Published January 19, 2012
This column was going to be a simple “I told you so” piece. Having read the coverage of the recently-released depositions of psychiatrist Jeffrey Danziger, M.D. and psychologist William Weitz, Ph.D. regarding their official psychiatric evaluations of Casey Anthony, I was planning to remind everyone that in my book “Inside the Mind of Casey Anthony,” I had arrived at the same theory that Dr. Danziger alludes to: A girl who is sexually abused from age 8 can respond to very traumatic events, including even her daughter’s death, by burying her pain, getting a tattoo and going out to dance. Danziger put it this way, “Her demeanor, the best way to say it, is she was calm, cooperative and pleasant as if we were discussing someone who had a parking ticket . . . . It was very puzzling. I’ve never seen anything to this degree...”
“This is someone who is sitting in jail,” Danziger said. “Her child is missing, presumed dead. She’s . . . being accused by the whole world in the disappearance of her child. You would expect that that would provoke some measure of distress, whether someone genuinely did it, whether someone was falsely accused, I mean , it doesn’t matter.”
Yet, in Casey Anthony’s case, she not only was able to remain calm and collected, she also showed no attempt to deceive Danziger on the sophisticated psychological tests he administered—the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory.
She also did not qualify for any psychiatric diagnosis.
She did not qualify for antisocial (sociopathic) personality disorder.
She did not qualify for narcissistic personality disorder.
She did not qualify for borderline personality disorder.
She didn’t even come close.
“Certainly,” Danziger told prosecutor Jeff Ashton, “there was no exaggeration or malingering (faking) or amplification of symptoms.”
So let me get this over with, then move on: I told you so. I told you that the real story of Casey Anthony is that of a girl who buries her inner self so deeply (including unspeakably, unthinkably intense feelings of pain and humiliation and rage) that she is, for all intents and purposes, absent from her own existence. Gone. A ghost. A stranger to us, and even to herself. I called her condition “Identity Suppression Syndrome”—a term I coined. And I stand by that assessment, 100 percent.
But there is much more to say. Because the material in Danziger and Weitz’s depositions rings so true for a victim of horrific sexual abuse that it is stunning. It gave me the shivers. I won’t state here whether George Anthony is a pedophile and child rapist, but I challenge any other mental health professional with any experience treating victims of trauma to review the depositions Danziger and Weitz rendered and come away asserting that Casey Anthony’s words ring untrue or seem fabricated.
Danziger stated that the scenes of sexual abuse Casey Anthony related to him as occurring at the hands of her father George Anthony were “disgusting, demeaning, intercourse, and everything.” Casey Anthony told him the abuse started when she was 8 and tapered off when she turned 11. After that, it was an occasional rape, with the last one occurring when she was 18. “I tried to fight back when I older,” Casey Anthony told him. “I’m not a big person.”
“I’m not a big person.” She sounds almost apologetic. She sounds powerless. And that’s the way victims of sexual abuse sound.
But there’s more. “My first real sex was at age 16,” she said. Asked by Jeffrey Ashton what she meant by that, Danziger stated, “Well, as opposed to anything that was intrafamilial.” Meaning, with her father.
I have listened to victims of sexual abuse by family members for over 15 years. And that is the language of a victim. Pure, and simple, and heartbreaking. Word-for- word. “My first real sex.” Where on earth would Casey Anthony have learned to flawlessly mimic the lexicon of a victim of child rape?
“What would you do the next day [after being raped by your father]?” Danziger asked her.
“Well, I’d go to school. I made . . . “A”s. I had friends. I won awards. I was a popular girl.”
Still think Casey Anthony sounds like a sociopath? She doesn’t test anything like one. And I am here to tell you, she doesn’t come across as one in the Danziger or Weitz depositions, whatsoever.
“How do you handle the unspeakable,” she told Danziger. “By putting it in a little box, hiding it deep, pretending all is well. Doing that since age 8, since elementary school, I became exceedingly perfect.”
If Casey Anthony was having sex with her father at age 8, then going to school to play four square and take arithmetic tests and do it with a smile, then you have your answer as to how her daughter could have gone missing and she could have gone dancing.
Does she hate her father? On this, too, Casey Anthony sounds like she is delivering the raw, honest truth from her gut:
“I hate the fact that I don’t hate him for everything that’s done, everything that happened. I hate the fact that I still love him, little girl wishing my dad could be my dag. I can’t figure out why I don’t hate him.”
