Friday, August 02, 2013

Why Ariel Castro is a Monster and a Psychopath

On 8/1/13, Ariel Castro received a life sentence for his role in abducting and torturing three girls for over a decade in filthy conditions while restrained to poles with chains. Casrto had the opportunity to speak in the courtroom and his words were completely consistent with him being a monster and a psychopath (also known as a sociopath).

Psychopathy and sociopathy are more colloquial terms for what is technically referred to as antisocial personality disorder (APD).

Suggested Book: Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (now in its newly published 5th edition), APD is defined as a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others since the age of 15 as indicated by three or more of the following items below. Examples of how Castro meets these criteria are also listed:

1. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest. Castro examples: Child abduction, assault, murder of unborn children.

2. Deceitfulness as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure. Castro examples: Lying to his family and neighbors repeatedly about his whereabouts, why his house had so many restricted areas, and who the child was that he fathered with one of the abductees. 

3. Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead. Castro example: He stated today that he impulsively abducted the girls. 

4. Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults. Castro example: Abuse not only to the three people he abducted but also to his ex-wife and children.

5. Reckless disregard for safety of self or others. Castro example: Reckless disregard for the abductees and for the child he fathered by having the child delivered in an empty child pool and never providing her medical care. 

6. Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations. Castro example: Repeated problems at his bus driver job in which he admitted during his statement that he was trying to get himself fired.

7. Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another. Castro example: His statements today reveal a lack of remorse as noted below. It is important to note that lack of remorse should not be confused with statements of remorse. Some psychopaths may say the words “I’m sorry” but do not actually mean it as revealed by their actions.

In Castro’s statement, a few themes emerged.

1. Reversing the victim role: The very first point Castro made was to paint himself as the victim due to a prior history of abuse. It was a manipulative attempt to take away from the three main victims in this case -- the girls he abducted. He repeatedly referred to himself as an addict, akin to an alcoholic, and sometimes did so with an aggressive demeanor. In fact, by watching his aggressive mannerisms, it is very easy to see how this is someone who could quickly become abusive. In addition, in what amounted to an illogical attempt to gain sympathy, he states that he cannot handle being labeled as a monster because he used to be a musician. Another bizarre attempt to make people feel bad for him was when he lamented how hard it was for him to “juggle” being a bus driver and come home to his “situation,” as if this is the same thing as juggling a job and coming home to make dinner for the kids.

2. Externalizing of behavior: This means that he blamed his behavior as caused by factors beyond his control, such as an abuse history and adult rated material which he claims made him impulsive. This is related to the victim role portrayal and his insistence that he is not a monster but that he is sick. The two are not mutually exclusive.

3. Attempts to hurt the victims: Knowing that the victims must be hurting inside, Castro goes out of his way to point out that he is a happy person inside. He also explicitly attacked the victims of being promiscuous with him and before they met him. This was an attempt to publicly embarrass them with personal information. He also pointed out that no one seemed to care about Michelle Knight when she went missing to make her hurt even more.

4. Attempts to blame others:
In addition to blaming the victims he abducted, he also blamed his now deceased ex-wife who he assaulted by blaming her for not quieting down and putting her hands on him. He blamed Amanda Berry for getting into his car without knowing who he ways, but leaving out that she was a young child and that he lured her in. He also blamed the FBI for letting the girls down by not questioning him and stopping him sooner. This was also a way to tell the authorities that he outsmarted them and is a way for him feel powerful over them, which is a driving need of psychopaths. He also called one of the family impact statements uncalled for, despite realizing practically anything a family member would say to him given his behaviors would be called for.

5. Minimization of his behaviors: The best example of this was the comment that “I simply kept them there without being able to leave.” He forgot to add…for over 10 years and by using chains. He also repeatedly used the word “just” as a way to minimize behaviors as in he “just” acted on his urges. He also said that he could not have possibly tortured any of the girls because he sees that they are trying to get on with their lives and that if he tortured them they would not be able to do this so quickly.

6. Denial of reality: All of the prior examples can fall under this general theme, but the highlight of his denials came when he claimed not to be a violent person and a family man who tried to raise the daughter he fathered with one of his victims the right way. He described her living locked in a house for most of her life (6 years) as a “normal life” and stated that there was a lot of harmony in the home.

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