A 14-year-old boy trying to mimic the popular Transformers characters on TV has developed mental disorders and a dependence on gasoline after drinking the fuel over the past five years.
"He began to drink gasoline ever since he saw an episode of the Transformers cartoon series at a neighbor's house five years ago," Chen Dahai, the boy's father, told China Daily yesterday.
"I really regret allowing him to watch it he used to be a smart and good-tempered boy," said Chen, who lives in Yibin, Sichuan province.
The Transformers movies and cartoon series involve fictional alien characters that can morph from vehicles and weapons into fighting machines.
"Since my son started to drink gas, his IQ has dropped sharply and he cannot figure out simple math questions," the father said.
"He was a very smart boy, and could even repair the TV. Now he doesn't know seven plus 17."
The boy began by stealing lighters from his mother's grocery stall in 2004.
The parents talked to their son and asked him not to do it again.
"But afterwards we found our motorcycle's gasoline always disappearing, and one day when we found the boy drinking a half bottle of gasoline stolen from the motorcycle, we were too shocked to say anything," the father said.
After they locked the motorcycle in the living room, the obsessed boy stole gasoline from neighbors.
"He has had an explosive temper and even quit school because he fought with classmates."
The worried parents finally took their son to the city's hospital, and were told the boy had mental disorders and a strong "gasoline dependence."
"Gasoline contains a lot of lead, which can do harm to people's brains and influence their IQ," Peng Houquan, a doctor from Yibin No 4 Hosptial, told China Daily yesterday.
"We will invite some experienced experts to help the boy get rid of the gasoline addiction, and provide psychological treatment, " Peng said.
"It might be possible that the boy's 'gasoline dependence' started from imitating a movie," he said.
However, he could not explain why tests showed no lead in the boy's blood and no damage to the boy's throat or nose.
As of Saturday, the Hollywood blockbuster Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen had earned 400 million yuan ($58 million) in China, 19 days after its release on June 24, breaking the record set by Titanic 10 years ago.
Xinhua contributed to the story
(China Daily 07/21/2009 page5)