What Makes A Sociopath?

“Sociopaths tend to be nervous and easily agitated. They are volatile and prone to emotional outbursts, including fits of rage. They are likely to be uneducated and live on the fringes of society, unable to hold down a steady job or stay in one place for very long.” (Psychology Today)

We talked a lot about Frediani possibly having some sort of personality disorder but we never really came to any conclusions. I believe Frediani is a sociopath because of many of his personality qualities and actions point to that fact. According to Psychology Today, Frediani has many sociopathic qualities such as being easily agitated, volatile, prone to emotional outbursts, fits of rage, and unable to hold down jobs or stay in one place for very long. Additionally, “any crimes committed by a sociopath, including murder, will tend to be haphazard, disorganized and spontaneous rather than planned” (Psychology Today)  which is similar not only to Frediani’s first sexual assault, but, the murder of Helena Greenwood; both of these were spontaneous events and were not carefully planned or thought out. Interestingly enough, sociopaths also have difficulty forming attachments and relationships with other people, this could point further to Frediani’s illness because throughout the book he had difficulty staying in relationships with women.

 

Source:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wicked-deeds/201401/how-tell-sociopath-psychopath

What Makes A Sociopath?

Mentally Ill Plea

By the ending chapters, Frediani’s mental state was questioned. We had discussed multiple times in class about a personality disorder Frediani could have but it was never mentioned this in the book until the last few chapters. Something that I have previously seen on an episode of Law & Order was a man who was a retired professional football player that was very famous. There was a young girl by the age of 14 who was forcibly being pimped out men willing to pay money for her services. This man was caught paying her for this. In the eyes of the law, he was said to of raped her because of her age. However, the next day he was unaware of his actions. The insanity plea is extremely hard to come across due to people pretending to be insane to get away with murder. Many psychological reviews must be performed to be diagnosed. Obviously, the jury did not believe that he was ill. He himself was too proud to admit he was sick as well. It was not until the end of the trial where his defense lawyer had him on the stand at a late night court arrangement where he exhibited the defendants sundowning affect.What really stuck out to me in this episode was the defense lawyer saying a latin phrase that meant, the body can only be guilty if the mind is as well”. The poor judgement displayed by this man was not of his choosing but rather by his diseased brain. This made me relook at Frediani’s case and wondered if they had had a psychological review of him, would they have diagnosed him with an illness. The causes for these diseases truly vary but should a person be held accountable for their actions when their ability to choose from right and wrong is compromised? I’m not sure.

The next connection to Frediani’s case I made was a another episode of Law & Order. I love this show. Anyways, there was a young child that was an outcast of his school because his family was considered gypsies. He was found murdered one day when he walked home from school but all the clues were pointing to the wrong person. Once her friends gave up her secret, this young girl, most likely 15 years old, admitted to murdering the young boy by strangulation with his scarf. The most stunning thing was at the end when the investigator asked her why she did it. Her response was “why not”? This is a very clear indication of no remorse and it is deviance and crime at the age of 15 which is a necessary requirement for the disorder, Antisocial personality disorder.

The idea that a child so young can commit such a heinous crime is unthinkable. I was very curious how a court room will handle such a case because the murderer is not an adult. The story of Jordan Brown was shocking to the world. How does a child that shows no signs of aggression murder a woman and her unborn baby? According to this video, a child’s brain is not fully developed at this age, especially the part about decision making and impulse. For this reason, the death penalty will no longer be an option for an child under the age of 18. Below is a Picture of him at the age of his conviction.

jordan brown

 

Mentally Ill Plea

The Effects on the Family

“‘Does he look like he belongs in prison?’ he asks me. ‘She’s dead now, she has no family–so why does our family have to suffer, even if he is guilty?'” – Weinberg, p346

As I was reading the end of Weinberg’s book, this quote struck me as interesting and truly made me think about each word the Mr. Frediani was saying. It made me question whether what he was saying was right, or whether it was selfish considering Helena lost her life in an abrupt and cruel way, and her family had to suffer from the pain her loss caused them, and then ended up dying themselves after battling cancer. Some people may comment that the Frediani family lost a son, like the Greenwood family lost a daughter and wife, but I believe that they are much different types of losses. The Frediani family can still visit Paul in prison and write to him, whereas the Greenwood’s were suddenly stripped of all communication with Helena. That being said, it is evident that Paul is not living the free life he once was, and the Frediani family now feels that they have to hide this event from their community so that they are not judged for Paul’s actions. I do see Mr. Frediani’s point about how his family has had to suffer because of Paul’s actions because I could imagine how hard it would be for a normal family to be struck with this unfortunate series of events. However, I believe that Helena’s family suffered a much greater loss and therefore the Frediani family must accept that the product of their combined DNA broke the law, and that as a consequence their family has to suffer with him.

