The Casey Anthony trial, for the alleged murder of her toddler Caylee Anthony, is chilling and bizarre. It’s a mystery that has captured the public’s attention ever since the media started covering it in late 2008.
It’s irresistible to us because we can’t accept the notion that a mother would willingly kill her child out of convenience, so we either think she’s innocent or that she’s not one of us but a psychopath.
Psychopathy is something else that mystifies and fascinates the public.
Medical science defines it as individuals who don’t have the psychological capacity for conscience. They manipulate, lie, and deflect responsibility without batting an eye. They unashamedly gratify their base desires while minimizing their chances of harm. They do things normal people wouldn’t think of – like killing your own child to shed some of life’s responsibilities.
Below is the Hare Psychopathy Checklist of traits that define psychopathy (from minddisorders.com):
•glib and superficial charm
•grandiose (exaggeratedly high) estimation of self
•need for stimulation
•cunning and manipulativeness
•lack of remorse or guilt
•shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness)
•callousness and lack of empathy
•poor behavioral controls
•early behavior problems
•lack of realistic long-term goals
•failure to accept responsibility for own actions
•many short-term marital relationships
•revocation of conditional release
The prosecutor in the Anthony case, Linda Drane Burdick, has attempted to paint Casey Anthony with several of the traits listed above.
She emphasized Anthony’s repeated and outrageous lies to the police and her parents regarding the whereabouts of her missing daughter. Then, each time she’s confronted with evidence against her lie, she invents an entirely different story.
She detailed how Anthony visited several nightclubs, visited a tattoo parlor (and got a tattoo that read “Bella Vita,” or beautiful life), attended parties, visited friends, went shopping, and hung out with her boyfriend – all while her daughter was missing.
“Caylee's death allowed Casey Anthony to live the good life,” said Burdick.
“Casey Anthony ... appeared to be ... a loving mother, trying to provide support for her daughter. But as the evidence in this case will show, that was an illusion,” she said, reported Fox News.
At the trial, Anthony’s defense attorney claimed Caylee Anthony drowned in the family’s swimming pool. Then, she hid the secret just like the way she hid her alleged childhood sexual abuse. The allegation of sexual abuse just surfaced today at the trial.
Ultimately, we may never know what really happened – Caylee Anthony’s death wasn’t recorded or witnessed in anyway. Even if a jury renders a decision, the truth may never be known.
What we do know is that we as a society cannot accept the notion that a mother would kill her own child out of convenience. We cannot accept the acts and behavior of psychopathy in general, hence the need to give it the psychopath label.
We’re afraid that we have traces of it in ourselves, yet we are fascinated by these brazen individuals. Whatever the case, we will always be drawn to cases like Casey Anthony.