Guess who was back in court last week? Yep, Jodi Arias, with a hung jury, but also OJ Simpson. I won’t bore you with the legal details, rather I’m struck by the psychological similarities between OJ and Jodi. For the purpose of this analysis I will assume OJ was guilty, and 77% of Americans do indeed feel he got away with murder. However, I must reiterate that he was found not guilty, so my assumption is hypothetical, much like OJ’s ridiculous book, "If I Did It".

The Circumstances:

OJ Simpson and Jodi Arias each had partners that wanted OUT -- yet both were desperately striving to hold on to their possession at any cost. Both Nicole and Travis realized at some point that their partners were dangerous. For Nicole, she told friends about the abusive OJ, but they all kept the little secret, wanting to protect her privacy. I mean, this was OJ Simpson, the football great! What was he going to do -- kill her? Nicole's 911 calls to police provided documentation of their troubled relationship, but didn't prevent the cycle of abuse that eventually lead to murder. 

In Arias' case, it was Alexander who wanted to end the relationship. He was starting to see the Arias his friends warned him about -- the manipulative, the strange and the very, scary girlfriend. When Alexander tried to break it off, that's when she got desperate and began a last ditch effort to keep Travis. This lead to an almost identical murder.

Both blamed the victim--- OJ claimed Nicole had dual personalities and anger problems and engaged in drug parties with friends. Arias claimed Alexander was an abuser and -- surprise, surprise -- a pedophile, all of which was unfounded.

Nicole Brown Simpson was brutally murdered-- stabbed multiple times in the chest and slashed at the throat, almost decapitated. Similarly, Travis Alexander was stabbed multiple times in the chest, back, head, slashed at the throat to the point of almost decapitation and shot in the face.

The Alexander and Brown-Simpson killings were eerily similar: attraction, hope, love, stalking, obsession and finally, the ultimate betrayal – a brutal, savage murder.

The Mindset:

Neither OJ nor Arias could accept losing their lover. It wasn't just love -- it was an obsession, the dangerous kind of thinking that focuses on possessing another... no matter what.

Obsessive love, is not about love and it goes hand-in-hand with abuse. It’s all about the power over and control of, a partner. They cannot restrain themselves, cannot think rationally and lose all sense of control. Obsessive love is highly dangerous, and follows a script that’s been described in many articles and books, including The Obsessive Love Wheel. The pattern is amazingly consistent. I call the partners in these situations, the ‘obsessed’ and the ‘victim’.

(1) Intense attraction – It starts with a pathological attraction to another. Thoughts like ‘this is the most beautiful person in the world’ and, ‘this is my soul mate for life’ are common. Controlling behavior is triggered as the obsessed ruminates on the beauty and perfection of the victim.

(2) Anxiety and fear -- Fear of infidelity kicks in quickly. The obsessed thinks, “If I find this person so perfect, than others will too” and “everybody wants to sleep with my partner”. This escalates the obsessive thought pattern of the obsessed. The anxiety centers around not being good enough for the victim and fears that he/she will leave.

(3) Obsession – The partner becomes the constant focus of the obsessed. This is when the first signs of abuse occur- usually psychological and verbal first, but this can quickly escalate to physical. Also, control becomes mandatory with hundreds of calls, visits and drive-byes. Breaking into email accounts and social media sites is not uncommon. The obsessed, doesn’t trust the victim with anyone else and starts to isolate the victim from family and friends.

(4) Destruction – Eventually it all becomes overwhelming and the victim wants out. The obsessed then feels driven to "win" the other back. This is first done with kindness and promises of, “I’ll never do it again” but that rarely lasts long and violence may flare up out of the blue. Anger, rage, despair, fantasy and revenge are now the norm for the obsessed. Sometimes the mind turns dark and murder becomes an option with the thought, "If I can't have her/him, no one will!"

The Symptoms:

Pathological lying: If, as America believes, OJ was guilty then he would be one of the greatest liars of all time. Nicole Brown-Simpson's diary also adds some clarity here. She called OJ a monster and details over and over how he stalked her throughout the day. In addition, she documents verbal tirades of hate as well as physical blows and hard kicks. Yet, all of this was prohibited from the courtroom as heresy.

What was allowed were photos of Brown Simpson's battered face from a Simpson beating. But OJ denied, denied, denied... and still denies he ever laid a hand on her. And, let's also not forget the audacity of OJ's book, If I Did It. Writing a book about a murder you committed as if you didn’t do it, and then explaining how you would have done it if you had done it, may be the biggest lie ever.

Arias was just as bad. After she murdered Alexander, she went to another man's house for a make out session, and this guy had no clue she had just killed another. A couple of days later, she called and left Travis a voicemail, knowing full well his body was rotting in the shower, right where she left him days earlier.

