April 29, 2008

"The rooms are described as being neat and tidy. There are no windows."

"The three children who lived in the cellar, 19-year-old Kerstin and her two brothers aged 18 and five, had never seen daylight, and grew up with artificial light."

This is such a horrible story. I hate even to mention it. But this link goes to a story that depicts the underground living quarters Josef Fritzl somehow constructed and maintained and kept hidden for 24 years... as he went about his life as perhaps the most evil father ever.

AND: Could it be that it wasn't so dreadful for the youngest children?
Professor Jay Belsky, an expert in the field of child development and family studies at Birkbeck College, University of London, says the fact that the children were with their mother - a source of security - and with each other, could have mitigated the amount of trauma they suffered.

"Potentially, the children could have led tolerably rich social lives - there were four people there, at least three of them for a long period of time. This isn't a story about a child being locked in a closet all by himself," he told the BBC News website.

He said that in terms of the five-year-old, he would have been unlikely to have known what he was missing.

"As a youngster, your immediate environment is your whole world," he says.

"If there were books, games and a TV, there were things for all the children to make a psychological life around. It need not be as atrocious as it might first appear," he says.
That reminds me of Dr. Strangelove's description of life underground. But at this point, one hopes the professor is right.

38 comments:

George said...

Besides Belsky, there's another child psychology expert whose opinion we'd like to hear. He's in Chicago. A professor. I think his name is Ayers.

Trooper York said...

They interviewed this guy and he said he got the idea from a photo shoot in Der Spiegal with Nena Kerner posed with her head between her fathers legs right before she issued 99 Luft Balloons.

Conwincidinky I am sure.

TMink said...

People in the abuse field used to think that it was what happened that migitated or enhanced the damage from the trauma. While it of course has an impact, the relationships surrounding the trauma are now seen to have large effects on how much damage is inflicted.

If the youngest children felt safe and secure in their relationships, they may be doing really OK. That would be their mother holding it together for them.

Of course, it may get very messy later, when they learn the details.

Trey

vbspurs said...

This story strikes close to home, as my mum is a child shrink (and her mother was Austrian). My aunt, who lives in Salzburg, is visiting us at the moment -- the story having broken two days ago there, to utter shock.

Austrians are still recovering from the the Natascha Kampusch case, a girl kept in a Viennese sex-cellar for 8 years before escaping 2 years ago.

If you speak German, check out her post-release interview on Youtube.

She got a talk show this year, so good for her.

In Kerstin's case, the mother was also involved...that never fails to nauseate me about child sex abuse.

Cheers,
Victoria

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

IIRC, under Austrian law, the maximum sentence Fritzl faces is 15 years.

Salamandyr said...

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

IIRC, under Austrian law, the maximum sentence Fritzl faces is 15 years.


With luck that is per count. They should be able to prosecute him for at least 3 counts of kidnapping. I'm going to hope that is the case anyway.

rhhardin said...

The question is what is going on to create the market for these news stories.

Which might lead to an answer to why the hell soap opera attracts viewers.

Guggenbuhl-Craig was interested in why women shouted him down at lectures. He thought it was partial archetypes.

You want to know why soap opera news attracts viewers because soap opera news mediates every public debate, and it might suggest what to do about it.

With a population of 6 billion, the most attractive news stories to viewers among all news stories are the ones you see, and they're pretty weird.

The particular case sounds like a Grimm fairy tale, which may not be a coincidence. They're meant to attract as well.

Pogo said...

" It need not be as atrocious as it might first appear," he says."

Responses:
* Hey, maybe the NHS could adopt this method to ensure national fitness!

* 50% less atrocious? I'll take two!

* Shoot, a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.

Methadras said...

On the face of it, this man is a sub-human monster. I'm going to wait until all of the truth and facts come out on this one.

Fen said...

The question is what is going on to create the market for these news stories... The particular case sounds like a Grimm fairy tale, which may not be a coincidence. They're meant to attract as well.

I think you're touching on a complaint I have with FOX's Greta. Laced between the coverage of missing co-eds[Chadra/Lacy/Natalie etc] were attractive full body shots and subtle speculation of what the females might be enduring if they were chained up in some perp's basement.

I couldn't put my finger on it, but it was almost as if FOX was trying to titillate its audience with soft S&M porn.

Trooper York said...

I sure when all the facts come out there will be a reasonable explanation. His dick just slipped into his daughter by accident all those times. Those floors are real slippery. It's so artsy fartsy and avant gardey. It's performance arty. It's so European. Don't be so judgmental. You rubes.

rhhardin said...

To put it another way, these stories are there because they're entertainment.

My question is why they're entertainment.

Revenant said...

What do you figure the guy will get, sentence-wise? My money is on "7 years in prison".

JohnAnnArbor said...

What's this about Nena, Trooper?

Trooper York said...