Is she full of crap? Really? Or is she describing precisely what I told you she was suffering with: Identity Suppression Syndrome—an inability to summon any true feelings from behind the dark, desperate walls of her trauma, lest they fracture her psychologically into a million tiny pieces?
The rest is almost unreadable, so stark is Casey’s telling of the story, so seemingly unadorned. Decide for yourself if she is Meryl Streep and Charles Manson rolled into one, or if she is a garden variety victim of child rape lost in terrifying shadows of her former self.
She told Danziger that she slept with Caylee to keep the little girl away from her father, George Anthony. She locked the door “to protect her the way she hadn’t been protected.” She told him—again, in credible language—that being exposed to repeated rape without being protected by her mother is why she doesn’t tend to ally with other women.
Then one early morning, when she forgot to lock the door, she says, as quoted in the deposition, George Anthony woke her up. He had Caylee Anthony soaked and dead in his arms.
“I took her from him and collapsed on the porch. He was yelling at me . . . your fault, couldn’t believe you did this . . . . He left the house...saying, ‘Daddy is going to take care of it.’”
Daddy. This is the same daddy, by the way, who watched his daughter give birth, from the foot of the bed, staring at her naked. This is the same daddy who found his daughter’s abandoned car, thought it smelled like a corpse, then headed off to work at a movie theater to make about twenty bucks an hour as a security guard.
This is the same daddy who threw his own father through a plate glass window when the old man wouldn’t turn over control of his car dealership. This is the same daddy who boldly told law enforcement officials that his most treasured memory of his daughter’s ultrasound was when the obstetrician pointed out his granddaughter’s vagina and called it a hamburger.
This is the same daddy whom sources told me stole a girl’s panties from her house during high school and needed to finish up in another school system.
This is the same daddy who neglected to ask his daughter who the father of her unborn child might be—when his daughter finally realized she was pregnant at seven months.
This is the same daddy whose ex-wife says he was mostly interested in being a cop because he got to hide behind a uniform.
This is the same daddy who reportedly wanted to be a character at Disneyworld, hugging kids.
Then Casey Anthony told Dr. Danziger this: “I think he held her underwater, maybe he was doing something to her and tried to cover it up . . . . I don’t think it’s an accident and I didn’t do it.”
She implied George Anthony’s suicide attempt after Caylee’s body was found was his way out of the grief or guilt.
Do you feel nothing but hatred now for Casey Anthony? Do you think she is lying? Do you think that she is as gifted as Sir Lawrence Olivier and as smart as Bernie Madoff, this high school dropout, club-hopping, unemployed girl from Orlando?
Prosecutor Jeffrey Ashton listened to all this and like a back-of-the-class law student, went right off the cliff prosecuting a ghost. Any jury that could have read these depositions and convicted Casey Anthony would have been a travesty of justice.
Actually, you know what? Forget that whole I told you so thing. I really don’t care. I’m sick to my stomach writing this.
I’m sick at heart about the way this whole case proceeded under Jeffrey Ashton, who is now running for State Attorney in Florida, trying to parlay his ill-gotten fame into holding public office.
Casey Anthony is in hiding now because it is a concrete metaphor for her having hidden from the truth her whole life. And her videos are just pathetic evidence of how completely detached from reality she remains, after being cleaved from it in her family of origin.
She’s no Al Capone. She’s a lost soul. She grew up on Hopespring Drive in Orlando, where there was no hope.
If Casey Anthony was telling the truth, she should sue George Anthony civily for killing her daughter. But, then, again, she still loves him. And even if she were to sue him, and even if she were to win that case, he’d only be able to give her the money he got from selling pictures of his dead granddaughter.
Or maybe he’d surrender the intellectual property he secured from trade-marking the name Caylee Anthony after the little girl was found in a trash bag. But maybe all those assets are gone, if he’s had a recurrence of his gambling problem [which some sources say was really a porn problem] or if he turned any of the money over to River Cruz, the woman who accused him of shacking up with her when he was supposed to be out searching for his missing, beloved granddaughter.
Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team. He is the author of "Inside the Mind of Casey Anthony" (St. Martin's Press 2011). Dr. Ablow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His team of Life Coaches can be reached at email@example.com.