This is a book published in 2013. At its conclusion, we do not know what the final verdict will be. We know Jodi Arias was found guilty, but there are two stages left in the process to decide whether she will get the death penalty, life with possibility of parole, or life without the possibility of parole. She was found guilty in 2013 of the murder of Travis Alexander and it took until April of 2015 before the judge was told to make a decision that was not the death penalty; she was sentenced to life without possibility of parole. So, knowing the result of this famous trial, why read the book?
Many people are as familiar with this case as they are with the case of O. J. Simpson. But I am not one of them. As a permanent expatriate, I heard little of the trial. When a guilty verdict was reached in 2013 and deliberations went on to the penalty phase, I heard brief newsbytes about the trial. After a twenty-year absence from the US, I returned for a one-month visit with a sister in Scottsdale, Arizona, where Jody Arias was incarcerated. And still occupying news platforms. I wanted to know more background; this seemed to be the book to provide it.
Getting up to speed on the facts of the case was easy. We know what happened, a lengthy trial revealed in gruesome and salacious detail what happened, and we even (finally) had an admission from Arias that she murdered Travis. What is interesting is the motive for committing such a crime and what conditions exist that can produce such a horrible criminal social misfit that goes by the name of Jody Arias? I found an answer in this book that I consider to be accurate and realistic; one that fits the situation.
I do not believe it a spoiler to identify what some experts have called the condition ascribed to Arias. It is “borderline personality disorder featuring projective identification.” Many might be familiar with the first part of that, but not so much with the second part. It is worth reading the book to get to the part where those terms are discussed and explained. I won’t tell you where that part is; that might be spoiler.
It is not the case that all mental health experts agreed, both inside and outside the courtroom. One well regarded expert who supported Arias in her defense was so vilified in public opinion that she, the expert, was hospitalized for anxiety attacks. But there is a body of experts, not only those who testified for one side or the other, that has come to some common agreement. The disorder is not one that excuses conduct such as murder. People still have to pay for their crimes. But, accurate identification of the disorder may point the way to preventative treatment.
As a fan of crime fiction and horror, it can be a bit scary to realize that the stuff I read as fiction can be the reality of documented non-fiction. So, for those who did not follow this trial day-to-day as this book claims many in the US did, this non-fiction work presents the same levels of horror and gruesomeness as the most terrifying of a Stephen King novel.
Unfortunately (and this is a comment on human nature) it is fascinating.