Lifestyle Environment 09 Jul 2016 Harming animals is n ...

Harming animals is not a funny issue

Published Jul 9, 2016, 12:01 am IST
Updated Jul 9, 2016, 6:57 am IST
Harming animals for entertainment is a telling sign of possible mental health issues, warn experts.
Screengrab of the video of the student throwing the puppy off the terrace.
 Screengrab of the video of the student throwing the puppy off the terrace.

The recent case of two medical students from Chennai throwing a hapless puppy off a terrace sent shivers down the spines of people.  As social media went berserk and eventually helped find the perpetrator, people couldn’t wrap themselves around the fact that someone was willing to hurt a harmless animal.

And if you know someone who indulges in mindless acts of violence against animals, that could be a cause of worry. Psychologists say there is nothing normal about indulging in violent acts against animals.


K. Prashant, PhD and Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Yashoda Hospitals, says, “I was part of a forensic department in the US and there we always checked for something called the Triad of Sociopathy. Under that, if three main characteristics are met, it becomes easier to identify a psychopath. The first one is cruelty towards animals, the second is having a keen interest in setting things on fire and the third point is bed-wetting.”

“That said, you have to be very careful while using the term psychopath,” says Prashant. However, he warns that when people indulge in such acts, they need to be put under observation. “Such acts are very worrisome. The very idea that someone can indulge in a mindless act of hurting an animal is psychopathic behaviour,” he adds.


Around the world there have been instances of people indulging in violence against animals, videos are testament to that. One common thread shows that most of the serial killers and psychopaths across the world started off with harming animals.

“Some people lack empathy and they don’t think twice before hurting another human being. They derive pleasure out of hurting others and yes, if not checked, this can be a bigger problem,” says counsellor N. Sucharita from the city, pointing out to the Chennai case where the perpetrator was actually laughing while carrying out the act.


The symptoms of psychopathic behaviour are often spotted in adolescence, but we often miss it. While the pulling of a cat’s tail or a puppy’s ears by kids is often considered as “mischief”, one should correct them immediately.

“Right from the school level, people should pay strict attention to the conduct of kids. If a child is displaying troublesome behaviour, the school needs to inform the parents. Conduct certificates shouldn’t be just handed out like that. A little consideration into how the child’s behaviour is can go a long way in preventing such issues. Because if a problem is recognised at a young age, it becomes easier to help,” adds Dr Sucharita.


“The Chennai incident where the animal abusers did not have any remorse and, worse, even recording the act, is quite rare. One in 100 people tend to have such psychopathic tendencies and it was a misfortune that two people who had such tendencies came together. However, one must also take into account the situation the two men were in. Whether they were under the influence of alcohol too needs to be considered,” adds Prashant.