True Crime Analysis, Breakthroughs, Insights & Discussions Hosted by Bestselling Author Nick van der Leek

“Chris Watts is a sociopath” or “Chris Watts is a narcissistic sociopath” – No, he isn’t, but can you articulate why not?

At 1:50 the YouTuber providing unofficial psychoanalysis of the Watts case [besides Dr. Phil] diagnoses him as a sociopath. He isn’t a sociopath. Are you able to say why?

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The narcissist in the sociopath will believe that they are better than everyone else. The sociopath in the narcissist, in turn, will have a total lack of regard for others and will tend to violate these rights with no compassion for their victims.

One worrying consequence of a sociopath that has narcissist tendencies is that generally, sociopaths do not care if they are criticised by others, as they are not interested in the opinions of other people.

The narcissistic sociopath, however, will react aggressively to negative criticism as the narcissist cannot tolerate any judgement on their behaviour.






  1. cox1961

    CW is a sociopath, with no empathy or remorse. Only interested in his own agenda. That is why he was able to murder his little girls, wife and unborn child, without blinking. His only issue now is he is in jail be it content as he said in the letters book. Hoping that if he is a good chap while incarcerated he will get early parole. Delusional, self seeking. Anyone one else would hang their head in shame, just stay quiet, but not him, enjoying the notoriety and attention he is now getting, he has said as much to the author. Most frightening, his hidden side was very well masked by him. He was boiling for a long time. This did not take place overnight. His personality was always their.. Sociopath.

    • nickvdl

      You seem to have misread this post. It’s not directed at people who know [absolutely, as you do] that Watts is a sociopath, it’s directed at those who know better. The question is why isn’t he, and thus you’re automatically disqualified from answering. In future take a little time to make sure whether certain posts require your commentary or not.

      • graciefield

        Nick, please, please don’t be so rude to commenters. You get incredibly defensive and pouty when some are unpleasant to you – or even, God forbid, disagree with you – how do you think they feel when you blindside them with such thinly-disguised disgust and condescension?
        I understand it’s difficult to be patient with some who are obtuse, uneducated, ill-informed, just starting out in the intricacies of true crime analysis, etc, And I know you work hard at this and would like folks to think the way you do, but honestly, when you put yourself on the internet as an author and video commentator, you really should understand that ANYONE can click on your site…and it’s unrealistic to think they’re ALL going to be as well-versed in the case as you or in other areas of your profession. Unless someone is truly rude to you first (this does not mean someone having an opposite or other opinion, or who doesn’t understand a point), you should at your age have the maturity to respond appropriately.
        Bottom line is, just be nice. Even if you have to grit your teeth while doing so. You only cheapen yourself and demean the work you’re doing with these kinds of responses — and alienate interested people just trying to be part of something you’ve created — your customers.

        • nickvdl

          You’re right, it is good to have a thick skin. And ordinarily, one on one, it’s easy to handle a difficult customer. What you don’t see are the dozens of horrible, bottom-dwelling, scrape-the-bottom-of-the-barrel vulgarities that come my way, whether on this blog, on YouTube, in malicious book reviews and in emails. on a daily basis. What you don’t see are the same tired arguments day in and day out. It’s every day. How do explain this when you’ve already explained it a hundred times. Many of the snotty remarks are automatically filtered out or removed, but dozens get through – on a daily basis.

          When you get these on a daily basis you quickly recognize those who are truly invested in one’s work, and those who aren’t. It’s interesting that those making the most ignorant remarks also seem to have the least tact. And so it’s a rule here, and on all my forums that if you can’t communicate without ALL CAPS and exclamation marks, slurs and insults, if you don’t know how to have reasonable conversations without being insulting, then those folks are better off elsewhere. The flip side of this argument is – incidentally – that I happen to be a bestselling author, and thus an authority [whether some like that, or accept that, or not]. And so if one wishes to communicate with me and get a response, that interaction is privilege. Those who don’t see how or why it’s a privilege are the problem kids. It’s not my job to educate them, it’s theirs.

          A very simple way to ask a question or make a comment on a true crime forum like this is stick to the matter at hand. Refer to something in the discovery or the media or some supposed fact, and then discuss it. Very few do. It’s personal to everyone, and personal point scoring. I’m not interested in those discussions.

