The disappearance of Jennifer Wilbanks, originally feared to be a kidnapping-murder or spousal-murder case, has been revealed to be something altogether different. Less frightening, no doubt–it’s neither a case of random nor spousal violence–but profoundly disturbing nevertheless. It seems that the lady ran away because she got cold feet before an elaborate and expensive wedding.
So, is she a Julia Roberts fan, and did she watch “The Runaway Bride” too many times? Is it a case of life imitating art, by a woman whose sense of responsibility and awareness of the consequences of her own behavior is sorely lacking?
Behavior like Jennifer’s tends to be a mystery to psychology. Prior to this event, it seems no one knew a thing was amiss. I could throw around words like “character disorder,” “stress-induced dissociative disorder, ” “narcissistic personality”–but they aren’t necessarily relevant. The truth lies hidden, and may always remain hidden. My guess is that what happened is a mystery even–or perhaps especially–to Jennifer Wilbanks herself.
I have to admit feeling a sense of outraged anger on behalf of her suffering family and fiance, and all the law enforcement people and others who searched for her. Bad enough that her family and friends probably thought her dead, and that the images swirling through their minds for the last few days were the stuff of nightmares and horror movies. But now they must wrestle with something far more complex: the fact that their beloved daughter, relative, friend, put them through this experience either knowingly–realizing the horror she must be inflicting–or unknowingly, proving she lacks even the most rudimentary elements of empathy. How does a family recover from that?