Passion and Rage at Age 70

Just when I think, “I’ve heard it all”, here comes the Lois Goodman story, proving me wrong – again. But then, I’m always amazed at the human spirit for good and for bad.


One of my early blogs was about falling in love when you’re old, and about our capacity to love at any age:

This post is about a different kind of love, the love that can kill even if you are an elderly lady.

Lois Goodman, in Los Angeles terminology, is a neighbor. I could walk to her townhouse, if I wanted to.

I don’t know her; I never met her; and I’d never even heard of her until now. But, one thing I do know is that she shatters our preconceived stereotype of what it is to be a 70 year-old lady.

When you’re 70 you’re supposed to be retired. You’re supposed to be playing mahjong or bingo with your girlfriends, going to the market with your husband, and taking care of grandchildren!

At age 70 you’re not supposed to be high-profile tennis umpire. At age 70 you’re not supposed be having affairs on the internet. At age 70 you’re most certainly not supposed to murder your husband! Ok, maybe the next statement is going to sound a bit insensitive, but at age 70, if you do murder him you don’t use a coffee mug as a weapon!

When you’re 70, even the police believes you when you tell them that your husband fell and died. Even they follow our long held conventions and preconceived notions about elderly women.

Not surprisingly, my mind wants to take this in a million different directions, so I’ll take you along with me ….:

* He was an abuser!

* He was not an abuser, she was bored!

* He was sick and depressed and she just couldn’t take it anymore!

* What about “in sickness and health”?

* He was 10 years older. When you are 20 years old marrying a 30-year-old – it’s romantic and passionate. You don’t know that one day you may have to be a nurse!

* She became excited about being with celebrities at the U.S. Open, only to go home to an ailing spouse, where she’s brought back to reality; where she can’t avoid the mundane!

* Maybe he was just a boring demanding husband who didn’t cherish her and show her the affection she craved?

* Maybe her new love affair brought her back to a time when things were exciting and life held the promise of adventure?

* Their marriage was probably dead for years!

* Even if it was dead, she shouldn’t want him dead!

lois goodman tennis ref

* She was enraged at his existence. She was an umpire! She was used to calling the shots!

* Maybe she’d never experienced a crazy and passionate love affair.

* She must have been overcome by rage. 

* How close are passion and rage, and isn’t it what they mean when they describe a crime of passion?Lois Goodman

* Maybe she was really nice. Maybe she just lost it, knowing that as long as he was alive she was doomed to not be united with her lover?

* Maybe he was too demanding. Maybe he needed to be taken care of, just one time too many.

* Maybe she was just a 70-year-old woman bound by her own conventions, and was afraid to ask for divorce.

* Maybe she didn’t want to be blamed, or seen as heartless and selfish; so in desperation – she resorted to “changing the score”?

I just don’t know the truth, assuming there is just one truth.

Poor Lois Goodman.


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About rachel bar

Psychotherapist and supervisor.
This entry was posted in AFFAIR, Aging, Betrayal, Crime of passion, Impulse Control, Old age, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Passion and Rage at Age 70

  1. Margot says:

    As an aside … As I get older my view of what is elderly is not 70. But to the point … maybe he was just driving her crazy. I’m pretty sure I would have killed my ex-husband if we had stayed married. I don’t recall how long they had been married but in the good old days when people stayed married for life, it was only until they were about 40 or 45. Now, when you live to be over 70 or 80 … one marriage may feel like a lifetime in the most awful of ways! And when someone is driving you crazy, divorce isn’t quite as satisfying as murder 🙂

  2. rachel bar says:

    I love the honesty of this comment, and how authentic you are! Thanks.

  3. Maureen says:

    70 is the new 40

  4. Jim Palmer says:

    C’mon Rachel, need to do better than your blog, this is right down your ally as a psychotherapist……. I just so happens I watched a program about psychopaths a couple of months ago….. This woman is almost a classic case study. According to the program fully 20% of the population have psychopathic tendencies…. They range from the Ted Bundy’s to your local CEO’s and all points in between. what they all have in common is a lack of conscience or empathy…..With your old lady it was as simple to her, as he was a burden so I will just do away with the inconvenience… norm’s be damned

    According to the program Psychopaths are borne…they can be identified by a cat scan….. What makes the difference between a Ted Bundy and your local Con man brings up the old Nature vs Nurture question…..

    What we need from professionals is answers not more questions…….cautionary note……..all of the above may be wrong )

    • rachel bar says:

      Thanks Jim, I appreciate the information and I’ll definitely look at the research. You are right about my profession, though, sometimes we pose more questions than answers.

  5. Martha Carr says:

    Definitely challenges our stereoptypes! My step-mother at 75 had surgery and had a bad reaction to anesthesia. When the nurse came in to check on her, she was sure the nurse was up to no good and she took a swing at her! They ended up having to restrain her because she was trying to beat up the caregivers! Otherwise a very sweet woman, she wasn’t going to let anyone hurt her. A part of me was delighted at her spunk! When she came around finally several days later we all laughed about it but had she been 35 it wouldn’t have been funny.This is a far cry from murdering someone and then covering it up but I think older people can definitely do some damage (and also have love lives!) Someone mentioned Socio-path – book recommendation:
    THe Sociopath Next Door.

