by Patrick H. Moore
Even those who harbor a violent distaste for Karla would probably agree that she is an extremely fascinating woman. If she were dull or ordinary or mundane, she would not be the subject of so much conjecture and the object of so much scrutiny — even if she had been involved in a string of rapes and brutal murders. So the question we must ask ourselves is: what is it about this rapist/serial killer that we find so fascinating? In order to try to shed some light on the question, I’m going to analyze some of Karla’s more provocative quotes as well as certain key incidents in the 1991 to 1993 time frame to see what they reveal about her character.
I think that as we analyze her statements, we initially come to the conclusion that the pieces simply do not add up in a satisfactory manner. Karla is just too darned slippery. But then if we look more closely, we discover that there is a simple, and perhaps, convincing explanation for this. Karla possesses very little rational function. She exists almost entirely on the irrational-intuitive-emotional level. This explains partly why she was (is) so appallingly and gratuitously willful and why she appears to have no conscience. The rational part of her mind, whose job is to balance the emotions and the sub-conscious with everyday rational necessity is extremely undeveloped. At a very essential level, Karla truly could not think straight, at last during the period when she was committing her heinous crimes.
Exhibit One: In this quote Karla muses on what it was that attracted her to Paul Bernardo:
“The first time I met him I knew I’d marry him. He puts women under a spell. I fell in love that night. Of course, that’s no excuse. You see, I’m really an old-fashioned girl, a stay at home girl, (the kind who wants to) have a bunch of kids, have doors opened for me kind of girl. He treated me like a princess. He swept me off my feet. You have to understand. I liked him back then. He was one guy that was very nice to me. He never bored me like the others. With the other guys I could always do what I wanted and that was boring. In all my other relationships I was in total control. I never cared what others thought.”
Several things come to mind. First of all, Karla is impulsive and extremely romantic. On the night they met and had wild sex for the first time, she knew instantly that they were destined to marry. Because he put a spell on her. He was a wizard so serve as counterpart to Karla the Witch. Thus, Karla is basically irrational, a creature of whims, fantasies and desires – someone who is controlled by a chain of contradictory desires. She senses that at some level she is an old-fashioned girl who wants a bunch of kids and wants doors opened for her by her Prince Charming, but at the same time she adores rough sex and wants her sweet Prince to take her anally, apparently on a regular basis. And why is this? Very simple. Karla’s personality is so dominant, controlled by powerful sub-conscious undercurrents, that she needs a man who can put her in her place, keep her subservient, and if anal sex is what it takes, so much the better. This is not something that she thinks through rationally, but something that she intuits, senses, somehow just knows.
Exhibit Two: Karla describing the murder of Leslie Mahaffy, how she felt about it and what it was like having Father’s Day dinner with her parents that same evening.
“I gave Leslie some of my sleeping pills and Bunkie to hold. I didn’t want her to feel any pain. Holding onto Bunkie, Leslie just went to sleep.”
“I knew she’d get killed. I was there when he strangled her. But I didn’t watch. I couldn’t stand it. I saw so many animals killed at work, but with a person it’s different. I saw discoloration and I had to help him (Paul) carry her down to the root cellar because it was Father’s Day and my parents were coming over for dinner.”
When Karla’s mother, Dorothy, volunteers to go to the root cellar for potatoes, where Leslie’s body was lying, Karla said: “No no, I’ll get them. Don’t be silly. Sit down. But it just grossed me out, going down and getting the potatoes right beside Leslie’s body.” (Father’s Day, June 17, 1991)
Here again, we see Karla’s bizarre non-rational personality in all its contradictions. She and Paul have been raping and torturing Leslie Mahaffy for days and Karla has clearly been enjoying every twisted minute of it. Finally, they’re running out of time because it’s Father’s Day and Karla’s parents are coming over for dinner. So they have to decide: Do they release Leslie or murder her? They decide to murder her. Then as Leslie’s moment of doom nears, Karla transforms into “caring considerate Karla”; a kind and feeling being; she gives Leslie sleeping pills and a teddy bear to hold so that she will feel no pain as she dies. She also claims she couldn’t bear to watch which makes no sense. After all, she’d played a key role in the two-day rape and torture. But yet the statement that she couldn’t bear to watch is credible on a feeling level.
The glimpse of a caring being that comes through in the Bunkie passage is representative of one side of Karla’s sub-conscious nature. From twisted fiend to caring sentimentalist with nothing in between. There is no rational being there, merely a sea of emotions that veers from utmost cruelty to occasional vague compassion.
Exhibit Three: Karla’s father Karel wants Karla to help him and Dorothy pick out a casket for recently deceased Sister Tammy. In response to her father’s requests, Karla snarls: “Fuck off.”
In a similar vein, around this same time (Dec. 25, 1992), instead of lamenting the death of her sister Tammy, Karla was drinking heavily and weeping, telling anyone that would listen that she wanted to have a child with Paul.
Both the “Fuck off” and Karla bawling about wanting to have a child with Paul are perfect examples of how she is driven by her feeling states and how those feeling states result in a truly incredible degree of pathological self-absorption. She has no rational self to guide her as to what is and is not appropriate. She merely follows her feelings.
