For a long time I have been fascinated with the behaviour of Amanda Knox who is currently on trial (along with her former lover Raffaele Sollecito) for her part in the murder and sexual assault of Meredith Kercher.  Following the discovery of Meredith’s body, during the subsequent investigation, arrest and in the ongoing trial, Amanda’s behaviour has been perceived at best as kooky and at worst, bordering on psychopathic.

There are many people who believe Amanda’s personality is irrelevant and as such, any attempt so far to draw conclusions from her behaviour have been met with equal parts of criticism and aggressive scorn.  But there are also a great number of people who believe that understanding Amanda may be the key to unlocking the secrets of what happened to poor Meredith that night and more importantly why.

I’d like to assure you that whilst writing this particular post, my individual preconceptions about her guilt or innocence have been entirely cast aside in order that I may investigate the curious facets of her unique personality and the insights this may give us, objectively and without bias.  In any case, my opinions will in no way influence the trial or court proceedings, likewise I do not feel that anything I have to say on this matter will further tarnish the reputation of Amanda Knox who (with a little help from her media friends) has already succeeded admirably in this respect.

It is certainly true that there are light and dark sides to Amanda Knox’s personality as this is the case for every human being on earth, despite this I have become increasingly troubled by her apparent lack of empathy, concern, fear or emotion throughout the trial, this, coupled with her flamboyant gestures of apathy and (at times) arrogance, lead me to feel it is important to explore her character in more depth. Some people might at this stage be wondering how on earth I could presume to analyse the character of a young woman I have never interviewed in a clinical setting or even met, but we must consider the wealth of information about Amanda which is currently in the public domain. This information has not been provided entirely by the media but by the Friends of Amanda (FOA) PR campaign and, through letters, emails, diaries, testimony and observed behaviour in the courtroom, Amanda Knox herself.

The following conclusions are my own and are in no way a clinical diagnosis of a personality disorder. They are also the sum of their individual parts and as such it is important to consider that these individual parts when put into a different context may not be evident of a problem at all. I have come to believe that the sum of these parts indicates a deep routed psychological problem which, if continually ignored will only cause more problems further down the line.

Lack of empathy, fear or observable emotion

Lack of empathy and fear
There is a great deal of evidence that suggests Amanda is not really connecting with her emotional surroundings and it often appears that even though she is well aware that something significant is happening, she doesn’t seem to know how to react to it. The FOA explanation for Amanda’s apparent lack of empathy is often to say she is frightened or intimidated by her surroundings, why then does she often appear in stark contrast to her former lover Raffaele who often looks quite literally terrified? If Amanda was afraid we would expect to see evidence of this in the courtroom, as such, Amanda often appears to be a combination of relaxed, bored, fidgety, excited or blank. The lack of emotion or fear in the courtroom proceedings is merely the tip of the iceberg when we consider the email sent to 23 of her friends and family two days after the murder as well as her inappropriately intimate behaviour with Raffaele immediately after the body was discovered and later at the police station where the two were seen kissing, cuddling, passing notes, laughing and making faces at each other. According to the testimony of one of Meredith Kercher’s English friends Natalie Hayward, Amanda did not cry and on occasion seemed angry, frustrated and even excited. When Natalie expressed the hope that Meredith did not suffer, Amanda replied: “They slit her throat Natalie, she would have died slowly and in a lot of pain.” This statement is crude, insensitive and certainly shows a lack of concern or empathy. Not only that, but when considering that the evidence so far suggests she may have killed Meredith Kercher this statement also implies that Amanda may have derived some kind of pleasure from the immediate (and assumingly horrified) reaction of Natalie Hayward. Similarly, testimony from Sophie Purton, another of Meredith’s English friends showed further evidence of Knox’s lack of empathy or consideration for the emotional significance of what was happening, when a visibly distraught Purton attempted to comfort or seek comfort from Knox with a hug “It was not reciprocated”, instead Amanda “seemed quite cold, and then when I asked what had happened she said, ‘What do you want to know, because I know everything.’ ” There is a significant body of evidence to suggest that Amanda displayed and is continuing to display no emotional response to the murder of her housemate and friend Meredith Kercher.

Facial expressions and body language
Humans are on the whole quite good at indentifying facial expressions and deriving appropriate responses from them. Amanda has been receiving a great deal of criticism for smiling and laughing in court. Despite this, if you actually look at the way Amanda is smiling, it is hard to derive any actual emotional expression in her smile or the rest of her face. Amanda’s smile is all mouth and no eyes, this not only makes her appear slightly manic in many of the photos but is actually quite disturbing, especially when we consider that she is currently on trial for murder. Amanda’s body language is often blank and her facial expressions seem empty and emotionless.

One of the preliminary judges Claudia Matteini said: “Your conduct after the murder is symptomatic of a personality which, considering your young age, provokes no small measure of dismay and apprehension, considering how extremely easy it was for you to control your states of mind.” Worrying indeed.

