Jodi Arias Trial: The True Nature of The Relationship Between Jodi and Travis

I am writing this article in response to the many talking heads on TV, who are attempting to answer the question “why did Travis stay with Jodi?” and the question “what hold did Jodi have over Travis?”

Jodi In Court

I did not know Travis personally but I can say one thing with total assurance, there are few people in this country who have studied this case as much as I have. I have watched every minute of the trial, read all of the documents that are available to the public and did intensive searches in research databases. I can offer my professional opinion and insights, recognizing the caveat that I have not personally interviewed Travis.

For that reason what I am about to write is based upon sound psychological theory that would apply to all people. What’s it about? In a word, sex. The recognized father of psychology is of course Sigmund Freud. I know for some of you, your first thoughts will be “that’s old, outdated stuff.” But that really isn’t true.

Many of you have heard more psychological opinion and analysis, during this trial, than you ever thought you would and certainly more than you ever wanted to. From the endless string of “experts” you have heard phrases coming from their lips such as defense mechanism, unconscious mind, ego. These are all Freudian ideas. No one before Freud had ever used the words or the concepts for, defense mechanisms unconscious mind, id, ego, superego.

Freudian psychology remains the basis of psychiatry. Psychiatrists are medical doctors and Freud was also a medical doctor. Freudian psychology is certainly not old-fashioned and outdated. That being said, I disagree with many Freudian points and Freud is not my favorite theorist. Nonetheless, modern psychology is based on Freudian thought.

Okay, so now I’m guilty of telling you more about Freud than you ever wanted to know but I needed to establish that base so that we could analyze the relationship of Jodi and Travis. Freud said there are only two human drives. The smaller one, not too important, Thanatos. The other was the big one and that is libido or the sex drive.

Travis was a Mormon and Mormons are not supposed to have premarital sex. Most religions discourage premarital sex. Travis was not only a Mormon but he lived in a Mormon community and he dated Mormons. His sexual experience was limited. If he did not always limit it, due to his faith, then perhaps his female partner would.

Now that’s enough about Travis and his Mormon faith. Let’s look at the psychosexual development of the typical male. I am not going to bash men here. And no “men are not all dogs.” Men are not ruled by the little head. I am a female and it always amazes me when a group of females get together, do a little man bashing, and then claim “all men are dogs and all they want is sex.” Now their proclamation sure sounds pretty condemning concerning men. I find it very revealing, and a little funny, that the same male bashing females are goal directed to acquire their own personal “dog.” I think “If they’re so bad why get one?”

Travis, like every other man, had to learn about his sexuality. Was he desirable? Could he satisfy a woman? Would a woman find him sexually attractive? Would a woman laugh at his genitalia or gaze with admiration? He didn’t know and wouldn’t know the answers to those questions until he had sexual partners. Would he be a sexual disappointment or God’s gift to women?

Women have the same kind of fears and doubts. You know what they are. I’m not going to take the time to list them.

In the American culture, we don’t talk about sex much. We giggle, we laugh, but we aren’t too honest about sex.

We know something about Jodi’s and Travis’s sex life because we have the long sex tape that Jodi secretly recorded. She claims of course that Travis knew that it was being recorded and that he had requested her recording it but nothing in that tape indicates to me that Travis was aware that it was being recorded.

In that sex tape Jodi did her deceptive best to feed Travis’s ego. What feedback did she give him about his being a lover? He was the best. No one else even came close. He did things to her and made her feel things that no one else had ever done. His “equipment”  touched magic places within her.

If we look at more than just the sex tape and look at their text messages and emails, we can gather even more insight into the feedback that Jodi was giving to Travis. She loved sex but only with Travis. She wanted to try everything sexual with Travis. She craved him sexually.

In one message, she asked him that “if she was a good girl… (and I am going to clean this up here) would he reward her by depositing copious amounts of seminal fluid to the dermatological surface area that lies between her bangs and the bottom of her chin?”

