Sandusky Makes Histrionic Personality Disorder Claim In Defense Of Molestation Charges

Jerry Sandusky’s legal team is claiming that the former Penn State coach suffers from histrionic personality disorder, which is why he corresponded so extensively with his alleged victims and exhibited sexually seductive behavior. It is the type of argument that tends to leave many jurors unconvinced and can be viewed as too clever by half.

In one such communication, Sandusky wrote a boy:

“What was your reaction when you first met me? Did you care at all about me as a person? Can you be trusted? Do you appreciate me? When you give your word, does it have any meaning? Do you take pride in conquering people? What is love? What would you miss if a magician would make me disappear?”

Psychiatry professor Glen Gabbard of the Baylor College of Medicine rejected the notion that the disorder could be a defense of these types of charges — the view of a number of experts in the field. Here is the description of the disorder and its symptoms:

Histrionic personality disorder is a condition in which people act in a very emotional and dramatic way that draws attention to themselves.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause of this disorder is unknown. Both genes and early childhood events are thought to contribute. It occurs more often in women than in men, although it may be diagnosed more often in women because attention-seeking and sexual forwardness are less socially acceptable for women.

Histrionic personality disorder usually begins in early adulthood.


People with this disorder are usually able to function at a high level and can be successful socially and at work.

Symptoms include:

Acting or looking overly seductive

Being easily influenced by other people

Being overly concerned with their looks

Being overly dramatic and emotional

Being overly sensitive to criticism or disapproval

Believing that relationships are more intimate than they actually are

Blaming failure or disappointment on others

Constantly seeking reassurance or approval

Having a low tolerance for frustration or delayed gratification

Needing to be the center of attention (self-centeredness)

Quickly changing emotions, which may seem shallow to others

The problem with this disorder is that it sounds like many people who I have encountered in life. We used to just say that they had “bad personalities.” I doubt this is likely to be viewed in a more clinical way by the jury.

Elliot Atkins, a psychologist in private practice in the Philadelphia area, said that he found evidence of the disorder after interviewing Sandusky for six hours and reading his autobiography, “Touched.”

It would be difficult to see how any pedophile would not exhibit the same characteristics of this disorder. If the jury believes the earlier testimony of Sandusky being found having anal sex with a boy in the campus shower, it would seem to go beyond “acting or looking overly seductive.” There is a risk that the jury could find the argument insulting or opportunistic — pushing it further away from acquittal.

Source: MSNBC

49 thoughts on “Sandusky Makes Histrionic Personality Disorder Claim In Defense Of Molestation Charges”

  1. OS,

    Yeah, I pretty much assumed PC was standard treatment for pedophiles everywhere. However rough his ride is though? He deserves every second of it.

  2. Gene,

    Sandusky will no doubt be in protective custody. Of all the units at a prison, PC is probably the worst. In some ways, it is worse than the maximum security unit. In PC, inmates are locked in their cells 23-7, with an hour out a day for exercise. Pedophiles cannot be out of their cells at the same time as other inmates, or they risk getting killed. We had one serial pedophile that was cornered in the shower by some other inmates and they sodomized him with the handle of a toilet plunger. Ruptured his colon and the handle of a toilet plunger has a substantial colony of germs on it anyway. He almost died, and would have had it not been for a terrific surgical team at the medical center and a very long course of some powerful antibiotics. He now has a colostomy. To call such people pariahs is a gross understatement.

    On top of everything else, there are going to be a lot inmates who are Penn State fans and will not take kindly to him as well. His time in prison is going to be a rough ride.

  3. Wait! Stop the presses!

    A day before Sandusky is to be sentenced (Tuesday, October 9, 2012), it’s suddenly not histrionic personality disorder at all. It’s . . . wait for it . . . a conspiracy!

    Oh yeah.

    The police, Penn State administrators and the media were all sitting around having a beer and someone said, “You know who I hate? That POS Sandusky. Let’s frame him for 45 counts of child sexual abuse!” This was, naturally, met with a raucous round of clapping, hooting, whistling and cat calls. They made their lists and checked them twice and then they took their time machine and went back to plant evidence and hypno-ma-tize victims and witnesses.

    Sure, Jerry.

    It was a conspiracy.

    Let’s see how much you like sex in the showers now, ya sick b@stard. No little boys where you’re going. A bunch of violence prone guys with impulse control issues who really really hate pedophiles though. Enjoy your stay at the Graybar.

  4. bettykath, I know there are wrinkles in the “perfect joint custody family” scene, just as there are wrinkles in other kinds of coexistence efforts. There is, however, another consideration here: ANYBODY can be abused and ANYBODY will see that if they complain about abuse, there can be a very vigorous “THAT’S NOT TRUE” response. Have any of the countries we have attacked and invaded FIRST agreed that they were causing the invasion? The point is that when children claim they are being abused, they have to have some adult champion to help the get protection, and if that adult champion is one parent in a divorce, their “first line of defense” has been automatically disempowered. They are considered “brain-washed” and their complaints are routinely discounted and ignored; even worse, they are blamed and then in order to protect themselves, they will often blame the protective parent to deflect punishment. Anybody would do the same.

  5. Malisha, You’re right. The kid doesn’t repeat it. And when the abuse continues with younger siblings, the first one has feelings of guilt for not doing more. Logic has nothing to do with the guilt feelings.

    Kids going from one home to another almost always do some acting out in the first day or two after the switch even if both homes are ok.

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