I want to thank everyone for visiting, reading and responding to these blogs. I am astonished at the amount of interest and I am pleased to read each and every one of your contributions. I enjoy my bloganalysis and am happy it is making other people think about the Real Housewives women in a new way.
Once again, this blog is about examining the psychological disorders displayed by the Real Housewives in the various series featured on Bravo. I do have a legitimate psychology degree but I am not a practicing psychologist. These writings come with the disclaimer that they are intended for entertainment purposes only, mostly my own entertainment.
This time I will be taking a closer look at what makes Danielle Staub, the lightning rod of The Real Housewives Of New Jersey, tick. Danielle herself states you will either love her or hate her, with her there is no in between. The other four housewives seem to be on the side of hating her, I find her entertaining. This is not about taking sides though, it is only about psychology. I believe Danielle is a prime example of antisocial personality disorder or psychopathy.
People with antisocial personality disorder use charisma, manipulation, intimidation, sex and even violence to control others and to satisfy their own needs. Lacking in conscience and empathy, they take what they want and do as they please. They violate social norms and expectations when necessary without guilt or remorse. They often commit crimes, fail to hold jobs and otherwise fail to conform.
Self-assured, cool under pressure and socially adept, antisocials may appear larger than life. This image of forcefulness and confidence combined with their charm allows them the ability to tell the most bold-faced lies in a manner that will have otherwise rational people believing them. The ultimate spin doctors, they can twist anything in a way that will best suit their ends.
People with antisocial personality disorder usually play on the sympathies of others. When people’s empathic responses are aroused, they are less inclined to examine an individual’s behaviour. Instead they will attribute bad behaviour to an abusive childhood or other trauma. This provokes the sort of nurturing response that enables the antisocial person to manipulate and extract what she wants from others.
When they are trying to manipulate others, antisocials often engage in dramatic, short-lived emotional displays designed to provoke sympathy or guilt. They can even cause otherwise rational people to believe that they must be crazy for questioning their motives. Antisocial people say whatever will get people to give them what they want. Many work hard to give the impression that all of their problems stem from cruel treatment at the hands of others, and that they could change for the better if only some kindly soul would take an interest in them and support them.
Danielle has told a myriad of people time and again about the tragedies that have befallen her in life. According to Ms. Staub she was; abandoned as a child, suffered childhood physical and sexual abuse, was a survivor of rape as an adult, was beaten, her dog was killed by an ex boyfriend and she lost a child. If true, this is cause for quite a bit of empathy. Various websites have pointed out discrepancies in many of her stories of victimization though. Apparently the details have changed depending on whom she was talking to.
I have also seen time and again Danielle use past trauma to justify her actions. Her stories do seem to have an effect of rallying people to support her. She presents herself as a courageous survivor so I understand why people are stirred to her defense. As a survivor of a traumatic event myself though, the way she talks of her past just does not ring true to me. I cannot imagine using my past horror as any kind of excuse ever, it makes me uncomfortable to even think of it. She talks of things far too casually, as if she is going through the motions of it and it does not genuinely cause her pain. I could be reading into it though.
Antisocials have consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations. We have seen her complain about money issues from her divorce but Ms. Staub has yet to make an attempt to obtain work for herself. She remarked last year she was “too pretty to work” and this season has seemed to indicate that her daughter Christine should be the breadwinner for the family and buy Danielle a house with her earnings. Danielle seems to disdain work, insulting her nemesis Dina by telling us about her past as a salon employee, as if that is beneath Danielle.
Danielle also has a criminal history. She was involved in a kidnapping and extortion plot and was charged accordingly. She was also charged with intent to distribute cocaine. As part of a plea deal, Danielle only had to plead guilty to the extortion charge and serve five years probation. In return she testified against the others involved. When this has been brought up on the show she has answered in a myriad of ways, all evading the exact truth. Time and again she rationalizes her behavior, blames someone else, or denies it outright. Danielle seems to have no sense of guilt or remorse for any harm she may have caused others. She does not comprehend why her past would concern anyone else, including her castmates and RHONJ viewers.
Danielle has demonstrated signs of aggressiveness and tendencies towards revenge tactics. She has issued many verbal threats and even has engaged in borderline stalking activities. I can see where she makes people nervous and I can see where her past might up other’s cause for concern.
That being said I can also see her appeal to her fans, she has a Tony Soprano type charm.
I do think Danielle fits the profile for antisocial personality disorder and is indeed a psychopath. Judge for yourself though. Diagnosis is made by observation of a majority of these behaviors:
- Selfish, callous and remorseless use of others:
- Glibness/superficial charm (smooth-talking, engaging and slick)
- Grandiose sense of self-worth (greatly inflated idea of one’s abilities and self-esteem, arrogance and a sense of superiority)
- Pathological lying
- Conning/manipulative (uses deceit to cheat others for personal gain)
- Lack of remorse or guilt (no feelings or concern for losses, pain and suffering of others)
- Emotional poverty (limited range or depth of feelings)
- Callous/lack of empathy (a lack of feelings toward others; cold, contemptuous and inconsiderate)
- Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
- Chronically unstable, antisocial and socially deviant lifestyle:
- Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom (an excessive need for new, exciting stimulation and risk-taking)
- Parasitic lifestyle (exploitative financial dependence on others)
- Poor behavioral control (frequent verbal abuse and inappropriate expressions of anger)
- Promiscuity (numerous brief, superficial sexual affairs)
- Lack of realistic, long-term goals
- Irresponsibility (repeated failure to fulfill or honor commitments and obligations)
- Juvenile delinquency (criminal behavioral problems between the ages of 13-18)
- Early behavior problems (before age 13)
- Revocation of conditional release (violating parole or other conditional release)
- Many short-term marital relationships (lack of commitment to a long-term relationship)
- Criminal versatility (diversity of criminal offenses, whether or not the individual has been arrested or convicted)
For anyone having navigational issues here are the links to the other discussions on the housewives of New Jersey: