Have you ever taken an IQ test? If you did, you probably marked around 100. That’s the average where over 80 percent of all people fall in. Maybe you scored higher—say 140. That’d put you in the top 2 percent where Mensa members like Stephen Hawking reside. Or, you could be down in the 80s which some consider slow. But don’t feel bad if you’re sub-100 because Steve Jobs got an 86 and he made out just fine.

IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient. That’s an arbitrary scale where mental cognitive functions are examined and given a numeric value. How valid is it? Well, there are divided opinions on IQ meanings. Some brilliant savants need velcro for shoelaces while Muhammad Ali, who scaled 76, handed out exceptional jabs of wisdom never mind dealing knock-out blows.

If you’ve never taken an IQ test, here’s your chance to do one online. There are lots of sites available. Some are credible. Some are not. One belongs to Mensa and that worldwide organization for the gifted is considered the leading authority for rating and linking people with exceptionally high IQs. Their acceptance mark is 132. It has to be verified under proctored conditions. But, then, Mensa membership has its perks.

Can you make the Mensa club? You just might. But, first, let’s look at what science says about intelligence, where it comes from and where it’s going—especially artificial intelligence or AI. We’ll see how intelligence is classified as well as investigate human traits more important than book smarts. It’s interesting to know some famous people’s IQs and who are the top 5 of all time. We’ll sample a Mensa exam and give you the opportunity to test drive one. Then we’ll check how I made out qualifying for Mensa.

True intelligence is tough to define. It’s subjective and objective at the same time. That makes defining intelligence controversial. Possibly the best analogy comes from Albert Einstein who said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” Einstein never took an IQ test and he’s estimated to have ranked pretty high mentally. Practicality was a different story. He theorized relativity and the space-time continuum but couldn’t balance his checkbook. Socrates also had a go at defining intelligence. “I know that I am intelligent because I know nothing,” the great philosopher said. Then Socrates dismissed the brain as being part of the body’s cooling system and concluded intelligence came from the heart.

The word “intelligence” comes from the Latin verb “intelligere” which means to comprehend or perceive. This developed into the Greek “intellectus” or “understanding” and the phrase “intellectus intelligit” that translates to “understanding understanding”. This play-on-words describes a general mental capacity involving the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think in abstract, comprehend complex ideas, communicate and learn from experience. It’s more than book learning, academic skill or test-taking smarts. Intelligence is the ability to make sense of things, catch on quick and figure out what to do.

There are many theories of intelligence. They come from scientific disciplines like neurology and psychiatry. They flow from philosophers and learned scholars in education. Even religious groups take a crack at rating intelligence. Regardless of where opinions come from, two main forms of human intelligence are universally recognized.

  1. Crystallized intelligence encompasses factual knowledge gained through education and life experiences.
  2. Fluid intelligence is the ability to process information, make logical decisions and inhibit irrational emotional impulses.

Two main theories around intelligence are attributed to Howard Gardner and Robert Sternberg. Gardner, a Harvard professor, itemized seven specific components of intelligence—musical, bodily-kinesthetic, logical-mathematical, linguistic, spatial, interpersonal and intrapersonal. The idea behind his theory explains why some people are better than others at skills like numbers, words and relationships. Sternberg disagreed. He broke intelligence into three groups—analytical, creative and practical. Those are abilities to solve problems, deal with new situations and adapt to changing environments.

Charles Spearman hypothesized that one factor generally framed intelligence. He called it the “g-factor” and postulated all people are basically the same—only some are better at things than others. I’m not sure I follow that simple reasoning and tend to agree with mainstream theories of intelligence being divided into distinct categories. It seems some people are clearly at ease with particular intellectual domains and there’s no single factor explaining performance across a wide range of intelligent abilities.

Anatomy and neuroscience have taken a good, hard look at what constitutes intelligence. They see it developing as electro-chemical signals being transported through interconnected neuron circuits. Basic brain structure monitored by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows most “intelligent” interactions occur in the frontal or parietal region and are centered in the anterior cingulate cortex. This is called the Parietal-Frontal Integration (PTI) theory and it’s supported by scientific evidence.

There’s one problem with the PTI theory. It can’t account for consciousness. Without consciousness, there’s no intelligent operation in the brain and science doesn’t have the remotest grasp on the nature or origin of consciousness. Consciousness is suspected to be the Grand Unified Theory (GUT) that unites the basic known physical properties of space-time and energy-mass into one single explanation of the universe. At the center of the GUT is the source of intelligent consciousness and God only knows where that came from. But that’s another discussion.

