Seriously, Folks

That Night

November 11, 2007. 12:30am in the affluent Parisian suburb of St-Germain-en-Laye. 28-year-old Jessica Davies wakes up when the emergency response team enters her apartment. The ex-catalog model is on the bed, naked beneath a blood soaked green and white bathrobe with her cell phone in one hand and the other on the gushing wound in the neck of the man she is cradling in her lap.

The first thing she remembers saying is, “I did it. I’m a monster.”

The Bar They Met At

The last things she remembers are

  • going on a drinking binge the day before and finishing up at O’Sullivans, an Irish pub 5 minutes from her apartment
  • meeting Olivier ‘Funtime’ Mungier, 24, an unemployed graduate
  • telling dirty jokes
  • drinking until last call
  • telling him that she hadn’t gotten laid in a long time

She asked if he had condoms, they went back to her place. She opened a bottle of white wine with a kitchen knife, he smoked a joint. She remembers “he was too drunk to go through with it, he went too fast and I reassured him. I told him ‘Calm down’.” The last thing she remembers is her one night stand taking off his condom.

The Murder Site

She blacked out after that. Blacked out while she stabbed him twice with the same knife she cut herself with regularly and used to try and kill herself two months before when she sliced her wrists down to the tendons and stabbed herself repeatedly in her thighs and lower legs. Her wounds required 27 stitches. Mungier’s injuries were more serious, the fatal thrust hit his spine.

Blacking Out

How could she not remember this?

“It’s strange to feel so guilty and yet not to know what happened. The remorse is there, the distress is there, but you cannot make sense of it. It’s terrible because I’m not the only one needing answers. I have never tried to deny it. I am sincere in my answers and lack of answers.”

Jessica described a previous black out in 2004, after her first suicide attempt. “I was at home, I’d run a bath. Then I blacked out, and afterwards I found my arms and thighs slashed.”

Seriously, how can someone not know what they’ve done from one minute to the next? How can someone wake up and not have even some vague, fuzzy memories of the night before but instead a black hole where hours of their lives disappeared?

The answer is simple. i’ll give you three guesses but you’ll only need one.

Alcohol

Jessica Davies, daughter of a French mother and English father (her uncle is an MP in England), started drinking at 13 years old and fell into an alcohol induced coma at 15. Her mother said her daughter “didn’t know when to stop drinking.”

By the time she was in University, she was drinking “six days out of seven”. “I was told I drank like a man. I was proud,” she said. “I felt powerful. I could be in a bubble and eliminate the outside world.”

Laurent Couturier was her boyfriend between 2005 and July 2007. About their time together he says, “When Jessica drank, she had no limits any more. She could drink very large amounts, much more than I could … in that period she knew she shouldn’t drink any more alcohol because of the medical treatment she was under. [She was on anti-depressants up until, and including, the night of the murder.]  She would drink pints of Guinness and whisky chasers, or sometimes Smirnoff vodka, until she could not stand up by herself.”

After her breakup with Couturier, Jessica began binging with friends on a regular basis. The day of the murder, she went on a bender with friends in different local cafés before ending up at O’Sullivans. She closed the bar after many pints and shots, as well as four different types of anti-depressants, and admitted to being “horrifically drunk” and feeling that she was “going to do something stupid.”

After killing ‘Funtime’, she made the slurred emergency call.  She clocked in at 0.22 on the BAC scale, could barely stand up and was so “paralytically drunk” (police officers’ words) that she had to be questioned the next day.

Dr Al and Mr K Hall

Booze may be the reason she killed Olivier but it isn’t the reason she doesn’t remember the act. Switching is. See, what happened was she got so drunk that she shifted from one personality into another. Asking her to remember what the other personality did while drunk is like asking her to remember what a complete stranger was doing miles away.

i know this because it happens to me.

i have woken up after a binge not knowing how i got there. Drinking buddies tell me about conversations i don’t remember having. i have been banned from bars for life and have no idea why.

