Devon Polaschek: Inside the mind of a killer

Devon Polaschek, Associate Professor of Criminal Psychology in the School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington, a forensic clinical psychologist and a member of the Advisory Board of the Innocence Project New Zealand. discusses murderer Clayton Weatherston’s narcissistic traits.

An excerpt: read in full here.

“Narcissists are game-players and controlling, not warm and affectionate, in relationships. They perceive that they are being rejected or insulted when others would not and they respond by lashing out, often savagely, at the offending person. Seeing themselves as entitled and superior means that they feel little or no empathy for others so they don’t later come to regret their aggressive actions; rather they see them as having been caused by the unacceptable behaviour of the other person.

“It’s very unlikely that Weatherston will change his self-protective view of what he did; he’s got a lot to lose and narcissists often make little progress in rehabilitation.

“Narcissistic personality disorder is not a mental illness. It is a relatively extreme version of normal variations in personality. In a sense, his lawyers are right that Weatherston did feel more provoked than others might by the unkind, yet unremarkable actions of his girlfriend. If he is superior to the rest of us, how much more unfair were her actions for him?

“However, using his narcissism as evidence for the defence of provocation is akin to the attempts in some US cases to reduce the culpability of psychopaths because of their inability to care about the wellbeing and rights of others.”