Dr. Keith: Inside the Mind of Clark Rockefeller
Clark Rockefeller, aka Christopher Chichester, aka Christian Gerhartsreiter, isn't much of a psychological mystery. Even from afar, never having examined this human chameleon, I can tell you a good deal about him.
Rockefeller's recent behavior is a window on the whole man, not just the most recent incarnation. When he kidnapped his 7-year-old daughter Reigh Boss from a Boston street (coercing a driver to participate in the crime, assaulting the social worker observing the visit and violating the court order that established his supervised visitation to begin with), he showed that he has no regard for society, nor for the rights or feelings of others.
Without knowing "Rockefeller's" diagnosis specifically, this kind of self-centeredness, along with a willingness to defy the law, speaks of narcissistic and antisocial character traits. It's that kind of combination that allows someone to lie to others again and again, experiencing no guilt or remorse.
Most of us feel bound to our life stories not only by the experiences of our lives, but by our relationships to others. Those connections, when genuine, become part of our emotional reality.
At some point, perhaps in the setting of relationships early in life that caused him terrible pain, Rockefeller broke free of these interpersonal tethers. He lost the innate debt most of us feel to the truth and reality. He was able to deceive one person after another because he was at liberty to invent and reinvent himself, in order to feed his needs, without regard to those of others.
It is no surprise that Rockefeller warmed to the acting profession. It would have been second nature to him. His whole life was an act, after all. Neither is it surprising that he would believe he could spirit his daughter away, in disguise, and hope to disappear into the heart of Baltimore. That city was just one more stage for him, and Reigh was just another actor.
No regard for the truth. No regard for the law. No concern for a mother's panic when her daughter is kidnapped. No ability to consider that his daughter would be forever psychologically traumatized by a sudden, permanent separation from her mother.
Could such a man kill? We certainly don't know yet whether Rockefeller will ever be an official suspect in the murders of newlyweds John and Linda Sohus. But his ability to slip the binding of his own life story, together with his willingness to steal a child from her mother and attempt to sever their bond forever, means that he may have no respect for life stories at all-not even for whether they come to a violent and premature end.
When the entire world is a stage, and when you and everyone around you are merely actors, death can be written into a script without shedding a tear. Because the show must go on.
Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatry correspondent for FOX News Channel and a New York Times bestselling author. His newest book, "Living the Truth: Transform Your Life through the Power of Insight and Honesty" has launched a new self-help movement. Check out Dr. Ablow's website at livingthetruth.com.