I just finished reading the book Fiend by Harold Schechter. It is the true story of the crimes and conviction of America's youngest serial killer, Jesse Pomeroy. He was a full blown narcissistic psychopath lust killer by the tender age of 14. Of course, these terms didn't exist back in 1874. He became known as the "boy fiend" thanks to the tabloid journalism of that era.

What I want to bring to your attention is the striking illustration Pomeroy presents of my last post. The absolute lack of introspection. This lack is highlighted all the more by the nearly incomprehensible length of his confinement in solitary. Forty-one years -- the second longest in U.S. penal history. The severity of his confinement was most pronounced in the first decade when he was confined to a very small, mostly dark cell. Here is a quote from page 263 of the book:

Clinical studies have proven that prisoners subjected to even relatively short periods in solitary confinement commonly begin to show severe psychopathological symptoms, ranging from hallucinations to panic attacks to paranoid delusions. More protracted stints can drive a man to madness.
So the question is: was Jesse Pomeroy already "mad" and therefore had no sanity to lose? Or was he in possession of an "indomitable spirit" as he was credited to having by James R. Wood, a onetime Boston police detective who had played a key role in Jesse's arrest half a century previous to Mr. Wood's statement about Jesse's spirit?

I will back up that half century to Jesse's conviction in 1874. The boy was examined in prison by several psychologists, called back then "alienists". Here is an excerpt from the observations of one of these psychologists named Tyler. He first observed that Jesse was physically and intellectually average.

By contrast, his 'moral sensibility' was strikingly aberrant. Though able to discriminate between right and wrong when presented with various hypothetical cases, Jesse was absolutely 'obtuse' when it came to his own crimes. "He evinces no pity for the boys tortured or for the victims of his homicide," Tyler writes, "and no remorse or sorrow for his acts." Moreover, his wildly "contradictory statements" -- his detailed "account of killing the children and subsequent denial of any agency therein" -- were the sign of a deeply duplicitous nature. Fiend, page 162

Even though it was apparent by examining Jesse, as well as how he conducted his crimes, that Jesse was not insane, his defense team knew all they had was to try to convince a jury that Jesse was indeed insane. The all-male jury couldn't quite go there with the defense and so they convicted Jesse of first degree murder. It was not the place for the jury to recommend a sentence but they attached a note to the verdict requesting Jesse not be executed for his crime due to his young age. Jesse was given a sentence of death as the law required, but the governor of Massachusetts was under a lot of pressure to reduce the sentence. After much wrangling, and the election of a new governor, Jesse's sentence was reduced to life in solitary confinement. Some argued that was more cruel than the death sentence.

Now, more to my point of observation. Jesse spent his entire time in prison working tirelessly and patiently to escape. He was able to fashion tools like chisels, knives, picks, etc. from prying pieces of metal off of various objects or finding innocuous objects in the yard on this rare exercise romps. His mechanical bent of mind enabled him to come up with some ingenious improvisations. His prison records reveal that he was disciplined for escape attempts every year, sometimes several times a year. What becomes evident when reading the account of his prison activities is that his every power of mind was focused on one thing: escaping. When he wasn't trying to dig, scrape or bomb his way out of his cell, or making tools to facilitate escape, he worked diligently on another form of possible escape: the law. He became a quasi-lawyerly prisoner as he consumed hours in reading law books and persecuting the courthouse with his endless stream of requests for documents and demands for attention to his case. One of the benefits he received from his repeated escape attempts was that it kept him in the limelight. He reveled in the attention he received from the press each time he was caught trying to escape. He loved to brag about each attempt as he would describe how he did it.

What becomes very evident is that Jesse not only didn't go insane while confined in solitary for 41 years, he thrived. He was able to avoid any opportunity for introspection even though he only had himself for company for over four decades!! This is a profound illustration of how it is possible to avoid introspection even when sent away from human contact for an interminable length of time. He focused every shred of his mental energy on escape. It is also how he determinedly persisted in his belief that his cause was just. He was unjustly incarcerated and therefore it was his right to try to escape. His constant focus on escape was how he escaped introspection.

It should be noted here as evidence of Jesse actually thriving in solitary was that when his sentence was eventually reduced to just life in prison Jesse refused to leave his solitary cell for three months! He knew he would not have some of the amenities in the general population that he had in his solitary cell like being able to control the heat, having all the room he needed for his rather large personal library, as well as not having to work. All prisoners were required to work, but Jesse had avoided that while in solitary. He was absolutely lazy. He was able to get out of work after being released into 'gen pop' because the jailers didn't want to have to constantly punish him and receive bad press for being crueler to Jesse now than when in his solitary cell.

Obviously, Jesse was a psychopath. A malignant narcissist is likely not a psychopath, but all psychopaths are malignant narcissists so there are behaviors and thought patterns that are identical with both malignant narcissists and psychopaths. The refusal to introspect is one of them. I drew your attention to Diane Downs in my last post because she has managed to avoid introspection for 25 years as testified to by those who have examined her state of mind. Jesse Pomeroy shows us that Diane will not be any the wiser once she gets to forty plus years of incarceration. Neither will the malignant narcissist in your life. You cannot exile them from your life for any length of time with the expectation that they may have possibly come to a place of recognition of what and who they are and what their crimes have been. There is no exhausting their ability to justify themselves and their resolute ability to avoid any inward look at the evil within.

Jesse Pomeroy was an extreme case of isolation. When he got to the other end of his life (he died in prison at age 73 = 59 years in prison total) he was utterly unchanged. He was as narcissistic and mentally immature as he was at age 14. He was intelligent, but forever immature. He consumed all 8,000 plus books in the prison library and read many of them several times. He wasn't a mental deficient. He certainly wasn't insane. He was forever a case of arrested development emotionally as is true of all malignant narcissists. They never grow up past age six emotionally no matter what intellectual accomplishments they may boast of in adulthood.

Don't assume the malignant narcissist in your life is not as extreme as Jesse was in terms of the absolute and profound lack of any introspection. In this regard, Jesse was the norm and not the exception for malignant narcissists. Simply by virtue of the fact that he ended up incarcerated for so long we have been given a clear picture of just how resolute the malignant narcissist really is in their refusal to admit to what they are.

You've exiled the malignant narcissist. Make sure it is until death. There is not enough reason to nurture any hope of their reformation. To do so will only place your well-being at risk yet again. Malignant narcissists should all be put into solitary confinement. The next best thing is you putting them into solitary of sorts i.e. going 'no contact' with them. At this point, there is no salvation for the narcissist that you can bring about. Your only hope lies in your own salvation. Lock up the narcissist and throw away the key. They will be just fine without you. There is no confinement that will permeate the walls they've thrown up around their consciences. No prison sentence you invoke will reach their inner life. You are not hurting the narcissist with 'no contact', you are saving your own sanity and the well-being of yourself and those you love. 'No contact' is not punishment. It is not vengeance. It is confinement. A cage you put the dangerous beast in to limit his ability to cause further harm.

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