Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Jodia Arias case

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QUESTION: Hello. I am curious as to what your thoughts are on the Jodi Arias case? In my personal opinion the news coverage about the case has been very biased AGAINST Jodi Arias. Everyone is calling her a sociopath, and saying she is pure evil. But I can't help but feel some compassion for her, and I don't believe that she is evil. Although she did committ an evil act. I have even considered writing to her and possibly becoming a pen pal to her. I have been writing to prisoners for years (and have found this endeavour very rewarding), and even though a lot of people think I am crazy I believe that every human being is deserving of care and concern, and that everyone deserves and needs a friend. I guess I am a bit of a bleeding heart, but I don't think having compassion for my fellow human beings is a bad thing. It was actually my dream to become a psychologist and work in a prison some day, but due to disability and illness I was never able to realize this dream. Anyway, I would be very interested in your professional opinion on this matter. Also, do you have an opinion about writing to prisoners? I appreciate your time.

ANSWER: the purpose of trials are to find fault and judge. It is not to understand a person or to help them. In terms of prisoners, even the most evil person does criminal acts only about 1% of their life. Just don't be around during that 1%
BB

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Mr Borkosky:

I understand the purpose of a trial, I was referring to the media coverage of the trial which I feel was incredibly biased. I don't believe you answered my question though, which was how you personally felt about Jodi Arias. Nor did you really answer my question regarding your opinion on writing to prisoners. Thank you.

Answer
Hi, Lisa, I understand your question. I almost always refrain from writing about my personal opinions, because that is not the role of the expert. Plus, my personal opinions are neither more informative, nor less opinionated, nor more important than anyone else's. People like to share their opinions - that seems to be human nature, and sometimes psychologists seem to think their opinions are somehow better than others - but they aren't. Unless an opinion is shared by at least some science, it's not worth much.

So, my personal opinions:

1. TV shows are not meant to be fair. Their primary purpose is ratings, which makes money. So, if being biased means more people watch, so be it.

2. Jodi Arias - based on nothing more than watching a few minutes of the trial while drying off from a shower, I felt she was probably guilty. I think that yesterday was the sentence, correct? I don't know what the jury did, but juries tend not to give women the death penalty, especially not if the woman is good looking. I suspect they would only have given her the DP if they ended up disliking her alot.

3. writing to prisoners - I tried to answer that, but I wasn't clear. Let me say it this way - some women write because they feel sorry for prisoners, and want to help them. Some women take it to extremes and end up doing things they otherwise would not have done, for the same reasons. There are lots of different kinds of people in prison, so you cannot make any definitive statements about "prisoners" in general. Some are innocent, sure. Some are mentally ill. Some are so mentally retarded that they could not defend themselves in trial. Many, however, are psychopaths - which means that they are very good at finding and exploiting the weaknesses of other people (such as women who write them). They are adept at being charming on the outside, and they know how to say 'just the right thing' in 'just the right way' to make you feel for them. Many lay persons fall for this charade, and it takes a close watch not to fall victim.

As I said, even the most active criminal spends most of their time being 'normal' - that is, not committing crimes. So, it is very difficult to tell from their outward behavior, whether they are a criminal or not, because 90+% of the time, they do the things that you and I do.

All that being said, I personally do not have a problem with other people writing to prisoners. I know that there is a lot of deprivation and loneliness there, even among the worst psychopaths. It isn't something I choose to do, and I can think of many other ways to help society (in my personal opinion).

Hope that helps, Lisa, if it doesn't, just append some more

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Bruce Borkosky, Psy.D.

Expertise

any related to psychology, especially related to forensic psychology

Experience

15 years as a licensed psychologist, 15 years in private practice. My practice began primarily doing individual and group psychotherapy, is now devoted to assessments, but I occasionally do take on clients in therapy.

Organizations
American Psychological Association

Education/Credentials
B.A. psychology, B.A., music, Ohio Wesleyan U., 1978 MCS, computer science, University of Dayton, 1984 MA, psychology, Miami Inst. of Psychology, 1991 Psy.D., psychology, Miami Inst. of Psychology, 1993 post doctoral training in Neuropsychology, Fielding Institute, 1995-1997

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