Christian Living

Family Matters 07/07/11

Saddened by the Casey Anthony Verdict

Like you, I have had a few days to reflect on the Casey Anthony trial. I was never angry by what I saw because it was like watching a hemophiliac bleed out before me. This case reminded me of the many inpatient families I have treated over the years in psychiatric hospitals. But in this case, instead of being confidentially treated behind closed doors of a therapy room with therapists who understand pathological family patterns, the Anthony family dysfunction was daily paraded into our living rooms by the American media.

Who knew what to believe? Accusations of sexual abuse denied by the father and brother, repeated lying by family members, elaborate fabrications to cover up the missing child, strained family relationships, partying while a child was missing, etc. It all progressed like a soap opera only this was real--a child died and we still do not know how or why? So sad.

Every day my 90-year-old father and I would process the case. Our conclusion was always the same—we didn’t know what to believe and who was telling the truth. To the two of us, we never saw the evidence that links Casey directly to the murder. This doesn’t mean she was innocent. We just could not tell.

One moment in the trial, I saw Cindy (Casey’s mom) mouth to her daughter, “I love you,” but Casey’s only raised an eyebrow and turned away. My heart sank as I noted the vacant look in Casey’s eyes. Something is clearly wrong in this family. But we don’t know exactly what because our view is based on media coverage and how we interpreted what we saw. What was obvious was the brokenness of a family system and severe individual pathology.

I can only hope that Casey Anthony decides to get help for her life of poor decisions and pathological behavior. Honestly, I don’t see that happening. What I do fear is that she will become some a media celebrity who parades her story for the sake of monetary gain. Our media will encourage such action, playing into the pathology of the family for the sake of ratings.

In an ideal world, Casey would acknowledge her desperate need for help in all areas of her life—spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and behaviorally. She would find a competent therapist, not be interested in profiting from her story, willingly commit to change, admit whatever needs to be admitted, repent for whatever needs repentance, and begin to heal.

Yes, I was grieved by the lying, the elaborate fantasies, the delayed reporting regarding the missing child, Casey’s partying, the family secrets, and all the pathological behavior on display, but I’m not angry. This family represents many whose untreated pathology leads to destructive and broken living. Instead of watching this family bleed out with no intervention, I’d rather see them in a therapy room fixing what’s broken.

Dr. Linda Mintle is the author of I Love My Mother But…and will be speaking this weekend at the Sandy Cove Conference Center in North East Maryland at The Great Escape, a weekend for mothers and teen daughters.