Friday, May 31, 2013

Knox Book - What The Newly Published Writings Reveal To Professional Eyes (2)

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding

The New Writings

It is good to have an opportunity to see the letters from Amanda to her social worker, Maurizio. The writing style is very different from her book which seems more abrasive, more ‘jazzed up’, pointed, in comparison - presumably the influence of the ghost writer.

What is immediately and conspicuously obvious is that the letters make no mention of ill-treatment - a contrario in many ways. The recipient of the letters is someone whose support she needs, as is Don Saulo.

She goes out of her way to speak to them with endearment, even flirtation, to show gratitude, to build trust, or to appear to build trust. This is a person whose need to be liked and supported is paramount. One has the feeling, therefore, that she is presenting herself in the best possible light.

This includes being ‘good’ and saying things as they are. And they are: ‘OK’, ‘fine’, ‘bene’, ‘well enough’, ‘happy to remain’ (in Perugia) etc.

There has been much speculation about the psychology of Amanda Knox. I am glad to say that this site has deferred, by and large, from assigning labels to her. It is not for nothing that the official court psychological profiles of 2008 have not been disclosed. To begin with, a full analysis is not possible without personal encounter. And then there is the question about the value of such labels at all, especially with new research advancing all the time.

However, one can talk about observable patterns of behaviour, for example narcissistic behaviour. There are a number of established, well-researched traits in narcissistic behaviour which are worth discussing here.

Observable Behaviors

I believe the following characteristics have been observable and continue to manifest in the letters just published.  These are :

    1) Immaturity, of a degree which indicates some arrested emotional development. And connected to this, an emotional neediness and dependence. This usually manifests as insecurity where it becomes important that everyone has to like, admire, and feel affection for them - most especially those who they need to ‘look out for them’, be their support system etc. A secure personality has a healthy ego which can quietly use reasonable judgement, and only needs to be assertive where occasion demands. An insecure person has a weak and fragile ego, contrary to the appearance they try and give, which can be loud, over-confident and assertive, or proud etc.

    2) An inability to deal with shame, or admit guilt. This also connects with (in Jungian terminology) an inability to ‘own the shadow’, and admit one can and does sometimes make mistakes. The cultivation of a false sense of self or identity follows; an image projected of the ‘angelic’,‘innocent’ - always sunny and light, and, ‘special’  (cf : ‘here comes the sun’ as a mantra). Of course, a PR campaign can proliferate this advertising of the false image, and this is precisely how ‘celebrities’ make use of this process.

    3) Self-esteem which in reality is rather low - together with compensatory behaviour which includes constantly needing attention, praise and to be recognised as perhaps clever, cultured, athletic, attractive…in short, ‘superior.’

    4) Manipulation. This is connected to the lack of true empowerment, and therefore the attempt (which can seem desperate) to ‘get’ power through having power and control over others. Flirtation, seduction (and obsession with erotica) can show this manipulative tendency. Control, in this case self-control, is a prerequisite for manipulating a situation. A person’s unnatural focusing around staying in control will often belie an agenda of manipulation. A secure mind and ego can afford to allow spontaneity - an insecure one cannot.

    5) Anger management can be an issue; also a ‘show of rage’ - melodramatic - can be used as a manipulative tool. (Tantrum…as in two year old). One could write a paper just on this anger aspect alone.

    6) Feeling too different, and needing badly to be accepted by others. Rejection is unbearable. And, of course, people do reject them, even if it is just in the sense of being put off by their loudness etc, as above. Thus the problems escalate inside.

    7) Lying. In severe narcissism lying is pathological. If a child is not taught why telling the truth matters - if their childish lies are humoured and not challenged by the parent, this sets up enormous trouble in the adaptation to the adult world. Again, one could write a great deal about pathological lying, - it is a topic in itself…suffice to say, here, that AK stands as a convicted felon for lying.

There is some interesting new research (Professor Raine) that has established a 22% difference in a specific brain layer, in people who are able to glibly lie. These people also have enhanced verbal faculties. Some people lie just because that’s what they do, (when they don’t actually ‘need’ to). It’s a modus operandi, - usually used as a tool to get what they want.

