The Breivik case and what psychiatrists can learn from it

World Psychiatry. 2013 Feb;12(1):16-21. doi: 10.1002/wps.20002.


In the afternoon of July 22, 2011, Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 persons, many of them children and youths, in two separate events. On August 24, 2012, he was sentenced to 21 years in prison. Breivik went through two forensic evaluations: the first concluded that he had a psychotic disorder, thus being legally unaccountable, whereas the second concluded that he had a personality disorder, thus being legally accountable. This article first describes Breivik's background and his crimes. This is followed by an overview of the two forensic evaluations, their methods, contents and disagreements, and how these issues were handled by the court in the verdict. Finally, the article focuses on some lessons psychiatrists can take from the case.