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The Dysfunctional Anthony Family Dynamic

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Casey Anthony's grandmother offers new insight into the Anthony family fights.


The Anthony family might be the winners of the dysfunctional family award. Fighting, enabling and finger-pointing seem to be status quo for the Orlando, Florida clan.

According to transcripts from an August 21, 2008 interview with law enforcement, Casey's grandmother Shirley Plesea summed up the dynamic between Casey, her daughter and her mother. "I just wonder if she hated her mom more than she loved Caylee," she said. This triangulation has often been thought by armchair detectives to be the motive for Casey to murder Caylee.

And Plesea's description of the relationship doesn't come out of nowhere. It's been well documented that Casey and Cindy don't see eye-to-eye. Most of the friction stemmed from Caylee. Casey, according to witnesses, never wanted Caylee, but Cindy refused to let her put her up for adoption. Creating more bad blood, according to various witness testimony, is that Cindy, not Casey, was the first to hold newborn Caylee at the hospital. Plesea also said that Cindy often spoke of trying to get custody of Caylee.

Ordinarily in families, there's always a certain amount of "push and pull" when it comes to raising children. "It is natural in families for there to be competition as to who is the key parental figure," says psychiatrist Dr. Eva Ritvo, M.D. "It's a very powerful position to be a parent. A healthy family will work collaboratively."

No one would ever call the Anthony family healthy.

According to Plesea, Casey also stole thousands of dollars from various family members including herself. George and Cindy at one time almost lost their home because of the massive debt Casey had accrued. Remarkably, the family never pressed charges against Casey.

Do you think the dysfunction of the Anthony family played a part in the tragic death of little Caylee?

Casey Anthony Photo Bucket

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101 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sally March 24, 2009, 4:19 AM

Thank you, MomLogic for interviewing a psychiatrist and discussing the dysfunction in the Anthony family. My question is how come Cindy Anthony is so dysfunctional if her mother, Shirley Pleasea is healthy? It was very healthy for Shirley Plesea to be able to detach and say to her granddaughter, “I love you but I don’t like you” and to tell investigators, “I wonder if Casey hated her mother more than she loved Caylee.” It makes me wonder if Cindy’s mother have therapy after raising Cindy? Dysfunctional parents like Cindy and George who deny reality and enable their children’s bad behavior are usually raised by dysfunctional parents. Denial and family loyalty is all they know. All psychiatrists and FBI profilers have labeled Casey a sociopath or psychopath because she has no regard for other people’s rights or feelings and is only concerned about herself. Casey’s pathological lying and stealing from friends and family and her total disconnect from Caylee’s murder shows that. Casey’s cold and callous behavior towards her toddler has enraged and puzzled most mothers and grandmothers who would give their lives for their children. Casey seems very happy that Caylee is gone. Now she has her parents to herself and she can do what she wants. Even being in jail doesn’t seem to bother her as long as she has treats and beauty products. George and Cindy seem even more dysfunctional than the normal dysfunctional parents because they continue to believe Casey’s lies when she steals them blind, lies about everything and tears out their heart by murdering their only grandchild. You’d think the murder of Caylee would be the rock bottom George and Cindy need to get them to wake up and face reality. But they still keep believing Casey even when she refuses to even speak to them. As a mother and grandmother, I want for Cindy and George to recover from their dysfunction so they can heal and be as healthy as Cindy’s mother. Shirley Plesea is one courageous woman to speak the truth knowing her daughter won’t like it, but that it is the right thing to do.

CAROLINA GIRL March 24, 2009, 8:50 AM

I think this picture says it all.George is praying, Casey looks bright eyed and creepy,Cindy looks angry,Lee just doesn’t have a clue.This family is so dysfunctional,I believe they know the truth its all an act.Cindy’s a nurse she has to be caring and intelligent,George worked for law enforcement he had to have been use to dealing with liars.Lee just needs to be committed,he’s a sick one,acts like he’s married to his sister and he needs to be with her,give him his wish and put him in the jail cell beside her.George he’s just along for the ride. I think he wants to be on Caylee’s side but is scared of his controlling wife.George knows Casey is guilty,Cindy just dares him to step across the line so he puts his tail between his legs like a little lost puppy and follows her.I think this family is beyound help.

SanSmith March 24, 2009, 9:26 AM

I think these are all sad and lost people. I think the only reason they cling to one another is because it feels safer than that big mean world of people out there(meaning us) who are critical of them.

