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Casey Anthony Murder Trial and Dark Psychology
Casey Anthony stands accused of capital murder of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee Anthony. The trial involves child sexual abuse, sociopathy, and pediatric homicide. A forensic/criminal psychologist examines this case from the perspective of his recently developed hypothesis of Dark Psychology.
The trial of Casey Anthony began on May 24, 2011 in Orlando, Florida, with Anthony formally charged with the murder of her two-year-old daughter Caylee Marie Anthony. Caylee was first reported missing by her maternal grandmother, Cynthia Anthon on July 15, 2008. The following month, a utility worker reported seeing a suspicious object in a forested area close to the Anthony’s residence. The sheriff’s office again logged a call pertaining to the suspicious object on December 11, 2008 and upon further investigation; it was reported that the human remains of a child were recovered from the site. Once forensic testing was complete, the Orange County Medical Examiner determined that the remains
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were those of Caylee Anthony. The circumstances and condition of the remains lead the Medical Examiner to rule her death a homicide with the cause of death listed as indeterminate. On October 14, 2008, a grand jury indicted Casey Anthony on a first-degree murder charge. In April of 2009, the Florida State Attorney’s office announced its intention to seek the death penalty in the case. On May 20, 2011, jury selection was completed for the case at the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center in Clearwater, Florida. In addition to the twelve primary jurors, five alternates were selected. The case has received extensive pre-trial press coverage that has mainly focused on several physical and behavioral anomalies uncovered during investigations. Highlights include: Casey Anthony waited 31 days to reveal to anyone that her daughter, Caylee was missing. During that 31-day period, Casey pursued a lifestyle of parties and socialization that did not indicate to anyone close to her that anything was amiss in neither her life, nor the type of behavior consistent and/or expected from a grieving mother. Investigators discovered an odor as well as traces of chloroform in the trunk of Casey’s car. Caylee Anthony’s remains were bound with duct tape. In their opening arguments, Casey’s lead defense attorney, Jose Baez, outlined the defense position and created a sensation by proposing two potentially gamechanging assertions: a. He told jurors Caylee had not been missing for 31 days, but rather, was found deceased after an accidental drowning in the family pool. He went on to say that, Casey and her father, George Anthony, were in cahoots as far as disposing of the body at the place where it was ultimately discovered. And
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b. He said that her father had sexually abused Casey during her childhood. The facts of this case as originally reported, when combined with the revelations by Casey’s attorneys, are especially malleable to analysis using the theory of Dark Psychology; regardless of the ultimate verdict. Dark Psychology is the study of the human condition as it relates to the psychological nature of people to prey upon others. All of humanity has this potential to victimize other living creatures. While many restrain this tendency, some act upon these impulses. Dark Psychology seeks to understand those thoughts, feelings, perceptions and character flaws that lead to predatory behavior. There is a continuum of Dark Psychology victimization that ranges from mere passing thoughts (common among us all at times), to pure psychopathic deviance without any cohesive rationality (pure evil). Dark Psychology encompasses everything that makes us who we are in relationship to our dark side. All cultures, all faiths and all humanity have this proverbial cancer. From the moment we are born to the time of our death, there is a side lurking within us that theologians have historically called “evil” and others have defined as criminal, deviant, and even: pathological. Whether or not it was her mother, Casey who murdered Caylee does not change the harsh reality that the child was slain. In addition to the alleged child homicide, someone methodically and callously disposed of her body for the purpose of concealment. Dark Psychology assumes that within each of us lies a dormant capacity for predatory behavior; to commit and engage in heinous acts and this capacity has access to our thoughts, feelings and perceptions. We all have this inner aptitude, but only a few of us act upon it. All of us have had thoughts and feelings at one time or another of wanting to be ruthless.
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That fact notwithstanding, we consider ourselves a benevolent species and one would like to believe these thoughts and feelings would not exist. Dark Psychology posits there are people who have these same thoughts, feelings, and perceptions, but act upon them in both premeditated and impulsive ways. The obvious difference is they act upon these thoughts while others simply have ideations of doing so.