Miley riff John. I believe in cross pollination.

Trooper York said...

But only if the plants are of age and not related.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Oh. I haven't actually seen the VF pics yet.

Trooper York said...

Rev, I would only give him two.

Two behind the ear.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Do European prisoners ever have "unfortunate prison accidents"?

Trooper York said...

I don't know but maybe we can introduce him to the prison writing of Abe Reles who as you know invented bungy jumping.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Or, maybe the other prisoners will take care of it, like with that cannibal guy, what was his name...

Trooper York said...

Hannibal Dobbs.

Don't mention him. He was a shame to the corps. Even though they got a couple books out of his life story.

JohnAnnArbor said...

No, the guy from the midwest, the real guy. Dahmer, that's it. (Category:American cannibals in Wikipedia.)

Moose said...

My favorite:

"Professor Belsky suggested that the TV could have taught the children some notion of appropriate social behaviour and about the wider world."

Well then - no harm, no foul!

*sheesh*

Trooper York said...

When he was dying after being beat to death with a broom stick, Hannibal said "It is balloon...ninety nine luft balloons....arrrrgh!"

And that's where the song came from because he was Nena's maternal great grandfather. The family moved back to Germany because of the shame of it all.

See it all ties together.

Freeman Hunt said...

Sometimes people ask me why I still support the death penalty, and even support it in certain non-murder cases. In the future, I will simply point them to this case.

MadisonMan said...

If Society can't -- or won't -- put someone to death, I think it's pretty vile to expect a prisoner to do it. Or to condone it when it happens.

Put another way: I think Society -- if it imprisons someone -- is required to protect them from their fellow inmates.

blake said...

MadMan is right. The appreciation for thugs in prison killing (e.g.) child molesters is, at best, cowardly.

Frankly, I think I'd take the injection over what prisoners are said to do.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
somefeller said...

Professor Belsky's comment that the children locked in a cellar for all their lives could have had "tolerably rich social lives" reminds me of Orwell's famous quote that some ideas are so stupid that only an intellectual could believe them.

Revenant said...

If Society can't -- or won't -- put someone to death, I think it's pretty vile to expect a prisoner to do it. Or to condone it when it happens.

I think you're conflating Society with Government. It isn't necessarily wrong for an individual to do the right thing, in situations where the government has refused to do so. Especially when Society is generally in agreement that Government did the wrong thing.

Jeffrey Dahmer (for example) deserved to die; I would say that justice required that he die. The government failed to do the just thing, but we can still be happy that justice was meted out in the end.

former law student said...

Sick sick sick. Yes, I remember Natasha Kampusch -- I was in Deutschland when the story came out.

I used to think Freud's understanding of human nature was perverted, but now I realize he worked with Austrians.

Guggenb├╝hl-Craig -- I googled him and got rhhardin's web site. He wrote a book whose title in either German or Dutch translates into something like The Danger of a Healer's Power, but in English is rendered benignly as Power in the Helping Professions.

UWS guy said...

People talking about the death penalty...You know from an evolutionary view, he wins. He has 7 progeny. What ever punishment we give him, his genes, live on. What is he? 80 years old now?

From a biological standpoint he was completely rational.

UWS guy said...

woops...that's not counting his daughter who gave him 7 kids. 8...and counting.

Eli Blake said...

There was a recent case of a thirteen year old girl in Pennsylvania who was held in similar circumstances by her father, except that the rooms were filled with garbage, cockroaches and excrement. In the end she shot her stepfather in the face with a shotgun in order to escape the situation. She was charged with murder.

Revenant said...

She was charged with murder.

Actually, they reduced the charges after seeing what conditions she'd been living in. She was allowed to plead to involuntary manslaughter in juvenile court, and received probation.

rhhardin said...

Guggenb├╝hl-Craig -- I googled him and got rhhardin's web site. He wrote a book whose title in either German or Dutch translates into something like The Danger of a Healer's Power, but in English is rendered benignly as Power in the Helping Professions.

He turned up in my reading because he had an interest in paradox. In this case, he writes with an eye to the motives and interests of those who are helping, which is more of a sociologist's stance (say Erving Goffman, or Gusfield) in looking at what's going on. Say investigating the rise of institutions in society.

In the case if child sexual abuse as a news story, it came up (according to Ian Hacking, an essay in Critical Inquiry .. hmm.. ctrl/t google aha) in the 70s, child abuse (battering) having come up in the 60s.

My suspicion is that it came up not as something real, it had always existed, but that it became a profitable news story at those dates.

Why is it a profitable news story? This is what I want to understand.

Obviously because it's entertainment. But why is it entertainment?

I suspect some merging of Guggenbuhl-Crag's diagnosis of partial archetypes and soap opera.

Trooper York said...

I agree Madison Man. He should never make it to prison. He looks like the kind of guy who would get shot trying to escape.