Psychologist: Dugard suspect a narcissist |

Psychologist: Dugard suspect a narcissist

F.T. Norton / Nevada Appeal

Phillip Garrido, the man accused in the 18-year imprisonment and rape of a Lake Tahoe girl, portrayed himself in his online blog as God’s chosen one. Those delusions of grandeur are typical of a narcissistic personality, a Carson City forensic psychologist said.

He compared Garrido’s self-image to that of the Unabomber or Charles Manson.

“It’s interesting,” said “Doc” Joe McEllistrem, director of forensic mental health at the Carson City Jail. “There are a lot of extremes in his thinking, but that doesn’t necessarily make him less culpable.”

The blog is “well-written and organized. He lays out a case and has the ability to communicate his thoughts on such a level it is a bit like Theodore Kaczynski. Although Theodore had a serious mental illness known as paranoid schizophrenia, he was still quite bright and very aware of what he was doing.”

Kaczynski, known as the Unabomber, pleaded guilty in 1998 to a series of bombings that killed three people and injured nearly two dozen more.

Garrido and his wife, Nancy, were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of kidnapping Jaycee Lee Dugard of South Lake Tahoe in 1991, when she was 11. Police said Dugard, now 29, had been held captive in Garrido’s backyard compound, and he allegedly fathered her two children.

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In both his private practice and contracts with the detention centers in Reno and Carson City, McEllistrem deals solely with the criminal mind. His opinion of Garrido came Friday after reading Garrido’s writings online at

There, the convicted sex offender talks of helping people who hear voices, telling them the government is conspiring against them.

“His blog also kind of reminds you of a Charles Manson, as if he’s trying to cultivate a following. Like he holds the great truth, but we’re never going to see it,” McEllistrem said. “He is identifying himself with all these great powers, secret revelations, and you really start to conjure up images of a sexual psychopath, which is the most extreme form of the narcissistic personality disorder.”

In the blog, Garrido claims his ability to speak in tongues, and drown out the voices heard by schizophrenics, could save lives.

Garrido writes about a mother who drowned her children in San Francisco Bay, saying she was influenced by a “powerful … process that places the human mind under a hypnotic siege that in time leads a person to build a delusional belief system.”

McEllistrem said Garrido was actually describing himself.

“But that’s what he does, and that’s how he sees himself. In that little tiny paragraph you’re seeing him really project his belief system onto this woman who he has no idea about,” McEllistrem said.

“And he talked about how tragic it is – meanwhile, someone’s trapped in his shed. That’s the disconnect with him that he can compartmentalize his own badness and not see it as a problem, but he’ll point fingers at people who throw their kids off the bridge.”

Not only does Garrido appear to be a narcissist, said McEllistrem, but he also seems to be a predator.

In a telephone interview with a California TV station, Garrido said he turned his life around after the birth of his youngest daughter.

“Those two girls, they slept in my arms every single night from birth. Never did I harm them. I never touched them,” said Garrido in the nearly 10-minute telephone interview with KRCA 3 on Thursday.

Perhaps, McEllistrem said, it was the children he fathered with his victim that brought out in Garrido an emotion he was unfamiliar with.

“You wonder about the births of these two children, if that started to humanize the people in his life, and maybe it was more difficult for him to use these objects. The births of these babies might have actually fostered an attachment and connection.

“But it was never real, because a psychopath can’t do that. It sort of caught him off guard that he would have feelings for another human being and now he thinks he’s cured,” McEllistrem said.

“What makes this so worrisome is unlike people with mental illness that do bad things because they are so ill, his behavior is so predatory – right down to the planned kidnapping of the girl.”

McEllistrem said the blog and Garrido’s tearful comment that he never touched his children shows that he knows what he did.

“The presence of a mental illness doesn’t automatically negate understanding right from wrong. He sounds crazy simply because we don’t believe what he says. But he’s able to articulate it in a way that’s very consistent over time. And he says things that shows he knows what he did was wrong.”