All of these characteristics above, added together, will give a person who is first, foremost and last, concerned with their own image, their persona - how the world sees them. Hence ‘Narcissus’, gazing at his own reflection, and mistaking it for reality.  So much mental energy is orientated towards weaving together their ideal image of themselves in everything they do: ‘What people think of me’.

Then, too, the illusion of this constructed image has to be maintained. Therefore anything that contradicts it has to be denied.  *Amanda the Innocent* - this is the image that, in this case, has been projected and maintained.

Notice that it is the perpetuating of the Image that matters - the actual point of whether she is - in fact and evidence,- innocent or guilty takes low precedence compared to the task of getting people to believe in the image of her being innocent. AK actually says so herself (in the way she often reveals herself) : “people thought I was.. ( a murderer) whether I am or not.” She couldn’t bear people to believe such an image of herself - whether she was or not, she didn’t want people to think it

It is what people think or believe about them that matters most to the image-creating narcissist. They cannot bear to be found faulty - they must be admired.

The Six Published Letters

Here are some points of interest that stood out in the published letters in the post below. (I expect others can be observed, and found also in the recent interviews, etc.) :

Letter dated April 3rd 2008.

This is the only letter of this group that contains a grumbling complaint. Firstly, she mentions the police thinking badly about her. It is striking yet again that what bothers her is how people think of her. She also repeats, as often, ‘I do understand that I have to be in control’. See point 4) above.

Then a passage that contains a couple of enigmatic statements :

“...Above all when they don’t know the truth?

It really is a torture and now I understand the motivation. I understand the motivation, but I do not agree. “Sweet” or not it is a “TORTURE”. I am being tortured and it is not right…...

Sorry. As I said I do suffer a lot in prison. Generally I am scared, alone, with no hope, sad, and tired, even if I am innocent.”

This rewards some analysis. ..“Above all when they don’t know the truth?”

No one can know the full truth, precisely because AK herself (and Sollecito) have declined, from the start, to give a full and comprehensive - let alone consistent - account of the tragic evening. So it is very illogical to then complain that the authorities are acting thus because they don’t know the truth…

“It really is a torture and now I understand the motivation”. These two clauses seem to be non sequiturs to me. I do not see what they mean. It is dark innuendo that she ‘doesn’t agree with.’ That is all we are told. Then :


If I was being gravely mistreated, with due cause for complaint, I would detail the wrong-doing as simply and clearly as possible, so it could be addressed. This does not. How is one to know whether the ‘torture’ (her inverted commas) is really frustration and annoyance at the way things have turned out? It also is expressed in a self-dramatising way.

...“even if I am innocent”. I really did read this as an ‘add-on’ - for safe measure, in case anyone significant were to read it. The word ‘even’ is out of context. It is another example of ‘distancing’, too.

Letter dated April 28th 2008 :

Don Saulo is ‘a true friend and a very good man’. At this point in time AK needs Don Saulo very much. He also, probably, offers her a role model of a positive animus (Jung again), in contrast to the other menfolk in her life, he is a man with forgiveness and without anger. Obviously, later on, she no longer needs him.

In a rare moment of veracity, AK says, “I am ignorant, unfortunately”. She also wants someone to give her explanations (for the meaning of the literature) - this indicates a passive intellect, possibly without the desire to grasp an understanding for oneself. She would rather be given the meaning, as a soundbite, almost. Then one can impress, with the knowing. Somewhat as tourists ‘get the knowledge’. I suggest, having lived in Rome, that some Americans are perhaps prone to this.

Letter November 26 2009 :

This is notable as, first, a copious expression of gratitude for being liked, and given support, and in continuation, as a definite plea for this support (and, she hopes, affection) to be ongoing.

Letter dated August 10th 2010 :

AK is first flirtatious over Maurizio’s marriage. Is she being risqué ? It seems typical of her to introduce a sexual nuance where in reality it is not appropriate.

