She was fair skinned with wavy, long blonde hair and preferred cherry red lipstick which she refreshed often. Her eye shadow and liner were heavy black. All of this framed a face concealed with heavy foundation and vacant green eyes.
Jane was a frequent-flyer, i.e., she was often a patient at the psych hospital. And she was a volunteer patient: Jane would self-admit when she felt unsafe. "Sometimes my medication doesn't work so well... and I feel suicidal," was often the reason she'd give.
Years ago she'd been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. BPDO can be difficult to medicate effectively, can lead to deep depression, psychosis, and, at the opposite end, feelings of being super human. It can be quite a wild roller-coaster ride for those with this chemical disorder.
Jane had received treatment half-dozen times when I encountered her in the day treatment program. In our initial interview, with eyes brimming with tears, Jane told me that she had become overwhelmed with the care of her four-year-old son. "I'd just end up in bed all day. Joe had run around on his own."
Jane's husband, John, was able to help out some. "John's so good. He's a chief with the Baton Rouge fire department, ya know. He makes really good money and he can take off more."
I met John several times during Jane's stay since we included couple and family therapy as part of our package deal. He was a "good ole boy", with quite a few years on Jane. I liked John. "We met on the job," John had told me. "We were both EMTs... I couldn't believe when Jane said 'yes' to me."
Over the weeks that Jane was with us, I'd frequently get a funny feeling in my gut. Like she wasn't sincere. To me, Jane appeared to be play-acting. Her current role was to be "a psychiatric patient in a day treatment program." Even when I'd meet with John and her son, Joe, she seemed to be "faking it."
However, it took another round with Jane about six months later to accept my feelings about her as fact.
I confronted her during an individual session: "Jane, what are you trying to accomplish here? I believe you'd get better faster if you'd try your best to be truthful with yourself... and us."
Denials galore ensued. "How can you say that?" Jane haltingly and tearfully defended herself. "I try as hard as I can to get better... I want to be home with Joe!" After our session, she asked for another therapist.
I got one last chance with Jane. On the day of her discharge, we had our mandatory family session. The other therapist was absent, so I drew the short straw. Jane didn't know until she and John entered the room. She looked disgustedly at me as she snuggled next to John on the couch.
I went over the routine stuff: medications, recommendations for continued individual and couple's therapy, therapy for Joe, etc.
Then I looked at John and said, "I cannot, as a professional, let you go today without sharing my concerns." John looked surprised and Jane shocked. "I firmly believe that you need to be very careful. I don't think Jane is being honest with us or you. I also believe that her attempts at therapy are not sincere."
Jane started crying, "How can you say that?!" sobbing started. John asked, "What do you mean?"
I took a deep breath and replied, "John, just be extra careful. Take care of yourself. I believe that Jane will do whatever she can to get what she wants." John looked dumbfounded but shook his head up and down.
After they left, I took special care to record in writing my session with Jane and John - along with a new diagnosis: sociopath.
About four or five months later, Jan and I were watching the local nightly news. I wasn't paying much attention until I glanced up and saw Jane in handcuffs and prisoner orange. She was being lead from a police car to the local jail.
The reporter continued, "Mrs. Smith was arrested in her home after the police received a call from one of the two men she had hired to kill her husband." My heart began to beat very rapidly and I felt like throwing up.
The next day, I learned the whole story. Jane hired two men she had met in the psych hospital to kill her husband. They, too, had been frequent flyers.
All three had met in Jane and John's home several times to plan the murder. Jan had shown them where Joe kept his 357 magnum gun and ammo. They were in the top of the bedroom closet; the deed was to be done in the bedroom.
Jane explained to the guys that she'd already told John that the next Wednesday she had planned a "special night" for him: she'd meet him at the door in her sexy negligee, lead him to their bedroom where she'd scattered flickering candles all round, had champagne on ice, and the bed ready.
In fact, Jane had already had several "special nights" with John - just so he wouldn't be suspicious. I just got sicker and sicker as the details came out.
Unfortunately for Jane - fortunately for John - one of her hires got cold feet and called the cops as he waited in Jane and John's bedroom. The cops arrived only a few minutes before John.
A few weeks later, the CEO of the psych hospital called me. "Jane wants her medical records. She's trying to claim she was impaired by her bipolar disorder. What's in your notes?"
I shared with him what I'd told her husband, John, during our last session and that my diagnosis was written as "sociopath/psychopath - dangerous to others."
"Murdering or hiring someone to murder a loved one" is not one of the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Post Note: Almost a year after the attempt on John's life, he called me for an appointment. During our session, he told me that Jane had been calling him from jail - begging him for help, telling him it was all a mistake, and that she really loved him.
"And..." I asked him. "Well, I was thinking about bailing her out... seeing her again." It was my turn to be stupefied, dumbfounded, aghast, etc., etc. "If you do," I told John, "You are crazy." He did.
Charges were dropped. Jane returned home. The charm of a psychopath is often irresistible, especially to the lonely... and horny.
Oh, dear me, Althea. Have a good week.