The Effects on the Family

Frediani, a Sociopath?

At the end of the book, Frediani is repeatedly referred to a Sociopath. How can he be diagnosed as one without a formal psycho-analysis? Can you diagnose a Sociopath purely based on behavior and surface characteristics, or is it something hidden deep within the mind? Sociopaths have several key surface characteristics. Frediani is charming, during his young days with his roommates, he seduced several women a week and many people found him pleasant company. He clearly is very spontaneous and showed very little planning behind his sexual assaults of which he never showed any guilt or shame of committing. Paul also is capable of forming intense lies, like his alibis he created in court, and will do anything to win. He proved he was willing to kill Helena just to avoid prison time for his assault. Frediani, in my opinion was also incapable of love, he abused any person he was ever in a relationship with. And last but not lease, in this novel at least, we never hear an apology from Paul for either the assault or the murder. In my opinion an obvious sociopath.

Frediani, a Sociopath?

Is Frediani Really A Sociopath?

In Chapter 21, I found the statement from the Psychologist about Frediani’s personality to be intriguing:

“Frediani has the personality of a sociopath: charismatic, impulsive, hedonistic, smart, manipulative, faithless in sexual relationships, and ultimately remorseless” (Weinberg, 339).

This was not the first time the possibility that Frediani had a sociopathic personality has been brought up in the novel. However, following the end of the trial I was inclined to believe that Frediani was indeed sociopathic. I looked up information about connections between sociopathic personalities and violent or murderous behavior. I found an article titled, “The Sociopath-Serial Killer Connection.”  This article stated that many of the qualities that are common in serial killers are also common characteristics of sociopaths. Frediani was not a serial killer, but I was interested in seeing how many of these qualities were similar between Frediani and serial killers. The article listed some of the same qualities of a sociopath as the psychologist Weinberg quoted: “a disregard for laws and social mores, a disregard for the rights of others, a failure to feel remorse or guilt, and a tendency to display violent behavior.” These are all qualities that Frediani displayed over and over again. The article also stated that sociopaths are “easily agitated” and “prone to emotional fits of rage.” This is consistent with Frediani’s behavior around his girlfriends. He showed a pattern of getting easily agitated and ended up physically enraged with them.

However, there were also a few statements made in this article about sociopathic behaviors and killers that do not resemble Frediani’s behavior throughout the novel. The article states that sociopaths “often live on the fringes of society . . . are unable to hold down a steady job, and are unable to stay in one place for very long.” This is not descriptive of Frediani’s typical behavior. He lived in a highly populated city. He was usually able to hold down a job and even managed to get promotions. He lived in San Francisco for years, moving only when his circumstances changed. The article stated that sociopaths often appear to be disturbed. However, whenever any of his close friends or coworkers were asked about Frediani’s behavior prior to his crimes, no one saw anything unusual in his behavior. In fact,  they often wondered, “was there something that I missed?” And finally, the article states that sociopathy is often thought to be the result of a person’s environment, such as childhood trauma or abuse, rather than an “in-born characteristic.” Frediani, however, was raised with a relatively normal childhood. He found his parents to be quite strict, but we weren’t informed of any life-changing trauma or abuse in his past. The reader is left unaware of any event(s) in Frediani’s past that would likely be the underlying cause of this antisocial personality disorder.

I am left wondering, was Frediani a sociopath and therefore his actions are less surprising, or does he simply display some sociopathic tendencies and in truth he is just a murderer?

 

Is Frediani Really A Sociopath?

Inside a Sociopath

In the book a psychologist stated that Frediani has the characteristics of a sociopath and describes him as “charismatic, impulsive, hedonistic, smart, manipulative, faithless in sexual relationships, and ultimately remorseless.” (339) This got me wondering if Frediani had shown these characteristics the whole time throughout the book and what clues the author had given to this possibility.

I found an article that is title “The Six Hallmarks of a Sociopath.” This addressed the different ways to identify if someone is actually a sociopath. Many of the hallmarks fit Frediani perfectly. Especially number 5 which was “Externalizes blame. The sociopath does not take ownership or blame for his mistakes or misdeeds.” Throughout Frediani’s assault trial he did not show any signs of guilt or recognition that he had sexually assaulted Helena and he didn’t not admit that it was wrong until his trial for Helena’s murder many years later. Another one that fit Frediani was number 2 which said “Manipulates others, either from the sidelines or directly.” Frediani got many people to lie or cover for him when he felt that the police were closing in on him. He made sure to get an alibi to cover his tracks. http://blogs.psychcentral.com/childhood-neglect/2015/09/the-six-hallmarks-of-a-sociopath/

 

This article opened up my eyes to the way that Frediani acted and even offered some explanation to why he committed such horrible acts against the many women he came into contact with.

Inside a Sociopath

Suspects: Are they seen as real people?

“At this point, Frediani is not a real person to me; just a man accused of murder, approaching his day of judgement. My thoughts and sympathies are with Helena Greenwood, the victim, the person I am already relating to” – Weinberg, p238

I found this quote from chapter 16 very interesting for two reasons. Firstly, I wondered whether Weinberg was putting into words what all the jurors who were gathered for this case were already thinking. It prompted me to question whether people can have an unbiased view when they are involved in the trial of a murder case. Personally, I think it would be hard for me to go into a murder trial with an open mind about hearing the suspected murderer’s side of the story. Although the person is not convicted yet, the word “murderer” resonates badly, and even though it is coupled with the word suspected, murderer overshadows this word and consequently, I believe it blurs the vision of the jurors. Secondly, Weinberg statement that “Frediani is not a real person” to her anymore is a very strong and opinionated statement. Throughout her book, Weinberg seems to contradict this statement since she makes Frediani into a very real person for her readers by writing about what his family thinks about him, and how he has redeemed himself and made a better life for himself after the sexual assault trial. It is interesting to me that although Weinberg says that Frediani is not a real person to her anymore, she creates him to be a person in order for her readers to build their own opinions about him.

Suspects: Are they seen as real people?

What Crimes Fit the Death Penalty?

“As it relates to crimes against individuals, though, the death penalty should not be expanded to instances where the victim’s life was not taken.” -Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority in Kennedy v. Louisiana (2008)

The death penalty is kept for the most heinous crimes committed by people, but, the vast majority of crimes that result in the death penalty are from trials for murder. But for even the most evil and twisted of crimes such as the rape of a child or torture, federal government has outlawed the practice. The case that went to the Supreme Court to decide this was a 2003 case, Kennedy v. Louisiana; it was a case involving Patrick Kennedy, who raped his step-daughter and was given the death penalty in Louisiana for his crimes. However, after his lawyers appealed this ruling with the circuit court of appeals, the case ended up in the supreme court where the majority ruled that “as it relates to crimes against individuals, though, the death penalty should not be expanded to instances where the victim’s life was not taken.” (1) Although, murder is not the only crime that can result in a death sentence, “espionage, treason, trafficking large quantities of drugs, and attempting to kill any officer, juror,or witness in cases involving Continuing Criminal Enterprise” (1) (“large-scale drug traffickers who are responsible for long-term and elaborate drug conspiracies” (2)).

1.http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/death-penalty-offenses-other-murder

2.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuing_Criminal_Enterprise

What Crimes Fit the Death Penalty?

Irony

In Chapter 16, Weinberg takes a trip to visit Helena’s father, Sydney Greenwood. During her visit, Sydney recounts many memories of his life as a young man, and of Helena’s life. He prided on her accomplishments, and when speaking on her life and murder said:

“Her killer took her life, but he did not silence her. It has taken fifteen years, but I know Helena has spoken from the grave to indict her killer” (244)

This passage gave me chills because it acknowledges the irony of Helena’s career and its connection to her death. Helena had studied the versatility of DNA, and it is ironic to see what a large part it plays in her murder case. Would she be proud of the advancements of her field even though she was a clear sacrifice for its progression? It is grim subject, but I cannot help but wonder.

Irony

Shying Away from Capital Punishment

In Chapter 15, the idea that Frediani’s case may be a death penalty case arose. Death penalty cases are controversial, and in 2000 when this case was being tried, the law in California surrounding cases of capital punishment was different than it is today. But they sentence from this chapter that caught my attention was

“Bartick was confident that he had a better than evens chance of persuading the jury of Paul’s redeeming characteristics–in the event that he was found guilty of murder” (Weinberg, 236).

I didn’t realize death sentences were given a separate trial from the original murder trials. This explains why character references may play such a strong part in the sentences. California has not sentenced a prisoner to execution since 2006 so the laws have changed since this trial. However, in 2003 the New York Times wrote an article about jurors sparing the lives of prisoners in exchange for life without parole. The article claims one of the main contributors to this change was an increase in defense attorneys convincing jurors the lives of their clients are worth saving. This is definitely what Bartick was planning to do with Frediani if he was found guilty of murder.

