A few days ago I got an email from a member of the ATSTP list asking me what I thought about the possibility of Casey Anthony, who is currently on trial for the murder of her 2 year old daughter (Caylee Anthony), having Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). In 2008, I was following the case with interest. I have followed it a bit during the trial. I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, yet I have met a LOT of people with BPD (both men and women) and members of their families. I’ve looked at Casey Anthony’s behavior and compared it with the behavior of people that I know with BPD. I pretty much come to the conclusion that Casey Anthony doesn’t have borderline personality disorder. It seems to be more likely that she’s a psychopath. It seems that some criminal profilers agree…
Pat Brown, a criminal profiler, told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira that in her opinion, Anthony is a psychopath who is trying to get potential jurors to feel sorry for her. The letters are the way she does it, Brown said.
“This will prove she’s a new woman. After all, she’s found God,” Brown said, adding that juries will frequently sympathize with a woman who claims she was abused and mistreated but now has found the light.
“A lot of time women go to court, juries start feeling sorry for them,” Brown said. “It’s manipulation.”
Brown called the letters “a wonderful window into how a psychopath thinks.”
Here is some information about psychopathy:
In his 1941 book, Mask of Sanity, Hervey M. Cleckley introduced 16 behavioral characteristics of a psychopath:
- Superficial charm and good “intelligence”
- Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking
- Absence of nervousness or psychoneurotic manifestations
- Untruthfulness and insincerity
- Lack of remorse and shame
- Inadequately motivated antisocial behavior
- Poor judgment and failure to learn by experience
- Pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love
- General poverty in major affective reactions
- Specific loss of insight
- Unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations
- Fantastic and uninviting behavior with drink and sometimes without
- Suicide threats rarely carried out
- Sex life impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated
- Failure to follow any life plan.
And here is some information from the Hare checklist:
The following findings are for research purposes only, and are not used in clinical diagnosis. These items cover the affective, interpersonal, and behavioral features. Each item is rated on a score from zero to two. The sum total determines the extent of a person’s psychopathy.
Grandiose sense of self-worth
Lack of remorse or guilt
Callous/lack of empathy
Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
Socially deviant lifestyle
Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
Poor behavioral control
Promiscuous sexual behavior
Lack of realistic, long-term goals
Early behavioral problems
Revocation of conditional release
Traits not correlated with either factor
Many short-term marital relationships
One thing we can say about Casey Anthony is that she is a compulsive liar. Here is one story about her continued insistence that she dropped her daughter off a the nanny’s even after the police were aware that it was a lie:
Accused child killer Casey Anthony insisted that her daughter Caylee was kidnapped by a nanny, even after admitting to detectives that everything else she had told them was a lie, according to a taped interview played for jurors Thursday.
“I dropped her off at the (nanny’s) apartment,” Casey told detectives on July 16, 2008 in a tense exchange about her 2-year-old daughter.
“No you didn’t,” a detective responded.
“That’s exactly where I dropped her off,” Casey said.
“No you didn’t. And who did you drop her off with?” the detective asked.
“I dropped her off with Zenaida,” Casey said.
“No you didn’t,” the detective said.
By then, Detective Yuri Melich testified, he knew the apartment identified by Casey had been vacant for months and no one named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez had ever lived in the apartment complex. Many other details provided by Casey about Caylee’s disappearance had not panned out, he said.
And here is some information from ABC News about Casey Anthony’s “top ten lies”:
- Casey Anthony told police that she spoke to her daughter Caylee on July 15, 2008, the day Caylee was reported missing. She told police Caylee said, “Hi, mommy” and told her a story about her shoes and a book she was reading. “She was excited to talk to me,” Casey Anthony told police. Caylee was already dead.
- She said she had a job as an event planner at Universal Studios. She even led police to a building on the Universal lot and down a hallway until she finally turned to them and admitted she didn’t work there.
- She claimed the babysitter was a former girlfriend of Jeffrey Hopkins, and that Hopkins was also a one time boyfriend of hers. She told her mother, Cindy Casey, that Hopkins had a toddler named Zachary. She had a picture of a man and a boy on her cell phone identified as Hopkins and filed under “boyfriend,” her mother told the court. Hopkins testified that he attended middle school with Anthony. Hopkins said he has no child and never met anyone named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez.
- Casey Anthony described how Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez lived in one neighborhood for several months and then moved to another location. Her story of the babysitter’s move was complete with a description of the apartment’s interior.
- She claimed her friend and co-worker at Universal Studios was named Juliette Lewis. Casey and her mother, Cindy, went to help Lewis with a fundraiser, but after waiting for about 90 minutes, Lewis didn’t show up, Cindy Casey testified. Universal had said that no one named Juliette Lewis worked there.
- Casey Anthony told her mother that the father of Caylee was a man named Eric Baker. She later called home frantically to tell her mother that Eric Baker had been killed in a car crash. Anthony even told detectives she had Baker’s obituary to prove Caylee’s father was dead. It’s never been confirmed Baker is the father of Caylee and it’s still unclear the paternity of Caylee.
- Hopkins’ mother was named Jules and she had cancer. Cindy Anthony even baked a cake for a Christmas season meeting with Hopkins and his mother, but the meeting was cancelled at the last minute.
- Casey Anthony told her mother that she was in Jacksonville and was going to stay longer to attend Jules’ wedding. She was actually staying at the home of her boyfriend Tony Lazzarro and another friend’s apartment in Orlando.
- Casey Anthony told her mother at different times during the month that the girl was missing that Caylee was at Disney World, was at Sea World, was at Universal Studios. Caylee was already dead.
- “I don’t know where she is and that is the God’s honest truth,” Casey Anthony told police on July 16, 2008.
It seems if anyone doesn’t know the “God’s honest truth” is Casey Anthony. Guess we’ll see what happens in her trial.
Here’s my book about BPD:
Here are some good books about psychopaths: