Psychiatrist sticks to narcissism diagnosis of Quebec City sword attacker under cross-examination

·2 min read
Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Sylvain Faucher, left, was questioned by Girouard's defence lawyer on Friday morning. (Radio-Canada - image credit)
Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Sylvain Faucher, left, was questioned by Girouard's defence lawyer on Friday morning. (Radio-Canada - image credit)

The defence lawyer for the young man charged in the 2020 Quebec City Halloween sword attacks today accused an expert witness for the Crown of cherry-picking facts to back up a theory that Carl Girouard is a hypervigilant narcissist.

In a cross-examination that was, at times, heated, lawyer Pierre Gagnon hinted that forensic psychiatrist Dr. Sylvain Faucher may have had confirmation bias — and looked for evidence to back up his diagnosis of Girouard, 26.

"I invite you to prove it to me," Faucher replied.

Girouard does not deny he killed two people with a sword and attacked five more on Oct. 31, 2020, but argues he cannot be held criminally responsible for his acts because he was delusional and psychotic at the time, and he could not understand his actions were wrong.

Girouard sought acceptance, says expert

Illustration by Hbé
Illustration by Hbé

Faucher said the attacks were part of a larger pattern of attention-seeking behaviour.

Early problematic behavior at school showed that he was in need of attention, even though his mother testified that she spent a lot of time caring for him.

"What was significant for him is that he didn't meet [his father's] expectations," the psychiatrist told the court.

In a meeting in March 2022, Girouard told Faucher he was upset by his father's attitude toward him when he was a child, making him cut his hair or do other things to conform.

Faucher said Girouard was looking for people who would accept him as he is, and that was one of the elements that prompted him to act.

By carrying out the attack, Girouard thought he would find what he called "alter egos" — like-minded people who could not criticize him, the expert said.

Defence brings up delusion

Radio-Canada
Radio-Canada

Girouard's lawyer questioned whether anyone who believed killing people with swords could be anything other than delusional.

Faucher said that wasn't necessarily the case: groups like ISIS might find the behavior acceptable and it would not mean their members were delusional.

Faucher also commented on Girouard's belief that people paying with credit cards isn't normal as odd, but not necessarily delusional. It is a way of thinking that might be shared by some groups like Mormons, the psychiatrist said.

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