Assessing Homicidal Mental States at the Time of Offense IV: The 2011 Norway Massacre: Criminal responsibility analysis using the R-CRAS.

The use of forensic assessment instruments is a distinguishing factor in the quality of forensic reports (Fuger, Acklin, Nguyen, Ignacio, & Gowensmith, 2013).

In insanity determinations, the Rogers Criminal Responsibility Assessment Scales (R-CRAS, PAR, Inc.) are without peer as an aide to organizing and analyzing case data. It is a systematic coding measure which permits analysis of case data in light of three insanity standards: ALI, M’Naghten, and GBMI (Guilty But Mentally Ill).

Breivik’s R-CRAS can be coded based on open source information utilizing an indirect personality assessment methodology (Meloy, 2004). Although available on the internet, the 400 + pages of forensic psychiatric reports have not been translated into English. But there is vast amount of documentation, including detailed eye witness accounts prior to and during the massacre, and at the court proceedings.

Disclaimer: As noted by Meloy (2004), indirect personality assessment has risks, including concerns about insufficient data, cultural/linguistic/social differences, political commitments, “absence of a theory of mind on the part of the psychologist,” etc. (p. 145) to link facts and findings. There is a massive amount of open source information available on the internet, for example:

Anders Behring Breivik spent years training and plotting for massacre
Before declaring him sane, Norwegian court heard about killer’s ruthless attention to detail when planning mass murder, The Guardian, Friday 24 August 2012 05.45 EDT

Breivik’s R-CRAS: With respect to the reliability of Breivik’s self-report under his voluntary control, he presents a highly reliable self-report; the examiner is impressed by his openness and honesty which included volunteering potentially self-damaging information. With respect to involuntary interference with his self-report, Breivik demonstrated no involuntary interference; there was no evidence of organic or psychotic interference with his reliability. There is no evidence of drug or alcohol intoxication at the time of the offenses. There is no evidence that Breivik suffered from brain damage or disease, or mental deficiency. Breivik did not demonstrate bizarre behavior at the time of the offenses. Based on ample behavioral observations, there is no evidence that he experienced anxiety, amnesia, delusions, or hallucinations at the time of the offenses. There is no evidence that Breivik was experiencing depressed or elevated/expansive mood at the time of the offenses. He demonstrated no impairment in his level of verbal coherence at the time of the offense. The assassination style killing involved little or no expression of emotion. There is no evidence in the ample written material, including his Compendium which details his beliefs, of formal thought disorder. The planning or preparation for the killings involved elaborate planning and preparation extending over months. There is no evidence to suggest that Breivik lacked awareness of the criminality or wrongfulness of his conduct. About 50 minutes into the shooting spree, he called the police, identified himself as a member of the “Norwegian anti-communist resistance movement” and offered to turn himself in. Twenty minutes later he surrendered to an armed police force with his arms over his head. Focus of the offenses was markedly specific; Breivik’s conduct was markedly specific, highly focused towards time, persons, and situation. Level of activity during the commission of the crime was marked, requiring a high sustained level of activity. Expression of violence was predatory–not affective or explosive–in nature. Breivik demonstrated responsible social behavior during the week prior to the commission of the offenses, demonstrating at least average functioning at work or with friends with only slight impairment in one or the other. He reported himself to be in complete control of his behavior and chose to commit the offenses. The examiner was impressed with the deliberateness of Breivik’s behavior and self-control. His violent behavior does not appear to be the result of a psychosis. Additional assessment criteria include lack of evidence of impaired judgment on the basis of a mental disorder during the period of the alleged offenses. There is no evidence that Breivik experienced significant loss of volition or impaired reality testing. He demonstrated ordinary to above-average capacity for self-care of personal and home-environmental needs. It seems clear that he maintained a relatively complete awareness of the wrongfulness of the actions with a general understanding of the possible consequences.

• Breivik scored positive on none of the seven R-CRAS criteria for the ALI insanity standard.
• Breivik scored positive on none of the six R-CRAS criteria for the M’Naghten standard.
• Breivik scored positive on none of the five R-CRAS criteria for the GBMI standard.

Conclusion: Case review and R-CRAS coding indicates that Breivik was not insane at the time of the offenses.

Breivik meets the definition of a “violent true believer.”


Fuger K, Acklin MW, Nguyen AH, Ignacio LA, & Gowensmith WN. (2013). Quality of criminal responsibility reports submitted to the Hawaii judiciary. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry.

Meloy, J. R. (2004). Indirect Personality Assessment of the Violent True Believer. Journal of Personality Assessment, 82, 2, 138-146.

Next: violent true believers; the new psychology of “lone wolf “terrorists.


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