Celebrity Sensitivity: Chris Benoit

Chris BenoitMany of you have probably heard about WWE wrestler Chris Benoit’s murder-suicide. If this is news to you, here’s the skinny:

CNN Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said Wednesday that it may never be known whether the deaths were linked to steroids or so-called “roid-rage.”

“The drugs said to be found in the home are a synthetic form of testosterone,” Gupta said. “A lot of people use it to build muscle mass, but there are longstanding known relationships between the steroids and roid rage. It could lead to psychosis and anti-social behavior and depression.”

Investigators found the bodies of Nancy and Daniel Benoit with Bibles placed next to them, authorities have said. “The presence of a Bible by each is also not an act of rage,” said the WWE.

Former professional wrestler Del Wilkes said athletes use steroids to gain strength and size, which are key to success in the wrestling world. But he warned that the drugs sometimes come with “moments of uncontrollable rage.”

“You can feel it coming on but there’s nothing you can do about it,” Wilkes said. “The next thing you know, a minor argument has gone into a full-fledged rage, when you’ve got your hands around somebody’s neck. You’re in a fight and doing things you wouldn’t normally do.”

Wilkes also said the drugs can also cause “tremendous” depression “when guys are coming off steroids after they’ve been on it for a long period of time.”

Interesting. In reading tons of articles on this story, as of two weeks ago, Benoit’s tests for steroid use came in negative. Toxicology tests could take up to two weeks to be conclusive.

I find this murder-suicide to be incredibly bizarre. Not that murder-suicides are rare (unfortunately), but Benoit made this “event” – for lack of a better term – incredibly dramatic. It’s possible that he placed Bibles next to each of the bodies in a show of religion – probably hoping that God would redeem each individual soul in the house. I tried to go on this weird explanation to my husband that Benoit was trying to draw parallels between Jesus’ death over the course of three days and that Benoit did the same thing, but looking back now, I guess it’s a stretch.

Regardless, this situation prompts further investigation as to why Benoit would have done such a thing. Perhaps he did suffer from ‘roid rage. Or maybe there are deeper issues that haven’t surfaced yet. Since the authorities found all the bodies Wednesday, details will probably continue to unravel during the next few weeks.

I hate to bring in the mental health issue up in this discussion, but I can’t imagine Benoit was in a healthy state of mind in the weeks leading up to the murders. What occurred in the house wasn’t a random decision – it was well-planned and well-thought out.

From what I’ve gathered, other WWE wrestlers say that Benoit was very quiet and private about his family life. News reports say that in 2003, his wife Nancy filed for divorce and get a restraining order on him. In the filing, she mentioned she suffered from domestic abuse. Was the violent man on stage really that violent at home as well?

As far as I know, there’s no DSM classification for violent or “anger problem.” The closest thing anyone would get is psychosis, I would think. And even then, most psychotics are harmless. (I’m not talking about the informal term “psycho,” used to refer to someone who committed a heinous crime. OK, maybe he was informally psycho.)

I’m going to assume here that Benoit had serious marital problems with a really bad temper. Nancy was going to file for divorce again and probably threatened to take full custody of their 7-year-old son. Benoit probably thought to himself, No way is she leaving me and taking my son away from me. We’re here together til’ death do us part. He probably didn’t want his son to live with the shame of having a father who killed his mother and/or himself so he murdered him too. Regardless, I’ll never understand how anyone could harm a child.

Benoit’s fans and fellow wrestlers have lost an incredible amount of respect for him now and rightly so. (Not that it matters since he’s dead and doesn’t have to contend with that.) Instead of dying as a WWE legend, his memory will be tarnished because of his crime.

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3 Comments

  1. Stephany said,

    June 27, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    Another sad, and unexplainable story. One thing I’ve observed in people with psychosis, and I use that term loosely, yet need to: I have seen an increase of all I can describe as strange religious references, when in a “normal” or non-psychotic state of thinking; the religion stuff is not there. A family member [of mine]only “baptizes” themself in the sink, and bathtub and talks about heaven and hell, when experiencing psychosis. Other times, it’s just not there. Somehow, the Bible thing could have been a “symptom” rather than an “explanation”.

  2. June 27, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    “Somehow, the Bible thing could have been a “symptom” rather than an “explanation”.”
    Stephany,
    Great observation. Thinking back to my dad’s illness with schizophrenia, what you said makes perfect sense.

  3. June 28, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Actually, I believe there is a disorder dealing with anger…explosive something or other. I hadn’t heard of it before, but my sister wrote a paper on it for her high school Psych. course. I’m going to try to read up on it in the DSM…I can try to send you a scan if it seems to be relevant.


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