|Ariel Castro, heading out of court after a hearing earlier this year.|
It seemed as though he truly believed what he was saying about himself, but his interpretation of reality appeared to be heavily skewed. He said he was not a monster and had no intention of kidnapping anyone. The fact that he ended up kidnapping three women and keeping them chained in his house, while physically and sexually assaulting them, did not matter to the defendant--he was a good person because he never intended to do those things.
He went on to talk about his addiction to pornography and masturbation. He talked about how he only hit his ex-wife when she deserved it. He never referred to the three women he held captive for more than a decade by name. He only referred to them as "the victims." At one point, he even complained about the stress of holding a full time job and then coming home to his "situation."
Mr. Castro showed very little emotion during his statement, and his lack of insight into himself and the situation was evident.
Without fully evaluating the defendant, I cannot offer a diagnosis of his condition. But, it is probably safe to assume, at the very least, he shares traits common among people who are psychopaths. Over the years and during his public court trials, he has shown narcissism, lack of empathy, an inability to relate to others, a warped sense of reality, and the shocking ability to treat people as a means to an end rather than as full human beings.
These traits, and his verbal statement, got me thinking about the type of language that psychopaths use. In February of 2013, researchers from Cornell University and the University of British Columbia analyzed the speech patterns of 14 psychopathic murders and 38 non-psychopathic murderers when they were talking about their crime. Keep in mind, all of the people they interviewed had been convicted of some type of homicide crime.
What the researchers found is interesting: Psychopaths used more language that indicated a cause-and-effect thinking style than the non-psychopaths. For example, a psychopath might day, "I hit her because she mouthed off to me," as opposed to, "She was mouthing off and then I hit her." Psychopaths also focused more of their crime speech on "material needs" like "food, drink, [and] money." They spent less time talking about social engagement, family, and religion. They also said "uh" and "um" more, and they tended to talk more in the past tense than the non-psychopaths.
|These are words of cooperation. What would a|
psychopath's word cloud look like?
And that describes the content of Ariel Castro's court statement fairly well.
Thanks for reading-- Max Wachtel, Ph.D.
Hancock, J. T., Woodworth, M. T., & Porter, S. (2013). Hungry like the wolf: A word-pattern analysis of the language of psychopaths. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 18(1), 102-114.