Understanding Teen Killer's Mind: Your Questions Answered

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Jean asked: How, after committing such a heinous crime at age 14, could he remain free from violent crimes (as far as we know) for 25 years? I'm sure during those years he experienced rejection or anger at some points, which should have triggered some sort of similar reaction. Why didn't these violent actions surface before now?

Dr. Welner answered: We don't know enough of Collier's movements for 25 years. Clearly he is effective at compartmentalizing the people in his life from others, such that the killings were only one of his important secrets. If he had remained non-violent for all of that time, and there are numerous cities, relationships, and stops along the way, he is an adult with a more fully developed sense of anticipating consequences and impulse control for example. The mistaken choices adolescents make would not necessarily be repeated in adulthood -- especially if a person is horrified by what he had done and punishment is strong enough to be a deterrent. But Collier's readiness to arm himself with a knife, even in public yet, and menacing Candy demonstrates that he has no qualms revisiting his destructive potential.

Your Questions About Jovan Collier Answered

Jyoti asked: What trauma did Collier experience to have him engage in such intense violence at such a young age? Why did he not receive intensive therapy after he was sentenced? Would he be diagnosed with borderline and anti-social personality disorder?

Dr. Welner answered: Traumatic experiences are not often directly associated with homicidal choices. Emotional trauma inspires withdrawal more than aggression.

Separation and attachment problems and deep emotional insecurities and alienation, however, are a particularly bad emotional outcome for some adopted children. Those individuals who have a frayed sense of attachment may never develop empathy or understanding for others' rights and needs.

This is where the stalking history comes in, especially the malice that accompanied it. That way of relating to an ex-love demonstrates poor boundaries and an entitlement, with no respect for the choices and emotional security another person deserves.

Were these the same dynamics at play in the familicide? Not enough information. But for someone who lost his birth family when given to adoption, and lost his adoptive family when he killed them, he would be expected to approach loss and threatened loss as much more of a destabilizing force. Key is his later unremarkable abandonment of his own adult family; for him to be so intense toward Candy in the face of her ending the relationship speaks more to his relating to her as property than the intensity of his "love." Stalkers in this sense are offended that they are rejected. The anger one sees is more a disrespect for the person rejecting the stalker than a longing for what is lost.

The antisocial individual has shallow attachments for his material benefit. The borderline individual has difficulty balancing separation and attachment, and dramatic behavior comes out under conditions of separation. Those dramatic actions can be antisocial violence -- borderline and antisocial features are not mutually exclusive.

Did he receive therapy? Or did he merely sit in sessions with a therapist and learn lingo like "abandonment" that meshed well with the same sweet and vulnerable manner he deceived Candy with? A person who can fool in love can fool a therapist and fool himself.

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