In her testimony of April 17, 2013 in the case of the State of Arizona versus Jodi Arias expert witness, Dr. Janeen DeMarte makes a compelling case for Jodi Arias having borderline personality disorder.
DeMarte identifies seven of the nine clinical borderline symptoms in Arias; fear of abandonment, intense personal relationships, identity disturbance, suicidal ideation, affective instability, chronic feelings of emptiness, and inappropriate anger. DeMarte does not find evidence that Arias is either impulsive or suffers with transient paranoia, the two remaining borderline symptoms.
Since only five of the nine symptoms are necessary in order for one to receive the diagnosis of borderline personality, DeMarte would seem to have a made a strong case. DeMarte arrived at her diagnosis after interviewing Arias for more than 12 hours in prison, and reading through Arias’ many journals.
However, what is the significance of this diagnosis as it pertains to the murder of Travis Alexander? The diagnosis of bpd would give the state a possible motive in explaining why Ms. Arias murdered Mr. Alexander. Citing the fact that as a borderline personality Arias was suffering with “fears of abandonment” from an imminent breakup with Travis Alexander. In addition, Arias, like most borderlines, was prone to outbursts of rage and inappropriate anger.
So borderline personality disorder was being used by the prosecution to show motive, not by the defense to claim diminished capacity. And rightly so, since those with borderline personality are fully capable of distinguishing right from wrong.
However, it is important to note that simply having borderline personality disorder does not make one more prone to murder. However, studies do show that individuals with bpd are more prone to aggression, anger, and violence. In fact, several studies have been done which show that individuals with borderline personality are over represented in the prison population.
- An interview-based study examined over 800 female felons who were newly admitted to a North Carolina prison. They found that 28 percent of these inmates met the criteria for BPD.
- In a German study, using structured clinical interviews on both male (n=76) and female (n=63) prisoners; the overall rate of BPD in this population was 22.3 percent. However, men demonstrated rates comparable to the general population (5.3%), whereas women had exceedingly higher rates (42.9%).
There has been much talk about Arias also being a narcissist and there is often an overlap between borderline and narcissistic traits. Clearly, Arias demonstrates attention-seeking behavior, egocentricity, and a need for the spotlight. This is not uncommon in individuals with borderline personality and does not necessarily make her a true narcissist.
What does seem to make Arias unique is the fact that in addition to being a full-blown borderline personality, she also appears to possess many of the hallmark features of sociopathy or psychopathy; the inability to feel empathy or remorse, shallow emotions, pathological lying, and deceitful and manipulative behavior.
In this respect, Arias is not very different from most incarcerated criminals since as many as 80% of those behind bars would qualify for a diagnosis of anti-social personality disorder.
At the end of the day, no one really knows why Jodi Arias murdered Travis Alexander, particularly in such a heinous manner. However, one thing is clear, it was her psychopathic personality traits far more than her borderline ones which enabled her to commit such a horrific crime.
Source material: APA 2000, DSM-IV, Wikipedia, HLN.com, NIMH.gov