Over centuries, educators recognized various students have various cognitive abilities. At the turn of the nineteenth/twentieth centuries, German psychologist Wilhelm Stern was tasked by a government public school commission to devise a way for detecting children with significantly below-average intelligence and mental retardation. The idea was to economically group these kids into Special-Ed classes rather than lock them inside expensive asylums.

In 1905, Alfred Binet developed a scoring system for the intelligent quotient Stern was looking for. Binet used a ratio of mental ability to chronological age and based it on a point system with 100 being average. Anything below 100 was classified in retarded degrees and anything above was considered advanced. It was like ignition timing on an internal combustion engine. Lewis Terman at Stanford University in the United States realized Binet was on to something so Terman fine-tuned the IQ test into what’s known as the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale. It’s still in use today as the industry standard.

The Stanford-Binet 5th Edition IQ Range Classification goes like this:

  • 160+ —      Brilliant
  • 145-159 — Very gifted or highly advanced
  • 130-144 — Gifted or advanced
  • 120-129 — Superior
  • 110-119 —  High average
  • 90-109 —    Average
  • 80-89 —      Low average
  • 70-79 —      Borderline impaired or delayed
  • 55-69 —      Mildly impaired or delayed
  • 40-54 —      Moderately impaired or delayed
  • 39- —          Not classified

When the Stanford-Binet IQ Test was first used, there were official classifications for people who scored low. The terms “moron”, “imbicile” and “idiot” were dropped in recent years out of correctness but we all know buzz words for smart and dumb people. Today, “switched-on” and “switched-off” are part of the Urban Dictionary. So are “privileged”, “backward”, “enlightened”, “dimly-lit”, “high-brow” and “half-wit”. We’re not allowed to say “retard” like I was teased as a kid. It’s now replaced with “mentally-challenged” which I’m not. My mother had me tested.

So the logical question is, “How did human intelligence develop to the point I’m at today?” Anthropologists agree homo sapiens jumped down from the primate tree around 2 million years ago and made a huge mental leap forward when they learned to cook food. That took intelligence in harnessing fire just as it took intelligence to invent simple machines like the wheel and axle, the screw, the pulley and the inclined plane. Despite what creationists say about evolution, the evidence is empirical that our brains progressively evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to expand a field called intelligence. Genetics, diet and social interaction played a big part.

Discoveries and inventions made life easier. They gave humans more time to refine arts, literature and sport. Devices evolved into complex machines like smart cars and computerized guidance. Our evolution has arrived at the point where intelligent machines are in daily use and moving forward fast. We’re at the threshold of implementing Practopoiesis. That’s the conceptual bridge between biology and artificial intelligence. AI is here and it’s a matter of time before computerized brain implants are real.

That might be good and that might be bad for the human species. We’ve always struggled between haves and have-nots. Social advancement intrinsically links to out-thinking a competitor but societies have a way of balancing fairness in weak vs. strong. We’re able to see a line between naturally knowing and not being able to know.

It’s important to know IQ testing is not meant to identify character or personality traits. It’s strictly a ranking of intelligence to form a baseline for comparison. But the Stanford-Binet equation is recognized as a valid and useful measure for psychological and legal purposes. It forms part of a criminal defense strategy to establish mental culpability and the United States Supreme Court established anyone with a score of 70 or less is exempt from the death penalty.

Before we look at how your IQ Test is structured and where you’ll mark, let’s see who’s been tested and how they rated. Many famous and infamous people have their IQs recorded and psychologists have speculated about where historical figures stood. We’ll break the categories down into science/invention, politics/military and arts/entertainment.


  • Albert Einstein — Swiss physicist — 160
  • Albrecht von Haller — Swiss medical scientist — 190
  • Benjamin Franklin — American inventor — 160
  • Bill Gates — American inventor/businessman — 160
  • Blaise Pascal— French philosopher — 195
  • Charles Darwin — English botanist — 165
  • Edith Stern — American computer engineer — 198
  • Francis Crick — British discoverer of DNA — 134
  • Henry Ford — American automaker — 125
  • Immanuel Kant — German philosopher — 175
  • Isaac Newton — English scientist — 190
  • Leonardo da Vinci — Italian inventor/artist — 190
  • Marie Curie — French chemist — 185
  • Paul Allen — Microsoft co-founder — 168
  • Ruth Lawrence — British Mathematician — 175
  • Stephen Hawking — British theoretical physicist — 160