Because when i get very, very drunk i become someone else. Literally. Fortunately, this person is not violent or suicidal (psychologists who analyzed Davies said her murder was a form of suicide) but he is angry. In my day-to-day i suppress any kind of angry feelings because i’m not so hot on public displays of emotion, but then these things get bottled up. Drinking is a way for me to uncork that bottle and become someone else. Someone who isn’t afraid to be emotional.

Jessica Davies did the exact same thing. She became another person. Unfortunately, it’s Jessica Davies who has to do the time.

On January 12, 2010, Jessica (now 30) was sentenced to 15 years in prison combined with 10 years of probation, including psychological support.

Let me leave you with this final thought: her comments about alcohol during her trial. “What I did terrifies me… I can guarantee that I will never again touch a drop of alcohol.”

20 thoughts on “Seriously, Folks

  1. How freaking scary!!!

    My dad used to get like that, but instead of being angry, he turned into the social animal he always wanted to be, but was too sweet and sentimental to pull off in real life.

    Because of that (and a great stomach which makes me puke when I drink even slightly too much), I can luckily say I’ve never ever reached that point.

    • Count yourself lucky, Princesse! i know what you mean about the sweet and sentimental guy-thing, too. That’s one of the many roads i take along my trip.

      Al K Hall

  2. I dunno. The black out is probably a protective responce by the rational mind for unrational acts committed when it is not in control (much like we would dismiss a strange dream by saying “It wasn’t real, so I’m not going to stress myself out trying to rationalise it”). Alcohol is merely a “facilitator”. We all have thoughts that shock even ourselves and because they are so unacceptable they are quickly squelched as soon as the become concious thought, but they do run through the unconcious. Alcohol buffers and disables the rational brain that says the dreadeed ‘n’ word (no) so sex is had, fights are started aand we are capable of all manor of stupid acts, because our brain is no longer saying “no”.

    Jessica was frustrated by her life. The sense of frustation was growing and she couldn’t find relief, but numbed herself to that frustration through alcohol (much like we numb a toothache with novicane. The tooth still hurts, but we don’t feel it). Her frustration increased and so did her drinking. It was obvious that her frustration was already at a critical point by the binge she threw herself into. Alcohol was not enough, but enough to suppress good decission making, sex was the next best thing to numb herself and it became a focal point of that frustration (the straw that broke the camels back). While none of the specifics could have been predicted, the fact that the pressure would build to a breaking point was. Alcohol didn’t kill this man, frustration did, alcohol merely facilitated Jessica’s allowing the frustration to build to such a point and numbed the voice that would have told her that her vilolence was irrational.

    We watch the news and see people commit horrible acts and say that they are an abborition of society, but that “monster” really is within us all, safely locked away, unless we weaken the cage with alcohol or drugs.

    Hopefully 15 years of drying out and the horror of what is possible will keep her on the wagon, but the “monster” of craving can never be caged again once it has tasted addiction and it will torment her for the rest of her life whether she stays dry or not.

    • Thanks for spending so much time on your response, Brother.

      i get your point, but i can’t help feeling we’re talking apples & oranges (or should i say vodka & orange juice?).

      Studying psychology in college, i had a professor who told us, “You cannot control what you think–thoughts will pop in of their own volition–but you can control how you act on those thoughts. It seeme to me that’s what you’re talking about here, and i agree that drinking makes it easier to act on those impulses because the safeguards we’ve established to prevent impulsive behavior are lowered.

      Still, i’m not sure it’s the same thing as “blacking out”. It’s a hard thing to describe to someone who’s never experienced it, but it’s like a stranger moving into your body and kicking you out.

      i used the Dr Jekyl and Mr Hide reference in the header above because that’s really what it is (and i wouldn’t be surprised to learn Stevenson was writing about alcohol black outs in the novella, because Jekyl drinks a liquid and disassociates by turning into a completely different person). It’s literally split / multiple personality disorder.