Next, we have one of her cultural detours. She gives a (for her) fairly detailed reaction to a book by Umberto Eco, a writer of some standing. She mentions not just once, but twice that the writing is ‘meticulously built’. This obviously is something that makes the most impression upon her. Of all the stylistic and imaginative innovation, and colour, that there is in Umberto Eco’s writing, I find it most curious that this is what impresses her.

Letter April 20th 2010 :

AK is very happy to be credited as a translator : this will help her be seen in a favourable light, something high on her agenda. To be fair, credit where credit is due, (although one knows nothing of the details of the translation).

Next we have another passage of gratitude.

Then a description of how she is happy ‘playing…out in the sun’. This is immediately followed with ‘I have made a new friend’ - all important to her, and makes all the difference, - if she is liked, accepted, and preferably admired too.

Letter undated :

Here, AK says ‘I feel fine’, followed again, immediately, by a description of her new cell mate who likes her, helps her, and shares as a friend, both manicure and music. This being liked and accepted obviously gives her security, and she doesn’t want to move : ’ I am happy to remain in Perugia…’


These Knox letters describe a real prison situation that is at odds with the seemingly fictional Knox book. She may have been at some inner peace there. Outside, it is hard work.



In early morning haste: thank you very much for that, very interesting and much food for thought. Hope to have more time to ponder on it all later!

Posted by Odysseus on 05/31/13 at 10:07 AM | #

@SeekingUnderstanding, your list of AK’s “Observable Behaviors”:

1) Immaturity, 2) An inability to deal with shame, 3) Low self-esteem, 4) Manipulation, 5) Anger management issues, 6) Badly needing to be accepted by others, 7) Lying

Thanks for your analysis SomeUnderstanding. That’s quite a list, and quite a challenge for anyone who might have to deal with any combination of those behaviours (like Amanda).

Beyond the emotional/psychological status of Knox in prison, there’s an overall “comfort indicator” that I see: while no one, not even Amanda Knox, wants to be locked up in any prison, she certainly seems comfortable and able to wheel-and-deal in her communications and contact with fellow inmates, guards, social workers (and I should add, Italian lawmakers).

She certainly does not seem to have a depressive or suicidal slant to her communications (as the Book marketing campaign would have had us believe), quite the opposite. Her adaptation to prison and to its day-to-day realities and possibilities - from reading to spending time outside to dance and theatre was quite successful and without any significant incidents of the type that often are encountered in prison settings, like violence amongst inmates, real sexual abuse (not the “he joked in a flirtatious manner” type), overcrowding, out-of-date facilities, vermin, etc.

Posted by Kermit on 05/31/13 at 01:35 PM | #

Thank you Kermit.

I should perhaps have said ( it is never easy giving a summary of complex behaviour) - that narcissism, like many conditions, operates on a greyscale, or sliding scale, from mild (where it is not criminal, and, hopefully, reversible) to something much more serious and destructive at the other end. Some people ‘grade’ the behaviour in levels of severity.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 05/31/13 at 02:42 PM | #

Fascinating post, SeekingUnderstanding.  I’m guessing we could probably add a lack of compassion, an inability of feel genuine remorse, and a lack of interest in others. I wonder why no one picked up on these things before she left Seattle, and whether there were any serious attempts to get her some counseling before.

Posted by Vivianna on 05/31/13 at 06:49 PM | #

Hi Vivianna, thanks.

Indeed, and this all ties back to the difference in ‘empathy circuits’ in the brain and emotion recognition that we discussed before.

In my own humble opinion, I am not at all surprised that none of this was picked up before - tragically - as very unfortunately this type of person IS very effective at convincing people of their stories and also their own credibility. Even skilled psychiatrists find it very difficult, and have been known to be taken in. This is the part that is distressing to me. And I am interested to think creatively around how we, - as a society and also professionals,- could improve our timely insight into, and recognition of these personalities.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 05/31/13 at 07:19 PM | #

Quote: “I am not at all surprised that none of this was picked up before - tragically - as very unfortunately this type of person IS very effective at convincing people of their stories and also their own credibility. Even skilled psychiatrists find it very difficult, and have been known to be taken in.”

I think you will just get into a circular argument here over psychiatric diagnosis. (I have known many psychiatrists professionally and some as friends. One was killed by a patient he had treated in prison.)

