The jury on the Graham Dwyer case did us all service, finding him guilty of the murder of Elaine O’Hara.
The nation was captivated with the details of this case. It can be levelled that this is voyeuristic, but humans we are designed to problem-solve, to seek to understand, and to be curious so as to ensure our safety and survival. Many questions have been raised, including; How could Graham Dwyer do that? What led Elaine O’Hara into his net?
Hiding in Plain Sight His type are found in every race, culture, society and walk of life. We have all met these people, many have been cheated and manipulated, and forced to deal with the wreckage left behind. They have no conscience. They seek self-gratification through the exploitation of others. They are psychopaths.
Graham Dwyer is a psychopath who killed for sexual gratification. Yet he was a successful architect able to hold down a job and apparently healthy relationships. It’s mostly a charade. As a psychopath he was able to compartmentalise until his fantasies became too powerful and led him to seek and hunt vulnerability.
A feature of psychopaths is the ability to be likeable and charming, trapping the particular vulnerabilities of Elaine O’Hara, who wanted to be loved and cherished.
You might ask why did Dwyer allow the trial go ahead and bring negative attention to his family and expose the private and defenceless Elaine O’Hara?
It is because psychopaths show a stunning lack of remorse, shrugging off personal responsibility.
Other traits are a lack of empathy, deceitfulness and manipulation. I believe that Graham Dwyer actively hunted and selected Elaine O’Hara for his vile gratification because of her mental health history.
Dwyer is highly intelligent, a planner who painstakingly sought to complete the perfect murder. I believe that the incredible work of the Gardaí and this conviction saved women from this hunter, as once the lust had been achieved, more would have been sought.
Elaine O’Hara’s emotional map was full of vulnerability. She experienced Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) , with instability, chronic low self-esteem, poor self-image and intense emotions. A big featuresof BPD is the energy to prevent abandonment. Self- harming and I know this sounds strange, was her way of releasing her tension, hurt and self-hatred. Hence Dwyer and O‘Hara were locked in a perverse and deadly dance with only one outcome. He hunted and she could not pull away.
He pursued her relentlessly and on the day of her discharge when she had planned to volunteer at the tall ships race, - future planning is not done by someone feeling suicidal – he finally trapped and killed her.
As I think of that inhumanity I think of the persistence of Garda James O’Donoghue who returned for a third time to feel in the mud finding vital evidence.
My heart goes out to Elaine. Dwyer manipulated and controlled her, hurt her against her wishes, seemed to have fall back plans, lied, was emotionless, and took pleasure from pain.
His sexual gratification via stabbing someone is at the most extreme end of the continuum. Why are some people like this? There is no simple answer. The classic nature (biological and genetic) / nurture (social environment) debate is on-going. Regardless it’s likely to be a complex interplay between both.
The jury listened to the most gruesome details which could cause traumatic stress. I hope the court service has psychological supports in place as they will need them. Thank you for representing us.