Updated 09 May 2014

The adoration of Oscar

CyberShrink sheds light on the phenomenon of the 'Pistorians', a small and fascinatingly odd bunch of fanatics passionately convinced of Oscar's innocence.*

“I never believed for a second that it could be murder,” declared one of Oscar’s staunchest supporters.

This kind of blind support can be a problem, however. Although the presumption of innocence means nobody should be found guilty without a fair trial, it does not mean we should assume that it is utterly impossible that the person could, under any circumstances, and whatever the established evidence, possibly be guilty. 

Their comments are typical. “He needs all the support he can get,” they insist, while apparently not considering the possibility that the family of the victim might also need support.

“He was vilified in the press,” they say, which is blatant nonsense. Except that, to them, nobody has the right to find the defence unconvincing – and any comment that isn’t blatantly pro-Oscar amounts to vilification and a “trial by media”.

Read: Has Oscar lost the plot?

They say they personally feel very depressed that their hero is in trouble, showing that there is gross over-identification with the accused. It’s not just that they like and admire him, but that in a sense very real to them they are him – they make comments in the first person like “I just can’t bear the thought of prison".

They don't love Reeva – they love his love of Reeva.

They believe without questioning: “I believe his story is very honest . . . I have no reason to doubt it at all.”

Read: Long breaks, lame witnesses

There seems to be little evidence of any intelligence. They’re like Flat-Earthers or those who believe in alien abductions. The belief is primary, and not the result of reason or logic. They begin with an attractive belief, and then try to turn it into reality. 

These kind of people are often drab; they lead drab little lives and like to seize on a belief or cause to provide them with a central organizing point and some semblance of excitement. They may have superficially full and busy lives, but still crave the thrill of a special "cause".

Life becomes exciting, you become someone special, and have something special to strive for – something that sets you aside from other folks. 

Read: 10 things you need to know about ballistics

Unbalanced folk
It’s not that they believe he’s innocent, or hope he is. They are utterly certain of it. The belief is absolute. And any evidence is interpreted to fit their concept of reality.

How fortunate that the judge seems relatively insulated and remains uninfluenced by social media. It would be dangerous if any court regarded the views of this tiny minority of unbalanced folk as representative of society at large. 

Read: What we know about Reeva's injuries

The need to put someone on a pedestal and turn them into a guru figure to whom one gives undying, blinded, loyalty, is in my opinion a very dangerous psychological drive.

It is damaging for the acolyte and the object of their adoration, whether it be politician, rock star, sports hero, religious leader, film star or just a romantic figure. It’s transfer of personal power and authority onto an external object/person, leaving them vulnerable to psychological exploitation and imprisonment.

No doubt whatsoever
These people hijack social media and turn it into antisocial media and pour vitriol onto anyone who dares question their beliefs or cast a shadow on their hero. 

If jumping to conclusions were an Olympic event, these guys would win gold. “I refuse to pass judgement,” says another, overlooking the fact that she is in fact passing judgement, by refusing to consider that Oscar might not be innocent.

They are not giving him the benefit of the doubt, they’re giving him the benefit of no doubt whatsoever. 

Read more:
Do you need Oscar to be innocent?
Did Reeva look like Oscar's mother?
Why are we so glued to the Oscar trial?

*Opinions mentioned in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Professor MA Simpson is Health24's CyberShrink. A South African psychiatrist, he qualified in medicine and in psychiatry in Britain. He has been a senior academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries. Read more of his columns.




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