Diagnoses like Antisocial Personality Disorder are NEVER made in general practice, even if suspected, because if a psychiatrist has a voluntary patient, they want to keep that person as a source of revenue.

This type of diagnosis is made when a person is referred to the psychiatrist by a court or is seen in prison, hence a crime has already been committed and the only question is why? A person who has a severe drug addiction problem or a mental illness like bipolar disorder may be disposed of differently from someone who is suffering from what a friend of mine used to call “characteropathy” which is probably what Knox has.

Hence the process is circular. She has killed someone, therefore she must be abnormal. Find the appropriate diagnostic labels such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, and Polysubstance Abuse Disorder and paste in the appropriate place.

Posted by Domingo on 05/31/13 at 08:02 PM | #

Hi Vivianna and SeekingUnderstanding

This is all so key because in this case we cannot separate psychology from motive and if one accepts the psychology (and no psychologist posting on the site has differed markedly from SeekingUnderstanding, though she maintains the most careful watch on what is emerging) then motive is, well, something of a no-brainer, and one can move on to the hard facts that legally matter. 

Although the 2008 psychological test results were not made public, they were enough for several guiding magistrates to regard the two as potentially more bad news if let loose on the streets, and to say no to moving them from prison to house arrest. So SeekingUnderstanding has that strong confirmation even if she cant access the interviews.

We do have one very good example of a misguided psychologist who leaped or was pulled or pushed onto the Knox bandwagon.

He misread Knox by getting hard facts wrong, and she in turn in her book uses that misreading to her advantage - in effect she is being trained by him to emulate a fully normal person under insuperable stress and to use that to shoot for a not guilty verdict.

(1) Here is the psychologist getting hard facts wrong.

(2) And here is Knox using the psychologist’s wrong take on her.

Thankfully Madison had researched the science on false confessions. She found Saul Kassin, a psychologist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. A specialist in wrongful convictions, he took the mystery out of what had happened to me.

Before my interrogation, I believed, like many ¬people, that if someone were falsely accused, they wouldn’t, couldn’t, be swayed from the truth while under interrogation. I never would have believed that I could be pressured into confessing to something I hadn’t done. For three years I berated myself for not having been stronger. I’m an honest person. During that interrogation, I had nothing to hide, and a stake in the truth—¬I desperately wanted the police to solve Meredith’s murder.

But now I know that innocent ¬people often confess. The records kept of ¬people convicted of a crime and later exonerated by DNA evidence show that the DNA of 25 percent of them didn’t match the DNA left at the scene. The DNA testing showed that one in four innocent ¬people ended up confessing as I did. And experts believe that even more innocent ¬people confess, both in cases with and without DNA evidence.

According to Kassin, there are different types of false confessions. The most common is “compliant,” which usually happens when the suspect is threatened with punishment or isolation. The encounter becomes so stressful, so unbearable, that suspects who know they’re innocent eventually give in just to make the uncomfortably harsh questioning stop. “You’ll get thirty years in prison if you don’t tell us,” says one interrogator. “I want to help you, but I can’t unless you help us,” says another.

This was exactly the good cop/bad cop routine the police had used on me.

Besides being compliant, I also showed signs of having made an “internalized” false confession. Sitting in that airless interrogation room in the questura, surrounded by ¬people shouting at me during forty-¬three hours of questioning over five days, I got to the point, in the middle of the night, where I was no longer sure what the truth was. I started believing the story the police were telling me. They took me into a state where I was so fatigued and stressed that I started to wonder if I had witnessed Meredith’s murder and just didn’t remember it. I began questioning my own memory.

Kassin says that once suspects begin to distrust their own memory, they have almost no cognitive choice but to consider, possibly accept, and even mentally elaborate upon the interrogator’s narrative of what happened. That’s how beliefs are changed and false memories are formed.

That’s what had happened to me.

For the record, Knox makes up new “facts” too, to make sure the analysis applies to her.

She is not an honest person, her felony conviction asserts to that. DNA had nothing to do with her “confessing” and she never “confessed” to murder anyway, simply to overhearing Patrick.

