The subject of this blog, now in its 7th year, is human nature. Anything that comes across the transom that reflects human nature is potential grist for the blog. So, over the past several years, NBC’s magazine documentary, DATELINE (in its 26th year) has come into its own as a marvelously entertaining window on the dark side human nature. Keith Morrison has become a master in this docudrama genre with his long, WASPy face delicately balancing measures of irony and empathy: “It was the perfect little church-going town, prosperous and blessed in every way—but not everything was as it appeared that lovely Spring morning in 2012.” He is great in the interviews: empathetic to them and ironic—teetering on the sardonic—to us.
We meet the hard-working small-town detectives whose experience has taught them that the default suspect in any murder case is the victim’s spouse, and observing the personality profiles of these murderous spouses is nothing less than fascinating. First off, the killers are almost uniformly attractive-looking people, which probably has something to do with their problem, which is always a variant of psychopathic “malignant” narcissism.
Those of you who have been following the blog know that my psychiatric researches have revealed that we have evolved three minds animated by three different motivations in evolutionary “layers:” an ape mind (dominance), an old mind (justice) arising 6 million years ago, and a new mind (narcissism) arising 2-300,000 yrs. ago that defines our own Homo sapiens species. The old hominin mind was evolved over the course of millions of years—initially in response to falling birth rates six million years ago—natural selection shifted from the fitness of individuals in apes to the fecundity and productivity of relationships between individuals in the earliest humans. The resulting social organization of our ancient hominin forbears was one of engagement instead of competition. In order to productively coordinate the divided labor of their mutual behavior, motivations to dispense justice were co-evolved with the will to be just, rendering the most productive social system imaginable.
DATELINE clearly and interestingly illustrates that these psychopathic killers are simply missing a functioning old mind and that they are completely motivated by narcissism unloosed by various combinations of money and sex to which they become hopelessly addicted, and murder becomes the quickest and most expedient alternative to keep it all going. In the most recent episode, an attractive husband with a leave-it-to-Beaver home life has an affair, starts stealing from his boss and giving huge amounts of money to under-world figures in an effort to get them to shoot his wife. His two daughters still can’t reconcile themselves that he is guilty despite evidence that convinced a jury in a matter of hours. So look for the two-hour specials that usually air on Sundays at 7pm EST for some top-flight education on the dark side of human nature. (And read excellent “Look Inside” excerpts of new book here on Amazon!)
This SNL skit way overdoes it, is too long, and Keith Morrison has improved markedly from the time of this depiction.