribe heavy doses of steroids, DO they always provide warnings about this? Do patients have informed consent?  I doubt it. 


Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2013/02/19/oscar-pistorius-possible-defense-was-it-roid-rage/#ixzz2LNd8Ub18

AndyLord
AndyLord

@CerebralSmartie It's not obvious that Oscar had a prescription for whatever was found, and there's no reason to think he did. He's surely not under treatment for excessive feminization, AIDS, or cancer, which are the major medical uses of anabolic steroids. He might have been using corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, but there's no aggression side effect with these. 

crwlspace
crwlspace

@AndyLord actually according to the study @CerebralSmartie posted, there is a link to psychosis when corticosteroids are used albeit aggression is not defined... psychosis can lead to violence.       Its obvious the steroids mentioned in this article are for performance enhancing steroids aka anabolic-androgenic steroids, whom every average mary moron  believes can turn Dr. Jeykll into Mr. Hyde which is the furthest thing from the truth.     This guy deserves the highest form of punishment South Africa has to offer.    Whether its the twinkie defense, burgler defense or roid rage.... all nonsense.      

crwlspace
crwlspace

@CerebralSmartie Do you even bother to read the links you post???    That study is based off corticosteroids and not the anabolic-androgenic steroids referred to in this article.   Oscar had a history of issues with violence and domestic abuse.    Stop trying to grasp at straws,  The only one to blame here is Oscar himself.   The guy is violent lunatic.    Why aren't they blaming the alcohol?  Or perhaps it was video games?  PLEASE.    Millions of people use steroids yearly from athletes to amateur fitness gym rats.... These guys and gals aren't shooting up their partners.   This is just another attempt by the media to find a boogie man to blame.... the real boogie men are childlike, immature, spoiled, lunatics like Oscar... who can't handle women.   

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

Sorry about that last link. It was about the wrong steroid psychosis. It could be plausible that the lawyers could use the strategy, although it seems extremely unlikely to be successful.  Google the words " anabolic-androgenic steroids psychosis" and see what pops up. This is what I found: 

http://ccjm.org/content/74/5/341.full.pdf

http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=496600

http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/8969015/reload=0;jsessionid=NjJU97VIas7Y4JDBX5NA.0

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/dietandfitness/3303205/Anabolic-time-bombs-could-steroids-turn-you-into-a-violent-psychotic.html

Clever lawyers might try this strategy. I doubt they'd succeed. 

  This disgraceful and dishonorable event is a terribletragedy. Let's all extend our deepest sympathy to the family of this victim and do whatever can be done to prevent such terrible violence.

twbbud
twbbud

This story has so many levels, but right now, it doesn't look good for Mr. Pistorius.   What he is saying happened doesn't seem to jibe with the evidence as we've been told by the media (which of course could all be horse manure).

Bottom line is that a young woman is dead at his hands, with his gun, in his house.  The only thing left to be proven is motive.  That shouldn't be hard, there's always a trail of electronic evidence left behind, texts, emails, phone records will paint the picture.

MikeMuniz
MikeMuniz like.author.displayName 1 Like

Really?   - It still doesn't excuse the taking of another life -period.  

Moby220
Moby220 like.author.displayName 1 Like

So Oscar is in bed with his girl friend ..hears a noise ... get's  up without looking at the other side of the bed ????  How thoughtful of him ..he was obviously as afraid for Reeva's  safety as for his ...:-))   BUT   Reeva had gone to the bathroom in the middle of the night ..in the dark .. and locks the door ?? ..  Doesn't sound suspicious ..does it..  wonder what made her so afraid she needed to lock that door ..  Then Oscar .. with gun in hand ...  is too afraid to call out to whom ever is in the bathroom ??  How brave of him..  IMHO this stinks of a fight ending in shooting..