She fingered him within minutes when Sollecito pulled her latest alibi out from under her. There was no good cop/bad cop routine by the police. Nobody shouted at her. She wasnt interrogated for 43 hours. She wasnt told she’d get 30 years in prison.

And she doesnt remotely fit the psychologist’s own published profile of the kind of person who is vulnerable.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/31/13 at 08:13 PM | #

Hi Domingo.

That made me smile. But the growth industry for what you describe seems to be all or mostly on the defense side, am I right? I just provided one example of it.

Prosecutors don’t need a motive and for the most part seem to want the court to regard the perps as sane. The 2008 tests were never factored in at trial.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/31/13 at 09:08 PM | #

Absolutely right, Pete…spot-on.

And in all of this, it’s a case of the micro-details of the facts (that we do have ) being important.

For example : as I remember- from the profile you refer to (of the type of person making the said false confession) - it is a primary condition that the person so affected will have been traumatised, which then has specific known affects upon the brain.

And, in her own words (I would underline that if I could!), AK says she said, unequivocally, ” I am not traumatised .”  This is actually the same as saying she is massaging the ‘remembered facts’ to fit the theory, in retrospect.

It is a prime example of the cleverness at work in manipulation. But it also shows that the inventor of stories ( or pathological liar, to be less kind) will also eventually unravel where they mismatch some of these all important details.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 05/31/13 at 09:24 PM | #

SeekingUnderstanding: excellent piece with insights into AK’s responses that seemed odd to me but I couldn’t pin down why; e.g. “‘...people thought I was.. ( a murderer) whether I am or not.’

She couldn’t bear people to believe such an image of herself - whether she was or not, she didn’t want people to think it”.  No soul.

You say “...And I am interested to think creatively around how we, - as a society and also professionals - could improve our timely insight into, and recognition of these personalities.”

As an interested layman, not a professional, I think it may help to recognise that we are individually taken in by these personalities to the extent that we’re not fully grounded in the present ourselves. If you’re on the path (as we all are) of recognising totally futile (and pathetic) egocentric manipulation in your own behaviour you’re less likely to be fooled when presented with it by others.

I agree that the ego’s need for security is the usual villain of the piece. Jung had it about right (in my opinion) . The “in-control” ego must always resist its inevitable demise, while the larger Self waits in the wings. Existential crises are usually opportunities for the Self to announce its presence, but they aren’t always heeded.

AK really isn’t being helped here (in a massive crisis) by her own family who sense that her guilt implies THEIR guilt, and this must be resisted, whatever the price. Of course, AKs parents also had to deal with a family script, and so on, ad infinitum.

Jung: “I feel very strongly that I am under the influence of things or questions which were left incomplete and unanswered by my parents and grandparents and more distant ancestors…an impersonal karma within a family, which is passed on from parents to children”.

The important thing for Jung was to value the subtle and profound messages from the Self,  not the pathetic promptings of the sick and deluded ego which always seeks to promote difference and separation,  anything but relaxed presence and wholeness in the moment.

Posted by Odysseus on 05/31/13 at 09:44 PM | #

I don’t think it is any good comparing Amanda Knox to studies of false confessions, because assuming that torture is not used, false confessions tend to occur when you are dealing with a hard core criminal population,  most of whom are of fairly low intelligence, and most of whom are probably guilty of many crimes, even if not the one in question, which is why they are suspects in the first place.

In fact I was amused when I worked in a prison at how many inmates were “not guilty” of the crime they were sentenced for, generally because they had been fitted up by the police and prosecutors or forced into plea bargains, although they freely admitted being guilty of other unprosecuted crimes.

However everyday crime does not have the same Agatha Christie-like characteristics as the Perugia murder.

Fact of the matter is you have have all the fancy theories you want, but the only one that matters is that Knox is lying through her teeth about everything so as to conceal the truth about her involvement. Either that or she is innocent.

Posted by Domingo on 06/01/13 at 02:39 AM | #


Yes, it is good to be centred and grow in the way you indicate…to learn more about being.

