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Casey Anthony Trial and the Enneagram

For weeks, I’ve been thinking about writing this blog on the dynamics of the Casey Anthony trial, that has been riveting at least part of the US public. For the past three years, I’ve been following the unfolding of the crime (or “incident,” if you think the accused murderer of her two year-old daughter is innocent) with obsessive attention to its details, twists and turns, and now the trial itself.

The Characters
There are so many aspects of the circumstances related to this trial that grabbed my attention: Casey Marie Anthony, the attractive 25 year-old mother who is the best liar almost anyone has ever seen, with the ability to spin stories in incredible detail; Cindy Marie Anthony, the intense, controlling grandmother, a nurse-manager who dearly loved her granddaughter and actually functioned as a surrogate mother to the dead child, but who loves her daughter enough to clearly perjure herself on the witness stand; George Anthony, the compelling grandfather, an ex-police officer who is a complex combination of a stand-up guy and a passive player in the family system, who tells the truth but also obscures it; Lee, the older brother, who is a lesser but emotional player, seemingly swept to the side in the triangular relationship between Casey, Cindy, and George and who seems to have an odd (overly attached) relationship to his sister, Casey; and finally, Caylee Marie Anthony, the dead two year-old, an adorable and very loving little girl, doted on by her grandparents, who met a gruesome death, discarded in the woods near the Anthony house and found six months later (I’ll spare the details).

The Enneagram Aspects
Much has been made on-air and in the press about the Anthony family dysfunction. Honestly, the family system does seem dysfunctional, but most families have some dysfunction, and I’ve seen and lived in worse dysfunction than this in my family of origin. But to understand the Anthony family’s version of dysfunction, the Enneagram can help. The following ideas are speculative and based on the facts involved, watching all the players on TV for 3 years, and observations of the trial proceedings.

Casey Marie (the mother on trial)
Casey Anthony is most likely a Seven (possibly a self-preservation subtype) who is extremely low functioning, even though she looks (but doesn’t act) perfectly normal. What do Sevens do? They pursue their own pleasure (Casey Anthony, for example, gets a large tattoo on her back that reads “Bella Vita” or “beautiful life” and treats everyone at the tattoo parlor to pizza – on money she has stolen – within days after she now admits she knew her daughter was dead). Sevens also reframe negative events into positive ones as a way of avoiding pain, discomfort, and/or responsibility. For example, Casey learns – while in jail when everyone thinks Caylee might still be alive, but before the body is found and she is charged with murder – that there is a large reward for finding her daughter. Casey’s response is that this money should be used to free her on bail. Sevens are also amazing storytellers, and many embellish reality, although they usually do so in order to paint an overly positive view of reality. Casey Anthony, it seems, has taken story telling into a new domain. Impulsivity is also common among Sevens; what’s in their minds comes quickly out of their mouths, and their actions, at best, are spontaneous, and at worst, impulsive. Could Casey Anthony have intentionally killed her daughter in a fit of impulsive anger over feeling restricted and trapped by the responsibilities of motherhood? Above all else, Sevens hate being restrained or limited.

The reason I speculate that Casey may be a self-preservation subtype Seven is because she is the ultimate opportunist. Most self-preservation Sevens seek opportunities to create an advantage for themselves, and their gluttony (the emotional passion of Sevens) focuses on making a good deal for themselves at every opportunity. Claudio Naranjo says that this subtype of Seven is the most likely of all Sevens to be promiscuous, as their gluttony can take the form of having numerous, multiple sexual relationships. Casey Anthony’s behavior certainly fits this description: multiple sets of partying friends; a list of boyfriends (all look-alikes) so long it’s hard to keep them straight; taking advantage of her parents, grandparents, and friends by stealing money, checks, and credit cards to pay for non-essential items (her parents, the grandparents were paying most of Caylee Anthony’s, the murdered child’s, expenses).

What makes her more complicated and so confounding is that she also displays extreme narcissism (egotism, vanity, selfishness, and indifference to the plight of others), could easily be a borderline personality (destructive or self-destructive feelings; mood extremes; fragmentation or lack of identity; feelings of victimization; and splitting, the switching better idealizing or demonizing others), and many psychologists believe she is either a sociopath (glib charm, cunning and conning, lack of empathy, entitlement, pathological lying, shallow emotions, callousness, impulsive, promiscuous, parasitic lifestyle) or worse, a psychopath (take all the sociopathic characteristics and add cold-blooded).