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/sentencing-news-and-developments-2003-2001

Shying Away from Capital Punishment

O.J. Simpson: Accurately Portrayed?

“Once the trial started, the world, the world watched transfixed as week after week, month after month, some eminent DNA expert or another sat on the witness stand, exploring the intimate details of a tiny molecule in a microscope in microscopic detail.”- Weinberg, page 202

Chapter 13 looks into the trial of O.J. Simpson. This case was momentous for many reasons: O.J.’s fame, the fortune he used to defend himself, and the seemingly incriminating DNA evidence all played a part in an event that grew from a simple court case into a nationwide media extravaganza. The media played a large part in people’s perceptions of O.J., and made it tough for the jury and the public to stay unbiased while the trial proceeded. Recently, this trial has come back into the public scene with the tv series The People V. O.J. Simpson. Does this show accurately portray the case of O.J., or is the story of the case dramatized in order to make it seem more interesting than it actually is? In film, one often has to consolidate facts and events in order to make things fit into a certain time-slot. This may have impacted how true to the original the characters and events in the show were. Either way, people should keep in mind that the show is fiction and not completely factual when they are watching, or else they may get the wrong idea about the trial

O.J. Simpson: Accurately Portrayed?

Fallacy Assumption

in the beginning of this chapter, Frediani’s lawyer talks about how he needed to know where he was and with who on the day of August 22nd. This makes me think that the prosecutors wanted to pin everything on Paul even with the lack of hard evidence they had. I think that the prosecution had thought that Frediani was automatically guilty considering the heat he was already under. This makes me think of many false convictions that have occurred in the past, there have been countless instances where the prosecution convicts an innocent defendant based off nothing but assumptions. I think that Frediani’s conviction was a little hasty due to the fact that everyone wanted to see him go down. Guilty or Not Guilty.

Fallacy Assumption

Murder and Sexual Abuse

In Chapter 6, Helena Greenwood is fatally murdered on her way to work. This came as a big shocker to me. I did not expect her to die in the middle of the trial, but because it is a quite a lengthy, I suppose I should have suspected something to occur. At first, I was angry that Helena died without really figuring out who her abuser was, but then this made me suspect Frediani even further. His story did not match up to what it should have. I began to wonder how many victims are attacked when they are going through a trial, what protection are they granted from potential threats? Is it common for sexually abused victims to be murdered? Further, was Helena’s murder an accident? Or a result of excessive force and power during another sexual abuse attempt?

Murder and Sexual Abuse

What makes a murderer: Nature vs. Nurture

Chapter 8 of Pointing From the Grave allows readers to continue to question what causes a person to commit murder. Is it their difficult background and upbringing, or is it their surroundings? I was very intrigued by this question so I decided to look into it a bit further. In my research, I found an article called Serial Killers: Nature vs. Nurture. The author of this article discusses, the differences between serial killers and murders, and discusses topics such as motives, the impulses and desires of killing, and how different surroundings and backgrounds lead individuals to kill. It’t a pretty interesting article, check it out! The link is below:

http://www.nc-cm.org/article213.htm

hannibal

Photo taken from Google

 

What makes a murderer: Nature vs. Nurture

Delicate Scene of The Crime

From our favorite crimes shows, to our favorite detective novels or movies, one thing that always remains constant, is that a crime scene needs to be handled with immense care and delicacy. In Chapter 6, Helena is brutality murdered, and the scene of the crime is being observed. The book goes into detail describing how Helena’s hands were bagged. It describes her body positioning and various other details about the crime scene that could possibly lead to clues about Helena’s attacker. I began doing a little bit of research about crime scene investigation, and one of the first articles that I found was fairly interesting. It was written by a detective office in West Palm Beach, Florida, and it discusses the importance of body positioning, collecting samples with care, and the need for photographs. Check out the article, it’s pretty cool!

scene of the crime
This picture was taken fromm ‘Scene of the Crime’, a personal photographic project inspired by The NYPD Municipal Archive.

http://www.crime-scene-investigator.net/searchingandexamining.html

Delicate Scene of The Crime

The Beginning of a Story

“This is a story about a murder and a molecule. It is both the history of a science, overlaid with human drama, and a human tragedy inextricably entwined with science” (Weinberg xi)

In the opening of Pointing from the Grave, we are introduced to the world of DNA. We know it will play a large factor because of the large emphasis placed on its usefulness and its abilities. I am excited to see how the role of DNA plays into our every day lives, and ultimately, how DNA solves a murder.

The Beginning of a Story