Update to this post dated 1/31/2012: I have not been able to verify Patrick McStay's current status. Numerous people have left comments stating he was successfully extradited from Texas to New Orleans to face charges on alleged financial improprieties. I've heard conflicting reports about whether or not he posted bail. Most seemed to think he was still being held, which makes me wonder if bail was set prohibitively high since he had previously been a fugitive with regard to the Louisiana warrant. If anyone has media or press confirmation (please don't leave any unsourced comments or I'll just delete them) as to his current status I'd be interested to hear. Also, if anyone knows the exact nature of the charges or if any additional charges have been filed--particularly if any of these charges were related to the McStay family disappearance. I'm doubting the latter is the case and am leaning towards the idea that P.M.'s legal woes are probably separate problems from any problems which might have been the reason for the McStays' disappearance. But we will see what we will see, I guess. For the record, as of this date, I believe the McStays are all alive and well, and that they disappeared of their own volition. For my reasons regarding this, just go to the homepage of this blog and look at the left hand side for the most read blog posts on this site and you'll see several other posts I did exploring several diverse theories which I feel are plausible explanations of the reasons for the family's disappearance.
12/28/2011 MCSTAYS UPDATE: I just put these two things together tonight: Does this creep you out the way it creeped me out? I wanted to believe the reasoning in the post below this was the right reasoning because it ended with all the McStays alive and well. But this is worrisome.
IMPORTANT UPDATE ON MCSTAYS CASE: PATRICK ROBERT MCSTAY SOUGHT BY LOUISIANA LAW ENFORCMENT: WARRANT ISSUED. This might be the key to solving the mystery of the McStays' disappearance. Or it may prove to be unrelated.
I used to think Summer McStay was either involved in criminal activity or had a lover who killed Joseph McStay (with or without her consent).
But after that Laura Ling documentary on E!, I'm happy to say I think they're all alive.
I had thought Summer McStay might suffer from some sort of mental illness, but because she seemed to be high functioning, I was thinking it was more a mood disorder or some form of mental illness that was tangential and possibly a contributing factor to the disappearance. I didn't put so much weight on it to see it as the primary cause of the disappearance. But with the new facts released this week, I totally do.
Now I think she probably suffers from either paranoid schizophrenia or borderline personality disorder, and that she and her husband are in a co-dependent relationship in which one partner's irrational paranoia has resulted in the other partner agreeing to a completely irrational flight--first out of the conventions of society--and later out of society altogether.
The search for a non-existent drug called ANGER. The five outdoor playhouses INSIDE the house. The frequent name changes.
I did a GOOGLE search for "schizophrenia" and "changed names" and this is something very common in paranoid schizophrenics. It's also apparently common in those suffering from borderline personality disorder. They often change their names multiple times.
They get paranoid and they want to escape. They want to hide. But the "solutions" never last. The moves go on and on, the name changes, the delusions etc.
This might explain why the home births and the home schooling. She probably mistrusted everyone.
I remember her making a really strange comment in the one video where they are driving to the new house. She says something about the proximity of the truck stop, which seems to make no sense or only paranoid sense.
Both of these mental illnesses often involve wild flights and disappearances. I could see Summer McStay suffering from either one of those. The question is whether she was actually hallucinating (paranoid schizophrenia) or not (borderline personality disorder). Did she imagine that drug existed? Or was it real and she was just inquiring at the wrong place. Anger is a component of borderline personality disorder. I don't believe she was bipolar because any manic episode (which could involve paranoia) would have ended after a period of time.
And I couldn't see Joseph McStay not contacting his family but as it said in one article about a schizophrenic woman who changed her name frequently, "It is virtually impossible to have a relationship with a person like this unless you let them rule you."
So I now believe that's what happened.
I was basing my judgments before on the idea that the family couldn't survive in a foreign country without resources. That docu disabused me of the notion because they had hella resources (cash, land in South America, etc.). They probably had more than anyone could even guess. What did Susan Blake say about how good her son is with putting money away?
This is great news because I again completely believe they're all alive.
Because all that new information in that show leads me in one direction and only that direction: paranoid schizophrenia or borderline personality disorder.
It's more than a little curious that Summer McStay's mother has always shied away from publicity or helping publicly in the search for her daughter.
I'm not implying any involvement, obviously, and the detective on the case said he understood she was dealing with this situation in a different way than McStay's mother and brother--that it's a temperament issue.
But it could be that she knows her daughter is mentally ill, knows her patterns by now (or has promised silence to her daughter?) and does not fear for her daughter's well-being at all.