Yep, that’s how hot Travis was. Jodi didn’t need an orgasm, she didn’t need foreplay she just got off on Travis. Now we know that wasn’t true but the truth and Jodi Arias are seldom seen together. She was manipulating him. She was deceiving him. And most certainly she was confusing him.

Travis was not a “dog.” He was just like most people. He was filled with doubt about his sexuality. Inexperienced men and women are almost all in exactly the same boat. Jodi fed his ego with lies but Travis, due to his inexperience, had no idea that they were lies. And most importantly, who does not want to have their ego fed accolades and flattery’s?

Though it is not healthy, most people try to find out who they are by trying to see how they are perceived by other people. For most people, when flattery and complements come their way, it makes them feel good, very good. It gives them confidence and positive feelings, if in only one part of their lives. Jodi used her sexual cunning to exercise power over Travis. With more experience on the part of Travis, Jodi’s power would have been diminished or eliminated.

I am not suggesting that their relationship was only sexual but what I am saying is that the foundation of their relationship, after their initial breakup, was based on sexuality.

Was Travis using Jodi as the defense contended? No, Jodi was using Travis as the prosecution contended. Did Travis think that he was using Jodi? No absolutely not. From his perspective, based on the words that flowed from her mouth, she loved having sex with him. She was ecstatic at the prospects of any sexual encounter with him. Read the emails and listen to the sex tape, for full confirmation.

Travis was a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints and that makes him a Mormon. There is an interesting article in Psychology Today, written by a female sociopath who is also a law professor. Remember from my earlier articles, sociopath = psychopath= antisocial personality disorder. You will also remember that I firmly believe the best diagnosis for Jodi Arias is antisocial personality disorder (sociopath, psychopath), not borderline.

In the article, written by the confessed sociopath, she makes a very interesting observation. I will quote it here for you. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a sociopath’s dream.”

If you want a full explanation of the meaning of that quotation, please read her article. In essence, what she is saying is that Mormons are easily conned, manipulated and deceived basically because they are trusting and look for the best in other people. They think there is good within each person and that each person can be helped to bring that good out.

Travis’s sexual inexperience coupled with his true helping Mormon nature, made him the perfect prey for Ms. Arias, the psychopathic murderer.

PS. Please do read the article that I have referenced above. Listen to the words in the description of the self confessed sociopath (psychopath) who wrote the article. Let me know if she doesn’t sound very much like Jodi Arias.

17 thoughts on “Jodi Arias Trial: The True Nature of The Relationship Between Jodi and Travis

  1. Excellent article. I truly enjoy reading your blog. I own and run a Batterers Intervention Program following the Duluth model. I do not understand why they got such a terrible expert on battered women. In addition, I wonder why the prosecutor didn’t get an expert on batterers to show that Arias was a batterer? never once did they mention the Duluth wheel either the power and control one or the bully wheel. why prove what she is not and not prove also what she is? I would have hired a BIP person like Gondolf or the guy who wrote the batterer as a parent and other books…she fits the model perfectly! I don’t understand that. she had many of the characterists….blame the victim and not be accountable for starters? what is your thought on that>

    • The defense tried to get better DV experts. ALV was the 6th expert they contacted. I assume that the previous 5 DV experts disagreed with the defense’s position and were unwilling to toss their careers away for Jodi Arias. The defense also tried to find better psychologists. They couldn’t.

      IMO, the prosecutor didn’t directly go into “Jodi was the true abuser” for several reasons:
      1) The evidence of premeditation, stalking and the extreme violence of the crime was enough to make the point evident to the jury
      2) Adding another DV expert (or should I say a real DV expert) could have muddy the waters. The defense would have several opportunities to question the state’s DV expert. The potential for confusion, esp with ALV being part of the equation, was just too great.
      3) A significant part of the state’s case rested on refuting that TA abused JA. To point out that Jodi was an abuser would have brought the issue of DV into the case even more rather than removing it from the case.
      4) The core issue of the trial was whether or not JA planned to kill TA or not. It was best for the state to keep that question as the key question in the trial.

      I think that Juan Martinez decided that the jury would have more than enough evidence that Jodi was the abuser … she lived and lied.