  • Abraham Lincoln — US President — 140
  • Adolf Hitler — Nazi leader — 141
  • Andrew Jackson — US President — 120
  • Angela Merkel — German Chancellor — 136
  • Benjamin Netanyahu — Israeli Prime Minister — 182
  • Bill Clinton — US President — 137
  • Barak Obama — US President — 130
  • Boris Johnson — British politician — 79
  • Donald Trump — US President — 156
  • George Armstrong Custer — US Cavalry leader — 80
  • George W. Bush — US President — 125
  • George S. Patton — American WW2 general — 151
  • Hillary Clinton — American politician — 143
  • John F. Kennedy — US President — 117
  • Margaret Thatcher — British Prime Minister — 176
  • Ronald Raegan — US President — 103
  • Ulysses S. Grant — US Civil War general/US President — 110
  • Vladimir Putin — Russian President — 130


  • Andy Warhol — American painter — 86
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger — American actor/politician — 135
  • Asia Carrera — International adult film star — 156
  • Bobby Fischer — American chess master — 187
  • Brittany Spears — American singer — 104
  • Charles Dickens — British writer — 180
  • Cindy Crawford — American model — 154
  • Conan O’Brien — American television host — 160
  • Geena Davis — American actor — 140
  • James Woods — American actor — 180
  • Jodie Foster — American actor — 132
  • John Travolta — American actor — 90
  • Lisa Kudrow —American actor — 161
  • Madonna — British entertainer — 141
  • Mayim Bialik — “Amy Farrah-Fowler” on Big Bang Theory — 163
  • Nicole Kidman — Australian actor — 132
  • Paris Hilton — American celebrity — 120
  • Quinton Tarantino — American movie director — 165
  • Robin Williams — American actor/comic — 142
  • Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) — British actor — 178
  • Tina Fey — American entertainer — 143
  • Tom Cruise — American actor — 94
  • Vincent van Gogh — Dutch painter — 150+

That’s a pretty diverse and well-known crowd but they’re not the smartest— at least not as recorded IQ goes. That mark of distinction goes to these five.

  1. Marilyn vos Savant holds the Guinness Book of Records as the smartest woman alive. She’s best known for her high score but is an accomplished author and advice columnist. Ms. vos Savant repeatedly broke the 200 mark in IQ tests.
  1. Kim Ung-Yong is a Korean child prodigy. By the time he was three, Kim was fluent in five languages and could read and write all. He became a NASA engineer but returned home where he quietly teaches university classes. Kim has an IQ of 210.
  1. Christopher Hirata is an astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology where he began professing at 14. He won the Physics Olympiad gold medal at 13 and scored 225 on his IQ exam.
  1. Terrance Tao is a Chinese genius who teaches advanced mathematics at the University of California. He’s won every math prize there is. It’s probably due to his IQ being 232.
  1. William James Sidis is no longer alive but has the distinction of the highest human IQ score ever recorded. There are discrepancies in test methods but it’s generally accepted he pushed close to 300. Sidis was an oddball and actually quite unstable. He attended Harvard at age 11 as a math student and went on to learn over 40 languages. His political activism got Sidis jailed and he died young. It was a cerebral aneurysm. Literally, his brain exploded.

These smart folks come from diversified backgrounds and have equally diverse personalities. They’re different, yet alike. Psychologists have found six characteristics that high-functioning people have in common, regardless of their IQ level.

  • They’re highly adaptable
  • They know what they don’t know
  • They’re intensely curious
  • They ask good questions
  • They’re sensitive to other people
  • They’re open-minded and critical of their own work

So that’s a wrap of how some scored on their IQ tests and how they operate. Now—how about yours? I’ve lined up a Mensa website where you can try your intelligence but, to practice, here are sample questions for helping you prepare.

Pear is to apple as potato is to?

  • Banana
  • Radish
  • Strawberry
  • Peach
  • Lettuce

There are 1200 elephants in a herd. Some have pink and green stripes. Some are all pink. Some are all blue. One-third are all pure pink. Is it true that 400 elephants are definitely blue?

  • Yes
  • No

If it were two hours later, it would be half as long until midnight as it would be if it were an hour later. What time is it now?

  • 18:30
  • 20:00
  • 21:00
  • 22:00
  • 23:30

What same three-letter word can be placed in front of these words to make a new word?


“If some Smaugs are Thors and some Thors are Thrains, then some Smaugs are definitely Thrains.” This statement is:

  • True
  • False
  • Neither

The price of an article was cut 20% for a sale. By what percent must the item be increased to again sell it at the original price?