Cindy Anthony (the grandmother, Casey’s mother)
Cindy Anthony is extremely likely to be an Enneagram One, most likely a 1-1 (aka sexual) subtype. Ones are perfectionists, with high standards and an equally high need for control, of themselves, others, and their environments. They are precise, detail oriented, highly responsible, tend to be critical and have strong opinions, most of which are obvious to those around them. Cindy Anthony and her daughter had frequent conflicts, most often described as conflicts in which Cindy criticized Casey’s lifestyle and mothering. In videos taken before the trial, Cindy is often front and center, taking charge of the press, the family’s interactions with the outside world, and some have described her as a highly controlling person. During the trial, photos were shown of the Anthony garage. What is remarkable about them is how orderly everything appeared, with items carefully placed in garbage bags, one next to another with military precision. During her testimony, Cindy Anthony could recall what each look-alike bag contained, when it was placed there, and when it was removed. (This was relevant because items found with the remains of her granddaughter, Caylee, were the same or similar items missing from the garage shelves.)

Cindy is most likely a One-to-One subtype, called “zeal,” because this subtype of Ones are reformers with a driving, incessant, and intense need to perfect other people. Wanting to improve them while simultaneously relating to them very closely. There is an intensity (hence, the name “zeal”) behind their desires, and they want exactly what they want and go after it, as if it is their given right to pursue it, though they do not assume (like Sevens such as her daughter, Casey) that they will get it or are inherently entitled to it. I think anyone who has seen Cindy Anthony on TV before or during the trial would say that she is highly intense, extremely emotional, and exceptionally driven.

George Anthony (the grandfather, Casey’s father)
When I first saw George Anthony on TV, my impression was that he might be a Nine with an Eight wing. He was quiet compared to his wife, Cindy, and seemed more temperate in nature. However, over the next three years, George’s simmering fuse of anger burst repeatedly, and his emotionality became more apparent. I came to think of him as an Eight who had been containing himself and then couldn’t keep it in any longer. Why an Eight, and a one-to-one subtype at that? Eights hold their ground, have no use for untruths (as they perceive them), are easy to anger and also use anger to mask their own sadness and anxiety from others, but especially from themselves. One-to-One Eights are the most rebellious, passionate, and intense of all Eights, and their power often comes from the intensity of their relationships with others. They tend to provoke and/or seduce. All of these qualities became more apparent over time, as George was deposed, interacted with the media, and was on the stand during the trial. He was quick to anger, but equally quick to cry, particularly over love for his dead granddaughter. When interacting with the media, he was the most likely of the three family members (George, Cindy, Lee) to explode, but usually with some provocation. He became a compelling character in the unfolding events, apparently the first and most persistent family member to sense that Casey was lying and to probe about what happened to his granddaughter, and even attempting suicide when it all got to be too much for him.

Lee Anthony (the brother)
I do not have any read on Lee Anthony’s type, although what type he is not may be more clear. He is unlikely to be a Five (he’s too emotional and expressive publicly); not a Nine (he does not seem relaxed, easy-going, or energetically dispersed under pressure); not an Eight (Lee does not exhibit much self-assertion, though he is not passive); not a One (he does not seem to get irritated easily); and not a Seven (Lee is focused and expresses sadness easily). So that leaves Two, Three, Four, and Six. Of these four types, Three is the least likely because he appears to be able to put aside his needs to appear confident and competent; in fact, he is highly emotional. So that leaves Two, Four, and Six, and I am not sure. He has been the least public member of the family, so there is less visible and written data about him.

The Family Dynamics
According to Lee, he was excluded multiple times from important family events involving his sister – for example, her pregnancy with Caylee, Caylee’s disappearance, and more. My guess is that this is not the first time he has been more tangential than central to the family. The Anthony family dynamics appear to be more of a triangle (Cindy, George, Casey) that a rectangle.

Much has been made about the family’s dysfunction, but I think it is far simpler than dysfunction. It is an 8, 1, 7 triangle.

