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Madame LaLaurie

Madame LaLaurie Paulette Fullington Psy 303: Abnormal Psychology Professor Cheri Hansen January 31, 2011

Madame LaLaurie

On April 11, 1834, a fire ravaged Royal Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, revealing an abominable and horrifying secret to the town. The few records that can be found mention over and over how gruesome the circumstances in which they found at least seven slaves belonging to the LaLaurie family. In the words of the reporter, Seven slaves more or less horribly mutilated were seen suspended by the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other. Language is powerless and inadequate to give a proper conception of the horror(The New Orleans Bee, 4/11/1834). Although its usually better to summarize than to quote, you chose a quote that is quite powerful; it immediately alerts the reader to the importance of the topic. This is what I mean when I say to only quote material that is worthy. Id agree that this one is worthy. Usually a page number is needed for a quotation; Im not sure if that is available from 1834. If you quote from a web site, cite the paragraph number. The end quotation mark goes before the citation. I would cite that as a source with no author, if there is none. (Ill post an announcement later today with a link to a very helpful source for quotations and references.) What kind of person could commit such horrendous acts? Why would they do this to another human being? Was there evidence of an Axis II personality disorder in the carnage they wrought upon another human being? The person to whom these atrocious crimes are attributed to is a woman, Madame Delphine LaLaurie. There are only a few things that are well known about her, mostly basic information. She had three husbands; Dr. LaLaurie was the third, the previous two having died. She was born in 1775 and died during 1842. The house she resided in was known, as was she, for spectacular social engagements, and for being the center of high society in not only New Orleans, but throughout most of Louisiana (www.nola.com incorrect citation; Castellanos, 1961, pp. 60-61 only cite page numbers for citations). A lot of myth and urban legend sprang up around Madame LaLaurie

Madame LaLaurie

and her crimes, but what is consistent is the story of the seven slaves that were found. A torturous device, called a carcarn In APA style, only use quotation marks for actual quotations, which must be cited with page number. You can use italics for emphasis. , was placed on the necks of at least one slave according to the records; a carcarn is a wide collar, made of iron, which typically has sharp edges and was used for restraining slaves, usually to a post (Castellanos, 1961, p. 54). Few accounts remain of her nature, the accounts of the crime taking precedence over records of the woman herself. However, the little information that remains contends that to society she presented as a pious, kind woman who was generous to the poor and the sick, as well as with the large retinue of familiar servants (Castellanos, 1961, p. 61). Even Castellanos finds it hard to reconcile the two sides of her nature, as well as the barbaric behavior she exhibited (1961, p. 6061). During her lifetime, psychology was still in its infancy, so a modern diagnosis would not have been found in her time. Unfortunately there are not really enough in-depth records to make a true full psychological diagnosis, semicolon however, based on the information, available from sources other than Madame LaLaurie, it is possible that she suffered from Axis II personality disorders, namely Antisocial Personality and possibly Narcissistic Personality disorders. In order to classify for Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) under the criteria of DSM IV TR, the patient, in this case Delphine LaLaurie comma must meet the following: these criteria should be summarized in your own words rather than copied verbatim. A. There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:

Madame LaLaurie

1. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
2. Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for

personal profit or pleasure 3. Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead


4. Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults

5. Reckless disregard for safety of self or others 6. Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations 7. Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another B. The individual is at least age 18 years. C. There is evidence of Conduct Disorder with onset before age 15 years.
D. The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of

Schizophrenia or a Manic Episode (DSM IV TR. 2000. p. 706). It is my belief that Madame LaLaurie exhibited the first, second, fourth, fifth and seventh criteria, as evidenced by her unlawful torture of the slaves, the fact that she tried to cover it up, again the torture for fourth and fifth, and the fact that she seemed unremorseful when leaving, treating it possibly as an act of necessity to saving her life. Furthermore, I feel there is a high likelihood that there was a possibly comorbid diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). This would

Madame LaLaurie

have been much more effective if you had stated the specific criteria and provided evidence for each one, by name, rather than referring to them by number. Is there any evidence of these activities beginning at age 15? The NPD, for brevitys sake, I will not list here, other than the ones that I feel apply to Madame LaLaurie. There must be five criteria met for a diagnosis of NPD. Madame LaLaurie seems to present the following: grandiose sense of self-importance; believes that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people; requires excessive admiration; has a sense of entitlement; is interpersonally exploitative; lacks empathy; and shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes (DSM IV TR. 2000. p. 717). Again, summarize this, dont quote Madame LaLaurie was a high society host, while pious (at least outwardly), she did not as a rule associate with those beneath her station any more than she would have had to. The high society parties and balls she threw would have added to her feeling of self-importance. She appears to have felt that she had the right to treat those humans in her care as she wished, and showed little empathy for their suffering. By the definition of evilness put forth by Quiles, Morera, Correa and Leyens (2010), Madame Delphine LaLaurie was evil (pp. 789-791). However with no personal letters or journals of Madame LaLaurie, or about her early years from another source, it is merely conjecture based on the little information that is available. There is no concrete motive for her behavior in any of the available sources, nothing of the story in her own words. We have only the incident that brought her maladaptive behavior to light, but I feel

Madame LaLaurie

that given what we have, Madame LaLaurie presents strongly, with a comorbid presentation, of Antisocial and Narcissistic Personality Disorders.

References American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. (4th Edition). Arlington, Virgina: American Psychiatric Association. Castellanos, H. C., A.M., LL.B. (1905). New Orleans as it was: Episodes of Louisiana life. (2nd Edition. reprinted version 1961). New Orleans, Louisiana: The L. Graham Co. Ltd. X

Madame LaLaurie

New OrleansNet, LLC. (1999). Following evils footsteps: The search for the truth about Mme. LaLaurie and the horror on Royal Street. Retrieved from http://www.nola.com/lalaurie/history/intro.html. X Use the title in place of author when there is no author; use a shortened version of the title in the citation. Quiles, M., Morera, M., Correa, A., & Leyens, J.. (2010). What do people mean when speaking of evilness? The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 13(2), 788-97. Retrieved January 30, 2011, from ProQuest Health and Medical Complete. (Document ID: 2200826691). Anonymous. (1834, April 11). The fire on Royal Street. The New Orleans Bee. (Transcript). Retrieved from http://www.nola.com/lalaurie/archives/fire1.html Only use Anonymous as the author if the source specifically states that the author is anonymous.