  • 15%
  • 20%
  • 22 ½%
  • 25%
  • 30%

Which one of the five is least like the others?

  • Ham
  • Liver
  • Salmon
  • Pork
  • Beef

If you count from 1 to 100, how many 7s will you pass on the way?

  • 10
  • 11
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21

Sally likes 225 but not 224; she likes 900 but not 800; she likes 144 but not 145. Which does she like?

  • 1600
  • 1700

Jack is taller than Peter and Bill is shorter than Jack. Which of the following statements is the most accurate?

  • Bill is taller than Peter
  • Bill is shorter than Peter
  • Bill is as tall as Peter
  • It is impossible to tell

What is this word when unscrambled?


Which of the five designs is least like the other four?

  • A
  • Z
  • F
  • N
  • E

Find the missing number:


John received $.41 in change from a purchase at the drugstore. If he received six coins, three of the coins had to be:

  • Pennies
  • Nickels
  • Dimes
  • Quarters
  • Half-dollars

Only one other word in the English language can be made using all the letters from the word INSATIABLE. Can you find it?

If FP = 10 and HX = 16, what does DS = ?

What letter appears next in this sequence? B-V-C-X

Cattell III B has 158 questions. Cattell IV A has 317 questions. Which one is more difficult?

“A fish has a head 9” long. The tail is equal to the size of the head plus one-half the size of the body. The body is the same size as the head plus the tail.” How long is the fish?

  • 27”
  • 54”
  • 63”
  • 72”
  • 81”

I tried 60 of these Mensa test questions and was allowed 20 minutes. After that, the process timed out. That’s 20 seconds per question. It doesn’t give much room for calculating, googling or phoning a friend. I’ll admit I guessed on some — especially the fish.

It’s not my first go-around on an IQ test but was my first try with Mensa. Back in high school, we were given IQ tests as some sort of socialist experiment. We were never shown scores so I don’t know my outcome. I was never a shining light in grade school but was smart enough to slide through by friending the smart kid.

I sat beside Terry Blaney (we called him Terry Brainey) and I glanced across as Terry whizzed through our IQ test. I checked off what I saw him do then guessed the rest. My bet is Terry’s IQ hits 140 or better. He went on to get an engineering degree and I became a cop. I never kept in touch with Terry but you can’t hide on the internet. So I found him on Linked-In and see he retired as a VP with Shell Oil. Now Terry runs his private petroleum consulting business in Shanghai and I’m a wanna-be crime writer doing blog posts like this.

Which brings to my own intelligence and also to yours. Over the years, I’ve slid a lot further on bullshit than on gravel. And my experience firmly proves that bullshit baffles brains. But I know it’s hard to BS the computerized Mensa format so I gave it an honest go. Here’s the link if you’d like to try it:

I did the best I could with 60 questions within 20 minutes. Man, that was a challenge. Some were easy. Some took a pen & paper. Some were pure guess and some were gut feel. But all required an application of intelligence no matter how you approached. Then I hit the calculate button and got this:

The bastards wanted 19.92 Euro to release my score. That’s over 20 bucks US—25 up here in Canada. They accept Visa, Mastercard and other forms of payment but I hit the escape button and left.

I guess that’s the mark of intelligence.


If you don’t know about Nigerian scams then you’ve probably never used the internet. Seems like every couple weeks these West-African crooks drop me an email thinking I’m dumb enough to bite. Some people must or the cons wouldn’t keep trying. So it was no surprise when I checked my inbox Tuesday morning and found another Nigerian grab at my wallet.

But it was different this round. For a change, I had little on my plate and time on my hands so I decided to turn the tide on this guy. Here’s what “Mr. Martins Logan Scott” from Nigeria wrote me. Then I’ll show you my reply  🙂

—– Original Message —–
From: “Martins Logan Scott” <>
Sent: Tuesday, March 7, 2017 4:24:23 AM
Subject: Investment Proposal

Attn: Sir — We have gone through your country’s investment profile and history and we are interested to invest in it, we will be willing to partner with you and invest a substantial amount of money in your company if you have an existing company or we can also partner with you to set up a new one, provided you have a substantial and complete feasibility study and a well prepared business plan on the business/company you wil need us to partner with you.

Our group is a major player in investment in the middle east, Africa and the United States of America, we believe in pursuing a positive goal, in which your ideas can be enhanced potentially for mutual benefit.

As we seek new frontier and opportunities, we look forward to partner with you. Your prompt reply will be most welcome.