I think one needs not to underestimate just how much these personality types use deception. They really are extremely adept at it, to an extraordinary degree, and, to be honest, I think one needs to be self-forgiving if they do take one in temporarily.

I would withdraw, and decline to be caught in their game of outwitting.

I suppose we learn from life’s experience just who we can place our trust in, who is trustworthy. We are fortunate if our parents can show us.

There’s a marvellous little word, I have heard, in Japanese…‘Mu’. I believe it can be said in response to a question ‘that shouldn’t have been asked’.

So the person refuses to say, Yes, or No, or to be drawn in. Just lets the questioner know they are not going to be led down that path. Unanswerable.

Perhaps that’s a good approach to dealing with manipulating people?

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 06/01/13 at 03:12 AM | #

Hi Domingo

The false confessions expert at John Jay College (across the Hudson from where I live, though taller buildings hide it) is a bizarre anomaly.

The college is really about training good policemen and here is this guy right there claiming that there is an epidemic of policemen wringing false confessions!

The paper our posters took apart was actually a keynote paper he gave at a GLOBAL conference John Jat organized later last year, so all around the world there are those who were told Mignini etc beat a suspect into a false confession.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/01/13 at 03:42 AM | #


Yes, I can understand they are very difficult: I admire and empathise with those who have to deal with them professionally.

‘Mu’. I must remember that.

Posted by Odysseus on 06/01/13 at 10:00 AM | #

Yes Odysseus Quite right.

The real pitfall is that people who are sane interpret those in society who are insane by their own insight which of course is wrong from the very beginning. Since the entire paradime here starts from the premise of sanity. On such a premise juries have brought in a verdict of innocent when the obvious opposite and guilt thereby is true. Sociopaths by their very persona have developed over time the ability to manipulate the people around them by offering acceptance and then denial or perhaps the threat of harming themselves or threatening suicide.

They do this in order to garner sympathy and attention. It’s the ‘Poor little me’ syndrome. ‘Please feel sorry for me.’ Knox’s flirtation with customers is a small example of that or her offering sex to anyone particularity some unwashed stranger who will take notice of the fact that she even exists. Perhaps in that there lies a key, since I am not even sure if she recognizes the fact that she even exists, at least on a level with her peers. If I am right then that would account for her inability to except responsibility for her actions. This is not to say that she is not responsible quite the opposite. So thank you and also everyone else for your insight here and elsewhere.

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 06/01/13 at 05:21 PM | #

I do not think we should try to read too much into these letters. First, they were written in a different language with a restricted vocabulary. In such cases, we often search for words and substitute what comes first in the mind.

Secondly, I think the initial stress of being thrown into the prison is slowly wearing off. The acceptance of the inevitable fate is showing its mark. Remember that she has not yet accepted any responsibility (not even to her inner self) of her actions and this is the root cause that we see as the arrogance, lack of compassion, loss of self confidence and poor self control. She still believes that she has done nothing wrong: what was to happen, has happened.

Thirdly, we see the inner loneliness. Something is missing here, but she sees herself as the centre of the universe and she needs everyone in a sense. The craving for attention is a generic manifestation of this loneliness and we are, somewhat heartlessly, calling it the narcisissm.

Ni ange, ni bete. We are all made up of faults and are direct product of passion and desires.

Posted by chami on 06/01/13 at 06:38 PM | #

Hello chami,

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a very serious condition in its severe manifestation, and it was my hope that in discussing known traits this would encourage more insight into the condition.

I have made observations from AK from all the material available about her, including the exposure in interviews. I have not stated a conclusive label because it is not my place to do so.

You are quite right that one shouldn’t come to a conclusion as to AK ‘s psychology just from a few letters, or indeed from anything less than a complete analysis.

And it would be foolish too to mistake ordinary human loneliness and longings for anything more than they are. I think you will see, above, that I have noted points of interest, not made personal judgements. Certainly this was my intention.

Unfortunately, with a true case of NPD, - as Grahame Rhodes indicates - the sympathy card ( as in ‘I’m being treated heartlessly’) can be ruthlessly employed to avoid their disorder being seen and known, - a frightening prospect.

