Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Just Plain Weird

Okay, this Astronaut story is just plain weird--not just because of the nature of the case but because she was wearing diapers:

A married U.S. astronaut was accused on Tuesday with attempting to kidnap and kill a rival for the affections of a fellow astronaut after a bizarre 950-mile drive wearing diapers to confront the woman.

When a friend just told me about this case and the diapers, I thought the astronaut was just part of this club but apparently she wore them so she would not have to stop to urinate on her long trip. She says she did not mean to harm the woman she went to see and that is certainly possible, but if you are so desperate to get somewhere that you wear diapers so you will not have to pee, something seems awry.

Update: Dr. Sanity who used to do psychological consultation for NASA has more.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very strange love triangle but a terrible revelation for NASA. Who knew astronauts were just like normal people? Not to mention, when left to their own devices, not very organized. The legendary precise execution with all scenarios covered must be more due to the engineers on the ground than the flight crew. Still we expect astronauts to have more self control and not let their emotions take over. A senior Naval Officer to boot.

3:28 PM, February 06, 2007  
Blogger Manos said...

I'll make a bet that she will end up not serving time.

3:41 PM, February 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with evan, I do not see time in her future. Well, not time in jail, perhaps time in a nice quiet place that will help her feel much better.


3:53 PM, February 06, 2007  
Blogger Sarebear said...

Astronauts are probably used to wearing diapers, for space walks . . . Men wouldn't need to, for urine, but I'd imagine women would.

Astronauts probably also think in terms of the most efficient way to do something; conservation of effort, given that in space, especially in a suit on a spacewalk, how much you need to think things through first and the effort required, in a suit at least.

Not that I think it was "normal", per se, to wear a diaper the way she did, but since that's probably much more a part of her working world, it's not that far off her norm, at least in space, I'd imagine.

4:37 PM, February 06, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


Yes, that makes sense, but the question is, what did she need to be so efficient for that a few minutes to stop at a rest area was too much?

4:42 PM, February 06, 2007  
Blogger Cham said...

I'm not so sure I would want to wear a diaper but I haven't tried it since I was successfully potty trained. Maybe it isn't so bad, it may beat finding a clean safe open restroom in the heat of the night off the highway.

5:04 PM, February 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Just like normal people"??

This is insanity. This is the kind of wild emotional irresponsible behavior feminism should have delivered us from.

5:22 PM, February 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife's about ready to throw me out of the house because all day long I've been saying "Astronaut LUUUUVVVV Triangle." That's how it's being reported in the news.

In the words of Dave Barry: Astronaut Love Triangle would be a great name for a rock band.

5:25 PM, February 06, 2007  
Blogger Gary Cruse said...

She wore the diapers because the car had to be filled with gas several times on the trip. She knew if she went inside the store to pay, she'd be on security camera, so she elected to pay at the pump and not go inside. Unfortunately, this cut her off from being able to use the restrooms inside. So she wore the astronaut's friend, which also let her eliminate stops at rest areas.

6:43 PM, February 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that your conjecture gcruse, or something you'd read? - I often pee at McDonalds, no surveillance ;)

I'd assumed that she was trying to synchronize her arrival w/ that of the victim and couldn't factor potty search time to an acceptable approximation.

7:31 PM, February 06, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Evan M. Thomas, Trey,

I saw that for the attempted murder she could get between 30 years and life, I think that sounds excessive--but we don't know the whole story, of course. Most women only get an average of six years for killing a spouse, so it would not make much sense if she were given five times that for attempted murder. Or maybe if you kill your husband, it just doesn't warrant much time in our society--I guess we will find out with the Winkler case when it goes to trial.

7:31 PM, February 06, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

gcruse - the only way I know of to pay at the pump is to use a creditcard, check card or ATM card. This would place the woman at each gas station quite easily. Plus, many gas stations have outside cameras to help catch no-pays.

If her plan was you described, it makes me wonder how she made the astronaut program with such poor problem solving abilities. Definitely a nut case. Don't they do some sort of psychological screening of astronaut applicants?

7:38 PM, February 06, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


Here is what the blogosphere's "Dr. Sanity" said on the issue for the Associated Press:

However, Dr. Patricia Santy, a psychiatrist in Ann Arbor, Mich., and a former NASA flight surgeon who once helped screen astronauts, said, "People change.

"They can develop psychological problems at any stage of the way. Perhaps that's part of it. Perhaps it's just, love triangles occur in offices that you and I work in all the time."

Santy stressed she did not know the details of Nowak's evaluation. But speaking generally, she said that while astronauts are extraordinary people, "they put their flight boots on one foot at a time, after all. They have marital problems, they have problems with their kids, they have problems at work."


