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Is Joran van der Sloot a Psychopath?

The media has been abuzz in the last two weeks about the capture of Joran van der Sloot, a Dutch national charged in the murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores of Peru. van der Sloot was also a suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway, an 18-year-old Alabama resident who disappeared on a high school graduation trip in Aruba.

Stephany Flores was killed in a Lima hotel on May 30th, 2010; five years to the day after Natalee Holloway disappeared. van der Sloot was arrested twice in the Holloway case but was freed for lack of evidence.

On June 7th, 2010, van der Sloot confessed to the murder of Stephany Flores, stating that he “drank an espresso and ate four biscuits in his hotel room while he contemplated how to get rid of the woman’s body.” Reportedly, he killed Flores in a rage after learning she had looked up information about his past, including his involvement with the Holloway case, on his laptop.

La Republica newspaper quoted van der Sloot as saying, “I did not want to do it. The girl intruded into my private life…she didn’t have any right. I went to her and I hit her. She was scared, we argued and she tried to escape. I grabbed her by the neck and hit her.”

As is often the case with highly publicized criminal cases, the debate about whether van der Sloot has a mental illness has already begun. Several articles report that Joran van der Sloot is a psychopath, sociopath, or that he has antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, or some combination of the above.

While van der Sloot certainly seems to display characteristics of some of these disorders, it is not possible for me, or anyone else, to diagnose van der Sloot via internet articles and television news stories. However, depending on the way his lawyer pleas the case, it seems likely that a psychiatrist or psychologist will get a chance to evaluate him eventually. Yet, if the reports of van der Sloot being a pathological liar (as he is self-described) turn out to be true, he is not likely to be any more honest with doctors as he has been thus far with the police, media, and his own friends and family.

The rage, impulsivity, and poor planning that van der Sloot exhibited and reported as the motive for his killing are not typical of the aloof, detached style of the psychopath. However, the violation of his privacy and personal information, which he may have deemed the ultimate disrespect, could have led to a narcissistic rage rather than a rage of passion (anger, jealousy, etc.) that is typically seen in murder cases. Alternatively, perhaps he lied about his motive. Perhaps he killed Flores in a premeditated plan, and later concocted the motive in an effort to reduce the murder charges to manslaughter, which would be more characteristic of a psychopath.

The speculations can go on and on, and if van der Sloot is deemed a psychopath, it is unlikely that he will reveal his true motivations unless it will protect him or service his own needs in some way. Hopefully his detainment in Peruvian prisons will keep him from killing again for a long while and perhaps bring justice to the families of his victims.

Is Joran van der Sloot a Psychopath?

Kelly McAleer, Psy.D.

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APA Reference
McAleer, K. (2010). Is Joran van der Sloot a Psychopath?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 4 Sep 2010
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