Sally March 24, 2009, 9:40 AM

To answer your question MomLogic, yes, I do believe that the dysfunction in the Anthony home played a big part in Casey murdering Caylee. George and Cindy allowed Casey to steal $45,000 from their credit card, hundreds of dollars from her grandparents and even from Caylee’s piggy bank without giving her any consequences. They gave her free room and board and babysitting services and she was allowed to come and go as she pleased. When Cindy was furious over Casey stealing her father’s assisted living fund, she kicked her out and said she was getting custody of Caylee. Tony told her not to bring Caylee over to his house because a party house was no place for a toddler. Casey didn’t want Cindy to have Caylee. So Caylee was expendable. Because sociopaths have no feelings, remorse or conscience, Casey killed Caylee and never looked back. She went on with her life without Caylee and no regrets. Her partying and whoring and getting a tatoo “Beautiful Life” for 31 days after Caylee’s murder says it all.

Laurie March 24, 2009, 9:48 AM

The sad part about this story is that Shirley will be hated by her daughter and granddaughter for speaking the truth. Casey has brainwashed this family for years to get her own way - they are probably just now starting to go through de-programing and feel lost and confused because their leader, Casey, is not instructing them. I’ve never seen a whole family so controlled that they have not fought for Caylee. Missing a month and no one looked for her - then supported their master, Casey, in her obvious lies.

Shirley thinks it was hate that caused this situation - It’s not that she didn’t want Cindy to have custody - or that she hated Cindy and wanted her to suffer - It’s much more complicated than that. Caylee was getting in the way of her control - they were starting to love Caylee more than her - what better way to win the love, affection and sympathy of Mom and Dad by being a victim of a cruel kidnapping/murder. Oh, they won’t yell at me anymore for stealing money - we will cry together and they will do anything to make me feel better now that I’ve lost my poor little girl. Power will be mine again!!!

I’m sure we will be seeing this movie in the theaters soon -

CAROLINA GIRL March 24, 2009, 9:55 AM

SanSmith the big mean world that is so critical of them!This woman Casey Anthony killed her child in the most horrific way .Cindy ,George and Lee hang on her lies.She never deserved to be a mother.Casey stole from her grandparents and her own mother and father.She should have been in jail along time ago and maybe Caylee would still be alive.We are not the mean ones.We’ve showed love and compassion toward a little girl we never knew. The Anthony’s George,Cindy wanted us there when Caylee was missing,but then when their sociopathic daughter was to believed to have murdered her,well enough America now go away.We are not mean we were there searching for a sweet little girl and now we are all angered at the mother who killed her and the family who stands with her and her lies and deception.

Linda from Jersey March 24, 2009, 10:06 AM

I think Cindy is just as much if not more of a narcissist than Casey. She raised her to be the way she is. I truly believe that Cindy feels that she has no boundries. The law does not pertain to her, or anyone in her family. They are special in her mind, and the fact that she also has disassociated herself from the death of this beautiful baby girl is very telling .Even though she knows the world sees all their sick disgusting actions, she still wants to fool everyone. Her idea of getting sympathy is to constantly rub on George to assure us that they are a close happy couple. We all know better, they were not close and happy before the deed, so imagine the door closed and the real relationship going on there. She is contrtolling the one person in the immedicate family who wants to do the right thing but does not dare. This woman must be brutal to instill so much fear into her family.

Sally March 24, 2009, 10:10 AM

Carolina Girl, what SanSmith was saying is that the Anthonys see the world as mean and cruel because the investigators, state sttorneys office and the public believe their beloved perfect daughter Casey is guilty of murder. Cindy was upset from the get go that the investigators, media and public were not swallowing the Casey Kool Aid like they were. Because they are dysfunctional, the Anthonys think everybody is out to get Casey when we’re trying to make her accountable for bad behavior.

Linda from Jersey March 24, 2009, 10:17 AM

Cindy should not ever be the object of our sympathy. She disassociated herself from Caylee just as Casey did. She is the root of all the problems, and she can rub and touch George gently all day long, and we all know that once the door shuts, and the media is not around, the real Cindy comes out. She NEEDS to be in control, and her little clone gave her a run fro her money, and figured out the best way to get Cindy. We reap what we sow.

Laurie March 24, 2009, 10:25 AM

Linda from Jersey - Yes - you are right - I was thinking that the only one that would be enjoying being the victim was Casey - but yes, Cindy is eating it up - what better way to bring the family together - a tragedy… and it has been Cindy and Casey fighting for the lead controller - I think Casey almost won - if she would have planned out the kidnapping a little better - Zenaida would have been in jail and CIndy and Casey would both be fighting to see which one was more the victim.

CAROLINA GIRL March 24, 2009, 10:45 AM

Great Sally,I’m new to this sight but I think you feel the need to answer every post.I can tell you are really into this case but sometimes feel the need to comment on every single thing anybody else posts.I’m glad you seem to know what we are all feeling and thinking please let people answer for themselves.I mean no harm but have been reading other blogs and its always the same.You seem very intelligent about the Anthony case.’m sure SanSmith is an adult and if I was wrong in what they were thinking could have clarified it on there own.