It is difficult, as serious personality disorder needs to be defined.

One of the differences between this kind of serious disturbance and a person with normal moods, desires, difficulties etc is that the NPD person’s problems will not resolve spontaneously. In fact ( it is debatable) NPD is usually considered incurable, and even barely treatable (at the moment).

So, in effect I agree, ‘narcissism’ isn’t a word to use lightly.

As Pete has observed, the tone of the writing when it is just Amanda (in the letters), compares very differently to the Amanda in WTBH.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 06/01/13 at 07:42 PM | #

@Grahame Rhodes

“I am not even sure if she recognizes the fact that she even exists…” Good point.If we are right about her culpability (and we can never be 100% sure, whatever the legal outcome) then all the evidence we have, the manipulation, the lies etc. comes from someone who doesn’t really exist properly - in that there is no independent centre or soul, only an image that must be maintained to others. In the popular and cynical expression “the lights are on but nobody’s home”.

That’s if this is all true, in which case the interest for me is the etiology of this state. I have known a few people who seemed to be over-concerned with image, position, status, etc. who have eventually had nervous breakdowns, electric-shock treatment (in the bad old days), etc. But they generally got through it and became more real and content.

Then there’s this other group of people who seem to have a somewhat similar affliction in the sense of not being at ease with themselves or others but who also commit horrendous crimes and have what we call “evil” intent. What interests me is whether these two groups are related. Are neuroses and psychoses related? If so how - and what leads from one to the other?

I also agree with Chami “Ni ange, ni bete” - there’s always going to be the tendency to let our natural horror with the crime cloud clear thinking and its corollary of human compassion for all involved, including possibly (this is the difficult part)the perpetrator, if all facts were known.

Posted by Odysseus on 06/01/13 at 08:46 PM | #

Sorry Chami, referred to you as “Charmi” in my post.
Freudian slip!

Posted by Odysseus on 06/01/13 at 08:59 PM | #

Thanks SeekingUnderstanding.

I was surprised that she needed help in writing her story. After all, she is a student of creative writing! Strangely, I think she writes better without help. But then there are so many things between…

Even apparently innocent comments like “Amanda is being Amanda” admits of some underlying problems. And I am not counting the comment by RS to his pop about AK.

I am sure she was seen by professionals while in the prison. Of course I am not interested in the details, but it will be nice to know that she is getting some professional help. Apparently she is not.

I am not a health care professional (a plain biophysicist) but many of the underlying causes are complex and are poorly understood. Hence treatment has remained a quack science (with due apologies!!) for most of these problems.

I do not even think that these problems are clearly defined even.

Naturally I am basically incompetent to comment.

She is crying for a professional treatment. Perhaps she can be still treated. Perhaps her defense can even use this as a defense!

RIP Meredith! You have now gone beyond our daily pettiness.

Posted by chami on 06/01/13 at 09:14 PM | #


It’s a very large subject, the difference between the two states you mention - as I’m sure you realize. Fortunately, many people are working in this area.

Yes, detached compassion for all is the aim. As Kermit said at the beginning, if one imagines having to cope with the challenge of even some of these traits on an ongoing basis, then ‘daunting’ would be an understatement.

It must be a deeply unhappy state, I would imagine.

I find it interesting that Mignini is quoted as saying he found it very difficult to come to the conclusion he did, and that he did so reluctantly…  thinking of his own 4 daughters.

It must be a challenge to combine justice and compassion, but it would seem people are doing their best.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 06/01/13 at 09:20 PM | #

@ chami

I’d be the first to agree with you!

That’s why I’m so interested in the latest research that is beginning to take off, really, regarding the structure, genetics and chemistry in the brain. It promises to bring the whole field into much more of a true science.

I think your comments are good.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 06/01/13 at 09:26 PM | #

Hi SeekingUnderstanding

Agreed, Mignini does come across as a gentle compassionate man, the very opposite of how those at Knox HQ seek to paint him. You mentioned Camilleri’s “Montalbano” character in an earlier post - he does seem just like him!

