Tuesday, August 09, 2005

THE TRUTH BEHIND THE TRUE STORY

I just read Micheal Finkel’s book, TRUE STORY, about Chris Longo, who murdered his wife and three small children in 2001. The author based his book on hundreds of pages of letters and jail interviews that he collected over the course of two years. Longo now faces the death penalty. The big question in the book is why he murdered, as he seemed to be so normal. Psychiatrists who examined him claimed he was a narcissist.

However, Longo's crime cannot be reduced to his personality disorder. Millions of people - in the US especially, are afflicted with narcissism, yet they do not commit violent crimes, let alone murder their families. Indeed, narcissism is seen by some as a virtual requirement for success in business. In order to turn a personality disorder in a criminal direction, the proper environment must be provided.

In Longo's case, there were two-inter-related conditions which led him to kill his family. One of these was the conservative consumer-obsessed culture. The other was authoritarian religion. One can easily imagine a different, yet still narcissistic Longo arising in a different cultural-environmental context. A Longo who cares nothing for bourgeois convention, fantasies himself as an artiste and sponges off everyone. A pain in the ass, but not a criminal.

The Longos wanted a yuppie lifestyle, but they couldn't afford it. This need led Chris Longo to engage in fraud and theft, in a kind of vicious circle that led to murder. What initially sparked his criminal activity involves a political context. His youngest daughter had severe health problems which drained his limited income and drove him into bankruptcy. In any civilized country health insurance would have covered these costs. Not so in the USA. Could it be that for want of a decent health care system a family was murdered?

Why did the Longo's have to have a middle class living standard? Because it was the thing to do. They were highly conservative, never questioning anything, always seemingly obedient to every convention, which included being overly polite, not drinking alcohol or swearing. For such people, the outward display of wealth is a compensation for their insecurity and their shallow, boring lives. Indeed, the latter aspect was to encourage Longo in his crime sprees. He got a thrill from stealing a car or writing a bum cheque.

But why couldn't the Longos afford their yuppie lifestyle? Both were highly intelligent and capable individuals. The cult they belonged to considered higher education to be a sin. Longo had only a Grade Nine education. With the destruction of US trade unions - another political context - the poorly educated can only get minimum wages. Yet they wanted to be middle class. Their cult however, didn't see anything wrong with materialist aspirations. Had Longo been a Quaker, Buddhist or Amish - no murders.

The cult also demanded subservience from women. The wife was not to question her husband's actions. A normal woman would have demanded to know where all the expensive automobiles and gifts were coming from on a $7.00 an hour job. A normal woman would have left Longo when his behavior became increasingly bizarre.

At the most crucial period in their lives - when Longo was finally revealed as a thief, fraud-artist, liar and cheat, the cult failed them. The family was ostracized, driving them into complete isolation, furthering the mad spiral that led to death.

Yes, Longo must die, yet not a word is said about the crazy system that produced him.

4 Comments:

Blogger pman said...

Hey Kleitus!

I assume you enjoyed the book. Shocking, eh? Has he been executed yet? Very interesting blog. He was clearly fond of all the plastic shit we as a society value so much. He had no soul, so his family were only an obstacle toward his delusions.

8:07 AM  
Blogger sagacity said...

