Editor's Note: Stacy Kaiser is a licensed marriage and family psychotherapist and relationship expert. She is the author of "How to be a Grown Up: The 10 Secret Skills Everyone Needs to Know.” She is on Twitter.
Anyone watching the Jodi Arias trial spends a great deal of time wondering how she could have done something so horrific (Arias is accused of murdering her ex-boyfriend, but she claims self-defense), how she could tell so many lies about it and how she could be so emotionally detached and shut down that she could be doing acrobatics in an interrogation room or look so stoic in court.
I have never treated or met Jodi Arias, but based on what I have seen, my response to all of this is that I believe Arias is both a sociopath and is likely suffering from borderline personality disorder.
Breaking down the disorders and psychological terms thrown around lately will help make my point. First of all, defense witness and forensic psychologist Dr. Richard Samuels talked about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is an anxiety disorder. This diagnosis is given to an individual who has encountered a traumatic event, which can range from a natural disaster to witnessing or participating in a murder to relationship violence and more. It is even possible to suffer from PTSD after a person premeditates and initiates a killing.
In addition to having memory loss, depression, anxious moods, nightmares and flashbacks, and lacking interest in normal life activities, those suffering from PTSD often shut down emotionally. They become distant and detached, which is why one might be tempted to label Arias as a person who suffers from this illness.
Sociopaths may also lack normal empathy and emotions, but they are not always shut-down or unemotional. As a matter of fact, they are often very friendly, outgoing and charming. They frequently use these engaging attributes to draw people in and try to manipulate them into doing what they want. These characteristics are the reason why so many of us are stunned by sociopaths’ cunning and sometimes even evil behavior. After all, who expects someone so charismatic and seemingly kind to do something so shocking?
Let’s look at a few more attributes of a sociopath: Sociopaths have a grandiose sense of self and are usually impulsive and manipulative. They are pathological liars, are emotionally vacant, and show no signs of guilt or remorse over their actions.
As I go through the checklist of these two psychological issues, it is clear to me that Arias meets all of the attributes of a sociopath and only a few of PTSD.
Lastly, I believe she suffers from borderline personality disorder as well. This disorder is most linked to unstable relationships and fear of abandonment or rejection by the person they are in a relationship with.
This intense fear often leads people with borderline personality disorder toward suicide or violent behavior. They often want to emotionally or physically hurt anyone they believe has caused them to feel this way.
Do you see the parallels between Arias’ actions and those of a sociopath or a person with borderline personality disorder?