Sense of grandiose self worth/importance, attention seeking and interaction with others

In her prison diary
Despite the enormous body of evidence against her and the possibility of a very long sentence if convicted, Amanda Knox appears to be enjoying the attention of the world media and her new celebrity status, this is supported by her apparent glee at receiving fan mail in the form of letters from admirers: “I have received letters from fellow inmates and ADMIRERS TELLING ME THAT I AM HOT AND THEY WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH ME.” In a similar sentence she states that people “are acting like I’m the prettiest thing since Helen of Troy.” Though Amanda doesn’t directly compare herself to Helen of Troy, implying that people think this suggests a fairly grandiose ego or sense of self worth. The small sections of the diary that I have read seem as empty and as transparent an attempt to ‘remember’ as her ongoing ‘promise’ to tell the truth. I believe the diary is a show piece that will eventually be sold for cash and Amanda was probably very aware that her diary could be admitted as evidence, therefore it’s content is about as credible and truthful as her statements to the police. Amanda continues to show a lack of emotional response to the death of Meredith in her diary, instead choosing to scrawl the lyrics from the Beetles ‘Let it Be’ over and over which, incidentally, she spends singing loudly for hours a day much to the annoyance of her cellmates. Amanda also devotes a great deal of time commenting on her preoccupation with her looks, weight, tan and moaning about how unfair everything is and how much she wants to go home. The FOA claim this is evidence of how ‘strong’ and ‘optimistic’ Amanda is yet, without deliberately making outrageous presumptions it seems instead to read like the incessant ‘it’s not fair’ style ramblings of a spoiled little girl.

In her observed behaviour
Testimony from friends of Meredith and people that knew Amanda in Perugia indicate that people thought her behaviour was unusual; some even went as far as saying they didn’t like her. Amanda seems to be a very open person and prone to doing whatever she wants to do, whenever she feels like doing it. Testimony from housemate Filomena Romanelli indicates that Amanda was not used to observing the social rules of conversation or proper interaction: “Sometimes she had unusual attitudes, like she would start doing yoga while we were speaking, or she would play guitar while we were watching TV.” Similarly Amanda reportedly sang loudly in a restaurant shortly after meeting a group of people with whom she dined. Robyn Butterworth testified that Meredith felt awkward because “Amanda didn’t flush the toilet” she also testified that Meredith “told us about a bag Amanda had in the bathroom. It had condoms and a vibrator in it. Meredith thought it was strange it was there for all to see.” The testimony of people who lived with and knew Amanda in Perugia indicates some strange ideas about social interaction and living with others: pulling yoga poses in the middle of conversation, playing guitar when others are watching TV (reportedly the same chord over and over again), not flushing the toilet, singing loudly at inappropriate moments and leaving personal items in the bathroom, possibly in the hope of causing the reaction it did. Amanda’s attention seeking and lack of consideration for her housemates was probably seen as quite annoying, they may have distanced themselves from her because of this, thereby making her feel isolated and possibly prone to further attention seeking behaviour. Amanda is certainly aware of her looks and also how to use them and it seems she was rather possessive of the boys downstairs, sleeping with one and having had a crush on another. Testimony from Amy Frost indicates that a slight tension had formed between Amanda and Meredith when Meredith learnt that Giacomo Silenzi, one of the boys downstairs had a crush on her. Amanda reportedly stated “I like Giacomo too but you can have him.” This statement seems to convey arrogance, possessiveness and possibly the implication that Amanda though she was ‘doing Meredith a favour’ by ‘letting her go out with the boy I like’. This, understandably irritated Meredith who, in the interests of sharing some girly gossip with her housemate and friend maybe in the hope of getting some advice, was instead promptly told that she was ‘allowed’ to go out with him. Amanda really doesn’t seem to have many social skills, has a rather inflated ego, a sense of entitlement and self importance.

It is interesting to consider that Amanda was at risk of losing her job at Le Chic because she flirted with customers instead of working, she may have been well aware that her looks and nationality got her the job as her boss (later falsely implicated by Amanda for murder) stated: “She was the first American we met and we hired her because of that.” I certainly doubt that Amanda’s potential motive for the murder was the chance of her losing her job to Meredith at Le Chic, I do however, feel it is possible that Amanda may have falsely implicated Lumumba out of spite as he did eventually fire her.