Best regards — Martins Logan Scott —

—– Original Reply —–
From: “Garry Rodgers” <>
Sent: Tuesday, March 7, 2017 7:48:09 AM
Subject: Investment Proposal

Good day Mr. Logan Scott,

Thank you for your investment interest. I trust this reply finds you well and in accordance with the situation.

I appreciate your due diligence in appraising my investment profile and history. That is the primary mark of a careful and prudent investor as I’m sure you and the major players in your group are.

Your unsolicited offer comes at a timely stage in a current venture I’m working on.  I was planning to release investment offerings by-invitation-only prior to a NYSE IPO. However, I’m open to prioritizing your group’s investment of a substantial amount of money during my project’s Research & Development (R&D) stage. Therefore, I’d be pleased to accommodate you and your esteemed business associates in safely appropriating your funds.

With an understanding of your agreement to confidentiality, my project involves a revised form of hyper-velocity, multi-directional transportation. The concept for analogous movement between distant portals, both historic and forthcoming, is nothing new. Space-time dilation based on the Einstein-Rosen bridge theory has been conceptualized for decades. Practical application of Faster-Than-Light (FTL) amplification was bottlenecked due to tachyon condensation which restricted Portal Entrance and Exit (PEE), but there’s now a clear and unique opportunity for a massive breakthrough.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the 1985 works of Dr. Emmett Brown and his DeLorean model. Unfortunately, it’s been three decades since Doc vanished in a timely experiment. Although I patiently await his return, progress must move forward. With this, I’ve acquired Doc’s patent rights to the Flux Capacitor (FC) – the propulsion device central to warping the Space-Time Continuum (STC). Early technology restricted FC Input/Output (I/O) to 1.21 jigawatts, however… I’ve found a method of quadrupling I/O to 4.84 jigawatts, theoretically making the trip four times faster.

An additional advancement is planned in STC vehicle adaptation. The initial Entry/Reentry Velocity (ERV) difficulties experienced by the DeLorean vehicle proved dangerous. It’s now identified the angular, gull-wing profile created a Disturbance-In-The-Force (DITF). Evolving trials using a rounded VW Beetle prototype was thought to calm FTL/STC/PEE/DITF/ERV vibration – also known as Tolman’s paradox. Quickly, I learned the bulky Punch-Buggie (PB) approach brought no returns and I took a hit.

Compounding the situation is the original 1.21 jigawatt FC only required an 88 mph ERV. With a four-times capacity 4.84 jigawatt FC, it’s boosted the ERV to 352 mph. I realized… Great Scott! That’s a lot of ground speed. Fortunately, I’ve identified the new Aston Martin AM RB-001 Valkyrie as the perfect design. Now—here’s where you come in.

As you know, the Valkyrie is a highly advanced work of technology and produced in 25 unit allotments. I’ve placed an order for one Valkyrie to be refitted as a PEE vehicle, however, the Aston Martin Corporation requires pre-payment in full. With your timely offer of substantial investment capital, in return, I’m offering you the exclusive opportunity to fund my Valkyrie acquisition as the PEE vehicle of choice. It’s noble you believe in pursuing a positive goal and ideas than can be enhanced potentially for our mutual benefit.

Appreciatively, I’m accepting your group’s investment of $3.12 million USD. This covers the Valkyrie purchase, shipping, and handling. Please make an immediate monetary transfer via Western Union for deposit into my account #6105-883-464-0901 at Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. In lieu of cash, your direct purchase of the AM RB-001 PEE Valkyrie can be delivered to my Vancouver Island R&D facility.

Thank you for your generous offer, Mr. Logan Scott. Once my project is operational, I confidently assure your investment will be returned to you, along with accrued interest, to any point you prescribe in time. Your prompt reply will be most welcome.

I remain, sir, humbly indebted.

Garry Rodgers

It’s now Saturday morning. I’ve yet to hear from Mr. Martins Logan Scott but I trust he’ll be back in the future.


Russia’s parliament recently voted 380 to 3 favoring decriminalization of domestic violence against women where it doesn’t cause “substantial bodily harm” and occurs “not more than once per year”. So… in Russia—once again—it’s socially acceptable to beat the wife. Makes you wonder how the United States Violence Against Women Act will stand given the Trump administration’s apparent admiration for how Vladimir Putin does business, never mind Donald Trump’s personal treatment of women.