    • Hello Anne,

      I also don’t understand why those chose ALV. Maybe they did not know any better or just thought she’d be a strong witness. Boy were they wrong. She was the worst witness. It might have been a good idea for the pros to bring on an expert to show she was the batterer but perhaps it was not part of their case. It seemed like they wanted to show that ALV was a fraud and that Jodi did not have PTSD, both of which JM effectively did with the help of Dr. D. Have you seen the most recent 45 min video Jodi did with a local fox affiliate? She continued to trash Travis. Quite despicable. Thanks for your nice comments.

  2. Wow, excellent article! You most definitely hit the nail on the head here. It’s what we all knew in our head but wouldn’t have been able to express as eloquently as you have here.

  3. I hope this isn’t too much of a tangent.

    I’m confused. Above you say “Remember from my earlier articles, sociopath = psychopath= antisocial personality disorder. You will also remember that I firmly believe the best diagnosis for Jodi Arias is antisocial personality disorder (sociopath, psychopath), not borderline.”

    In your article “Clinical Terms in the News Related to the Colorado Shooting” ( you point out Hare’s differentiation of psychopathy and ASPD.

    “Psychopath is a term used interchangeably with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), sociopathy, and psychopathy but they are not same, at least technically (and according to Hare). Research shows, according to Hare, that most people with ASPD are not psychopathic but most psychopathic individuals meet the current diagnostic criteria for ASPD. Despite Hare’s contention that psychopaths and individuals with ASPD are very different, some researchers contend that both psychopaths and individuals with ASPD are virtually the same.”

    I’m unclear on your position on this debate. You noted that ASPD, psychopathy and sociopathy are terms often used interchangeably, but also noted that some research indicates that the 3 terms are not interchangeable. You note that there is research that contradicts Hare’s theory. I read the above paragraph as supporting Hare’s assertion that ASPD and psychopathy are related but different.

    I did search your site to see if I could find clarification, but wasn’t successful. The Colorado Shooting article was the only article I found in which you detail Hare’s theory. Are you in agreement or disagreement with Hare? Personally, I agree with Hare.

    I think that the way we label JA matters. I absolutely agree with your opinion that JA doesn’t have Borderline PD but rather ASPD. If you agree with Hare, would you label JA as a psychopath or as having ASPD? I agree with the diagnosis of ASPD, but if the terms are not interchangeable, which term do you feel better applies to JA?

    Interestingly, the DSM-V will now include the word psychopath in the manual. The DSM-V is to be released in 2 weeks, so details about this change have been removed from the DSM-V website. Thus, I can’t give better info about the change. If I remember correctly, the DSM-V may make a distinction between ASPD and psychopathy. But I may not remember correctly!

  4. I can’t provide information on DSM-5 changes nor am I attempting to answer Lisa’s question for Kristina. But I believe the difference between Antisocial PD and psychopathy is largely due to overall changes in the fields of psychology and psychiatry. While I agree Freudian theory still has some validity, when the term psychopathy was first used, Freudian ideas were more prevalent. Mental issues were understood in terms of the patient’s “inner experience” “motivations” and “conflicts.” (And the term “patient” was used as psychologists at that time were not seen as treating professionals. Psychologists now say “client” of course.) Descriptions of mental disorders in DSM-I and II contained language like “intrapsychic conflicts” and “internal turmoil.” Mental disorders were often tied to problems in development at particular psychosexual stages.

    The advent of Behaviorism as a dominant force in the US and the resulting focus on observable “behaviors” versus unobservable “mental life” as the stuff of diagnosis led to a drastic change in how ALL disorders were described from DSM-III forward. Earlier, psychopathy was understood to involve poverty of emotions, emotional detachment, and lack of a conscience (AKA lack of Freud’s “superego’) A central feature was lack of remorse. However, beginning with DSM-III, Antisocial PD was conceptualized in behavioral terms such as “lies, fails to honor financial obligations, engages in physical fights” and so on as it was thought inappropriate to diagnose based on unobservable factors. (How does one directly observe a lack of conscience? We can only infer that lack through examining overt behavior.) Although lack of remorse IS listed as a criterion in DSM-III and IV, it is not required for the diagnosis. Many people (including Hare) believe the DSM-III and IV description of APD do not fully capture the phenomenon of psychopathy for that reason.

