Histrionic Personality Disorder? Sandusky’s Hail Mary ‘won’t fly’


Most people following the Jerry Sandusky trial aren’t expecting any Casey Anthony-style surprises; the outcome seems pretty cut and dry. Still, it’s not over just yet. On Friday’s Hardball, Michael Smerconish examined an interesting new development in the trial. 

Sandusky, facing 52 charges of sexual abuse against 10 boys, will now be allowed to have an expert testify about a psychiatric condition that his lawyer says may explain some of Sandusky’s behavior, like “grooming” his victims and writing them love letters. 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “histrionic personality disorder is one of a group of conditions called dramatic personality disorders. People with these disorders have intense, unstable emotions and distorted self-images. Their self-esteem depends on the approval of others and does not arise from a true feeling of self-worth. They have an overwhelming desire to be noticed, and often behave dramatically or inappropriately to get attention. The word histrionic means “dramatic or theatrical.” 

Some legal insiders have speculated the psychological testimony could dramatically change the shape of the case. Smerconish asked former Montour County, Pa. District Attorney Robert Buehner, Jr. if this new defense strategy will fly with jurors in Centre County. Buehner didn’t mince words:

“It’s not going to even come close to flying. When I heard this news today, Michael, I immediately thought, this is great for the prosecution because the jurors are now going to know a name for something other than ‘pedophilia’ that Jerry Sandusky did with these boys. It doesn’t mean he’s incompetent, it doesn’t mean he’s insane, it just now has another label. And I think when they cross-examine whatever psychologist they put on, it’ll only enhance the prosecution. I see the jurors just looking at this and shaking their heads.

By next week at this time, we should have a verdict.”


Histrionic Personality Disorder? Sandusky's Hail Mary 'won't fly'