Why Stick to a PTSD Diagnosis Based on Lies by Jodi Arias?

Arias kept lying to evaluating psychologist. Why won't he revise PTSD diagnosis?

Posted Mar 20, 2013

Travis Langley, original screen capture.
Source: Travis Langley, original screen capture.

Jodi Arias killed Travis Alexander. That is not under dispute. Not any longer, that is. Arias had denied it for a long time. Now what's under dispute is why she killed him and under what circumstances. Was she driven by a broken heart, jealousy, anger, revulsion, fear? Did she shoot him in the head, stab him 29 times, and slit his throat ear to ear (Glynn, 2012; Lohr, 2012; Owens, 2013; Winch & Brennecke, 2013) in self defense?

Arias lied to psychologist Richard Samuels repeatedly during his examination of her, and yet he says that does not affect his diagnosis of her (Skoloff, 2013; Stern, 2013), his conclusion that she suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with related dissociative amnesia so she cannot recall the event of the killing itself. After long denying that she killed Alexander and after get caught in one untruth after another, Arias admitted she lied to investigators (Associated Press, 2013; Lohr, 2013). Even though Samuels formed his assessment of her based on a lie-ridden interview, he holds that there is still enough reason to stick to the assessment.

Belief perseverance, the tendency to cling to beliefs even when confronted with evidence to the contrary (Ross, Lepper, & Hubbard, 1975), is a powerful thing. People don't like to admit they're wrong. People don't like to admit they've been fooled. At the moment of this writing, Samuels is in the witness box, repeatedly saying why he would not have revised his diagnosis even under a variety of hypothetical situations. Therapists are just as subject to belief perseverance as anyone else, but in the case of therapists, those individual are sticking to their guns about diagnostic issues that can have lasting impacts on individuals' lives (Ruscio, 2004).

So let's hear from YOU:

Should Samuels have reconsidered his diagnosis when he found out Arias deceived him?

Should he trust diagnostic tests she took during the time when she was attempting to deceive everyone?

Why didn't he readminister psychological tests after she confessed to lying previously?

What should he have done?


Associated Press (2013, February 4). "A soft-spoken Jodi Arias, who is charged with her Arizona boyfriend's murder, testifies in her own defense, admitting she lied to investigators". Retrieved March 20, 2013 from NY Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/jodi-arias-testifies-ariz-trial...

Glynn, C. (2013, January 2). Jodi Arias trial begins in macabre '08 murder of boyfriend Travis Alexander. Retrieved March 20, 2013, from CBS News: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57561666-504083/jodi-arias-trial-...

Lohr, D. (December 31, 2012). Jodi Arias timeline: Key dates in case of California woman accused of stabbing ex-boyfriend 27 times. Retrived March 20, 2013 The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/31/jodi-arias-timeline_n_2387245.html [Note:Article title reflects original estimate of 27, later revised to 29.]

Lohr, D. (2013, February 4). Jodi Arias testimony: Murder suspect says she lied, had plans to commit suicide before trial. Retrieved March 20, 2013, from The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/04/jodi-arias-testimony-murd_n_261...

Owens, R. (2013, January 3). Jodi Arias trial introduces emails that called her slut and whore. Retrieved March 20, 2013, from ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/US/jodi-arias-trial-defense-claims-victim-sexual-d...

Ross, L., Lepper, M. R., & Hubbard, M. (1975) Perseverance in self-perception and social perception: Biased attributional processes in the debriefing paradigm, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 880-892.

Ruscio,  (2004). Diagnoses and behaviors they denote: A critical evaluation of the labeling theory of mental illness.  Retrieved March 20, 2013 from The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice: http://www.srmhp.org/0301/labels.html

Skoloff, B. (2013, March 20). Jodi Arias' psychologist says her lies don't affect diagnosis of amnesia, PTSD. Retrieved March 20, 2013 from Mercury News: http://www.mercurynews.com/nation-world/ci_22831758/jodi-arias-psycholog...

Stern, R. (2013, March 18). Stern, R. (2013, March 18). Richard Samuels, a.k.a. Doctor Fog, hammered by Juan Martinez over Jodi Arias' alleged memory lossRetrieved March 20, 2013 from Phoenix New Times: http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2013/03/richard_samuels_aka...

Winch, G., & Brennecke, K. (2013, January 2). Jodi Arias: Cold-blooded killer or innocent victim? Retrieved March 20, 2013, from HLN: http://www.hlntv.com/slideshow/2012/10/05/jodi-arias-killer-or-victim

More Posts