Friday, November 9, 2012

Regarding Yoselyn Ortega: Comments from the Critical Mom

Since I've gotten replies regarding my views of Yoselyn Ortega, I'm posting again on this topic:  my response is too long to post as a reply.
I'm not sympathizing with the nanny!  To say she's unhappy is not to sympathize--I'm pointing out that people who kill are not happy people.  They are usually desperate people. I agree with your descriptions of her as a narcissist and a psychopath and a sadist.  I agree that no one could have foreseen a murder.  But I don't agree that no one could have foreseen that Yoselyn Ortega was going to do something bad--and probably to the children.  I don't agree that when the mother and the nanny are having heated arguments things are likely to be okay with the kids.  I do know what it is like to have a situation in which the kid likes the nanny and you don't anymore--then what?  But this is different.  If reports are true (and who knows?) that Marina Krim and Yoselyn Ortega were arguing heatedly and that Yoselyn Ortega, leaving for the day after the argument, said "goodbye," and that Marina Krim ignored her, then I think that's already putting the children at a disadvantage.  The mother's relationship with the nanny defines the nanny's behavior toward the children, at least, the mother must assume that it does, because the mother has the power to hire and fire and the nanny's livelihood depends on the mother's good will.  If the nanny is behaving in some undesirable way already--here it seems to have been, before these murders--acting apathetic and feeding the kids junk food, then the parent has to say to him or herself, okay, SHE'S WATCHING MY KIDS.  Yelling at her, if that is what happened, will make her do something bad to the kids--she won't take it out on you, the employer, if she's desperate for a job and if she is a sadistic narcissist.  She's going to take it out on the kids.  Not necessarily murder them--the murderous nanny is a breathtakingly unusual phenomenon, more common in fiction than in reality--the New York Times called her "unique." But in a situation where the mother feels angry at the nanny, disgusted with her performance, and wants to tell her "shape up or get out"--which had already happened, apparently--then that "shape up or get out" is exactly the mistake.  In this situation, the mother could do the following:
(1) "Yoselyn, you need a vacation.  We'll pay.  Here's ________. Go see your family."
(2) "Yoselyn, things aren't working out.  Here's ____________."

Or just fire her.  But you can't leave anyone with the kids if you think that person is no longer good with them.  I know what happens--you hire someone, they're great for a year or two, you get fond of them, and then something goes wrong in their lives and they're really a different person--now they're depressed, stressed, forgetful, apathetic.  And you want to be fair to them.  But the mother can't close her eyes to the change in personality or behavior and hope that things will improve, nor can she tell the nanny to shape up if she's already got the feeling that the nanny is in a state of permanent sulks or very cold or very sad.  The mother is always in the position of evaluating the nanny's personality.  
I once had an au pair who was a very sweet, young (sixteen years old) girl whose family wanted her to learn English with us.  She sat in her room painting her toenails and I said, "Look, you've really got to go upstairs and tell the boys to get out of their pajamas and into their clothes."  They had told her they were fine and she took them at their word.  She really did not understand that her job entailed standing in the doorways of their rooms and saying, "It's time to get out of those pajamas and into your clothes--now!!"  Once I really spelled out things, she could function and the main thing is she was SWEET.  If I had felt that she really resented me for telling her what I expected, or was angry or depressed, I'd have talked to her at some length just to figure out what I was dealing with. 
I'm not blaming the Krims when I say they failed to see how unhappy a person Yoselyn Ortega was--and is.   The failure of imagination to see Ortega's degree of pathology is a typical failure of normal, happy people.  I don't think the Krims ever experienced pathological people before.  As I said in an earlier post I myself grew up in a family filled with crazy people.  Just about every pathology you list above was there.  And that kind of experience, growing up in a family like mine, gives you a watchfulness, an almost compulsive sense of needing to observe people, that the Krims, with their more normal background, just did not have.  I could say it takes one to know one, but I'll promise you I'm not a murderer.  But I sure have wanted to kill someone.  A thin line of "decency" or "civilization" or "self-control" luckily keeps me and most people from acting on the occasional impulse to kill.  Then there's the lie-down-with-dogs-get-up-with fleas phenomenon in the blanket term "dysfunctional family," so I can say that I saw my father railing that "the communists" were bugging his light bulbs, but I'm not paranoid, except when I am really looking over a person whom I might hire to care for my children.  I saw my mother flitting around pretending she was Peter Pan, grinning like mad when daily conversations revealed she was almost desperate enough to kill herself, and I'm not suicidal, but there's a certain weariness in a person's face that tips me off, if I'm considering hiring them to care for my children.  I've seen my brother holding long conversations with persons that neither I nor anyone else can see, and I don't have imaginary friends myself, but I do always imagine what's going on in someone's head when I'm talking to them.  I'm always expecting the worst, and reminding myself that actually the world can be a pretty good place.  But If the world is pleasant most of the time--if you grew up with parents whom you loved and who listened to you--you don't question things and you don't observe things, unless you're a born poet.  The Krims have met evil face to face for the first time in their lives, and my heart goes out to them.  Thank you for your thoughts, and I'd be interested in hearing from you again.