Constraints and Control
If I am right that Casey is a Seven (who hates anyone trying to curtail her freedom), with a very strong dose of narcissism, a good case of borderline personality, and either sociopathy and psychopathy, with two Body Center type parents (George an Eight and Cindy a One), the control dynamics and power struggles between and among them must have been explosive. Eights and Ones like to be in control and, as spouses, often engage in power struggles about, well, just about everything. TV commentators have referred to George pushing to find out what really happened to Caylee with some force, but that he was told to “back off.” No one has said who told him to move away from the issues, but it is most likely Cindy who did so. As a master manipulator, Casey Anthony likely dealt with these control issues by playing her parents off against one another, allowing her to wiggle through the cracks. Imagine the two of them raising an out-of-control, manipulative and charming daughter, a Seven who resists control from others (and particularly authority figures since, from their perspective, no one is entitled to tell them what to do).

Ones like Cindy can be highly critical, which Eights like George push against, perceiving it as a form of control, and discomfort-avoidant Sevens like Casey experience it as a painful attack on self. Eights ignore or fight back, while Sevens ignore, tell stories to make it go away, and blame others if nothing else works. But when Ones criticize, they mean it and expect to be taken seriously. Imagine the family dynamics when Cindy would criticize Casey or George. George would have defended Casey if he thought Cindy were being unfair (Eights value fairness and believe it is their responsibility to defend the downtrodden). If Cindy criticized him about how he was dealing with Casey (too strict, too lenient, too direct, too whatever), George would have argued at first, but with a persistent One, some Eights will start to implode and stop talking. George may have stopped talking.

Add to this mix that as Body Center Types, Cindy and George would both have anger as the emotional underpinning of their types. Enter Casey as the recipient (and igniter) of their anger, and imagine the kinds of volatile interactions that must have occurred. There are stories of Casey getting into physical fights with each parent over what happened to her daughter. True or not, these stories become believable given the Casey resistance to authority, her lies, and the frustration and anger her parents must have felt. The fire must have been hot in that house.

All human beings have defense mechanisms and each Enneagram type has a special mechanism, one they use most frequently. The three Body Center types (8,9,1) each use a form of denial, and in this instance, the specific forms of denial are less interesting that the fact the Cindy and George (a One and Eight, respectively) would share denial as their primary psychological defense strategy in tough (and not so tough) times. As a result, they would go into denial when Casey exhibited unacceptable behavior: denial: when a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it, instead insisting that it is not true despite what might be overwhelming evidence. How could either of them accept the probable fact that their own daughter murdered their beloved granddaughter?

The All-American Family!
During a recent TV interview, Casey Anthony’s aunt was asked when Casey seemed to go “wrong,” and how she would describe the family. The aunt replied that she hadn’t known anything about Casey being a problem and that “They always seemed like an all-American family to me.” Maybe this is all too true!

The Other Trial Players
Nancy Grace
From the beginning, Nancy Grace, a former prosecutor turned TV personality, has featured “Tot Mom,” as she calls Casey Anthony, and Grace has been sure from the beginning it was Casey who did it. Nancy Grace is fueled by strong Enneagram Eight (social subtype) energy to correct social ills, particularly finding missing children and mothers or, if not, bringing the perpetrators and predators to justice. She is tough in shielding others from injustice, combined with a surprising and often-seen sweetness. Grace has been relentless in her coverage of this case and is, in my opinion, the person most responsible for bringing this case to the public’s attention. She knows about victimhood firsthand, having had a fiancé murdered when she was much younger.

Jeff Ashton
Ashton is the slightly professorial, extremely smart Florida State lead prosecutor in this case, a slim elegant man of middle age with the mind like a surgeon’s scalpel. After watching him for several weeks, I think it likely that he is an Enneagram One, but of a different variety from Cindy Anthony. More a self-preservation subtype, he wants and expects to get it all right: timing, concepts, facts, and delivery. He has little use for dilettantes, buffoons, and people who don’t play by the rules. Normally, he is self-contained and under control, except the day of closing arguments. Even though it was impolite, against the rules, and inappropriate, Jeff Ashton could not contain his disdain for the lead defense attorney’s illogical arguments, use of crass language, and sheer bravado. Jeff Ashton laughed and smirked during closing arguments and got in trouble with the judge. But it was sure worth it, at least in mind and probably Ashton’s as well.

Jose Baez
Jose Baez should have never taken this case. It’s a loser, too high profile, and Baez has only been licensed to practice law for three years (compare this to Ashton’s three decades). Why only three years? It should have been 11, but for the fact that the Florida would not give him his license for eight years due to back child support he owed, writing bad checks, and more. Why did Casey Anthony choose him? Three other inmates said he was good. Why did he take this case? My goodness, why not? It could make him famous (infamous) in a really short time period.

