When I first heard the story on the six-thirty evening news, I thought I was with my usual platito of peanuts and glass of iced Coca-Cola watching Criminal Minds 6. A University of the Philippines Physics major named Joseph Carlo Candare had killed a cat roaming freely on the UP National Institute of Physics grounds in 2009, and wrote about his rather spineless exploit on his blog site. Suffice it to say that he was quite proud of his murdering spree, having boasted that this wasn’t the first time he had murdered some cute, furry and hapless creature.
Tempted as I was, being a cat lover, to hurl some of the most unprintable invectives on his head, I held back my tongue. Animal cruelty has long since been tagged as a first step to serious cases of some personality and antisocial character disorder, the first door into that dark room of psychotic episodes in adults. And this guy, upon reading his blog, definitely has a seriously large crayon lodged in his cerebellum—that is, if you want to drag the image of Homer Simpson into the picture.
Is there really a link between character disorders and animal cruelty? Studies vary in their conclusions. What is certain, at least in the study made by Roman Gleyzer, M.D., a forensic psychiatrist withWesternStateHospitalinTacoma,Wash., Alan Felthous, M.D., a professor of forensic psychiatry at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and Charles Holzer III, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston—reportedly published the April-June Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law—is that “animal cruelty may be related more to character disorders in general and not very specifically to antisocial personality disorder.”
That’s good news for the young Candare. I think…
You see, character disorder, by description, seem to include, but is not limited to some form of aggression and paranoia, which, according to the study, hardly comes close to serious anti-social disorders. But then again, in light of lines blurred for the purposes of scientific study, who could say that young folk who torture and murder helpless animals wouldn’t turn out in their adult life into cold-blooded psychopaths? Psychology isn’t exactly close, as a science, to what Physics is.
For the human heart to grow warily cold, it takes practice—years of exposure to itsy-bitsy criminal behaviour and getting away with it. In a nutshell, killing a hapless kitten is one thing; killing a kitten and blogging about it could presage a kind of psychosis nowhere near the nostalgia of simply visiting a ward for the mentally deranged.
For parents, watch your kids closely. See how they fare with pets around. Cleaning the poop may not be the thing to look forward to every morning, but heck! it beats having a son or daughter in death row.
JOEL PABLO SALUD is the editor-in-chief and interim literary editor of the Philippines Graphic magazine, the country’s top newsweekly publication under the ALC Group of Publications, which include the BusinessMirror. He is a member of the Unyon ng Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) and the Manila Critics Circle. He regularly writes reviews for the Philippines Graphic Review of Literature.