8:01 PM, February 06, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

I was wondering today about the question dadvocate brought up. How does a person who is such an overacheiver, who had to be so disciplined and driven to get where she is today come so unraveled so quickly? My theory is that acheivment in one area of one's life generates a sense of overconfidence, or false sense of mastery over circumstances that makes people like her take outlandish risks. I'm thinking that she had her plan all mapped out - get her astronaut boyfriend to fall in love with her, then dump her hubby and marry Buck Rodgers. The other woman was just a complicating factor that she thought she could scare away. A person who is so used to beating the competition, through school, the service and finally the astronaut program don't know how to tell herself that there is something that she can't do.

8:06 PM, February 06, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


You are on to something--I have seen the same thing in my work and when I reviewed cases of women who kill. A number of women seem to come from high achieving backgrounds and either were quite poor and wanted to get ahead or were quite wealthy and thought they should get ahead without much effort. However, for high achieving women, I think they believe that to get what you want, you set goals until you achieve it. This works in business or a work setting but it often does not work in love. Love is not a business deal, yet some high achievement women think it is. However, once they find out that everything they have done to make their love interest want them fails, they turn to the competition. Just eliminate them, and everything will fall into place.

8:17 PM, February 06, 2007  
Blogger Sarebear said...

I just felt kinda like, well, I'm used to being laughed at my whole life for being different (and then to find out it is due to being bipolar w/out knowing it, among other things), and was sad to see people just ridiculing someone.

11:21 PM, February 06, 2007  
Blogger a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

An interesting gender role blend is suggested; this relates to the 'weird' part. Psychoanalytic theory has it that at about the age of 10-12, before puberty, there is an 'anal regresion.' For boys, this involves bing messy, varyingly obscene. Girls defend more against this because such a regression takes one before separation from mother and poses the (homosexual) loss of onself. Thus girls are more interested in fashion, femininity etc. and these differences persist. As Dr. Santy says, being an astronaut involves 'putting you boots on..' etc., identities that might seem more masculine. Her action of going off in a diaper suggests that she did not defend so much against the anal regression and, in various ways, had more the regression of a typical boy.

11:40 PM, February 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There may be a bit of facing that she isn't the young, up and comer anymore. Haven't seen any particulars on the other woman but an O-3 can be assumed to be younger than an O-6. From her NASA bio, it appears that the Captain hasn't really had anything major not go her way and was enroute to the astronaut program by the time she left the Naval Academy. She may simply not been able to handle the fact that at some point your fortunes wane.

I hadn't really put it together but over at In From The Cold has a pretty good write up about the two and possibly three careers potentially destroyed over this. They were all in the military and so fraternization is going to play a roll. UCMJ and all. I guess it really depends on just what the more than business but less than romantic relationship turns out to be and whether he actually knew he was involved in it.

12:53 AM, February 07, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not sure how the State of FL handles emergency psych evaluations, but I would have thought that she would have been qualified for one before being able to post bond. In TN, even a person not otherwised charged can be taken into custody if they meet the legal standard of appearing to be a danger to themselves or others. The person is then transported to a health provider, and detained until a psych evaluation is performed.

Reading the specifics of the case, she certainly seems to be a danger.

10:51 AM, February 07, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read a quote from her attorney today which said that she, "just made a mistake." Sheesh. Two months of stalking her victim, hacking into his e-mail account and printing out copies of his private correspondence, and then the diaper bit etc. That involves too much planning to be anything but intentional.

I know that we tend to filter various stories through our own life experience, but until I hear that there was an actual affair with the male astronaut, I'm inclined to think of him as a victim of her craziness.

We dealt with this once with a lady at church who developed a crush on my husband. She was married, mother of young children, Sunday School teacher, and sang in the choir. At first, he was just embarassed and we were both kind of amused by her attention. (It was a lot like in junior high where girls would hang out near the locker of their crush.) It really seemed innocuous, and he didn't want to hurt her feelings by being mean to her. So he tried to avoid getting cornered by her. She kept escalating to the point where we became alarmed because she was becoming hostile toward me, approaching our daughter and asking her questions about his schedule and plans, sending him e-mails and trying to contact him by telephone, attempted to get his work phone number from our daughter, etc.. At that point, he had to confront her, tell her, "No way, ain't going to happen. You're a nice person, but I have no interest." That didn't help, so we went to the pastor and asked for him to intervene. Later we learned that she had this whole fantasy worked out in her mind that he was her soul mate, and really loved her but because of his integrity he would never show it or act on it. It was creepy, and scary. I would never have dreamed we'd end up in a drama like that. We're very ordinary people. Just was just, to quote Treacher, "B**** crazy!" Who knows what sets them off.

2:05 PM, February 07, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a frequent hiker who goes where normal bathrooms are not available, I can tell you that there are women who pee outside just as successfully as men. So she could have just pulled the car over and taken a whiz by the side of the road (in the dark).

