“I know Caylee is alive,” Cindy Anthony said. “I know my daughter. There is nothing in this world that could make me believe that Casey did anything to Caylee. There has never been any child neglect, child abuse or anything. This young lady loves her child, more than I love Casey.” I saw that interview on the Today Show last week, and I've been thinking about it ever since, wondering about Cindy Anthony, the woman who began the search for little Caylee by calling 911 with the words: "It smells like there's been a dead body in the damn car."
Considering the forensic evidence made public in the Anthony case (and assuming it is reliable and correct, which isn't always the case), it does seem most likely that little Caylee is indeed dead. And certainly Casey Anthony's behavior, especially misleading authorities and not reporting her daughter's disappearance for an entire month, suggests Casey is somehow involved. So my question is, for those of us who have followed the case including the pending murder charges, what do we make of Cindy? Do you believe she's legitimately convinced her granddaughter is still alive? Is she hanging onto the last shreds of hope? Or does it appear that Cindy is instead continuing a long-standing pattern of being unwilling or unable to hold Casey responsible?
I read WCI's post by Lucy Puryear last week, Is Casey Anthony Another Susan Smith?, and was impressed with her analysis of Casey Anthony. Admittedly, I am not, as Lucy is, a psychiatrist. Yet I've written about strange folks, many of them murderers, long enough to have covered a variety of types. And I found nothing to quibble with in Lucy's opinion that Casey Anthony's actions suggest she may be a narcissist. Lucy wrote: "I don't know Casey Anthony's history, but her behavior certainly fits one who has little regard for others, is primarily interested in her own welfare and happiness, and will go to great lengths to escape consequences or punishment. Susan Smith confessed to what she had done and felt remorse. Casey Anthony continues to lie and deceive."
So, what does that make Cindy Anthony? I believe there's a clue in her own words above: "There is nothing in this world that could make me believe that Casey did anything to Caylee."
Cindy isn't saying she'd have to hear Casey confess or see her granddaughter's decomposing body with Casey's fingerprints all over it. She is saying "nothing in this world" would convince her that her daughter played any part in injuring her granddaughter.
The prevailing theory is that narcissists don't just happen. As Lucy again so eloquently put it: "The causes for it are not entirely clear, but often there is a childhood history of being highly adulated by parents, not made to take responsibility for mistakes with parents often helping to cover-up or fix problems, and having things given without having to learn the value of hard work and disappointment."
In her interview, linked above, Cindy Anthony blames others for the current state of affairs, most notably the sheriff's department for not following leads, but never Casey. (Is anyone else having O. J. flashbacks?) Certainly mothers can be forgiven for believing in their children, for having difficulty embracing the possibility that their child has committed a heinous act. Yet isn't there something incredibly strange about a woman who can seemingly ignore all evidence to the contrary and declare her daughter absolutely blameless?
As Lucy mentions above, it's been my experience with narcissists that they assume their families, usually a mom and/or dad, sometimes a sibling, has the power to explain away any problem, to cover up for offending acts and make repercussions go away. The current glitch for Casey is that this time around she's facing a murder charge, and mom and dad can't say a few magic words and make everything all right.
Sometime next year, Casey Anthony is headed into a courtroom, where she won't be treated as if she's beyond reproach. Instead, she'll be a defendant on trial, perhaps with her very life hanging in the balance.
Update: A trial date is now set for this case: January 5, 2009.