First she told police she wasn't anywhere around Mesa, AZ when Travis was murdered. Then the story became about ninjas breaking into his house and murdering him while she was terrified and barely escaped with her life. Finally she claimed he abused her and was a pedophile and she killed in self-defense. Any story would do, any lie would work. 

Narcissism: OJ Simpson and Jodi Arias are identical when it comes to their selfish focus and disregard for anyone else. OJ is not capable of having empathy for others, and lacks a conscious . Even though he was acquitted of the murders, he was oh so smug about it. He never showed any sadness for the death his ex-wife. Once released, he touted he was going to find the true killer -- though I seriously doubt the killer was on the golf course, which is where he hung out. Who can do this? Someone without a conscious. Simpson’s book is the ultimate flip off to Goldman and Brown-Simpson's families, who were devastated by their loss. 

OJ had the ‘I’m the greatest’ mindset that says no matter what I’ve done, I’m too good for jail. He was convicted for armed robbery because the stuff he stole had his autograph on it and therefore, in his mind, belonged to him. And he wanted it back no matter what or how or who had it. So what if he broke into that room armed with a gun? Plus, what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas, especially for OJ.

Travis Alexander wanted to move on without Jodi and she could not let that happen. This was a blow to her narcissistic ego of monumental proportions. She was going to have to teach him a lesson. He could not -- he WOULD NOT do that to her. She's Jodi Arias, and said, “I’m as smart as Einstein”. She authored her manifesto while in jail and gave it to a friend in the hopes of selling it one day after she became famous. Typical pathological self-focus, not worried about the death of another, rather seeking to profit from it.

Arias claims the killing of Travis was justified, and minutes after her first degree murder conviction, she was on the national news -- with makeup, coiffed hair and a sweater to hide her jail stripes. She blames Alexander, her parents, the prosecutor, the defense, the judge, the jury-- just about everyone else for the guilty verdict.

Finally, look at both of these two -- do you see either crying over a murdered loved one? Of course not; they're not important. Each wants the focus and the spotlight to be fixed only on them. The dead people are a non- issue.

Say “I’m Sorry”? NEVER: OJ has never said I'm sorry, and neither has Arias. That would mean they did something wrong. OJ will never admit to killing his ex, or abusing her, or stealing sports memorabilia and Arias will always claim she killed in self-defense.

OJ has never apologized for the loss of Brown Simpson and Goldman. Even though he was found not-guilty, a simple “I’m sorry for your loss” to the families would seem to be a compassionate act, that any normal person would do. Instead, he happily walked away and spent countless of hours on golf courses searching for the "real" killer.

Arias, for her part, was found guilty of premeditated first degree murder. Still, she has not told the Alexander family "I'm sorry". When reporter Ryan Owens poked her about this, she apologized for not saying the words "I'm sorry", explaining that those words seem inadequate. Whatever.


There are a striking number of similarities between the actor/jock OJ Simpson and the waitress/photographer Jodi Arias. They both sit in prison, claiming their innocence and blaming the world for their current plight. Neither has accepted one iota of responsibility for where they are.

Perhaps the most befitting sentence for these two would be life in prison... as cellmates? They could tell each other lies on a daily basis and proclaim their innocence. OJ could give pointers to Jodi for a book and Jodi could help OJ with a memoir. Day in and day out they would have to wonder what evil thought may be churning through the brain of the other. Naturally, paranoia would set in. I imagine neither would be able to sleep much, in fear of what the other may do. 

Well unfortunately, that’s not going to happen, they will never be cell mates….. or soul mates. Obviously this is a bit of fantasy which was useful to compare and contrast their shockingly similar behavior.

The more I study these high profile cases, the more I see pathological narcissism with anti-social traits as a common denominator in the perpetrators. In addition, impulsive behavior and pathological lying is the norm. Not only are there frequent lies, but they are all extremely proficient liars.

Modern psychiatry breaks down when analyzing these individuals based on the current diagnostic system, and for good reason. The DSM was not designed to define or explain criminal behavior. These two do not meet the diagnostic criteria for much and even if they did it would mean little and not tell us anything about why they did what they did. To understand the mind of a killer and the personality traits involved we need a new diagnostic manual developed specifically for this. Stay tuned.

For more on Jodi Arias:

Is Jodi Arias A Sociopath?

Does Jodi Arias Have Borderline Personality Disorder?

Is Jodi Arias A Battered Woman?

Jodi Arias --- Guity, Murder 1: A Psychiatric Analysis

For more on OJ Simpson:

Inside The Mind Of OJ Simpson

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About the Author

Dr. Dale Archer

Dale Archer, M.D., is a clinical psychiatrist and the author of Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional.

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