Assuming Dark Psychology is a plausible theoretical framework, even part of the human condition, it follows that it is not just our innate predisposition, but our fascination with such phenomenon as well. Although all of humanity thinks and/or is fascinated by the macabre, only a small percentage actually acts upon these innate instincts. The theory of Dark Psychology not only subscribes to this philosophical tenet, but also views it as theoretical proof that this evil reservoir is evidence of what Dark Psychology views as innate. The psychology of the human mind, the study of race and the examination of national politics all include a history of, explanation for, and fascination with violence. Humans are self-styled inquisitive beings as part of our species heritage. So why then would humanity not be fascinated with this foundation of its heritage? It has greater predominance and universality.
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Our fascination with the dark side originates from both nature and nurture. As part of our fundamental nature to survive and procreate, being fascinated with the dark side has both a biological and visceral purpose. From a nurture perspective, learning what to fear via our experiences supports this concept of Dark Psychology and “fascination with the macabre.” The Casey Anthony murder trial analyzes eight aspects for consideration and introspection. 1. Filicide: Filicide is the deliberate act of a parent murdering his or her own son or daughter. The word filicide derives from the Latin words filius meaning "son" or filia meaning daughter with the suffix cide meaning, “To kill, murder, or cause death.” The notion of filicide is at odds with biological parental attachment and viewed by the vast majority of adults and parents as appalling. The mere thought of extinguishing the life of one’s offspring defies all biological, instinctual and evolutionary practices. The concept of filicide is one of the facets in this case which inspires hatred, disdain and shock for the public. Unfortunately, victimization is common fixture in society. 2. Child Sexual Abuse: Child sexual abuse includes a wide range of sexual behaviors that take place between a child and an older person. Unfortunately, the older person is often a family member, relative, or close family friend. Behaviors exhibited from child molestation are meant to arouse the older person in a sexual manner and highly selfish in intent. In general, no thought by the offender to what effect the behavior may have on the child is ever considered. In this murder trial, Casey Anthony’s defense attorney has suggested his client was not culpable for her actions following her daughters’ disappearance due to prior child sexual abuse allegedly committed by her father. This prior abuse as a child has compromised her capacity to function appropriately when confronted with traumatic events as an adult. 3. Sociopathy: Also termed Antisocial Personality Disorder, a sociopath is someone with a mental health condition in which the person has a long-
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term pattern of manipulating, exploiting or violating the rights of others. This behavior is often criminal, deviant, and enormously self-serving. People who are sociopaths can be highly deceitful and revel in their perceived belief they can successfully dupe others with ease. In the Casey Anthony murder trial, the prosecution will attempt to illustrate to the jury her entire demeanor as being part of a sociopathic or antisocial personality disordered profile. 4. Pediatric Homicide: The murder of a child is one of the most heinous acts in the world. Because children are deemed vulnerable in the vast majority of global cultures, the murder of children is viewed as the epitome of evil. Each year, thousands of children are victims of violent and/or sexual crimes at the hands of adults. Physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual molestation and homicide are the categories of pediatric victimization. Children who are not murdered experience psychological wounds, which are never forgotten and always psychically disabling. Caylee Anthony was a vibrant toddler who became the victim of an adult’s wrath. 5. Maternal Bond: The maternal bond between a mother and child is considered unbreakable and infinite. Beginning during gestation, the relationship between mother and child begins gradually manifesting into a permanent connection, which is a lifelong attachment dictated by unconditional love. For all mammalian animal species, including humans, the mother will protect her offspring with ferocity placing her own safety second to the welfare and safety of her offspring. In the Casey Anthony murder trial, women who have already deemed her guilty have vilified Ms. Anthony as an evil person deserving the most stringent punishment allowed. The concept of maternal bond will be one of the hardest principles the prosecution will have to deal with in their attempt to persuade a jury of men and women who are all children with mothers and possibly mothers and parents themselves.
