Inside a dangerous mind: Inability to process rejection, rage led to Shahbad Dairy murder, say psychologists

03:30 PM Jun 04, 2023 | PTI |

Multiple stabbings, as was seen in the recent horrific killing of a teenage girl in northwest Delhi, is an indication that the crime involves a strong emotional component such as pent-up rage caused by the inability to process rejection.


This, accompanied by low self-esteem, leads to a deliberate intent in the attacker to cause intense suffering to the victim, according to psychologists.

Sakshi (16) was stabbed more than 20 times and then bludgeoned with a cement slab, killing her on the spot in the Shahbad Dairy area. Her body had 34 injury marks and the skull was smashed.

Sahil had allegedly hatched the plan to kill Sakshi two days before the incident. Sakshi had rebuffed him in front of her friends and refused to mend their relationship.

Mohit Butta, a Delhi-based forensic psychologist, said the act of stabbing and smashing the victim with a slab ”reflects the assailant’s destructive intentions to the point of wanting to wipe off her existence.” ”The viciousness of the attack shows the extent of inferiority complex and low self-esteem of the attacker. It reflects the perpetrator’s anger, hatred and his need to stab till anger is spent,” said Vandana V Prakash, a clinical psychologist. ”Multiple stabbings usually signify hurtful revenge. Vengeful thoughts are byproducts of frustration,” Butta added.


According to Indraneel Bhowal, a forensic psychologist currently involved in a POCSO project in Rajasthan, said that the rage, in turn, indicated that there was a personal relationship between the victim and the offender.

Police had earlier said that Sahil got drunk on may 28 afternoon and in the evening confronted Sakshi who was on her way to the birthday party of her friend’s child. After killing Sakshi, Sahil went to a nearby park and sat there for a while.

Bhowal said multiple researchers have found that a large number of stab wounds in a homicide case indicates that the element of personal relationship is involved in the crime. ”Multiple stabbings also suggest that the rage might be building over some time.” ”Something happened in their relationship very recently right before the murder which acted as a trigger — inciting his rage to make him commit the crime,” he added.

According to Archana Sharma, a consultant clinical psychologist at Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, New Delhi, multiple stabbing occurs significantly more frequently in relationship-related homicides. ”Jealousy or disturbed emotional relationships between the victim and the assailant can be the factors.” Asked what could have caused this frustration, hatred and jealousy in Sahil, Prakash said it is likely that the rejection from Sakshi hurt his ego. ”The attacker’s emotional, unrestrained outburst of stabbing her multiple times could mean that he harboured an inferior sense of the self and low levels of self-esteem, factors which did not allow him to accept the rejection,” Prakash said.

According to police, Sakshi and Sahil had been seeing each other since June 2021. But for the last three to four months, she started moving away from the accused. Sahil could have been planning to attack the girl for some time as she had started meeting her ex-boyfriend Praveen. She was in a relationship with Praveen for three to four years before she fell for Sahil, police said, adding that Sahil has claimed that Sakshi was keen to get back with Praveen since he had a motorcycle.

On May 27, Sakshi warned Sahil to stay away from her. She was with her friend Bhawna and her boyfriend Jhabru at the time. Jhabru too threatened to beat Sahil if he came near Sakshi, police said. The girl had broken up with Sahil eight days ago.

”Revenge as a complex emotion surfaces when the attacker feels unable to process the feeling of rejection. He sees the victim as an obstacle between him and his goal of accepting the rejection. Not being able to accept the rejection, the attacker resorts to drastic measures to cope with it and to save their ego,” Butta said.

Asked what might have prompted Sahil to use a knife to kill the girl, Prakash said, ”Apart from being available easily, a knife comes with a certainty of causing death or injury. He wanted to leave nothing to chance.” While Sharma said that using a knife to kill signalled the ”impulsive nature of the act”, Butta and Bhowal claimed that it indicated the attacker’s wish to inflict maximum suffering on the victim.

Mindless mutilation of bodies caused by multiple stabbings, such as that seen here, is common also in incidences of serial killings. However, committing such an act for the first time did not point to personality disorders, Prakash said.

”There needs to be a repeated trend of such offences before that can be ascertained,” he added.


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