    In terms of Arias, I think Dr. Samuels got one thing right (and one thing only!) as I believe he alluded to Jodi having a “Personality Disorder NOS.” While Not Otherwise Specified diagnoses are sometimes cop-outs, I think Jodi exhibits characteristics of both Borderline and Antisocial PD. Both disorders are in the dramatic-erratic cluster of DSM-IV so an overlap is quite possible.

    • Thanks, Lizzie!

      I’ve never considered the concept of psychopathy in a greater historical context going back to Freud. I’ve read a bit about theories of psychopathy from the ’60s on. Your analysis of the concept, diagnosis, schools of thought and the gradual transitions of the concept through the DSM is quite thought-provoking.

      Do you or Dr. K have any thoughts about psychopathy as a spectrum disorder, with ASPD being a mild form of psychopathy, sociopathy being moderate psychopathy and the term psychopath being used as a diagnostic label for those we would currently consider as having severe ASPD?

      The idea of psychopathy as a spectrum issue is being tossed about a bit, so I’ve been playing with that idea myself.

      • I’ll leave that intriguing question to Kristina as it is beyond my expertise. I’d also like to know if we did recognize a spectrum, where she thinks “successful sociopaths” might fit. (Arias would not qualify as a successful sociopath but some unnamed politicians might!)

        I do know there has been debate about whether overall, for all diagnoses, DSM should remain “categorical” (person either has or doesn’t have disorder X) or whether the system should be “dimensional” (person has a little or a lot of whatever is being measured). Some disorders from DSM III forward have had “severity ratings.” For example, a person who qualifies for a DSM-IV dx of Major Depression in our categorical system could be rated as having a mild, moderate, or severe episode depending on how many criteria were met. But the notion of a dimensional system is different from that as the severity ratings we do have are only used when the person already “has” the disorder based on a categorical system.

        There also has been debate about whether some symptoms of some disorders are so pathological they should receive extra weight. This is different from what we have had. For example, in DSM-IV, for a diagnosis of Major Depression, in addition to a selection of symptoms from a long list, the person MUST have either a depressed mood or lack of interest or pleasure in activities for at least 2 weeks. (Those two are sometimes called “cardinal symptoms”) But, as an example, a true weighting scheme might weight “self-cutting behavior” heavier than other symptoms when making a diagnosis of Borderline PD although unlike with cardinal symptoms, cutting would NOT be required for dx. In DSM-IV, to dx Borderline, a person must meet 5 of 9 criteria as was discussed in the Arias trial. If cutting was weighted higher, a person who cut herself repeatedly might need to meet only, say, 4 of 9 criteria. Under that kind of system (hypothetically) we could see Hare’s essential symptom of “lack of remorse” receive a higher weight for Antisocial PD even if it continued not to be required for dx.

        I haven’t kept up with DSM-5 changes enough to understand all of them, but in addition to calling it DSM-5, not DSM-V, I believe
        1) the system will still be categorical overall 2) more severity scales will be used perhaps to move in the general direction of a dimensional system 3) some spectrums are recognized (e.g., Autistic Disorder = Autistic Spectrum Disorder) and 4) some major changes to personality disorders are contemplated for the near future (DSM 5.1 or 5.2, not DSM-6)

  5. Such an awesome ‘clinical’ debate you guys! Most enlightening to say the least! I definitely gained clarification! Kudos to all of you! Thoroughly enjoyed the read as well as the comments!

  6. Dear Dr. Randle —

    I was first drawn to this horrible tragedy by a sense that there was some element of BPD involved. It definitely felt like it on the surface and I was not surprised when Dr. DeMarte found just that . . .