This woman has also given ammunition to all those who said women should not have been let into the astronaut corp in the first place. No women - no love triangles. OK, a greatly reduced risk of love triangles.

6:09 PM, February 07, 2007  
Blogger DRJ said...

Dr. Helen & Duck,

In addition, astronauts have to be risk-takers. This willingness to take risks may contribute to a problem with seeing the pitfalls in everyday life.

6:27 PM, February 07, 2007  
Blogger knox said...

This willingness to take risks may contribute to a problem with seeing the pitfalls in everyday life.

...like the need to not walk around smelling like a dirty diaper.

6:48 PM, February 07, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate that she chose to use the diapers, astronaut-normal or not, as it has added additional interest to the event. She was obviously a focused person given her accomplishments. The real question is just what caused her gyro to tumble so her focus ended up so tragically off course. Love or rather, obsession, is a powerful force. She strayed into its field and was unable to resist the attraction. As with the forces she dealt with in space, if you don't balance them, you crash into something.

As for women in the astronaut corps, that is old hat. I'm reminded of what I've always took as a sea myth. Complaints arose when women were to be assigned to ships. "They'll use too much water," it was said. Freshwater being a scarce resource at sea. And as it turns out after women began sailing, the water usage shot way up. But someone had the foresight to dig a little deeper. True water usage was up but not because the women were taking long, sensuous showers. Turns out, the men were bathing more. Now who do you hold responsible for such behavior? The women? Or the now not quite so foul smelling men?

6:56 PM, February 07, 2007  
Blogger Michele said...

I didn't read the comments to know if anyone brought this up yet, but in the time it takes to find adult diapers and put them on she could have stopped for a pee break. Or maybe she was wearing them because she didn't want to stop for a pee break after the abduction, and risk the abductee running off. The first scenario would show her to be out of touch with time and reality. The second scenario is one that shows she was prepared and clear-headed when she planned this.

8:22 PM, February 07, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The diaper issue is nothing. She has probably spent so much time training in diapers that to use them for a long car trip is almost normal. Which of us does not use the tools of our professional trades to make our personal lives more convenient?

Like many kids who grew up in the 60's - 70's my dream was to some day be an astronaut. I went on to train to be a commercial pilot as a leftover of that childhood desire. But then I began to ask myself “what do you do when you get back from walking on the moon?” I dropped the dreams of astronaut glory and became a real estate developer.

I’ve come to the conclusion that being an astronaut should not be a full time job. It should be a side trip which you are lucky to take if you devote your career to the field of aviation or some related science. If it becomes the overriding goal in your life, you are going to be in for a big shock after your few missions are over.

As for poor Lisa, I feel a great deal of compassion for her. She devoted her entire life to achieving something, actually did it, but no one bothered to help her plan for what she would do next.

10:16 PM, February 07, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Helen, you had to turn on Comment Moderation. I'm sorry it came to that, but I guess it was inevitable.


10:23 PM, February 07, 2007  
Blogger S. Baldrick said...

I think her strategy was to avoid public areas like rest-stops to try to commit a more perfect crime. Few adults would think of this strategy; but being an astronaut diapers would be second nature for those long trips....

That said, as rational as I think this is, (remember: a smart criminal would go to whatever lengths to commit a perfect crime...a lot is at stake) I do believe she was emotionally disturbed in some way. I'm not the psychologist here but this episode was a confluence of extreme circumstances (stress) and bad, uh, relationship choices that pushed her over. Not that she can plead insanity either. Over to the psychologists/legal experts out there....

5:02 AM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger geekWithA.45 said...

As other commenters have pointed out, "diapers" are part of an astronaut's normal working attire, and as such, we ought to view her actions in that light. While it would be strange and unprecedented for anyone else, for an astronaut, it's just something they do.

11:11 AM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm actually also disturbed by the adult diaper club link. As the parent of a young child, I find the fantasy of someone pretending to be one disturbing.

This has become a gripe of mine with the internet, that every kind of obsession and fetish can find like minds and be reinforced.

I'm perfectly okay with society viewing man-boy love or adults wearing daipers and sleeping in giant cribs as sick. I don't believe people need to haul them away, but the derision most people would look upon this sort of thing with might help push some of these people towards supressing these behaviors or even treatment.

12:44 PM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jkb makes the point perfectly - add women to a previously all-male environment and the men will modify their focus on achieving the goal to a focus on impressing the women. And the women will respond accordingly.

1:22 PM, February 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned on television this evening that her husband had recently left her and taken the kids with him.

Since Shipman told the police that she had been stalked by Nowak for two months, evidently her obsession was a factor in the separation.

Does anyone else wonder what might have happened to those kids had the husband just moved out, and left them in her custody?

7:19 PM, February 08, 2007  
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