CAROLE LIEBERMAN, M.D.,
M.P.H., PSYCHIATRIST/EXPERT WITNESS
Diplomat, American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology
Clinical Faculty, UCLA Department of Psychiatry
247 South Beverly Drive, Suite 202
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
July 12, 2004
PRELIMINARY THOUGHTS ON HOW TERRI SCHIAVO’S HUSBAND,
MICHAEL, FITS THE PROFILE OF A WIFE ABUSER
Based upon my interviews of
Terri’s father, Robert Schindler, and my research into media accounts of her
case, I can provide the following preliminary opinions at this time:
--As the author of the book, Bad Boys: Why We Love Them, How to Live with Them and When to Leave Them, I have studied men who exhibit pathology in their relationships with women. Profiles of the twelve different types of bad boys are explained. Michael Schiavo fits the profile, described in the book as the Prince of Darkness (see chapter 13). O.J. Simpson was cited as a classic example of this type, and there are indeed similarities between the two men. It is especially significant to note that O.J. flew into a homicidal rage when he realized that Nicole was totally abandoning him, as is characteristic of these impulsive men who most dread being abandoned by their woman. Similarly, Michael Schiavo was likely to have known that Terri had begun making plans to divorce him, since she had told a coworker and family member. Stalking is characteristic of this type of man, as well. And a girlfriend of Michael’s, Cindy, accused him of stalking her in 2001.
--Terri’s personality fits that of a woman who would have been attracted (and attractive) to such a man. She was a loner as a child. In high school she was overweight and not popular with boys. She had low self-esteem. She was extremely compassionate, nurturing and subservient. They met when Terri was 20 years old, and married by the time she was 21. Such whirlwind courtships are typical of these men, who are able to spot a vulnerable woman they can dominate, and eager to seal her commitment to him.
Terri was frightened to object to Michael’s pathologically controlling behavior. For example, he would monitor her odometer to control where she went. He tried to isolate her from her friends and family. She had to account for every penny, though they often lived on her income, since he would be fired, sometimes only after two weeks. He would splurge on $400 suits for himself, while she had to economize. He called her at work 3-4 times a day, often complaining of hating his job because no one appreciated him. He was often observed scolding her.
--Terri’s family observed black and blue marks on her before the incident that plunged her into her current state. Medical records and/or experts have revealed that her neck injury was consistent with strangulation. A bone scan revealed multiple fractures occurring within 1-2 months before or after the incident, which has been described as equivalent to her being “hit by a mack truck”. Michael has given three different explanations of how he found Terri after the incident.
--Michael has had Terri’s jewelry
re-set into a ring for himself. Terri had two beloved cats that she adopted
from an animal shelter, where they’d landed after being mistreated. When he
moved in with his girlfriend, Cindy, he had Terri’s cats euthanized.
Psychologically, this is symbolic of what he is trying to do now to Terri.
--Michael has been under psychiatric care, including being prescribed several psychotropic medications. One of his treating therapists, Dr. Peter Kaplan, told Terri’s father that he should have called the police after Michael argued with Terri’s sister, Susanne, and Michael tried to attack her. This occurred right after Terri’s collapse, when they were all in a house together. Terri’s father told Susanne to lock her door and keep a hammer nearby.
--As a psychiatric expert witness, I have had experience performing psychiatric examinations of men like Michael Schiavo, and testifying in court about similar cases. The above is simply meant to illustrate some of the indications that Michael fits the profile of an abusive husband. He should most definitely be investigated as the perpetrator of the ‘incident’ that caused Terri’s collapse and her current condition. If Terri were to be allowed to die, as Michael has been desperately struggling to achieve for years, it could help him escape detection. This would be a grave miscarriage of justice.
For more information, you may contact Dr. Carole Lieberman at (310) 456-2458 or via email at email@example.com.