Sally March 24, 2009, 11:02 AM

Carolina Girl, this is a discussion of the MomLogic article. It’s not about who is right or wrong, choosing sides or defending someone. I am discussing the issues and not interested in getting involved with personalities. I am sorry if you have a problem with that.

Anonymous March 24, 2009, 11:18 AM

You took that personal Sally.Maybe you should back off a little.

CAROLINA GIRL March 24, 2009, 11:28 AM

i am very impressed with the knowledge you have about this case.This is a discussion on this article but I felt that if I misunderstood SanSmith that I would have liked to have heard her. Telling me that not you .Do you even know SanSmith? I admire your comments and did not want to hurt you in any way.All I ask is that you give the person who actually made the comment time to respond. Thank you.

Sally March 24, 2009, 11:54 AM

Carolina Girl, thank you for the compliment and the clarification. I have read SanSmith’s posts before and she is a critic of the Anthonys. I didn’t read SanSmith’s post the same way you did. I will respect your wishes and the next time you react to someone’s post, I will let the other person clarify it. I was not saying you were wrong or right or taking anyone’s side against you. What I was saying was when we post on a public blog, anyone can answer. We can’t control what others say to us.

SanSmith March 24, 2009, 12:05 PM

First of all Sally, CG and Anonymous, I’d like to apologize if I created a firestorm in anyway as it wasn’t my intention. Carolina Girl, I was just merely looking at the family dynamic here. It speaks volumes as to why they ignore their own good judgement and the evidence and are still defending a person who is clearly guilty. When they read articles about the case, read the posts and blogs(yes, I don’t think they can help it) it gets under their skin and they seem to go into defense mode. In other words, they are so deep in defense mode that they can’t see things clearly as we do is what I was trying to say.

Emmy March 24, 2009, 12:42 PM

I feel sympathy for George, but at the same time I would like to smack him in the head, only to make him come to his senses. I imagine that he has been emotionally abused his entire married life, made to feel like a total failure by not earning enough money, not having any say in the family because he is not the main bread winner. Over years of verbal abuse, and being made to feel so insignificant, I can see how he turned to gambling, in hopes of winning money to show Cindy that he has contributed. It didn’t work out for him, as he lost a lot of money. Of course Cindy bailed him out of the mess, and I’m sure that just added fuel to the fire. This is a broken man, all at the hands of Cindy. Cindy (having NPD) feels empowered by being the main bread winner. She has complete control over the family and will use her power to control them all. Casey is much the same as Cindy so the two powers (in their own minds) battle it out with poor Caylee being the pawn. I can see why George wanted to be with Caylee….to get away from the hell he is in now. I’m not sure what the story is with Lee, but YES the dysfunction of the family most certainly played a part in the death of Caylee. I don’t think Casey ever thought this case would mushroom like it has. Most of this family deserves what they are getting.

Sally March 24, 2009, 1:03 PM

SanSmith, thanks for clarifying your position. I’d like to say how much I enjoy your posts. They are always insightful and intelligent. I learn so much from reading these blogs because each blogger contributes something new and important to the discussion of this perplexing case.

Rosanna March 24, 2009, 1:31 PM

This case is so sad, because a little innocent girl was born into this family, she loved all of them and especially her mom, she didn’t know all along her mother was planning her murder. I believe it crossed Casey’s mind more than once to get her out of her life. I believe Cindy and George really loved and adored Caylee, but what happenned to that love?? I don’t know. I know someone exactly like Casey, no matter what this girl does, her family still supports her and loves her, even if she’s convicted, they will have an explanation why she did it and try to make it ok. It’s crazy.

Sara Jane March 24, 2009, 1:35 PM

Yes, the Anthony family is very dysfunctional and this is why Caylee Anthony is dead. Simple – no. It is very complex, sad and true. Cindy is seen as domineering and controlling. Perhaps because she had to be? George, who is now seen as a sympathetic figure, was a man fooled by email scams and lost big money - a contributing factor in their family’s financial woes. He hid that loss, by dipping into their joint 401K and taking out credit cards in his wife’s name. He was a former officer in the sheriff’s department; he dealt with liars, thieves and murders. Then he decided to work with his dad in the family car business, which did not last. Purportedly Cindy forced him to leave the department. So, he goes from being an independent man making 80K+ per year to being dependent on his dad for his family’s income?! Now he is on disability working as a menial security guard. George was no longer the strong male head of the household. Maybe he never was. So Cindy Anthony, is seen as an overbearing b*tch, maybe because she felt she needed so to be in control of her out of control family – husband and daughter. Somebody has to take responsibility in the family. Somebody has to pay the bills. In addition to being a murderer, Casey is a liar and a thief. Who else in the family can claim two out of the three offenses listed? Casey maybe more like her father than most think. This family is very dysfunctional, all members.

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