          I honestly don’t want people who don’t have any manners, and aren’t capable of trying to, being part of this community. And I’m certainly not scrounging for customers to the extent you seem to think, where I will suck up to idiots just to get them to buy my books. I would prefer the more educated and intelligent reader reads my work.

          • graciefield

            Believe me, I know whereof you speak – more than you’ll ever know. In short, been there…in spades.
            My point is that if you DO choose to respond to someone, I hope you take time to discern if the person is a hopeless, uneducable bottom-feeder or simply an interested newbie who may not yet know your rules and regs, and would caught off-guard be your snarky response.
            (An example of this happened in another post last week. You were especially harsh to a commenter who’d read 4 of your books. He was genuinely taken aback and replied to your vitriol with something like “Wow, where’d THAT come from?” etc., ending by saying he’d never read another of your works.)
            I’m sure this is no loss to you, but really, it seemed so unnecessary in that case for you to respond as you did.
            Someone who stumbles on your site and decides to comment can’t realistically be expected to have digested your full purpose or your parameters for participation in one fell swoop. Just allow a learning curve. The person either becomes acclimated to the way you and the site work – or doesn’t…and the wackos are weeded out.
            P.S. How on earth did you arrive at the conclusion that I thought you were “scrounging for customers” to ANY extent? I simply said you will alienate some if you continue being condescending and only accepting commenters who praise and agree with you. You really have to stop feeling so defensive – and that means not feeling, for whatever reason, so insecure.
            You have a good thing going. Now believe it.

          • nickvdl

            In a way I hold readers of my books to a higher standard. So when a reader is snarky it’s especially hard to digest. I do have folks who read book after book and leave negative review after negative review. Do you have a link for the comment you’re referring to? If I overstepped the mark I’m happy to apologize, but I seem to recall the “Wow where did that come from…” There’s something of a double standard in social media. The anonymous public can do what they like, meanwhile the content provider has to “behave” constantly. I take a different line. If you don’t know how to behave, get lost and don’t come back.

          • Juliew

            Hey, hope all this doesn’t mean we won’t be able to discuss the entirely plausible premis that both Chris and shannan were in fact holograms? They’ve got videos with arrows and everything on YouTube proving it, so it must be true. (Nooooo, don’t ban me – only trying to bring some levity).

          • Frances

            You must be watching Unscrambled Channel on YouTube. Please don’t follow her ridiculous videos!

        • Frances

          I agree, Gracie field, Cox1961 is only giving his or her opinion.

  2. Juliew

    No, it would be easy to label him as such and I think the temptation is to do so to comfort ourselves that only mad people could do it, ergo he is mad.

    Ok, only this blog would have me reading up on freud, but here goes a (very brief & non psychologists!) view of personality according to freud:

    Id – our innate and unconscious  instinctual desires including libido and death/aggression.  Our rampant instinctual desires without restraint.

    Ego – the reasoning and compromising part that enables us to satisfy some of what we want within organized, acceptable and reasonable ways. Stops the Id from running amock!

    Superego – part conscious /part unconscious critical and moralizing code that influences us – parental/societal rules.

    Types of disorder:
    Narcissistic neurosis – conflict between ego and superego
    Psychosis – conflict between ego and external world: difficulty determining what is real or not
    Transference neurosis – conflict between id and ego

    Cw was not battling against societal norms (Narcissistic neurosis) when he did what he did. Nor did he have a disordered view of reality. If he had either, the behaviours would have been noticeable in a variety of settings and relationships – work, friends, family, home. Not just in one awful night last year.

    However, he may have let his Id get the better of his ego! (transference neurosis).

    • nickvdl

      Thanks for that considered – and researched – response. Some useful thoughts there. I do think the “societal norms” were a factor, in that he cared what others thought of him, and in a sense projected what Kessinger thought. A lot of what he did seemed to be in order to be acceptable to her, and her attitude to society, rather than him being directly acceptable or accountable to society. That’s pretty interesting, wouldn’t you say?