      There are times i’ve been drunk and acted foolishly and been able to remember (albeit fuzzily) the ass i made of myself the night before, while other times i have not the faintest idea of what transpired the night before. The second case is much rarer but totally different from getting carried away.

      i think i’ll do a little more research into the mechanics of this and get back with you on my findings…

      Thanks for patronizing me, Brother,

      Al K Hall

  3. Here I am, tipping my hat to you, Al. And yes, the resounding slam of that closet door is still ringing in my ears, so I’m not entirely sure what the world in general is going to make of this, but for my part, I am so impressed with you and this post. The courage it takes to step out and call a spade a spade is huge, and I feel so grateful that you have recognized this before anything awful happens. That alcohol is a common ingredient in DID switching is something people don’t all understand, but which truly does explain that hell-bent drive to drink oneself into a blackout experienced by multiples. As for Jessica Davies, I am sitting here feeling so sad at the thought of the terrified child personality inside her that is now having to deal with prison. I hope she finds some measure of peace in her newfound understanding, although it may be nothing more than cold comfort.

    • “As for Jessica Davies, I am sitting here feeling so sad at the thought of the terrified child personality inside her that is now having to deal with prison.”

      I was feeling really sad for her over this, too, Miss Thorpe, and I am glad you put it in this way. I was having trouble finding words as to what made me feel so sad for her, and you found them.

    • Thanks Kitten,

      i’m glad you were able to appreciate the post’s honesty and sincerity. Still, i can’t really say i ‘came out’ of the closet on a blog where i hide my identity, but i know what you mean. Hopefully, the anonymity of this medium will let me feel safe enough to share some other, personal experiences that’ll get some of the drinkers out there to come to The Bar None and swap some stories.

      Thanks for patronizing me,

      Al K Hall

  4. It’s a hard thing to describe to someone who’s never experienced it, but it’s like a stranger moving into your body and kicking you out.”

    I have experienced this as well, and it is *really* hard to explain to someone who has not had it happen. What you say though, about its being a stranger moving in and kicking you out is really accurate from my experience, too.

    I tend to make a “slide” towards being in an altered state. There have been one or two times when it was an abrupt shift. There are a couple of times that I have blacked events out, and only remembered them fuzzily because someone reminded me about what happened. There are events that I know happened and where I did things that I would not do while my “normal” self, and was semi-aware that I have done them, but also have a fuzzy sensation of sliding in and out and not completely knowing what has happened.

    It is not as simple as just that Jessica was bottling up frustration and then numbing out– it is more about disassociation into an alter. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disassociation

    Like Ken writes, it may be in part due to frustrational buildup with deeper psychological issues, but what happened with her has more to do with slipping into a traumatized, disassociated state. It has more to do with going into a “split” — an alter personality that is distinct and discreet from the waking everyday self.

    There is more about this here, too. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissociative_disorder

    And here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissociative_identity_disorder

    I am fascinated with this story, and I love the way you wrote about it with compassion and understanding. Because this has happened to me, too, I understand a little of what this girl is going through. Not to the extremes that she went, obviously, but then I have been close to that. I can imagine something like that could have happened to me, had I kept drinking. I am glad what happened to her did not happen to me. But I feel like it could have. Stuff like this is one reason I don’t drink anymore, or at least I really try to drink in moderation, which for me is no more than two. Period. *None* is even better, though, for me…

    • Thanks for all the thought and time that went into your response, my one and only truest love of all time. Thanks as well for doing the research for me! i’mm have to take a longer look at it sometime when i’m not late for bed and in a hurry to meet you there.

      i really appreciate your props on the writing, as well. It’s nice to know i can write ‘seriously’ as well as tongue in cheek.

      Your remarks about switching were very astute, Goldilocks, but then you have more experience with it than most, both with your alters and mine (sometimes it must seem like “8 Is Enough” in our apartment!).

      Thanks for patronizing me, Angel,

      Al K Hall

  5. P.S. In fact, even reading about this stuff is kind of re-traumatizing. It reminds me of the worst of the times when this happened to me and the pain and humiliation that it happened & what happened. It reminds me of how I felt when that “stranger” came in and took over and I had no say in what I was doing anymore. It’s a really horrible feeling.

    • Looking forward to seeing it. This post has started me researching this. I totally missed out on this story in the news until now — seeing the date it happened (11/11/2007) made me realize exactly why — I had been fighting battles of my own then. But I’m still snooping around on this one now — trying to find some kind of closure to those feelings of horror I know we all must have when we read about this.

