By now everyone knows about the astounding case of incest, etc. in Austria. No doubt some are going to excuse Josef Fritzl by suggesting that he must be a mad man. Others (for instance here) will find fault with society.
These rationalisations are because for regular people the immensity of the crimes are blinding. But there are enough clues already that what Fritzl is is a psychopath and as such is responsible for his actions.
Take one small detail – the alleged role of drugs in the case.
Franz Polzer, the Austrian police chief leading the investigation, said Fritzl had given the impression, during protracted interrogations, that after 24 years he now actually believed the web of lies he had constructed to keep his incest a secret from his own family, the police and the public.
“Fritzl insisted that he chose Elisabeth as his favourite daughter, built the bunker just for her and felt that he had to lock her up because he was frightened that she was about to become involved with drugs.”
The reality was quite different. When his daughter was 18, Fritzl lured her into the elaborate cellar which he had built under his home during the Cold War in the late 1970s with the help of a government grant available for constructing domestic shelters against nuclear fall-out.
Police said he drugged his daughter with ether and handcuffed her to a wall in the cellar. During the first years he is alleged to have “kept her like an animal”.
Isn’t this classic? The kernel of truth is something to do with drugs, but see the evil inversion of the lie: he was trying to save her from drugs when in fact he used drugs against her.
(I wonder what thoughts readers have about Fritzl’s wife, Rosemarie, who police say was wholly ignorant of the matter. Asked why Mrs F was not being investigated, Colonel Polzer replied: “Let me ask you a counter question: would any wife accept such a thing if she knew about it?”)