KELOWNA – The personal journal of Conor Grossmith paints a picture of a troubled young man suffering from bouts of intense depression and thoughts of suicide mixed with euphoria and grand delusions.
Dr. Shabehram Lohrasbe, a psychiatrist from Vancouver Island, testified Tuesday that during examination Grossmith showed signs of bipolar disorder. He also said that was likely the driving force behind the brutal hammer attack that killed his mother in 2012.
Although Grossmith, 26, has a history of alcoholism and was highly intoxicated the night Kathleen Gilchrist was mortally wounded in her bed, Lohrasbe says the exact relationship between alcohol abuse and bipolar disorder is not well understood.
“Clearly alcohol was a factor… but it's not any one thing,” he said. “If you put it all together it makes sense. He's craving some relief from the torment."
While in treatment for his drinking, Grossmith was encouraged to keep a journal of his thoughts. Portions were read in court to illustrate his disordered thinking and the range of emotions he would cycle through.
At times the writing is extremely positive, with statements like “I am the king. All others are unknown.” He wrote about wanting to be a musician or author. At other times he is very clearly depressed.
"This is very boring, what else is new,” he wrote of his time in treatment. “A drink or ten would be nice. How much longer can I continue on?”
Lohrasbe says it is not uncommon for individuals who are depressed to lash out at others and can even view injuring or killing innocent people as doing them a favour – releasing them from a cruel and unfair world.
“Suicidal thinking is a risk factor for violence directed towards others, and violence towards others can be a risk factor for suicidal thinking,” Lohrasbe said.
Dr. Lohrasbe cautioned against reading too much into the journal as it could be part of a technique called free association, but says it provides some insight into how rapidly Grossmith’s thinking would fluctuate.
“The tone changes quickly and so does the handwriting,” he observed. “(It) starts with existential questioning of why we are here… and moves to an angry tirade against others and the state of his life. Despair and anger often go together.”
"If we take this as representative (of his state of mind) I would see him as an acute risk to himself and others,” Lohrasbe said. “It’s very worrisome.”
Conor Grossmith was arrested in his home Sept. 13, 2012 after his father found Grossmith leaving his mother’s bedroom carrying a bloody hammer. She died from brain trauma in Kelowna General Hospital days later.
Grossmith’s lawyers are asking the court to find him not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder, in which case he could be confined to a psychiatric hospital for the rest of his life.
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