ATLANTA (CBS) How could four individuals, two of them captors and one of them an abducted little girl, come to live together as a family unit for eighteen years? If police have it right, not only did Phillip Garrido, Nancy Garrido, Jaycee Lee Dugard and Garrido's mother live as a family unit, but Phillip Garrido and Jaycee Lee Dugard also had two daughters together (now 11 and 15 years old).
As a forensic psychiatrist, I am interested in how this can happen and what each of them must have been thinking over all those years. Although I have examined none of these individuals, the information in the public domain provides a fascinating glimpse into an extraordinary life.
Let's start with Phillip Garrido. Paroled as a convicted rapist in 1988. He allegedly abducted 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard with the assistance of his wife, Nancy, in 1991. He then used Jaycee as his sex slave and impregnated her for the first time when she was 14 years old.
Typically, in order to rape and kidnap, someone has to think about the victim as an object and not as a human being. This makes it easier. The perpetrator thinks only about his or her own feelings, wishes, and needs. They cannot think about what the victim may be thinking or feeling. They either have no capacity to empathize (e.g., a psychopath) or force themselves not to in order to commit the crimes.
Somewhere along the way, Phillip Garrido says that he changed.
In a jailhouse interview he said that change came after the birth of his second daughter with Dugard. People that worked with him stated that "in the last couple of years, he started to get into this strange religious stuff."
He blogged in 2007 that "THIS ALL BEGAN BY GOD REMOVING A PROBLEM FROM MY SHOULDERS THAT BEHAVIORAL SCIENTIST BELIEVE IS NOT POSSIBLE TO REMOVE. SINCE THEN MY LIFE HAS SEEN MAJOR IMPROVEMENTS ALLOWING ME TO STAND HERE TODAY A FREE MAN."
Does he believe that the birth of his second daughter "cured" him of pedophilia?
Phillip Garrido and Jaycee Lee Dugard spent years together. Behavioral scientists have long discussed how someone in captivity will start to identify with their captor, may come to like them, and even feel sorry for them when they are caught (i.e., the Stockholm Syndrome).
Did that also happen in reverse in this case? Did the Garridos come to think about Dugard as a person and start to actually care for her? It is certainly possible that the births of his own daughters changed his perspective on women and sex. Only those behavioral scientists that examine him and Dugard may ever know.
In a CBS' The Early Show interview, Dugard's stepfather, Carl Probyn, said his little girl, now a woman, felt guilty.
It would be hard to know if Dugard's reported feelings of guilt are related to feeling sorry for her biological parents who lost her or her "adoptive" parents who are now under arrest "because of her."
Nancy Garrido and Phillip's mother, both of whom lived in the house with Phillip Garrido, are more mysterious from a psychiatric perspective. Nancy was either a cold-hearted willing accomplice or an amazingly compliant individual. Some people are so complaint as to never question the requests or commands of an authority figure.
Phillip Garrido's mother may have not known any truths about Dugan or could have been under the psychological control of her son, Phillip. She reportedly suffers from dementia. We don't know what role that might have played.
Based on his jailhouse interview, Garrido needs a psychiatric evaluation. Based on other victims similar to her, Dugard will need extensive help unraveling her feelings about all of this. Her daughters are in a class unto themselves. Their plight is so rare that we can barely speculate as their road ahead.
MORE ON CRIMESIDER
August 28, 2009 - Phillip Garrido: Jaycee Dugard's Girls "Slept in My Arms Every Single Night"
August 28, 2009 - Jaycee Dugard's Stepfather Had "No Idea...We'd Find Her Alive"
August 28, 2009 - Jaycee Lee Dugard Exclusive: Reporter Remembers Girl's Abduction 18 Years Ago
August 28, 2009 - Jaycee Lee Dugard and Two Children Kept in Suburban Backyard: Why Didn't Anyone Know?
August 27, 2009 - Jaycee Lee Dugard Kidnapped, Impregnated, and Forced to Live in Shed, Say Police
August 27, 2009 - Sex Offender and Wife Arrested in Jaycee Lee Dugard Disappearance
August 27, 2009 - Police 99 Percent Sure Jaycee Lee Dugard Found Alive
August 27, 2009 - Tahoe Girl Missing For 18 Years May Be Alive
Mathew W. Norman is a board-certified forensic psychiatrist performing criminal and civil evaluations, including criminal responsibility, competency to stand trial, and fitness for duty. He is located in Atlanta. Psychiatric Associates of Atlanta, LLC