That would make sense of why she's not going on t.v. and through the media asking people to help find her daughter.
Either way, I suspect we have no idea what kind of hell these people live in. And if you have a paranoid schizophrenic (or person afflicted with BPD) with huge resources like that, the delusions could be totally indulged.
No wonder Joseph McStay is having panic attacks. Anyone who shared a paranoid schizophrenic's or person afflicted with BPD's world in an indulgent manner would probably be having hellacious panic attacks.
And I think that's what we're seeing here.
This explains the mad dashes about. It's irrational because this woman is irrational and her husband is doing everything to help keep her feeling safe.
And, unfortunately, I feel this involves his not contacting his family.
They probably don't see American television and they probably lead a very isolated existence.
I think they left the hundred thousand behind for two reasons: not to trigger a criminal investigation and to be responsible--that there would be funds for unpaid bills left behind.
I know the age of onset in schizophrenia is between 18 and 25.
That's the normal range.
(If it even is schizophrenia and not BPD) maybe she's the exception and it was a case of later onset. I was just reading some accounts of paranoid schizophrenia that presented virtually overnight and one of the people was about the age she is now. That person suddenly thought he had to flee his life.
Borderline personality disorder would probably allow the person suffering from it to have periods of relatively high functioning. And being a real estate agent you can have long "down" periods and short bursts of focused activity and still be engaging in the "career." It's not the same as a 9-5.
But maybe people covered for her. If she actually hallucinated.
I've known schizophrenics who could seem very normal for extended periods of time. Maybe she just hid the delusions and paranoia from everyone except her husband.
But Summer McStay has the traits in superabundance which line up with one or the other of those mental illnesses.
It's not something people think of much, because I did a Google search for "Summer McStay" and "schizophrenia" together and nobody seemed to even be thinking along those lines.
And I wasn't either. Until that Laura Ling documentary.
The name change thing is what makes most people (and I thought that way too) think she had to be engaged in some sort of criminal activity. We don't, as a culture, associate multiple name changes or aliases with mental illness. But apparently it's quite consistent with these two conditions.
If you Google it in conjunction with BPD, you get even more accounts of people doing this repeatedly.
And as to why nobody believes that is Joseph on the "crossing" videotape, I cite what someone commented on this blog a long time back:
June 27, 2011 10:12 PM
I think it was them going into Mexico. I think McStay cut his hair & that's why his mom didn't recognize him without his normally big hair.
I didn't believe the Merida sighting was Joseph McStay until I landed on the paranoid schizophrenia/BPD theory.
And now I believe the Merida WALMART sighting was accurate. He had shaved his head.
In the following article, note the section about the problems with identity. Summer didn't only change her name multiple times; she also even changed her ethnicity. She is of Colombian descent, but told some people she was of Italian descent, others that she was partly Asian.
And here's the intense anger to the degree that would scare a person into trying to control it. But the paranoia from the BPD (or schizophrenia) is probably keeping her away from treatment. She doesn't have the trust to enter into psychotherapy or treatment and she has an enabler and the resources to hide and avoid treatment. This is why the home births and the home schooling. I'm convinced of it. Her financial status has victimized her. If she had been poor, she (ironically) would have probably had better odds of getting treatment. I honestly believe this is exactly what this disappearance is all about
My ears also pricked up when this article talked about the person suffering from BPD demonizing others. If she irrationally believes the McStay family is evil, then she's going to make it a live or die requirement of her husband that they avoid these people.
Sometimes you love someone so much you just go right into their madness with them.
The more I look at this article, the more I think it's BPD, rather than schizophrenia. I mean look at this statement: "They tend to view the world as generally dangerous and malevolent."
Doesn't that fit her pattern of hiding and hiding her children from society?
And now it's probably progressed to the ultimate stage. Only the four of them can exist.
The world has to go away.
I completely believe now this is what happened.
It would be interesting to know if Summer McStay had ever harmed herself (been a cutter say) or made suicide attempts.
It's not the sort of things people like to divulge about family members (especially suicide attempts) but in this case I think it would be relevant.
From the Wiki article on "Borderline Personality Disorder":
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a personality disorder described as a prolonged disturbance of personality function in a person (generally over the age of eighteen years, although it is also found in adolescents), characterized by depth and variability of moods.The disorder typically involves unusual levels of instability in mood; black-and-white thinking, or splitting; the disorder often manifests itself in idealization and devaluation episodes, as well as chaotic and unstable interpersonal relationships, self-image, identity, and behavior; as well as a disturbance in the individual's sense of self. In extreme cases, this disturbance in the sense of self can lead to periods of dissociation.