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6. Callousness: Callousness as it relates to human behavior is defined as a person who is indifferent to others suffering, cold-hearted, indifferent and unfeeling. Given that Ms. Anthony did not immediately report her daughter missing, engaged in multiple social outings prior to her daughter’s remains being found, appeared unaffected by her daughter’s possible abduction, and exerted little effort to find her, perplex those following the trial. For those who view her as guilty, they are shocked by her callousness and total disregard for the sanctity of life. 7. Repetition Compulsion: Repetition Compulsion is a complex psychoanalytical term first coined by Sigmund Freud in which he postulated individuals traumatized early in life tended to repeat their distorted and/or dysfunctional behaviors long after the traumatic event(s) ceased. If not identified and treated, these dysfunctional behaviors and perceptual distortions remain throughout the adult’s life. Repetition Compulsion posited people endlessly repeat patterns of behavior, which were difficult or distressing during childhood, but continue throughout life when not addressed. Although not coined by Casey Anthony’s attorney, Jose Baez, his defense suggests and closely resembles the psychoanalytical theory of Repetition Compulsion. To substantiate this possibility, Mr. Baez will likely have to enlist the expertise of forensic psychiatrists or psychologist trained in the evaluation and treatment in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. 8. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a serious mental health illness some experience when being exposed to a single or series of distressing events. These events tend to be anxiety provoking and may lead a child or adult to experience psychological trauma. Psychological trauma is the consequence of extremely stressful events that distorts someone’s sense of security. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life, predictability and/or safety. PTSD symptoms usually fall into three categories of Re-Experiencing, Hyper-arousal, and Avoidance. In the Casey
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Anthony case, it will be up to the defense team to present evidence that Ms. Anthony suffered PTSD from her fathers’ alleged sexual abuse and/or finding her daughter’s body after drowning in the pool. From these traumatic experiences, Casey Anthony behaved in an extremely odd fashion for the 31 days after her daughter went missing. Whether Casey Anthony is found guilty of capital murder or not; the eight components above will be central themes throughout the trial. The prosecution will work to present Casey as being a callous mother, devoid of love or at a minimum; even regard for her daughter. Witnesses will be asked to testify confirming she did not attempt to alarm the community, loved ones or law enforcement that her daughter was missing for thirty-one days.
The prosecution will offer images, evidence and testimony from witnesses proposing she was not only devoid of concern about her daughter’s whereabouts, but appeared to have been behaving in a celebratory manner via visiting night clubs, bars, and various other social functions. They will also focus on her alleged sociopathic behaviors of being highly deceitful, indifferent, excitement seeking and narcissistic.
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Casey Anthony’s defense team will introduce information and evidence suggesting she was not responsible for her daughter’s death and is, in fact, a victim herself via sexual abuse at the hands of her father. Because of the alleged sexual abuse and victimization as a child, the defense will attempt to establish Casey Anthony behaved in a distorted dysfunctional manner as she did when her father was sexually victimizing her. Repetition Compulsion or a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder will explain her alleged callousness, apparent absence of a maternal bond, sociopathic behaviors and pathological deceitfulness. Her defense team will endeavor to explain that many sexually abused children when confronted with traumatic events as adults behave in the same bizarre manner involving denial and total minimization. In essence, Casey Anthony’s apparent sociopathic behaviors were explainable coping mechanisms as opposed to deviant criminal actions. Once again, whether Casey Anthony is found guilty or not, this trial will support the tenets of Dark Psychology. Dark Psychology assumes all people have a potential for violence. This potential is innate in all humans and various internal and external factors increase the probability for this capacity to manifest into volatile behaviors. These behaviors are predatory in nature and, at times, can function without reason. Dark Psychology assumes the predator-prey dynamic becomes distorted by humans and loses all motivations thought to be innate as part of all living organisms. Dark Psychology is solely a human phenomenon and shared by no other living creature. On the face of the planet, humans are they only known creatures that stalk and prey on each other without rational explanations. The reason(s) for the murder of a two year old in this case was not for survival, food, procreation or protection. The likely motivation for her murder is guaranteed to be a modus operandi involving narcissism, convenience or perceived belief the child was causing some form of restriction of freedom from the assailant’s life.