I think Baez, like George, is an Enneagram Eight (but Baez is a self-preservation subtype), and he makes George look like the paragon of self-development. Baez is big, bold, blustery, and with so much bravado he makes Donald Trump look humble. Of all the Eights, self-preservation Eights go after what they want directly and they expect, even demand, to get it. They know how to survive, but even more, they know how to get the upper hand. Baez is grandiose and probably equally paranoid, as the two usually go together, but paranoia is probably a useful talent to have as he creates utterly implausible, alternative conspiracy theories of reality about what happened to Caylee, in order to confuse the jurors and, perhaps, get them to give her a lesser charge just so they never have to hear from him again. Admittedly, I don’t like him very much, as I think he insults the intelligence of anyone listening to him, and I am.

The 2nd Prosecutor
I wish I knew more about Linda Drane-Burdick, so I could make a stronger guess about her type. She was not as central to the trial as Jeff Ashton, but she was sensational during closing arguments. I am wondering if she might be a Two, simply because she is highly relational, warm, and seems very capable, can be passionate when her values get triggered, but she is a little uncomfortable drawing too much attention to herself.

The Judge: the Honorable Belvin Perry
Judge Belvin Perry is my new hero. Having grown up under segregation in the South, Judge Perry suffers no fools and takes no hostages. He knows the rules, plays by them, and expects others to do the same. He cares not at all about the cameras (think of him as Judge Lance Ito’s, of OJ Simpson fame, polar opposite), is full of low-key witticisms, is even-handed and really does his homework, and he has kept control of the court without getting angry.  He is clearly in role and stays there, which makes it more difficult to guess his type, but I will anyway. I think he is an Enneagram Nine, and here’s why. He demands respect for everyone in the courtroom and treats absolutely everyone with courtesy, even the young man who gave Jeff Ashton his middle finger right in the middle of the proceedings and for not apparent reason other than to be a jerk. Judge Perry was clearly displeased at this show of disrespect, chastised the young man in full view of the television audience, but did so in a way to teach him (and others) a lesson rather than to humiliate him. Judge Perry likes the rules, is very funny in a self-deprecating way, appears rather homey and humble, and looks like someone who would rather be relaxing at home than the sharp-minded no-nonsense person he is on the bench. In addition, he does take in all viewpoints, never loses his cool, and has kept this cast of characters under control. Maybe he’s a Nine with an Eight wing.

I do think Casey Anthony is guilty of killing her daughter, but whether it was premeditated or an accident caused by an overdose of chloroform used to put her daughter to sleep (stupid, unconscionable, and still murder) is hard to know or prove. I also do not believe George Anthony molested Casey as a child, which her defense claims is the cause of her incessant, unrepentant lying, her extremely odd behavior (partying for 31 days while she knew her daughter was missing; not engaging in any search whatsoever), and her lack of any demonstrable sadness about the death of her daughter. She came up with the molestation idea (another story) in jail a month or so ago, based on a dream she had that her brother had molested her, so she wondered if her father had, too. Maybe she got this idea from another inmate. A little late in the game to make up this story!

Let’s see what the jury says!

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Martin Snapp
11 years ago

This is absolutely fascinating.

11 years ago

Great work, But you didn’t have a chance to analyze the jury. A prosecutor’s and defendant’s best tool for jury deliberation is “Jury Deliberations 101” a new course I am going to offer on the internet. I have sat on 3 criminal jury’s. All 3 started their deliberations with a vote. I predicted a non guilty verdict on any murder charges and a guilty verdict on lying to the police. How did I arrive at this outlandish result. Just sit on a jury and you will be amazed what you learn about people. All 3 jury’s first votes came back… Read more »

11 years ago

First of all, I think it is EXCELLENT you went through and typed all the key players. Love it! I too love Belvin Perry–I think you’re right on with that description. I think, from what I have seen of Lee Anthony, that he is probably a 4. He gets quite emotional, and kept referencing being “left out” of everything in the family, which plays into a disintegrated four’s ‘poor me’ outlook. (that is, if his testimony in June about the baby shower was in fact truthful). Do you think it’s possible that Casey is an 8w7 vs. 7w8? I think… Read more »

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