“Personality disorder” as an excuse for criminal behavior

One of the good things about the conviction of Jerry Sandusky on almost all counts related to molesting 10 boys was that his lame personality disorder defense did not fly.

Histrionic personality disorder? Huh? That was the prevailing reaction when defense attorneys claimed that the former Penn State assistant football coach wrote those “creepy” letters because he suffers from histrionic personality disorder.

Read the creepy letters

Several experts in personality disorders were quoted in news reports stating that even if Sandusky does have histrionic personality disorder, it would not be an excuse for the molestation.

Why not?

It’s quite simple: Most people with personality disorders are not delusional. Those with antisocial, borderline, narcissistic and yes, histrionic personality disorders are not “hearing voices” or out of touch with reality. (By the way, the American Psychiatric Association is in the process of revising its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Histrionic personality disorder isn’t even included in the new version.)

Over and over, Lovefraud readers tell me about outrageous deceit, manipulation and conscienceless behavior in their own interactions with personality-disordered individuals. Here is the common denominator: Sociopaths know exactly what they are doing. They just feel entitled to do what they want, and do not care who gets hurt in the process.

I was worried about the introduction of “personality disorder” as a defense in a criminal trial. Because it was permitted in the Sandusky case, would it open the door for all the defense attorneys in the country to blame their clients’ crimes on personality disorders? This would be a serious problem, because researchers estimate that 47 percent of male and 21 percent of female prison inmates have antisocial personality disorder.

For the most part, people with personality disorders are quite capable of making choices about their behavior. They know the difference between right and wrong, although they may have no emotional investment in doing what is right. They can follow society’s rules and laws when it suits their purpose.

Jerry Sandusky was convicted. I hope this continues to mean that when these disordered people commit crimes, they won’t be able to get off by claiming the psychological equivalent of, “the devil made me do it.”

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46 Comments on "“Personality disorder” as an excuse for criminal behavior"

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Thanks Donna, I hope that PA enforces their sex offenders list and compliance better than Arkansas does.

When Hamilton moved to Arkansas and I found out he was a sexual predator “Level 4 in Texas” and he was NOT reporting his living address in Arkansas, and I found out taht since he had NOT BEEN “ASSESSED” in Arkansas that he didn’t have to report his address and my local sheriff could not arrest him as not reporting his address.

Then I called the assessment board and this woman told me that they were a year behind, that they did about 5,000 assessments per year and that they got 5,000 new ones each year so they STAYED 5,000 assessments behind. He had been here about 10 months by then.

So I spoke to a supervisior and raised a bit of the specter that I might go on the news with the information about him not being assessed etc. and I gave them 3 days to have him assessed before I went to the news stations…well, they did assess him, and assessed him as a level TWO!!!! When I asked about why he was a 4 high risk for viiolence in Texas and a level 2 in Arkansas where you would only have to search for him by NAME not just an address or area, they said, and I quote: “well, he didn’t do any of these crimes in ARKANSAS” Rape a 9 year old, an 11 year old and a 14 year old and because it was done in Texas he got a level 2 in Arkansas. WTF????

Sandusky, like donna said, due to his age and the FAME of the situation will probably be in prison until he is on his death bed with cancer or heart problems etc. and I don’t think any judge in America would DARE give him a slap on the wrist sentence.

I hope the victims of Sandusky will sue and bankrupt his estate…and I know his wife wasn’t convicted of these crimes and that will effect her, but I hope the victims get something out of it.

Thank you for this thread! My experience interviewing family members of these “paths” leads me to believe there is “knowledge” and “understanding” of the actions being carried out with intent and feeling “justified” to do the actions.

I have one study of a woman in her sixties that carried out actions since childhood that would have landed most “in jail”; her family covered her “in shame”. I asked each family member “Why?”: “she wants what everybody else has”!

This family’s “dirty little secret” has bilked many a person, stolen reputations, and caused harm to person/property and continues to operate while writing a small town paper column to “self promote” her “angelic” persona while trolling for new “victims”; she targets vulnerable.

Yes, she has a mental illness and has been in patient diagnosed with co morbid bipolar. Yes, she is aware she is “stealing, robbing and committing crimes (perjury/false police reports, theft, assault, conspiracy, and probably more)” and told she derives pleasure from her “success”! I was recently “warned or threatened” that I remain in her “sites”.


I haven’t read through all of the comments, as I’m uninterested in reading other’s opinions on personality disorders. But I’m very disappointed in your statement:

“For the most part, people with personality disorders are quite capable of making choices about their behavior. They know the difference between right and wrong, although they may have no emotional investment in doing what is right. They can follow society’s rules and laws when it suits their purpose.”

Who are you referring to? ALL people diagnosed with personality disorders or particular personality disorders? From what I read, you’re not a licensed mental health professional, just a journalist. I don’t know where you get off making such an ignorant statement. “ALTHOUGH THEY MAY HAVE NO EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT IN DOING WHAT IS RIGHT.”

You should NOT make the assumption that people with personality disorders are like that. Especially since you don’t even specify. Obviously you are not familiar with the different types. I AM very well educated on them, especially on Borderline Personality Disorder. Your statement doesn’t even make sense.

Before you make outrageous statements like that, better get your facts straight.

I found the statement Donna made to be totally true….Many of us will never see what we are calling people with personality disorders….psychopaths….sociopaths diagnosed as such…..but we do see the reality of the symptoms that are manifested….and being able to understand it in some way here on Love Fraud is extremely helpful to our healing from the insidious nightmare we have been in….

Thank you Donna and everyone….there are so few “professionals” who even have a clue of what we are dealing with….and I for one spent a lot of money….getting no help at all….

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