OSAKA — Mamoru Takuma, the suspect in the primary school rampage that claimed the lives of eight pupils in Osaka Prefecture, is suspected by psychiatrists of having paranoid personality disorder, it was revealed Tuesday.

In a previous incident, however, Takuma was diagnosed with schizophrenia, the Japanese Association of Psychiatric Hospitals said.

In general, schizophrenics are not considered criminally responsible for their actions and are not supposed to face charges. People with personality disorders, however, can be found partially responsible for criminal acts.

Considering similar past cases, some psychiatrists believe the attack at the state-run Osaka Kyoiku University Ikeda Elementary School is consistent with someone suffering from a personality disorder.

Takuma, 37, was arrested in March 1999 for allegedly poisoning teachers with tea laced with tranquilizers at a school where he worked as a janitor. He was released after he was deemed not mentally competent to take criminal responsibility and was diagnosed as schizophrenic, according to police. Instead, he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and was released a month later.

The difference between the two types of mental illness is subtle, however, and the results of psychiatric tests in court sometimes lead to different conclusions.

The U.S. psychiatric society sorts personality disorders into 10 different types. Many are characterized by inappropriate furious rage, flat emotion, and selfish and reckless acts.

People suffering from paranoid personality disorder tend to harbor delusional distrust of others.

Schizophrenics suffer from hallucinations and frequently make incoherent statements.

In the case of a serial killer who targeted young girls in the Tokyo metropolitan area in 1988 and 1989, the Tokyo District Court sentenced the defendant Tsutomu Miyazaki to death in April 1997.

The court adopted the psychiatrists’ conclusion that Miyazaki had a personality disorder.

Masaaki Noda, a professor of psychopathology at Kyoto Women’s University, said that personality disorders involve character, not illness.

As for Takuma’s school rampage, Noda said, “Since it does not appear that (Takuma’s) thinking is really out of order in this case, it is possible that he is not schizophrenic.”

Takuma stormed into classrooms of the elementary school in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, Friday morning, fatally stabbing eight children aged from 6 to 8 with a kitchen knife and injuring 15 others, including two teachers. He was arrested at the scene.

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