    I was married to a likely BPD (or perhaps NPD) man for 17 years. I say “likely” because once we finally ended up with a counselor who was able to see beyond the dinner plate and into the kitchen, he abruptly stopped counseling all together and agreed to divorce. I was split black in an instant, as was the counselor at whom he yelled “And to think I chose you!” before storming out of her office after she suggested he be further evaluated.

    As I said, I at first felt like Jodi Arias was BPD because that is what I know. (I believe my ex is BPD rather than NPD after joining a couple of support forums. I figure if the BPD forum feels just like home, that is likely the issue at hand!) When Dr. DeMarte declared Jodi Arias is BPD, I felt some personal fireworks in celebration of my ability to just nail it! But then I started to think rationally again, and I think YOU nailed it way better for a few reasons gathered from my personal experiences and not from any formal training.

    1) It seems to me that most of the PD’s share common traits which can tend to blur the lines. As our counselor several years ago pointed out, it was hard to tell which particular disorder my former husband had. I think I recognized a PD in Jodi Arias and personally fell back on Borderline because it was familiar. Some things sounded like home.

    2) One thing that greatly bothered me about my arm chair diagnosis of BPD in Jodi Arias is that only some of her words and behaviors “fit” for me with the “frantic efforts to avoid real or perceived abandonment” aspect of BPD, which I see as being the most significant and telling sign of BPD: The suicidal ideations, the sneakiness of stealing or using social media and email passwords, the stalking, the tire slashing . . . If my former husband is BPD, as I believe, I can tell you now his similar past behaviors were all for the end game of keeping me with him. Frantic efforts to avoid abandonment. My car was disabled more than once so I couldn’t leave home easily, even to go to the grocery . . . but Jodi Arias slashed Travis’ tires while he was at the home of another woman. To keep him stranded in the arms of another woman if she frantically fears abandonment??? Her efforts seemed more to play the puppeteer controlling ALL the marionettes around her.

    3) Lack of Rage, even at the crime scene. It may sound strange that I perceive a lack of rage in the way Mr. Alexander was killed, but I’m defining rage through my own experience with my likely BPD former husband and it ties back in with my comments in 1 & 2. Anger is clear to me in the crime, but in my definition from the things I’ve experienced is that the rages (maybe rants is a better word?) are far much more chaotic than what happened in Mr. Alexander’s home that day. What happened in those less than 24 hours was what I’ve come to call “a flow chart murder”. It was about control for Jodi Arias. It was not about her becoming frantic and going into a rage over “real or perceived abandonment”. She had two outcomes in mind — live or die — under one set of rules: she was in charge. It was an if/then argument for her and I think ultimately she does fully embrace the idea that he “made” her kill him because his response on whatever her test question was was wrong.

    BPD is my home and my familiar arm chair diagnosis for atrocities like this, but I now have no doubt that your conclusion of ASPD is the most appropriate definition of “what went wrong” in this situation. It was (and still is) controlled and calculating. There was never the tremendous fear of “real or perceived abandonment” that lords the lives of the other PD’s. There is always some blurring of the lines, but ultimately the behavior of Jodi Arias was not out of control rage as most of the other PD’s would be.

    She was careful. She intelligently attempted to destroy, dispose of, or otherwise confuse evidence that might implicate her. She truly believes she did nothing wrong because she accomplished her goal. Her goal was to be forever united with Mr. Alexander, and now she is. She took his life from him. She owns it. But he answered the question wrong. She fully believes he asked for this, again blurring the PD lines . . . “that’s because YOU(!)” made me do it. I think all the PD’s share that blame shift, but each PD behaves differently. BPD is way too frantic/shoot my own foot to have ever avoided consequences for as long as Jodi Arias.

    You nailed it. She’s ASPD.

  7. I love reading this. As a functioning borderline, I could see how arm chair psychologists would make the connection. But on my worst day, I couldn’t even fathom butchery. I still can’t imagine the cold calculating moves of Jodi that day. It goes way beyond borderline personality disorder. Sadly, folk that don’t know me well, but know I am borderline, think I’m a ticking time bomb!
    Not so. Thanks media…
    JA walks the “socio Path”. Hopefully, she’ll be “dead man walking”….

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