Splitting in BPD includes a switch between idealizing and demonizing others. This, combined with mood disturbances, can undermine relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. BPD disturbances also may include self-harm. Without treatment, symptoms may worsen, leading (in extreme cases) to suicide attempts.
Signs and Symptoms
Borderline personality disorder is a diagnosis about which many articles and books have been written, yet about which little is known based on empirical research.
Studies suggest that individuals with BPD tend to experience frequent, strong and long-lasting states of aversive tension, often triggered by perceived rejection, being alone or perceived failure.Individuals with BPD may show lability (changeability) between anger and anxiety or between depression and anxiety and temperamental sensitivity to emotive stimuli.
The negative emotional states specific to BPD may be grouped into four categories: destructive or self-destructive feelings; extreme feelings in general; feelings of fragmentation or lack of identity; and feelings of victimization.
Individuals with BPD can be very sensitive to the way others treat them, reacting strongly to perceived criticism or hurtfulness. Their feelings about others often shift from positive to negative, generally after a disappointment or perceived threat of losing someone. Self-image can also change rapidly from extremely positive to extremely negative. Impulsive behaviors are common, including alcohol or drug abuse, unsafe sex, gambling and recklessness in general. Attachment studies have revealed a strong association between BPD and insecure attachment style, the most characteristic types being "unresolved", "preoccupied", and "fearful".Evidence suggests that individuals with BPD, while being high in intimacy- or novelty-seeking, can be hyper-alert to signs of rejection or not being valued and tend toward insecure, avoidant or ambivalent, or fearfully preoccupied patterns in relationships. They tend to view the world as generally dangerous and malevolent.
Individuals with BPD are often described, including by some mental health professionals (and in the DSM-IV), as deliberately manipulative or difficult, but analysis and findings generally trace behaviors to inner pain and turmoil, powerlessness and defensive reactions, or limited coping and communication skills.There has been limited research on family members' understanding of borderline personality disorder and the extent of burden or negative emotion experienced or expressed by family members. However the effect of expressed emotion by family members may actually be opposite (paradoxical) from the anticipated effect on individuals with such illnesses as depressive disorders and schizophrenia. For BPD such effect may be neutral or positive as opposed to negative, a counter-intuitive result.
Parents of individuals with BPD have been reported to show co-existing extremes of over-involvement and under-involvement. BPD has been linked to increased levels of chronic stress and conflict in romantic relationships, decreased satisfaction of romantic partners, abuse and unwanted pregnancy; these links may be general to personality disorder and subsyndromal problems.
Suicidal or self-harming behavior is one of the core diagnostic criteria in DSM IV-TR, and management of and recovery from this can be complex and challenging.The suicide rate is approximately 8 to 10 percent. Self-injury attempts are highly common among patients and may or may not be carried out with suicidal intent.BPD is often characterized by multiple low-lethality suicide attempts triggered by seemingly minor incidents, and less commonly by high-lethality attempts that are attributed to impulsiveness or comorbid clinical depression, with interpersonal stressors appearing to be particularly common triggers. Ongoing family interactions and associated vulnerabilities can lead to self-destructive behavior.Stressful life events related to sexual abuse have been found to be a particular trigger for suicide attempts by adolescents with a BPD diagnosis.
Diagnosis is based on a clinical assessment by a qualified mental health professional. The assessment incorporates the patient's self-reported experiences as well as the clinician's observations. The resulting profile may be supported or corroborated by long-term patterns of behavior as reported by family members, friends or co-workers. The list of criteria that must be met for diagnosis is outlined in the DSM-IV-TR.
Borderline personality disorder was once classified as a subset of schizophrenia (describing patients with borderline schizophrenic tendencies). Today BPD is used more generally to describe individuals who display emotional dysregulation and instability, with paranoid ideation or delusions being only one criterion (criterion #9) of a total of 9 criteria, of which 5, or more, must be present for this diagnosis.
Individuals with BPD are at high risk of developing other psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression. Other symptoms of BPD, such as dissociation, are frequently linked to severely traumatic childhood experiences, which some put forth as one of the many root causes of the borderline personality.
It is common for those with borderline personality disorder and their families to feel their problems compounded by a lack of clear diagnoses, effective treatments, and accurate information. This is true especially because of evidence that this disorder originates in the families of those with it and has a lot to do with psychosocial and environmental factors (Axis IV), rather than belonging strictly in the personality disorders and mental retardation section (Axis II) of the DSM-IV construct. Conceptual, as well as therapeutic, relief may be obtained through evidence that BPD is closely related to traumatic events during childhood and to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), about which much more is known. Recovery can be faster with the help of family members and loved ones, however those involved must be trained for their assistance to have an effective impact.