Intimate Partner Violence is the politically correct term for wife-beating. It’s a serious and common criminal offense. For years physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse of female spouses was conveniently overlooked because what went on in private homes was supposed to be no one else’s business. That’s until women fought back and killed their spouses. Then they were prosecuted for murder with all the zeal reserved for serial killers.

Many battered women were convicted of murder and given lengthy jail sentences. There was no regard for the big picture of what created intimate partner violence, how it led to homicidal acts, and what effect it had on entire families—especially children—as well as society in general.

But some women were acquitted of criminal culpability for killing their partners.

They invoked self-defense because they suffered years of cyclic abuse and finally fought back in order to prevent themselves and their children from the imminent threat of grievous bodily harm or being murder victims themselves. These women weren’t claiming temporary insanity or a moment of heated passion. They were telling the truth about years of mental torture that drove them to commit the ultimate act of violent response because they were suffering from the Battered Woman Syndrome.

Battered Woman Syndrome is not a recognized medical or mental disorder according to the psychiatric profession’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Battered Woman Syndrome is a contributing factor to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but they are two separate issues. On its own, Battered Woman Syndrome is not a specifically accepted defense in most courts. Battered Woman Syndrome is part of an overall defense to criminal accusations. It’s a clinical explanation for using violence to proactively defend one’s self and it’s supported by expert testimony that encompasses the entire case facts. That includes the history of the intimate partner relationship, the mechanism of the killing, and the aftermath that followed.

The battered woman defense component is widely used to establish diminished responsibility of a woman accused of killing her husband under circumstances where he was incapacitated and not able to defend himself nor be an immediate physical threat. The battered woman defense is highly successful in many cases.

The highest-profile battered woman case was portrayed in The Burning Bed, a true-crime movie from 1984 where Farrah Fawcett played Francine Hughes, a severely battered woman who killed her husband in Dansville, Michigan, by setting him on fire while he slept. Francine was charged with first-degree murder and acquitted by a jury who found her not guilty by her having to use a temporary insanity defense.

Thirty-three years ago, the Battered Woman Syndrome was starting to be explored by the courts. There was little psychiatric or psychological science available to establish the reliability of this murder defense tactic. Today, much more is known about the patterns causing intimate partner violence and how they inescapably lead to defensive killings, even when the deceased spouse was incapacitated and not an apparent immediate danger.

Thirty-one years ago, I was lead investigator where a battered woman shot and killed her abusive husband while he slept. Deeana Bingingham suffered years of domestic cruelty at the hands, feet, words, wallet and penis of Lyle (Bing) Bingingham—much of it watched and heard by their 10-year-old son, Logan, and 8-year-old daughter, Kiley.

Bing was on the run from ripping a criminal organization and moved the family to an isolated cabin in the Pacific Northwest. He came home one snowy, stormy night—drunk—as usual—and attacked Deeana. He beat her with his fists and boots, sexually assaulted Deeana in front of their children, then threatened to shoot the family with a 30/30 Winchester. Bing passed out. Deeana took the rifle. She shot Bing in the head.

The first bullet didn’t kill Bing. It tore off his jaw and ripped out an eye. Bing rose in a rage—thrashing—ki-yiiing—gurgling—spewing blood everywhere. He clawed to get up… folded… stood… lunged… then fell and crawled to get at her. Vibrating, gasping and backing away, Deeana levered the gun to reload. It jammed. She threw it. Ran to the closet. And grabbed a 30.06 bolt-action. Deeana scrambled for cartridges, pleading to little Logan for help while Kiley cringed in a corner. The boy loaded the second rifle. The tiny girl watched. As a family… they finished Bing off.

Deeana Bingingham’s children were apprehended. She was jailed on second-degree (non-capital) murder charges—the prosecutor deeming killing Bing was intentionally committed but not premeditated. Deeana spent 2 years on remand while her kids bounced between foster homes and her family abandoned her. She invoked battered woman syndrome in defense and her story was a nightmare to hear. Deeana was offered a plea bargain to manslaughter or an accepted defense of temporary insanity with a compromised offer of family counseling for rehabilitation rather than risking a convict’s chance at parole. Deeana refused. She chose to stay in jail, waiting her chance to tell the court—and other battered women—her plight.

The jury heard a shocking story. A sickening story. A story of horrific psychological, financial, sexual abuse and extreme, prolonged physical violence. The jury acquitted Deeana. They reasoned Deeana was a provoked, trapped and helpless victim of ritualistic domestic violence. They found proactively killing her intimate partner was Deeana’s only reasonable recourse—Deeana ultimately protected herself and her children.