  6. Hi there,I like to share a bit of the tremendous problem I had before..I was drinking since I was 12 years old and very soon I starded to black out and get violent..For years I slept a lot of times in jail..But I found out after a while that everytime I came out of jail I starded to menstruate..Maybe I write this all down for teener Alcoholist who might have the same problem without bein’ aware of it yet..Anyhow when I had my P.M.S I realy didn’t know what to do with myself..I would climb the walls and to relax that feeling I starded to drink…Wich mostly ended in Jail..Now like a lot of us I also been in a mental hospital(here in Belgium Doctors don’t know a lot about mentel problams or drug abuse)In the netherlands (the country next to us …20 minutes by car) they’re much further in this problemarea..So doctors fired me always almost imediatly one time after 2 days the other times after 3 weeks..I’ve been there 4 times in my life..Now the last doctor listend to me..So he wanted to check my hormones but it was a difficult test wich could maybe fail and the other test was to painfull and dangerous that we said would never do..The test failed..It was 2 years ago but I kept goin’ to the hospital and till now a team of 3 doctors was busy with my case..Now since a half year I take the pill(to not get pregnant)And my P.M.S has chanced very much..I can control my mood from drinking in that period..
    I don’t say my drinkingproblems are because of my P.M.S problem …Or that my Drinkingproblem is solved because of that pill..But I say that P.M.S and drinking are a very bad combination..And since I take that pil a lot of “drinkingdramas” were reduced…JUST BE AWARE THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE A DOUBLE PROBLEM (not talkin’ bout the other little or big mental disturbances)

    • Hello Chto and Welcome to The Bar None!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thought out response. Your personal story was very touching and your observations were very pertinent. It’s so true that alcoholism is often linked in with other mental / physiological causes. Like Ken, one of our regulars, i’m very glad you were able to discover that link in your own situation and make the necessary adjustments to regulate the problem. Congratulations and may things continue to only get better for you.

      Thanks for patronizing me,

      Al K Hall

      PS i’m super impressed with how well you write English! Wow, they must have excellent schools in Belgium!

  7. Yanno, I’ve never seen a study on alcohol and estrogen, but there should be. You bring up some good things to be aware of. I’m glad things have gotten a little better for you

  8. That was an interesting read, I appreciate want you’re doing. As a functional alcoholic, frequent multi-day binge drinker, I have often had blackouts and whiteouts or whatever you wish to call them. Entire nights, days, weeks have passed that I have no memory of, however others have informed me as to my activity and interaction. I am somewhat fortunate that apparently the other me is just a nice social guy without my many neurotic issues. To be honest, I’d be happy to surrender my psyche to him, he sounds like a better (though incredible drunk) persona than I am…

    • Whitnail,

      Welcome to The Bar None, brother!

      i’m glad you get what i’m trying to do with this site and even happier that you appreciate the efforts. There may be some sexy pictures on the walls, but deep down this Diary-a Of A Chronicle Drinker is about drinkers and their partners/friends sloshing things out together.

      Hopefully, i’ll be inspired soon to write more posts in the stream of this one, which has reached the kind of public i’m looking for.

      Speaking of, i’m grateful for your honesty while opening up about your drinking habits. i’m a binge drinker as well (you can follow my misadventures on my Twitter page [http://twitter.com/Al_K_Hall] which i’ve linked in the sidebar above). i’ve been able to function fairly well for about 20 years now and more recently i’ve been better about ‘planning’ my binges when they’ll interfere less with my day to day and drink a little less during those binges as well.

      i just hope your binges don’t get in the way of your day to day, because i know for me that the binges are a blast and there’s a unique feeling i get when i drink that i cannot feel in any other situation, but the price i pay for that rush is often ‘high’: hangovers, withdrawal from loved ones, depression. Make sure you keep the ‘functional’ in front of the ‘alcoholic’, is what i guess i’m saying.

      Also, i assume it was you and not your alter who wrote this comment and YOU sound like a sincere, honest and very cool person. Just sayin’.

      Thanks for patronizing me, brother,

      Al K Hall

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