You obviously have an extraordinary understanding of Narcissism. I have lived with a Narcisstic woman for 20 years. The relationship ended recently when the woman tried to file a false police report about me. I non-violently tried 2 times to prevent her from using the phone to call 911. On her third attempt, I grappled with her over the phone. Somehow she broke a fingernail which caused a little cut. That was enough for police to arrest me. There was no hitting, or choking, or kicking or any of that stuff. Just what she stated to police as "shoving" and I call self defense. That was a couple of months ago. I didn't know this woman had Narcisstic Personality Disorder until a few days ago when I discovered the disorder while looking up the word Narcissism on the web. I heard the word used while watching the Chris Longo case on court TV. I thought it meant selfish. My wife is selfish and I just wanted to find an outline depicting the description of a selfish person for my divorce papers. At first my mind rejected the numerous allusion to a mental disorder. As I read new material over and over again, more of the peculiar traits of the narcissist fit. Finally, I accepted the fact. It was a devasting blow to me and I sunk into nervous depression. I can walk away from her. But I have a 3 1/2 year old baby girl that was already being victimized by this woman. With the domestic violence charge hanging over my head, I am fighting an uphill battle to get custody of my daughter. I wish her mother was okay. I would not being fighting for complete control of my daughter if she were just a simple selfish person. Furthering my investigation of this disorder, I read some online chapters of the "Malignant Self Love book". The material in this book is so bizarre to a normal person. If I hadn't had the experience with this woman,I wouldn't be able to comprehend it or bring myself to accept it. No way! That a person could love a fabricated image of themselves seems like a plot from a SCI FI. But it is completely true. I'm still stunned that I can make this statement. I have to pinch myself. From what I have found so far, there are many facets and degrees of this affliction. Some of the diagnostic test biggies may not be as pronounced in your Narcissist. I know my wife has more than enough to qualify. Empathy, brutish treatment of the baby in an effort to transfer her dark vision of the world, control freak, total incapacity for normal love, requires worship instead of love. Part of why I survived 20 years was because I had her father living with us and he was the one who put the energy into feeding her narcisstic needs. I confined myself to a small corner of the house and stayed out of the line of fire. You may
be thinking that a normal person would not subject themselves to this kind of relationship. I would agree with you. I suffered from low esteem. But, I managed to vent my problem and achieve approbation by suceeding at work. It took some time but I realized that things I did at work in the name of being a caring and good guy, was also selfish in that it fed my need for approval. I don't want to dwell on my issues, I just want you to know that I try to be aware of what they are and see them for what they are. I don't want the readers to discredit my views on Narcissism because they are one sided. My wife needed my support. This is labelled "Narcisstic Support" and is a central component of sustaining the narcissist. When my daughter was born, I could no longer cower in the corner bedroom. I couldn't let my helpless daughter be subjected to the things I had experienced. Now, I know that standing up for my daughter destroyed my role as a "bit part" narcisstic supporter for my wife. I could find ways of coping with my wife, like having her father around to supply her narcisstic needs. But the baby was defenseless. One of the first things my wife did was "cook the baby". The baby had clothes on, was tightly wrapped in a swaddling blanket, had a number of other blankets on top of that, and my wife would raise the heat in the house to 78 degrees. The pain of this abuse shot through my whole being. I couldn't get my wife to back off from this practice no matter what logic I used, or how many professional opinions I cited. Wouldn't you know that on a cold day, the power went out in our house. Heat was supplied to the house by an electric heat pump. The baby was 4 months old. I get a call at work from her father who wants to know how to open the garage door so he can get his car out. I find out from him that the electricity in the house is off. He is anxious to get to his Bridge game. I tell him he needs to help me troubleshoot the electrical problem to find out whether it is a
neighborhood outage or our house alone. He resists and continues to try to get me to tell him how to open the garage door. Fortunately the electricity comes on at that moment. I did not
say anything to my wife about my father in law for a few days. But in a discussion that led to some talk about the issue of selfishness, he came up and I related the story. Not because I was trying to get my vengeance, but to make a point about the obseisant relationship she had with him in the important context of how this threatened the warmth that the baby was getting. Aftr all my wife and I had been through on this issue you would think that this incident would ring a bell. She said nothing. Our discussion went on about other things. About 15 or 20 sentences later, my wife announces, "My father is not to blame, he asked me if he could go to his Bridge game, and I gave him permission". I wondered what this meant. The both of them thought the Bridge game was more important than the baby's warmth? Was my wife lying to protect her father? Was this another demonstration of her power to make decisions about the life or death of the baby? It was not in my hands. I will briefly mention how she called 911 on me when I threw a diaper down because I was protesting against her bringing her father next to our baby. He had contracted the contagious super virus, MRSA,that causes flesh eating wounds and organic growths on heart valves that destroy them and lead to death. I will tell you briefly that my wife always had her phone handy to call 911 at the least provocation. How she told me many times that she was going to take my baby away from me. The baby that I was the stay home daddy for. The baby that I so loved that I cared for her every emotion and need. The baby that was smart enough to learn her upper and lower case letters by the time she was 1 year and 10 months. She learned them while she and I sat for hours playing on the kids web sites. I cannot tell you how much and deeply I thought about her well being. But, at the top of my list of why I was the care provider was, "I was there to protect her from her mother". I thought it was all selfishness. I never used the word narcissism and I thought it was a synonym for selfishness. I never knew how insidious and dangerous this disorder could be.
Perhaps the stories I have told are not too impressive. But, the danger is very real none the less. My wife is going to distort my daughter's world view and destroy my daughter's self esteem. I can't imagine how I am going to suceed in convincing the custody evaluators that we are dealing with this disorder. I do not want my wife to have this disorder, but there is little hope of mitigating it's hold on her. I have told this story in the hopes that someone out there will help me. I have told this story in the hopes that it will help someone else. If you pray, please pray for my daughter's safety. Thank you.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Sagacity, you most certainly do know a lot about narcissism. What a terrible story! I hope you and your child make out alright. I see you are putting up a blog and will check to see how you are doing.

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Cheap Edegra Online said...

In Longo's case, there were two-inter-related conditions which led him to kill his family.

1:17 AM  

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