  3. Juliew

    Yes, if he’d cared less about what others thought of him – been a bit more narcissistic in some ways – he might then have been able to ‘just leave’ and say to hell with the disapproval he’d have got as a cheating husband and abandoning father. It’s like his Id broke free with a vengeance after being slightly released by the affair. I watched that Xmas video recently while the 1 year ago discussion was on here. I ‘d found it disturbing on first viewing 15 months ago but put that partly down just to knowing what eventually happened to them all. On 2nd viewing i felt that, no, it is actually just disturbing in its own right in that it shows a total lack of empathy or awareness of others emotional states, including the children, by sw. I hate to say this but the narcissistic label seems more applicable there. Cw is like an empty vessel, a cipher in his own home, in a Santa suit.

    • JC

      Yes, he was more gray rock than anything, wasn’t he.

      • Juliew

        Yes, actually lacking the superficial charm, social nimbleness, manipulative skills , self serving drive and dynamism that are supposed to be part and parcel of narcissistic and sociopathic disorders. (And I realise I’ve inadvertently made them sound like positive things here whereas in that context, they’re not!,). He was a bit of a passive pudding.

  4. JC

    **People who have lived with a true narcissistic sociopath or an active addict (as they display similar behaviors) will get this joke.**

    Did you hear about the narcissistic sociopath and his dog named Go Away?

    “Come here, Go Away! Come here, Go Away!”

    This was never Chris. He went along to get along. He never rocked the boat or created conflict in his relationships. He didn’t enjoy other’s suffering. Even his chosen method of murder shows some peculiar sense of empathy, in his own mind anyway. I would say his personality and whole way of being in the world was somewhat simplistic, never complex. It has always been a puzzle to me why a mental health professional would embrace this definition for him. I wouldn’t shame a psychologist or psychiatrist for simply saying, “I’m stumped.” The investigators certainly were, or they wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of visiting him in prison months after the “conclusion” of their investigation.

    • nickvdl

      Even his chosen method of murder shows some peculiar sense of empathy>>>Great point.

  5. Rachel 9

    I want to thank you for taking this on, specifically for countering this YouTuber. She is very popular. People are too quick to lap up whatever she says, just as most found no fault with “Dr.” Phil’s handling of this case (which was unprofessional, superficial, uninformed, muck-raking). I know enough to know I can’t say what is wrong with Chris Watts, what was wrong with him when he chose to annihilate his family.

    I am a fan of Canadian psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson, and have wished someone of his caliber would address this case. You are, IMO, the next best thing. Thus far, you are the only one to approach this from an objective POV. Many would say you don’t. They’re the ones I mentioned above, those who eat up anything this YouTuber, “Dr.” Phil, Cherlyn (Ima Get-Rich-Quick) Cadle, assorted nitwit YouTubers (whose adoring fans think they’re brilliant, when they’re idiots). I just want somebody bloody-qualified to take this case on this far you are that somebody.

    I know this. He is not a narcissist. He owned nothing. He did as he was told. He did PRECISELY as he was told. He sold his Mustang to make a down-payment on Shanann’s leased Lexus, while he owned NO CAR OF HIS OWN. THAT IS NOT A NARCISSIST, bloody hell!!!! People!

    Thank you.

    I added the 9 to my name, as I came to realize I’m not the only Rachel who comments here.

  6. richard

    CW is certainly an interesting person.
    He clearly seems to echo what is around him in his life without any of his own personality traits added.
    Take for example he police interviews and the ‘sermon on the porch’, how many times was the word ‘like’ injected to every sentence. exactly the same as NK in her interviews.
    Then the last prison visit by the police back in March, note the lack of the use of the word ‘like’.
    I am just highlighting the man is clearly a mirror devoid of any of his own views…. just like a robot.
    which makes him an interesting case trying to figure out what makes him tick…. or tock

  7. Juliew

    Yay, new book below – silver fox. Only just noticed. Great, I’m not reduced to reading the cadle cobblers.

  8. Golden Bubble

    I began following this case at the beginning of 2019 because I went through a divorce 15 years ago while pregnant. My previous partner solicited someone to poison me (to cause miscarriage) so these types of cases interest me. In my case, my partner was a narcissist and his treatment of me was one of many acts that showed his true nature.

