Contemporary Rorschach Interpretation

By J. Reid Meloy; Marvin W. Acklin et al. | Go to book overview

14
Borderline Personality
Organization, Psychopathy, and
Sexual Homicide: The Case of
Brinkley

Carl B. Gacono
U.S. Department of Justice

Perhaps no other area of psychological study has the power to both attract and abhor as predatory murder. Large audiences at movies such as Manhunter and Silence of the Lambs (based on novels by Harris, 1981, 1988), and a plethora of paperbacks ( Bugliosi & Gentry, 1974; Graysmith, 1976; Larsen, 1980; O'Brien, 1985) speak to the American public's fascination with the subject. With the exception of forensic experts who study these killers, the law enforcement community, or the unfortunate families of their victims, Americans remain psychologically detached from murders whose motives elude rational explanation ( Brown, 1991). Even mental health professionals have great difficulty accepting the possibility that certain individuals "enjoy killing people" ( Dietz, 1986, p. 487).

Psychodynamic theory concerning borderline personality organization and severe narcissism adds to our understanding of one subtype of predatory murderer, the sexual psychopath ( Gacono & Meloy, 1994; Liebert, 1985; Meloy, 1988; Podolsky, 1965). Early frustration of libidinal drives, often through actual physical and sexual abuse, creates the template of borderline personality structure. Overwhelmed by aggression, the developing ego does not mature to a neurotic level but instead remains reliant on splitting and related primitive defense mechanisms ( Kernberg, 1975). During arousal the

____________________
1
This chapter is a revised version of "A Rorschach Case Study of Sexual Homicide" ( 1992), reprinted with permission of the British Journal of Projective Psychology. The views in this chapter are solely mine and may not reflect the views of the Federal Bureau of Prisons or United States Department of Justice.

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