    • Jim Palmer says:

      excellent recomendation Martha, Pretty much what the TV program i watched.


      Who is the devil you know?

      Is it your lying, cheating ex-husband?
      Your sadistic high school gym teacher?
      Your boss who loves to humiliate people in meetings?
      The colleague who stole your idea and passed it off as her own?

      In the pages of The Sociopath Next Door, you will realize that your ex was not just misunderstood. He’s a sociopath. And your boss, teacher, and colleague? They may be sociopaths too.

      We are accustomed to think of sociopaths as violent criminals, but in The Sociopath Next Door, Harvard psychologist Martha Stout reveals that a shocking 4 percent of ordinary people—one in twenty-five—has an often undetected mental disorder, the chief symptom of which is that that person possesses no conscience. He or she has no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse. One in twenty-five everyday Americans, therefore, is secretly a sociopath. They could be your colleague, your neighbor, even family. And they can do literally anything at all and feel absolutely no guilt.

      How do we recognize the remorseless? One of their chief characteristics is a kind of glow or charisma that makes sociopaths more charming or interesting than the other people around them. They’re more spontaneous, more intense, more complex, or even sexier than everyone else, making them tricky to identify and leaving us easily seduced. Fundamentally, sociopaths are different because they cannot love. Sociopaths learn early on to show sham emotion, but underneath they are indifferent to others’ suffering. They live to dominate and thrill to win.

      The fact is, we all almost certainly know at least one or more sociopaths already. Part of the urgency in reading The Sociopath Next Door is the moment when we suddenly recognize that someone we know—someone we worked for, or were involved with, or voted for—is a sociopath. But what do we do with that knowledge? To arm us against the sociopath, Dr. Stout teaches us to question authority, suspect flattery, and beware the pity play. Above all, she writes, when a sociopath is beckoning, do not join the game.

      It is the ruthless versus the rest of us, and The Sociopath Next Door will show you how to recognize and defeat the devil you know.

    • rachel bar says:

      How right you are, Martha! Had your step-mother been a young woman, we would’ve judged her very differently. We stereotype the elderly both positively and negatively, not realizing that wrinkles and gray hair are not ingredients for kindness and passivity.

  6. Barbara Cooper says:

    Or maybe he just said to her, “kill me now” and she took him seriously.
    Frankly, I feel much safer knowing my ever present coffee mug could be used as a weapon!

  7. Marie-Michelle says:

    In 2012 a 70 year old woman, active and in apparently decent shape cannot be considered elderly. Men seem to age much faster than women, particularly when married to “younger” women. Many become very high maintenance. Passion does not stop because we age nor does wisdom come with age. I refuse to accept the concepts of the aging stigma, particularly in Southern California and what is considered normal at 70 or 80.
    I am not a qualified professional as to the mental health of Lois Goodman and what label we can attach to her so I will not comment on that even though some comments were definitely thought provoking. All I know is she “allegedly” killed her husband, I was not privy to what went on inside that marriage nor their lives as it progressed over many years of marriage. An interesting book to read in Ram Dass’s book on aging, changing, ultimately death and beyond “Still here” , a simply profound book, really puts a different spin on the subject, as only Ram Dass can.

  8. rachel bar says:

    A very well written comment, MM!

    I imagine that one day I’ll write a blog about how 70 is not what it appears to be, and yet this one was about what I believe people would say.

  9. Peter G says:

    So, she crushed his skull with a coffee mug … Some jokes just write themselves:

    1) She killed him because he was soft in the head
    2) She used a coffee a mug because he was full of beans
    3) She’ll use the Juan Valdez defense … She was jittery from too much caffeine
    4) She’d ‘had it up to here’ with all his racket. (Tennis pun ..)
    5) She felt she’d been stringing him along to too long…

    Ok, now that I have that bit of poor taste and shameless pun-seeking out of my system…

    Am I the only one who thought, “That had to be one helluva coffee mug.” (Ok, I’m really done – I promise.)

    Certainly, this was a person; and a couple living a life of not-so-quiet desperation, which is the tragic tale your blog explores so well. (Not to mention the spectrum of aging and ageism.)

    Yes, life is full of maybe’s, which is to say, life is full of uncertainty and equivocation – if you look for it. Nevertheles …

    Is this a tragic tale? Yes.

    Does it make us pity the murderer more than the victim? I think not.

    Poor Mr. Goodman.

  10. I enjoyed your essay. I wanted though to ask you if you read the book C. Hitchens wrote concerning the Thomas Paine book of yore. The Right of Man? I found a copy at the library and immediately thought of you.

  11. Correction: The Rights of Man

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