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Violence and mayhem exist in other living organisms, but humanity is the only species that has the potential to do so without rational explanations. Humans may be the planets apex creatures, but they are also the apexes of brutality. Like Alfred Adler, Dark Psychology posits that people who behave in hostile or non-accepting ways are responding to a deep sense of inferiority. When people perceive they are not part of or not accepted by a social group, they move into negative directions. As they move away from their innate purpose to be part of a social construct, the further away they move from treating others with kindness, respect and dignity. If Casey Anthony actually murdered her daughter, this writer highly suspects the “need for social bonding” will be her modus operandi. A person socialized in what he/she perceives as a discouraging environment, their subjective processing becomes convoluted by selfishness and narcissism. Regarding Dark Psychology, the goal is to assume that all people filter their world using subjective processing. Those people who are aggressive, violent or abusive are wearing a pair of proverbial sunglasses that are myopic and blurry. These people perceive others are out to dictate their free will or restrict their desires. Their subjective processing distorts their common decency, charitable acts and selflessness. Whoever murdered young Caylee clearly was highly distorted in their subjective processing. Dark Psychology is a theoretical construct made up of a compilation of the philosophical tenets of Alfred Adler, this writer’s clinical experience as a psychologist, his academic and professional experiences as a forensic/criminal psychologist, and the many discussions with friends and colleagues over the years regarding deviant behavior. If Casey Anthony actually did participate in the murder of her daughter and then behaved indifferent, callous, and devoid of emotion, she fits what criminal psychologist define as a psychopath and psychiatrists define as a mental illness called Antisocial Personality Disorder. After both sides have presented their case, it will be left to the jurors to make the determination if Ms. Anthony is culpable and deserving of punishment. The element of Dark Psychology surrounds the planet and some believe the reason is
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2012 while others subscribe to the notion of a gradual breakdown of societies moral fabric. The Casey Anthony murder trial will present to the world via the televised trial elements of the human condition, which Dark Psychology attempts to address. Child sexual abuse, murder, sociopathy, deceit, lack of remorse and various other elements common to the dark side of human functioning will be placed under the microscope of juris prudence. The unfortunate reality is a vast majority of the information derived from this case will not serve the public in an educational and/or treatment manner. This writer hopes at least some media outlets or talk show hosts will present to the public valuable information, which this case will exemplify. At a minimum for all media covering the Casey Anthony murder trial, at least some beneficial mention covering child abuse, sexual abuse and child victimization should be mandatory. Child sexual abuse, pediatric victimization and murder are heinous and despicable events, which occur every day in society. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental illness causing the person diagnosed with years of heartache and unhappiness. The question to be answered is will the Casey Anthony case help educate the world or simply be another program to watch or read about because it involves lascivious themes. God Bless Caylee Anthony, may the truth be exposed and her soul rest in peace.
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National Center for Missing and Exploited Children The National Children’s Advocacy Center
Author Biography: Dr. Michael Nuccitelli is a New York State licensed psychologist and certified forensic consultant. He completed his doctoral degree in clinical psychology in 1994 from the Adler School in Chicago, Illinois. In 2006, he received his Certified Forensic Consultant designation from the American College of Forensic Examiners International (ACFEI). Dr. Nuccitelli is a New York state resident residing 65 miles North of Manhattan. Dr. Nuccitelli has many career and academic experiences. His areas of expertise include forensic/criminal psychology, human sexuality and psychiatric/psychological issues. He is an avid follower of national news and enjoys interfacing with the media. Dr. Nuccitelli can be reached via email at [email protected]
or his forensics blog, Dark Psychology, at http://darkpsychology.co/ As of April 2011, Dr. Nuccitelli launched his theoretical model of the iPredator™ and actively endeavoring to raise public awareness about internet predators, cyberstalkers, cyberbullies, and child sexual predators.
Facebook: The iPredator Tags: ipredator, casey anthony, caylee anthony, dark psychology, sexual abuse, sexual predator, criminal justice, murder trial, child abuse, homicide, forensics, capital punishment, death penalty.