This paper, by referring to psychological and psychosomatic analysis, examines and studies the case of Diane Downs depicted by Ann Rule in her book Small Sacrifices as the passion crime committed mostly for narcistic reasons. We begin by a brief review of the background literature of the clinical disorders of Diane Downs , then move on to thorough analysis of Downs' psycho-type and her psychological disorders that resulted in such cruel crime committed by her, and conclude by discussing the rationale for giving such diagnosis.
According to Nevid and Rathus and Greene (1994), Diane Downs can be characterized as histrionic as well as narcissistic, because she had attempted to kill all three of her children in order to be with her boyfriend, who did not want her with the children (34-36). She engaged in other illegal activities as well. She was sufficiently charming and attractive that prior to the attempted killings she was accepted into a program as a surrogate mother. She received national coverage as an early pioneer in surrogate mothering and impressed the reporters as especially emotionally maturea testimony to the smoothness and ease with which sociopath-like individuals are able to charm others into false impressions. She, too, engaged in arson as a means to obtain money and participated in other small crimes and illegal activities as well.
Wetzel, Cloninger, Hong, and Reich (1980) note that traditionally, psychopathologists have narrowly defined disorder in terms of its more severe, full syndromal forms. Clinically, of course, one sees and treats mainly the patients at the extreme end of a severity continuum, so accordingly, the symptomatology and course of these patients form the basis of the illustrative descriptions of disorder. Moreover, these are the patients on whom diagnostic criteria are formulated, psychobiologic hypotheses tested, and the efficacy of treatments... [continues]
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