PRETORIA, South Africa -- Seldom do we have a severe glimpse into the upbringing of a world-famous athlete. Generally we have an outline of a biography that reporters don't probe much, either out of time constraints or accepted decency or the need to cover the games. Usually we wind up with a detail here, maybe a tragedy there. A simplified narrative forms. Everybody knows that human life is far more complex, but everybody forgets that human life is far more complex.

"Mr. Pistorius is the middle of three children," forensic psychiatrist Dr. Merryl Vorster began Monday on Day 30 at the Oscar Pistorius murder trial, and from there her painting grew unusual and even more detailed than Pistorius' own testimony from early April. It contained the very things that don't tend to appear in shiny athlete interviews, the very real and barbed matters of life. These matters fall under the heading of the deeply personal, and while there's usually a deference about that, a defense team trying to preserve a defendant's freedom can't afford such luxuries.

As the defense kept aiming to explain why Pistorius could have been more likely than most humans to perceive a household intruder in the middle of the night, it didn't bother to bring the varnish. A father still living got a live-streamed assessment from a psychiatrist as "an irresponsible and mostly absent parent." A mother who died 12 years ago got a televised account of her paranoia and alcoholism, the latter previously unmentioned.

A well-meaning turn of parenting, the one when Pistorius' parents implored their double-amputee child to emulate the able-bodied and appear "normal," took on a psychiatrist's assessment as piling on anxiety.

What must it be for Pistorius and the younger sister (Aimee) who comforts him most often, to sit in Courtroom D in fine clothes and hear this globally public hearing of their background? Maybe there's a catharsis in there somewhere. A good heart would hope so.

The now-famed and now-fabled prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, had just gotten through delivering figurative body blows to ballistics expert Thomas "Wollie" Wolmarans as Wolmarans finished testimony that had stretched from Thursday afternoon through Friday and into Monday morning. Nel had just finished asking Wolmarans about a photo of bullet holes, and asking, "You don't know when it was taken, or why?" Wolmarans had finished answering, "I really don't know. I can't remember." And there it had ended -- "Thank you, My Lady, I have no further questions" -- with a sense Wolmarans' unknowing final answer might come up in some closing argument.

Next came Dr. Vorster who, unlike Mr. Wolmarans, opted not to appear on television. Next came a magnifying glass at the humanity of a world-famous athlete with a gaudy nickname ("Blade Runner"), a landmark human accomplishment (racing against the able-bodied in the 2012 London Olympics), and a lingering legion of admirers (here and there in the world).

"Mr. Pistorius would not have understood why he was in the hospital or why he was having surgery," Vorster said of the 11-month-old Oscar, hospitalized back then for a double amputation after being born without fibulas. There would have been physical pain. There would have been a sense of "traumatic assault," Vorster called it, adding, "He would not have been able to be soothed by his mother."

From there, the parents' exhortations that Oscar "appear as normal as possible," an understandable tack to keep a child from wallowing in limitations, "over time could result in increasing levels of anxiety as the process of appearing normal continued," Vorster said.

The North Gauteng High Court heard again how the parents divorced at 6, how that brought "drastic changes" (Vorster's words) and financial troubles. Beyond the "irresponsible and mostly absent" father, Vorster reiterated Pistorius' testimony that his mother kept a firearm under her pillow. "The children were not soothed by their mother," Vorster said, and, "The children were reared to see their external environment as threatening." Their mother's fear of break-ins extended to the illusory, the court heard.

Vorster described Pistorius' teen years: unsettled residence (passed around between father, mother and aunt-and-uncle), his mother's sudden death from an allergic reaction to malaria medication. That left Pistorius at 15 with "no adult primary attachment figure," Vorster said. She said individuals with "general anxiety disorder," her diagnosis of Pistorius, "try to control their environments to bring order to their lives in order that they can control the anxiety." That, she said, could have fed the strict training and diet that fed his athletic success.

An athlete gone uncommonly vulnerable appeared even more so once Dr. Vorster continued by outlining also his dogged insecurity about media interviews, his fear of public embarrassment, his "gradually developed poor self-image and feelings of inadequacy about his amputations," his fear of much-discussed crime in South Africa and his worry about his fame making him a crime target. "Mr. Pistorius is more likely to respond with a fight response rather than a flight response as his physical capacity for flight is limited," Vorster said.

Like many turns in this trial, Vorster's testimony might work both ways, for the same pile of anxieties could have affected Pistorius if, as the state contends, he fought with girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp before he shot her to death on Feb. 14, 2013.

Nel didn't go there. He had other areas to go.

After he pried at weaknesses such as Vorster having interviewed Pistorius only on May 2 and 7 (of 2014, with the trial well underway), he forged into another mini-drama. He asserted that by Section 78 of the Criminal Procedure Act, the disclosure of a mental disorder meant the court should refer Pistorius for mental observation. Defense attorney Barry Roux and Nel quibbled back and forth and back over that legal esoterica, with Judge Masipa and Nel in a respectful exchange before that question prompted adjournment so Nel could assess whether to pursue such action. To followers of courtrooms, that might have been compelling.

To followers of sports, we've rarely seen a big-time athlete so increasingly exposed.