Dr. Keith Ablow is an author and forensic psychiatrist who is an expert on sociopaths—and from what he's read about the case, he belives that Scott Peterson is a classic sociopath.
"The hallmark of a sociopath is someone who lacks empathy, who can't resonate with another's feelings and who is going through life, in fact, almost imitating a human being," says Dr. Ablow. "[Scott] is clearly, and Anne mentions it in her book, sort of imitating a person. He'll use stock phrases from movies. He'll describe his relationship with Laci and say, 'She completes me.' Well, you know, we know that that's from a movie, Jerry Maguire. … He seems perfect, in fact, the golden boy, because there are no rough edges. But, in fact, people have rough edges."
According to the American Psychiatric Association 1 out of 25 Americans secretly has no conscience and can do anything at all without feeling guilty. Dr. Ablow believes, "Nobody is born evil; people are basically good. The empathy that we have, which is miraculous, the fact that we can hear a story of a friend who's in pain across the country and cry, or go to a movie and be moved to tears, is a gift. It's miraculous. Nobody can explain that. It's also very fragile. And it can be destroyed in children by showing them no empathy. At a certain point when a child feels helpless and decides, 'I'm not gonna feel anymore,' they lose the capacity to feel for me or you."
One of the reasons Dr. Ablow believes people became fascinated with the Scott Peterson trial is because it concerned a little known fact: The leading cause of death of pregnant women is being murdered by their partners or husbands.
"What a woman's pregnancy represents in a man's life story is a really dramatic chapter that has not been spoken enough about," Dr. Ablow says. "It redefines that man's life. It challenges him to be a father now. Not just a husband. It brings up primal feelings. 'Am I going to be ignored now in favor of my child?'
"What narcissists and sociopaths have is a sort of inflexibility to roll with the punches in their lives. … A true sociopath and narcissist can't integrate outside chapters. The pages being inserted in his life story strike him as assault. And so Scott Peterson in his mind may well have been thinking, 'It's either me or them.' So in other words, most of us would say, 'Well, I have to have a divorce.' A narcissist will start to reason with himself and say, 'What kind of life, after all, would it be for my young wife if she were to be left by me when she just gave birth? Better that she be dead.'"
Printed from Oprah.com on
© 2014 OWN, LLC. All Rights Reserved.