Exhibit Four: Karla and the Psychic
Psychic Lori D’Ascenzo worked in a shop next to Karla’s place of employment, Martindale Animal Clinic. When interviewed, Lori related that during the period following the disappearances of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy, Karla became very agitated and consulted with her on a sort of informal basis. According to Lori, Karla said:
“First there was the girl from Hamilton or Burlington or wherever, then the local girl who disappeared last November, Terri Anderson, and now Kristen. Whoever is targeting these girls has an attraction for blonde hair.” Karla told Lori she was afraid that she would be next.
It’s strange that Karla would bring up Terri Anderson when referring to the two victims she and Paul had already murdered. And for that matter why say the killer targeted blondes? Kristen had very dark hair.
The answer may be fairly simple and, if I’m correct, fits nicely with our theory that Karla largely lacks a conscious, rational mind. Since she and Paul have been committing rapes and murders together (and it makes no difference who actually “pulled the trigger”), the reference to blonde hair suggests that Karla fears that she could be one of Paul’s victims.
In May of 1992, Karla once again visited Lori. She told her that someone was watching her and that Paul’s personality had changed. She asked Lori if she thought that maybe there was a spirit in her house.
Lori told her it wasn’t a spirit but a ghost, a woman’s ghost, and it didn’t like her husband. This ghost had died suddenly or violently and didn’t know she was dead. (Yes, friends – there it is. Paul killed either Kristen or Leslie. Of course, psychics can also get it wrong on occasion.)
Karla asked Lori how to get rid of the ghost. Lori told her to pour ammonia down the drains because ghosts cannot abide ammonia. She also gave Karla an amythyst and told her it would absorb all the bad energy in the house.
Two weeks later Karla told the psychic that the ghost had left and that she and her husband were no longer fighting.
This episode serves as powerful proof that Karla was capable of dwelling on the irrational plain of disembodied beings. This is in keeping with her romantic, highly emotional, non-rational nature. A highly rational person would not even notice that there was a ghost in the house whereas one such as Karla, stripped as she was (is) of nearly all rational function, is vulnerable to the “spooks”.
Exhibit Five: Karla and Dr. Hans Arndt
At the behest of her lawyer George Walker, Karla was directed to see psychologist Hans Arndt, Ph.D. to determine if she was sane enough to stand trial. Her first appointment was on March 3, 1993.
When admitted to Northwest General, Karla Homolka was diagnosed by Dr. Arndt and his colleagues as suffering from dysthymia, also known as reactive depression, and a serious post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as defined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic Manual, D.S.M. 111-R.
In Karla’s interaction with Dr. Arndt, we observe the rather comical results of an overly-rational, highly cerebral doctor interacting with and trying to understand a young woman with a glaringly underdeveloped rational function.
In her typical cocky fashion, Karla told Dr. Arndt that she had a very high tolerance to drugs based on the fact that she drank at least 16 ounces of alcohol on a daily basis while married to Paul.
In response, Arndt wondered, “If she was drunk all the time, then how did she go to work every day and function?”
This is ludicrous. Many people are high-functioning alcoholics and drug addicts and manage to live something closely resembling a normal life, at least if viewed superficially.
Dr. Arndt wondered why Karla continued her relationship with Jim Hutton and sent him nude photographs of herself because THAT didn’t fit in with the diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Arndt also noted that during Karla’s six months at Northwest General Hospital, “upon waking, Karla would note and record the time she woke up.” Again, this was apparently atypical of someone suffering from depression or PTSD.
At one point Arndt stated: “I don’t know if this girl is mad or just bad.”
Of course, Karla’s actions are not those of someone suffering from PTSD. Karla’s actions are those of an individual who lacks the normal rational function and therefore simply follows her whims and fancies. She sends to sexy photos to Jim because she wants to maintain their relationship and because she loves showing off her hot body. It’s perhaps her best asset and she knows how to use it.
Arndt wants to pigeonhole Karla into a specific psychological diagnosis, in this case PTSD, but lacking a reasonably developed rational side, Karla simply does not fit comfortably into any diagnostic niche. I believe that although Karla’s various doctors differed – to some degree — in their diagnoses, none of them were able to truly get a handle on her.
Let’s Wrap This Us:
So where does this leave us? I would say that what we have here is a willful creature who is controlled by her whims and unconscious desires. Because she lacks a developed rational side, she is largely indifferent to society’s values and mores which – in essence – are rational constructs designed to maintain stability within society.
Another way of putting this is to state that at the time of her crimes, Karla had no conscience and just did as she pleased.
It is curious to note that Karla’s present situation – living with her husband and three children on Guadeloupe – appears to rather precisely mirror what she claimed she always wanted — an old-fashioned existence “with a bunch of kids.”
Does this mean that her incredibly powerful dark side — the side that reveled in the rape, torture and murder of innocent schoolgirls – is permanently relegated to some musty, unused portion of her sub-conscious mind? Perhaps it does, but then again, perhaps it does not.
What is for certain, however, is that Karla will always remain a clear and present danger to society unless she is able to develop and maintain a healthy, rational side, which – after all – is the very essence of being normal.
Click on the following links to read previous Karla posts:
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