I don’t get it

As a therapist, I pride myself on not being a voyeur. I listen to my clients’ stories because I want to help them. I do not ask for details that are irrelevant to the treatment nor do I force them to tell me things that they feel uncomfortable talking about. I believe that people are pretty clever about deciding when the appropriate time to reveal things is and how much to reveal.

But outside the therapy room, human relationships that become public knowledge fascinate me. I have a morbid fascination with crimes that take place within the family. I think it stems from the fact that I cannot understand them. I simply don’t understand how a person can harm someone with whom they have had a close personal relationship.

For years I followed the story of the Cherry Hill rabbi who was convicted of hiring two men to kill his wife. I was astounded that the man continued to walk around and be seen in the community and that he could face himself in the morning. I imagined that his ego had taken over and that he enjoyed being a ladies’ man and that he felt that his wife’s death would be a quicker way out of the marriage than divorce. Of course, there was money in the equation. His wife had it and he probably didn’t mind the thought of his having it once she was gone. That he chose to have her killed was not only evil, but it was stupid. He should have known that one of the hired hands would finally talk.

But if he should have known that he would get caught, how much more clever should Rafael Robb have been! He, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school (and my alma mater) and no less than a professor of game theory, should have known that he had better options than those he exercised in recent days. Leaving aside for the moment whether or not he killed his wife (although mounting evidence does seem very suspicious), why is it that he decided to lie to the police? Why did he say he was shopping at a specific store when the clerk was able to tell police that he wasn’t there that day? Why did he take time to call the police when he “found his wife”– walking up to his bedroom, putting the dog into his daughter’s room, and then calling the seven digit police number from his car cell phone when there were a number of working telephones in the house and he could have called 911? Why did he deny that his wife was seeking a divorce when he knew that there were people who knew otherwise. Why, if he is so clever at game theory, the ability to predict your opponent’s move, did he make himself look so guilty?

Maybe he did it and he’s evil AND stupid. Maybe he didn’t and he’s just stupid. But for anyone who might be reading this and has some anger toward his/her spouse, there is something called therapy– and if that fails, something called divorce.

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  1. People like us wouldn’t get it. It’s sickness. It’s like understanding how someone feels when they’ve broken a leg. If you’ve never done it, you can imagine it feels awful, but that’s about it.

  2. It probably indicates that he didn’t plan to kill her – otherwise he should have been smart enough to say things that were a little more convincing. Having been stupid, he will probably continue to be stupid & then we’ll have the story in less time than one CSI episode.

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