While channel-surfing last night, I came across a show on the Bio Channel about Joran van der Sloot, the young man who is currently serving twenty-eight years in a Peruvian prison for murdering Stephany Flores Ramirez in May of 2010. He also remains the chief suspect in the May of 2005 disappearance and likely death of American Natalee Holloway.


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While most media outlets and documentaries have focused mainly on his alleged crimes, this show took an in-depth look at who Joran van der Sloot really is. The show also offered explanations as to what may have been going on inside his head when the crimes were committed and what possessed him to continually change his version of what happened with both women. The show also suggested what possessed him to extort money from Natalee Holloway’s family in exchange for what he called “valuable” information as to the whereabouts of her body and the circumstances surrounding her death.  And finally, the all-important answer to the question why. Why would a human being conduct themselves the way that van der Sloot has? Is he “normal”, as far as his mental health goes? It’s probably safe to say that most would answer that last question with a resounding “no”, but what exactly is “wrong” with him?

Both a forensic psychologist and a former FBI profiler named Clint van Zandt were consulted throughout this documentary for their opinions on the answers to these questions, and their expert opinions were that van der Sloot has a rare combination of sociopathic, psychopathic, and antisocial personality disorders. Neither of these two experts actually personally evaluated van der Sloot, however. Van Zandt also believes that Joran is a pathological liar, meaning he lies even when he doesn’t have to, and at times is even incapable of telling the truth. On the other hand, Dr. Stephen Diamond, another forensic psychologist, doesn’t believe such serious diagnoses should be given to someone whom they haven’t personally evaluated. He personally believes that one diagnosis appropriate to van der Sloot is narcissistic personality disorder, in which the patient exhibits arrogance, a sense of entitlement, grandiosity, interpersonal exploitation as well as an overall lack of empathy for other human beings.

Whether Joran van der Sloot will ever receive a proper psychological evaluation and diagnosis remains to be seen. Until then, whatever provoked his previous acts can only be speculated on.

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