Deeana Bingingham’s case never left my mind. I got a tremendous education into what causes an intimate partner killing that has a legitimate spousal homicide defense. Today, a lot more is known about battered women behavior and the psychological syndrome surrounding their necessary violent acts of defense.

The primary legal principle applied to Battered Woman Syndrome homicide defense is the accused woman being constantly subjected to severe domestic abuse making her unable to take independent action in conventionally leaving the relationship and a firm belief the escalating pattern of violence would end with her death and/or that of her children. Eventually, the situation explodes and the battered woman—hopelessly affected by a clearly-defined, state-of-mind syndrome—takes an immediate opportunity to protect herself by proactively killing her husband through whatever available means.

On its own, Battered Woman Syndrome is part of a self-defense argument and used to explain a battered woman’s experiences that caused her to commit proactive homicide. A crucial part of having Battered Woman Syndrome admitted as trial defense evidence is the case facts being examined by a professional who specializes in the psychiatric and psychological elements of the syndrome and introduces their opinion of the accused’s mental state through expert testimony.

The American legal precedent in having Battered Woman Syndrome admitted as a contributing factor to homicide defense is called the Dyas Standard from the case Dyas v. the United States. It’s simple, yet complicated. First, the defense team must establish the accused is a battered woman within the accepted behavior parameters of the syndrome. Second, they must persuade a court the jury would be aided by expert testimony that Battered Woman Syndrome is relevant to explaining her behavior.

Once Battered Woman Syndrome because of Intimate Partner Violence is determined relevant, it has two more legal hurdles to jump. Expert testimony must be admissible, then it has to show a probative value that outweighs prejudicial impact. Making matters more complicated, Dyas Standard admissibility has a three-pronged test.

  1. The testimony’s subject matter “must be so distinctly related to some science, profession, business or occupation as to be beyond the ken of the average layman (layperson).”
  2. The witness “must have sufficient skill, knowledge or experience in that field or calling as to make it appear that his (her) opinion or inference will probably aid the trier in his (her) search for truth”.
  3. Expert testimony is inadmissible if “the state of the pertinent art or scientific knowledge does not permit a reasonable opinion to be asserted even by an expert”.

This might sound like a bunch of masculine, legal mumbo-jumbo but it says a recognized and reliable expert opinion about how a history of spousal abuse led to the accused’s perceptionat the time of the act they had no other recourse than to ultimately defend themselves by killing their intimate partner—is valid evidence that may help a jury deciding if the accused was criminally culpable. Perception in the accused’s mind—at the time of the act—is central to a self-defense claim and Battered Woman Syndrome testimony is meant to educate the jury about the realities of intimate partner violence.

Presenting a spousal abuse history proving Battered Woman Syndrome is difficult. This defense requires detailed investigation into years of abuse that’s often not documented or credibly supported by independent observations or interventions by other family members, friends, acquaintances and support professionals like social workers, medical responders, police officers, and court records.

Sadly, the reality of intimate partner violence or spousal abuse is specific incidents are seldom recorded or reported. Battered Woman Syndrome is based on a cumulative pattern of countless small and large incidents of verbal, mental, financial, mental, physical and sexual assaults that build up to a point of explosion, ending in death. So many cases have mitigating circumstances where the woman victim didn’t report most incidents, many peripheral witnesses have convenient lapses of memory, and responsible professionals fail to intervene.

Battered Woman Syndrome is based on a known, cyclical pattern of abusive behavior and response first identified by Dr. Lenore Walker who is known as the mother of Battered Woman Syndrome. Dr. Walker conducted extensive research into intimate partner violence and established theories of victim’s psychological responses to spousal violence including a behavior called “learned helplessness” and a pattern of violence cycles.

Learned helplessness is a state of mind where the woman has been long subjected to so much abuse that they feel totally incapable of defending themselves or voluntarily leaving the relationship. The emotional, financial, physical and entire realm of abuse causes the woman to lose any motivation to change their situation and they submit, rather than fight. Learned helplessness is a core element of Battered Woman Syndrome and it manifests in all cases.

Cycle theory encompasses the entire relationship period and has various degrees of severity and intervals. Cycle theory is another core element of Battered Woman Syndrome and it, too, manifest in all cases. There are three recognized violence cycles.

  1. Tension building is a phase where minor abuse incidents like emotional outbursts, verbal threats, and subtle punishments cause the woman to become hyper-vigilant to her partner’s cues and changes her behavior accordingly to diffuse them.
  2. Acute battering incidents are the second escalation. These are violent episodes where physical harm or severe emotional damage occurs.
  3. Reconciliation is the third cycle phase. It’s a loving contrition where the batterer claims to be remorseful, is charming, and promises never to harm the woman again. Invariably, the abuser blames his actions on outside influences like impairment substances, financial difficulty, or employment stress.