Onset of symptoms typically occurs during adolescence or young adulthood. Symptoms may persist for several years, but the majority of symptoms lessen in severity over time, with some individuals fully recovering. The mainstay of treatment is various forms of psychotherapy, although medication and other approaches may also improve symptoms. Two forms of therapy in particular have been shown to be effective with BPD: Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Schema Therapy. Both of these are influenced by Cognitive Behavioral therapy. While borderline personality disorder can manifest itself in children and teenagers, therapists are discouraged from diagnosing anyone before the age of 18, due to adolescence and a still-developing personality.
There are some instances when BPD can be evident and diagnosed before the age of 18. The DSM-IV states: "To diagnose a personality disorder in an individual under 18 years, the features must have been present for at least 1 year." In other words, it is possible to diagnose the disorder in children and adolescents, but a more conservative approach should be taken.
There is some evidence that BPD diagnosed in adolescence is predictive of the disease continuing into adulthood. It is possible that the diagnosis, if applicable, would be helpful in creating a more effective treatment plan for the child or teen.
 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition, DSM IV-TR, a widely used manual for diagnosing mental disorders, defines borderline personality disorder (in Axis II Cluster B) as:
A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image and affects, as well as marked impulsivity, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5
A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5
Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars (excoriation) or picking at oneself.
Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
Chronic feelings of emptiness
Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms
Lastly, I was reading just now on message boards the incredible pain and frustration experienced by loved ones of people suffering with BPD who had suddenly just vanished out of their lives and refused to make contact.
The one site included this telling statement: "Additional Details...There are 14 pages listed at the bottom of this link I'm enclosing which shares similar situations where BPD people just vanish out of relationsips/friendships with no explanation or discussion.
And none of them were dead.
Many showed up after varying lengths of time (often long periods).
If you do searches on BPD you will see this is a common experience.
And they weren't buying land in South America for no reason.
I know they're not on that particular piece of land right now, but it means they're invested (in more than one sense) in that part of the world.
Postscript: I'm probably not making enough of the fact that Joseph McStay probably had his own reasons for indulging his wife's antisocial tendencies.
Because the American economy was tanking really bad when they disappeared.
You can keep the business in place and watch it slowly die while you throw good money after bad, or you can get the hell out of Dodge, give your wife the ultimate retreat from society she's been begging to have for years, and keep all that money and not have to declare it on income tax.
Hence the $100,000 left behind. Just in case the IRS gets cagy about any dangling finances or taxes left behind. They can plead that there is the next tax return. But if they are NOT found, they neither have to face the IRS about any money that never landed on an income tax return nor deal with the repercussions of their bankruptcy And how many years will it be until the bankruptcy clears and they don't even have to file that income tax anymore? They only have to hide what? Seven years? Ten?
And then I'm guessing they can just swoop that money up.
Because my guess is if they can last that long in hiding, there is no retroactive clause for tax evasion prosecution. Any tax attorney reading this who can tell me if that drops off a certain number of years? When you would not be prosecuted? Or does it hang? If so, they probably planned on never coming back.
These are much smarter people than most people give them credit for. They understand money completely. Both of them.
But I still stick with my claim that she's suffering from BPD and this is what contoured the relationship in the direction of the flight scenario. Because that sudden move to the new house and then the sudden abandonment indicates they were thinking another direction, but changed their plans.
You don't leave in April or even March, because that's likely to trigger "tax evasion" logic. But February 4th is just far back enough that it's not high on your list of first ideas when looking for a theory.
Suddenly, J.M. had his own surprise reasons to follow his wife's intuition--once he saw the economy going south.
And now they are living modestly and enjoying a very isolated stretch of beach and enjoying lovely dinners.
They're not lying in any ditch.
But my how their plans have been messed up by Investigation Discovery.
He had his own reasons for doing this.
You need two people willing to disappear for this to happen.
These aren't your everday middleclass Americans. Not by a longshot.
Everyday Americans don't usually own land on an island off the coast of Costa Rica.
These are two smart cookies.
But I do believe she's mentally ill and that it's borderline personality disorder.
Those people love to pull the "disappearing act." Go on a BPD message board if you don't believe me.
It drives others (family members, etc.) crazy.
But they're going to find it hard to stay hidden with the way this case is exploding through international media now.