A psychologist is weighing in on the possible mental state of the two parents who allegedly shackled and tortured their 13 children at a Perris, California home. Dr. John Huber the CEO of Mainstream Mental Health, says the Turpins case reminds him of shared delusional disorder.
"Maybe they have some mental health issues, such as 'Shared Delusional Disorder' where they feel like they're the only ones who can protect their kids and the only way to do that is to shackle them," Huber said.
Also known as folie à deux, the rare delusional disorder is generally defined by WebMD as a rare type of mental illness in which 2 (and occasionally more) people with close ties begin to take on the delusions of someone who has a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia.
For example, let’s say your spouse has a psychotic disorder and, as part of that illness, believes aliens are spying on him or her. If you have a shared psychotic disorder, you’ll start to believe in the spying aliens. But apart from that, your thoughts and behavior are normal.
The Perris 'House of Horrors' was discovered earlier this month after one of the siblings managed to escape and contact authorities on a deactivated cell phone. When authorities arrived, they found the several children shackled to furniture, with many of them incredibly malnourished.
A judge banned the pair from contacting their children for three years late last week. The Turpins have both pleaded not guilty to 37 charges.
Dr. Huber says the parent's actions demonstrate signs of psychopathy and extreme anti-social personality disorder, with an apparent disregard with their children's health.
"It's basically, no concern for your fellow human being's needs, wants, basically not having a conscience," Huber said.
The fact that the parents went so far to cover up what they were doing to the thirteen children, indicates they knew their behavior was wrong, Huber says. Even the photos the family took out on trips at Disneyland and Las Vegas could have been nothing more than a smoke screen to distract concerned family members he hypothesizes.
"For all we know they took the pictures right outside the hotel they stayed at and they never even actually went in to Disneyland. The pictures don't really give us a lot of information."
As far as the children themselves? Huber says they have a long road ahead before recovering from the years of physical and mental abuse.
"They're going to be healthier on a good diet, but will they regain their physical and cognitive abilities? Probably not."
Photo: Riverside County Sheriff's Department