Battered Woman Syndrome becomes a vicious circle where the violence cycles repeat and become more frequent, making learned helplessness further entrenched. Over time, the tension-building and honeymoon stages get shorter and battering increases. This pattern results in battering incidents that become increasingly longer and more severe. The cycle works to wear women down and to keep them in a toxic relationship by controlling them, chipping away at their feeling of self-worth and independence.

Abused partners hope their abusers will change. They falsely believe the batterer doesn’t mean to harm them, rather somehow they brought it on themselves. Secrecy, fear, lack of opportunity and low self-esteem combine to make leaving an abusive relationship extremely difficult—if not impossible.

Ultimately, the heated cycle boils over and the helpless woman snaps. She takes a spontaneous and opportune, final defensive action without regard to repercussions. In her perception—at the time of the act—she has no recourse than to kill her partner. Otherwise, it’s inevitable she’ll die and so will her children. In law, this establishes a legitimate defense for homicide.

At the core of Battered Woman Syndrome lies a severe psychiatric impact that has four psychological stages.

DENIAL: The woman refuses to admit—even to herself—that she’s been beaten or that there’s a “problem” in her marriage. She may call each incident an “accident”. She offers excuses for her husband’s violence and each time firmly believes it’ll never happen again.

GUILT: She now acknowledges there’s a problem but considers herself responsible for it. She “deserves” to be beaten—she feels—because she has defects in her character and isn’t living up to her husband’s expectations.

ENLIGHTENMENT: The woman no longer assumes responsibility for her husband’s abusive treatment, recognizing that no one “deserves” to be beaten. She’s still committed to her relationship, though, and stays with her husband—hoping they can work things out.

RESPONSIBILITY: Accepting the fact that her husband will not—or cannot—stop his violent behavior, the battered woman decides she’ll no longer submit and takes self-defensive action. That can be leaving the relationship, seeking help and intervention, or taking termination matters into her own hands.

The Battered Woman Syndrome is an ugly reality in many relationships. It may not occur in your intimacy but you can be sure it’s happening in a home near you. You probably know the symptoms of an abuser and recognize the behavior of a decent and loving partner. Here are the character traits of abusive and non-abusive men, irrespective of being physically violent.

An abusive man:

  • Shouts
  • Sulks
  • Smashes things
  • Glares
  • Calls you names
  • Makes you feel ugly and useless
  • Cuts you off from your friends
  • Stops you from working
  • Never admits he’s wrong
  • Blames you, drugs, alcohol, work, stress
  • Turns the children against you
  • Uses the children to control you
  • Never does his share of  the housework
  • Never looks after the children
  • Expects sex on demand
  • Controls the money
  • Threatens or coerces you to get his way
  • Seduces those close to you
  • Expects you to be responsible for his well-being

A non-abusive man:

  • Is cheerful
  • Is consistent
  • Is supportive
  • Tells you that you look good
  • Tells you you’re competent
  • Uses your right name or pet name
  • Trusts you
  • Trusts your judgment
  • Respects you, your dignity, and your body
  • Welcomes your family and your friends
  • Encourages you to be independent
  • Supports your higher learning and career
  • Takes personal responsibility
  • Admits to being wrong
  • Is a responsible parent
  • Is an equal parent
  • Is a role model for the children
  • Is faithful
  • Shares money and assets
  • Does his share of the housework

Statistics show one in four women are—or have been—subjected to some form of intimate partner violence. That includes psychological battering. Much is subtle abuse with a long, dominant pattern of financial control, suggestive degradation, humiliation, unreasonable expectations and emotional blackmail as well as sexual overbearing and verbal assaults. Some abuse progresses to violent sexual and physical aggression.

If you’re in an abuse relationship, take action to stop it. If you recognize others in an abusive relationship, take action to help them. Don’t wait till there’s another battered woman case like Deeana Bingingham who—in my opinion, as well as a jury’s—was fully justified in taking proactive, lethal action to defend herself and her children.

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Domestic abuse and battered woman syndrome are huge social problems worldwide. Please help spread awareness of this unacceptable violent behavior by sharing this post on social media and with your sphere of influence. The only way intimate partner violence is going to be reduced is by supporting victims and encouraging them to safely disclose their plight.