I’m glad there is plenty research in this whole area but I can’t help wondering if the reductionist approach, focussing on the brain etc,  won’t miss the elephant in the room - the patient and his or her environment/family, etc.

Anyway, that’s just me, and I hope it does bear fruit.

Posted by Odysseus on 06/01/13 at 10:14 PM | #


No, I’m sure it won’t ...these guys know it’s just an (important) piece in the jigsaw…..

Montalbano, yes!

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 06/01/13 at 10:22 PM | #


Quote “She still believes that she has done nothing wrong: what was to happen, has happened.”

Or, to apply Occam’s Razor, she knows damn well what she did and she is lying about everything to cover up her guilty role. I like this theory better.

The only way she can explain the Lumumba confession and accusation is to call on far-fetched psychological theories about her being in a disassociative state in which she could not tell fact from fantasy.

Only idiots would believe such a claim,  given the other supporting evidence such as DNA.

Posted by Domingo on 06/01/13 at 10:33 PM | #

While this article gets some things wrong, not bad from an American newspaper.

Posted by Miriam on 06/01/13 at 10:50 PM | #



Posted by Miriam on 06/01/13 at 10:54 PM | #

Grahame Rhodes makes a good point :
Reasonable people tend to to make reasonable assumptions - along the lines of ’ if this was me, I would think/ feel/ act / react in such a way…’
Certain people though are inherently unreasonable. One can call it ‘insanity’ or,indeed, a number of derogatory terms, but the bottom line is certain types of persons work from a different base line, one might say - essentially lacking in both empathy and logic. They may employ a type of distorted logic, - very cleverly - but it tends to be disconnected from feelings, and is not from a reasonable, humane base.

So, at times, it becomes necessary to find out what kind of person is in the arena, so that they can be related to appropriately.

Alcohol and drugs often merely expose this unreasonableness that is the ‘base line’.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 06/02/13 at 12:13 PM | #


Quote: “Agreed, Mignini does come across as a gentle compassionate man, the very opposite of how those at Knox HQ seek to paint him. You mentioned Camilleri’s “Montalbano” character in an earlier post - he does seem just like him!”

A correct take! We have many posts on the Real Mignini including several long and very honest interviews.

Plus I just posted this below on PMF which adds to that and will soon be the subject of a new post - or even a new page.

Knox as babbler… Matt Jones [a Knox book reviewer on Amazon] doesnt understand the case and misrepresents Mignini, but he gets this one right.

One of the few truths in Knox’s extremely dishonest book is how difficult it was to stop her babbling. It went on for weeks after 5 November 2007 and was evident again when she took the stand in 2009.

On 5 November after Knox fingered Patrick police interest moved instantly to him and all they wanted to do was get a Knox statement so they could pull Patrick in for a wee chat. There was no shouting and no hitting. Only a desire to shut her up.

After her witness interview Knox was invited to stay around till a judge (Mignini) could read her her rights, but she wasnt locked up and could have walked right out of there.  Staff were trying to calm her.

At the suspect interview, Mignini also had little interest in hearing her out after he read her her rights, as he too wanted to move on to Patrick, but she insisted, and it all had to be (again) put in writing.

Her parents shushed her babbling at Capanne, and her lawyers PUBLICLY shushed her a few days later.

The demonizing of Mignini arose directly from Knox’s babbling. She couldnt be shut up by rational reasoning so the family and lawyers had to fright her into going silent. 

She describes that demonizing effort in the book. About the only honest part of it.

Ironically the demonizing took on a life of its own with help from Ciolino and Preston, and in March 2009 Knox’s lawyers who had originated it tried to distance themselves from it.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/02/13 at 03:48 PM | #

Pete: indeed, it seems that cartwheels and splits are endemic in the Knox entourage.

In fact, all manner of bodily contortions are necessary to turn a gentle giant into crazed maniac, but no doubt the peculiar anti-yoga of barefaced lying we grace with the term “Public Relations” (itself a triumph of packaging) will continue to gush forth like effluent from Seattle, since the alternative would be to recognise the maniac closer to home. Heaven forbid.

Posted by Odysseus on 06/02/13 at 09:09 PM | #

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