  1. I am wondering if intuitive people can get a sense by a photo if someone is dangerous? When you see the nanny's photos - even though they were before she started really unraveling in the past few months - do you sense something off?
    I wonder what self-professed "face readers" could decipher about her. Or those people who do "auras" - what would they say about her aura?
    I also know that people who study handwriting, (forensic) graphologists, can tell so much about a person by how they write (personality, health, maturity, self-view, honesty). They have solved cases of murder, rape, theft, etc. by having samples of writing.
    I wonder if there's some of Yoselyn's writing for them to evaluate. I think the warning signs would have showed she wasn't appropriate to watch over small children.

  2. When I see her photos, she seems remote to me. But I don't think I could tell as much from a photo as I could from seeing her and talking to her. The warning sign to me would be my own behavior as a mother to her: in a sense I'm the mother to any nanny I hire, since I have the all-powerful ability to hire or fire, and small children see their own mothers as all-powerful. Was Yoselyn Ortega enough of a small child to think "I'll take revenge on the other kids since SHE wouldn't speak to me?"
    If I yell at my nanny, I'm yelling at the woman who takes care of my flesh and blood--not at someone who can't efficiently stick a lid on a bottle going down my assembly line. If the bottle breaks, so what? But if she harms my child . . .

  3. The most recent report I read suggests that Ortega was in "a catatonic state" when she became conscious, unable to talk, only "sort of point to words," and that the more she came out of it, the less she wanted to talk. The implication seems to be that she did not understood what she had done--she thought he "hurt" the kids: does she fully comprehend that they are gone forever?

  4. Why didn't Marina say goodbye to her nanny at the end of the day? How unprofessional/ immature/ entitled!

  5. Yes, exactly. Mean, basically. Even or especially if Marina were angry at the nanny, she should have offered a friendly goodbye, taken her aside for a friendly talk geared to finding out what made the nanny tick, or --if she was THAT angry--fired her. To forget that the woman to whom you're giving the cold shoulder is responsible for your babies is tragic, even if the woman is not a murderer. Some strange relationship seems to have developed--the nanny seeing Maria as a mother and looking to her for approval, and Marina alternating between wanting to be her friend or mother and acting like the tough employers, "Shape up!" I think Marina Krim's lack of experience with crazy people meant she never developed that sixth sense that'll sometimes warn you.

  6. You folks might want to do a search on '43 trillion dollar lawsuit nanny murders' before you convict this lady in the court of public opinion. More to this than meets the eye:) This is possibly the story of the century.

  7. Yes, it is if there's truth to this lawsuit, but if it really is the case that a high-tech revenge operation deprived the Krims of their children, why the heck isn't Michael Moore taking this up? Or some other extremely good journalist? Much appeared right after the murders on this topic, but nothing lately. Where's the beef? We need evidence if it is out there.

  8. We moved right near where this tragedy took place in the Upper West Side in NYC. Every time I have to walk by La Rochelle, there is a palpable heaviness - real or imagined.

    I completely agree with you in your perceptive assessment about Ortega being a malignant Narcissist psychopath (very negative frequency) in the daily midst of a happy, joyful, loving home (very high frequency). She is absolutely pathological and evil.

    I believed from the very beginning this was about Ortega's envy manifesting in a classic narcissiatic rage directly at beautiful, happy Marina. I would even venture to say that Ortega was envious of the children too, which blocked all normal concern and emphathy.

    Ortega knew that taking away her two precious children would cause maximum suffering. And yes, one of your commentors in another post said that Ortega even waited in the darkness for Marina to turn on the light, only to watch her reaction at the carnage of her beloved children before stabbing herself.That is pure evil. The fact that the mother didn't snap-snap, understanably so, and stab Ortega herself speaks of the mother's kind-natured spirit. There were even reports that the mother applied towels to Ortega's neck wound. Who knows what is true? But I wouldn't be surprised. This was a good mother, and a beautiful, beautiful family.

    I, too, grew up in a dysfunctional family. My mom is a malignant narcissist, where maintaining her fake persona is more important to her than her own flesh and blood and the truth/reality. It was a home filled with constant lies, manipulation/gas lighting, slander, exploitation, creating division and strife amongst siblings; a father who became a shell of a man, and her biggest victim and enabler. I'm going on 4 yrs no contact from my mother and sister (golden child), which means my whole family/history too. Dysfunctional families breed apathy amongst those not targeted for severe abuse like the scapegoats are; the other kind are called "flying monkeys" short for proxy abusers manipulated by the Narc/Sociopath.

    Today, I have a happy family of my own, but would never dream of having Facebook or social media under my real name. I grew up hiding my secret joys and deepest love from monsters, who enjoyed my unhappiness like a hit of heroine. Unlike Marina, I could never have a blog in my real name writing about my children's adventures in NYC. Not to be critical of the mother at all. That's a very instinctual, normal Mom thing to do when raised in a "NORMAL" loving family, but growing up having a mother/sister who are pathological, like Ortega, it was pure instinct not to insite their rage and envy, even via cyberspace.