I became aware of the Jodie Arias case a few years ago and have followed the trial closely. And during the early phases of the trial I wrote some articles on concerns I had about the ability of jurors to set aside any biases and reservations they might have with regard to accepting the reality of serious character disturbance, especially in women (see, for example, When Evil Wears a Feminine Face). But the jury’s verdict in the Arias case demonstrates that public awareness of serious character disturbance, especially psychopathy and it’s hallmark features, has finally reached the point that despite how hard it is for normal, rational folks to fully understand why or how severely disturbed characters behave as they do, they have certainly accepted the realities about such characters and are willing to hold them to account.
I’ve written extensively on the nature of lying (especially in Character Disturbance) when it comes to seriously disturbed characters. But no illustration I might give could possibly compare to the dissertation on lying Arias gave to the jurors. And it was more than just all the many different stories and versions of events that she gave to police and others before finally admitting she killed her boyfriend. It was the fact that even as she was making a case to save her very life, she couldn’t (or should I say wouldn’t) stop lying – even when to tell the truth might have served her in much better stead. Fortunately, the jury not only didn’t buy her lies but also keyed in on her characteristic glibness, arrogance, and unwavering confidence in her ability to control. I’ve written about this also (see: The Feminine Face of Evil Part Two: The Arias Verdict).
After her conviction, Arias was still all about the game of manipulation and control, as evidenced by her statements regarding the sentence she prefers. Knowing how such seriously impaired characters operate, I suspect that Arias’ statements about preferring death to a lifetime of punishment might represent the first time she is telling some semblance of the truth (Arias complained that knowing how long she’s likely to live, she couldn’t bear the discomfort (boredom) of being in one place for so many years). And her gaminess puts the jury in a bit of a bind. If they vote for death, Arias won’t have to spend a lifetime experiencing the consequences her heinous acts and lack of expressed remorse have earned her. But if she is spared the death penalty, she evades the price anyone committing such a heinous crime rightfully deserves. Remember, there’s only one thing that matters to such characters, and that’s being in the driver’s seat. And not merely because she’s made the threats before, but for the aforementioned reason, I think it’s a fair bet that should the jury spare her life, Arias herself might find a way to take it, especially if she finds herself overwhelmingly bored. Anything but submitting to the will of someone else. After all, what kind of life would that be? Just recently, of course, she told the jury contemplating her fate that she’s changed her mind and doesn’t want to die. According to her, that’s because “in all good conscience” she couldn’t let her family experience the pain of her giving up any hope of freedom. But to buy into this notion, the jury would first have to believe that she indeed possesses the kind of conscience and concern for others she’s never before displayed.
I’ll have another comment on this trial once the jury has decided Arias’ sentence. For now, I continue to be impressed with the jury, the members of which seem to have simply had it with folks who display no conscience or remorse and seem to be so unfathomably self-absorbed. And while the professionals involved in this case have a lot of explaining to do (one determined without any corroborating evidence or direct involvement with Arias that she was an abuse victim, and another diagnosed her with Borderline Personality Disorder – the all-too-common course for those who simply can’t see or refuse to accept psychopathic features in females and therefore continue to pollute the prevalence statistics which afford the diagnosis of BPD overwhelmingly to women), the jury, unencumbered by professional bias, appears to have rightly assessed her character. So it’s with some eagerness that I await their final judgment and rationale for it.