Sexual promiscuity, impulsivity and risk taking behaviour

The fact that Amanda was sexually active and used drugs and alcohol does not on its own imply that Amanda is in any way different to the many students that go abroad to have a good time, explore and be free of restraint. But Amanda seems to have been particularly enthusiastic about sex, drugs and alcohol to the extent that indicates a level of impulsivity and unreasonable risk taking. Amanda has been portrayed as sexually vivacious, when in reality she was probably just a little promiscuous. Amanda’s ideas about sex and relationships may have been at odds with others and it has been suggested that Meredith disliked the strange men Amanda brought back to the house. Sex alone does not imply impulsiveness and provided it is safe and consensual there is nothing ‘weird’ about it, yet Amanda seemed to have deliberately displayed overtly sexualised behaviour possibly to show off or even to annoy others. Amanda reportedly had random sex with a man on a train whom she did not know as well as several others within a very short time after arriving in Perugia, Meredith and others may have commented on this behaviour and Amanda may have thought them prudish or boring. Amy Frost has testified that Meredith told her that one of the boys from downstairs, Daniel, liked Amanda. Despite the fact he had a sore from herpes on his mouth, Amanda found him exciting and interesting as in her eyes, having herpes made him good in bed. Amanda eventually had sex with him. This testimony suggests that Amanda made a conscious decision to have sex with an individual infected with herpes, knowing there was a risk of contracting this incurable sexually transmitted disease, risk-taking behaviour? You’d better believe it (anyone notice that sore on her mouth recently)

Likewise with the drugs. Amanda has so far only admitted to smoking (massive amounts of) hashish and her friends back home say she would not have tried anything harder. I find this hard to believe for two reasons:  Firstly Amanda’s friends back home didn’t seem to know (or won’t admit) this impulsive risk taking side to her character, Amanda herself admits she was “intoxicated with freedom”  when she arrived, implying that the Amanda they knew in Seattle was a very different Amanda to the one in Perugia. Secondly, drugs are easy to come by in Perugia and probably a little bit more acceptable than they would be in the US, Amanda is impulsive and drugs were there, I’d say it’s more likely than not.

Manipulative and deceitful behaviour

Amanda Knox has above all been rather manipulative and certainly deceitful. Amanda lied about virtually everything since the minute the body was found. Some examples: she claimed to have seen the body when it was discovered whilst at the same time claiming to have been ushered from the house before she could see it, she and Raffaele claimed to have phoned the Carabinieri but did not do so until after the postal police arrived, she told the postal police that Meredith always kept her door locked when the opposite was true, she claimed that Lumumba was at the cottage that night and had gone into the bedroom with Meredith upon which she heard a scream and covered her ears and later retracted this statement as false, the lies go on and on and on, they really are excruciating, exhausting and embarrassing . Amanda also frequently lied in the email she sent to her family and friends. Amanda is a terrible liar and has been caught doing it so many times. I really don’t think she can help herself. The staging of the burglary and possibly the rape, coupled with accusations and changing her story multiple times indicates that Amanda is highly intelligent, manipulative and devious. If the clean-up operation in the house can be proved it will be devastating for Knox and Sollecito, as the cleanup operation left multiple traces of Guede’s DNA yet barely a trace of the other defendants (odd to find only a couple of her fingerprints in the whole house don’t you think?). Committing a murder is one thing, cleaning it up is another but actually attempting to pin all the blame on Rudy Guede is extremely, desperately manipulative and if proved could result in a much stiffer sentence. Amanda’s actions and attempts to cover her tracks, speak louder than words and she has been described as “crafty and cunning” by Judge Massimo Riccarelli. Not a good start at all.

Ideas and conclusions

Each of these parts of Amanda’s observed behaviour and personality when considered individually do not provide the bigger picture of what sort of person we are looking at when we see Amanda. If we believe the FOA that Amanda is a kind, loving, sweet, wonderful person then surely Amanda’s behaviour in Perugia was decidedly different to her behaviour back home, this could indicate that she had been repressing these desires or hiding her behaviour from her family. Amanda’s family have hit back at the media, claiming that she has been portrayed as a devil and Meredith an angel, angel/devil really has nothing to do with it, what we must consider is Amanda’s personality and what insight it could provide into what happened that night, there is no reason to compare Amanda and Meredith. What I have written above is an amalgamation of different sources, reports, testimony etc (none of which contain Foxy Knoxy in the title), the reports I have read have been crossed referenced with others and I believe it is all there and accurate. I could have written more but there really is so much out there to suggest Amanda Knox is certainly not your typical American girl abroad.

Amanda Knox seems to have some deep-rooted psychological problems including an inability to relate emotionally to others or to process emotion; if she is found guilty we will be able to add to this her complete lack of remorse. Amanda is sexually promiscuous, impulsive, restless, tactless and has a rather inflated opinion of herself and her own level of entitlement. She has shown no care or concern for Meredith Kercher or her family, even wearing to court a t-shirt emblazoned with the words ‘all you need is love’ (somebody sack whoever thought that was a good idea). She has put her family through a horrendous ordeal and even now does not realise the gravity of the situation. She has been described as “completely detached from reality” and I doubt that’s too far from the truth.

I wonder why people are still surprised that she has lied, continues to lie and will continue to lie regardless of what eventually happens in this case.

Advertisements