    While initially I believed Watts to be a Cluster B type I now have doubts. I don’t doubt his mother is a narcissist though. I think Watts is closer to a co-dependent. He has traits of shame, denial, control, dependency (unconscious), dysfunctional communication, and lack of boundaries. I looked at these traits of sociopathy and psychopathy from and seems they don’t apply outside of the crime:

    Make it clear they do not care how others feel–Watts always worried about how others felt. The conflicts between Shannan and his family tore him up.

    Behave in hot-headed and impulsive ways–Uh, no.

    Prone to fits of anger and rage–On the contrary, he bottled things up. Towards the end of the marriage he began letting emotion slip out (evidenced by some of their fights).

    Recognize what they are doing but rationalize their behavior–He seems to lack self-awareness.

    Cannot maintain a regular work and family life–No, he was very stable in his employment and family life. Very routine driven.

    Can form emotional attachments, but it is difficult–No. He is very affable and made friends easily due to his mellow and tolerant nature.

    Pretend to care–No evidence of this.

    Display cold-hearted behavior–Anecdotal and photographic evidence show much warmth towards family and friends.

    Fail to recognize other people’s distress–He was very attuned to Shannan’s and children’s needs and took action quickly.

    Have relationships that are shallow and fake–Don’t we all have a few? But he had some that were close as well. I think he and Shannan were close in the beginning. I think he poured himself out to Kessinger and was close to his dad. Close enough to confess the murder of his wife. I couldn’t do that.

    Maintain a normal life as a cover for criminal activity–He didn’t commit criminal activity.

    Fail to form genuine emotional attachments–No, he was attached to his dad, Shannan, and Kessinger.

    May love people in their own way–His love seemed conventionally, based on giving and receiving.

    • nickvdl

      Thanks for this.

  9. Juliew

    Am reading Silver Fox 1 and think it gives a very credible account of how SW may have died. I’ve long thought the children died of slow drugging, i.e. an overdose of oxy with maybe a bit of final smothering to make sure. So yes, it does make sense that SW may have been killed in a similarly hands-off, minimal face to face and non confrontational way. As you say – oxy impractical for these circumstances and timescales, but some ether type chemical to knock her out, maybe followed by suffocation to finish it off.

    In the various confessions he refers to putting a trash bag on her head and feet for the journey – ostensibly to avoid frightening the children (!?!). For those of us who believe the children were already dead by then, the bag for that purpose was unnecessary. However, there could have been a bag used as a way of suffocating the last traces of life out of shannan when unconscious – we know he leaks bits of truth out of the fantastical confessions, so maybe there was a bag over her head at some point but for a different purpose than his confession claims.

    I also agree that if subduing her with a chemical was the method, then it would have happened immediately or very soon after she entered the house – so downstairs not in bed.

    For those that care to, have a look at CWs behaviour for about 20 seconds on this version of the police video at the link below – the section 4.35 to 4.55. Policeman starts looking at area next to stairs and then bends down to look closer at something – think it may be her travel bag. CW immediately moves towards him and starts looking in same place. As policeman looks up, CW feigns casual interest in his phone, but when he thinks it’s safe to look back he looks intently at the same spot for quite a long time – and his eyes look panicky and he looks a bit sweaty and hyper-ventilatey. I think there was potentially something significant there – it was an area of significance for Chris. We know there was no blood involved in this crime, so maybe body fluids, chemical spill ? Btw oil based waterproof mascara is a nightmare to get out of fabrics/furnishings – wiping it tends to just spread it around – and he does keep referencing mascara stains.

    • nickvdl

      Thanks for your feedback. I’d also considered the plastic bag over her head scenario. The reason I’m not sure if it applies, is Shan’ann showed no ruptures in her lungs. She also had no petechial hemorrhage [no one did]. This suggests she didn’t die of violent asphyxia, but that she lost consciousness and was possibly asphyxiated while unconscious [and hence, didn’t struggle or have those ruptures]. Or she was asphyxiated with a bag or cloth while a chemically soaked cloth was placed over her nose or mouth, possibly soaked in alcohol or ethanol.

      • Frances

        I agree….

  10. Juliew

    Hi Frances, rest assured, I’m really not watching that. The above was a joke to reflect that this blog is one of few places we can have a grown up discussion without that sort of nonsense.

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