Shan’ann Watts: “I refuse to let anyone take over my body, or my life”

To be a MLM promoter means to be a Pollyanna. A Pollyanna is an excessively cheerful or optimistic person, but it goes further than that. A Pollyanna is overly expressive, overly extroverted, excessively [often annoyingly] optimistic. Think about that and contrast it with the idea of an introvert, and a strong silent type.

Personality clash?

Since the Watts story is the story of a fairy tale that turns into a family holocaust, let’s do our due diligence and briefly examine the fairy tale classic Pollyanna. Once done, have a look at the three videos posted below. All three are set to kick off at compelling moments that show real cracks in the Pollyanna performance.

From Wikipedia:

The title character is Pollyanna Whittier, a young orphan who goes to live in the fictional town of Beldingsville, Vermont, with her wealthy but stern and cold spinster Aunt Polly, who does not want to take in Pollyanna but feels it is her duty to her late sister.

Pollyanna’s philosophy of life centers on what she calls “The Glad Game,” an optimistic and positive attitude she learned from her father. The game consists of finding something to be glad about in every situation, no matter how bleak it may be. 

With this philosophy, and her own sunny personality and sincere, sympathetic soul, Pollyanna brings so much gladness to her aunt’s dispirited New England town that she transforms it into a pleasant place to live. The Glad Game shields her from her aunt’s stern attitude: when Aunt Polly puts her in a stuffy attic room without carpets or pictures, she exults at the beautiful view from the high window; when she tries to “punish” her niece for being late to dinner by sentencing her to a meal of bread and milk in the kitchen with the servant Nancy, Pollyanna thanks her rapturously because she likes bread and milk, and she likes Nancy.

Soon Pollyanna teaches some of Beldingsville’s most troubled inhabitants to “play the game” as well… Aunt Polly, too—finding herself helpless before Pollyanna’s buoyant refusal to be downcast—gradually begins to thaw, although she resists the glad game longer than anyone else.

Eventually, however, even Pollyanna’s robust optimism is put to the test when she is struck by a car and loses the use of her legs. At first she doesn’t realize the seriousness of her situation, but her spirits plummet when she is told what happened to her. After that, she lies in bed, unable to find anything to be glad about. Then the townspeople begin calling at Aunt Polly’s house, eager to let Pollyanna know how much her encouragement has improved their lives; and Pollyanna decides she can still be glad that she at least has had her legs.

The novel ends with Aunt Polly marrying her former lover Dr. Chilton and Pollyanna being sent to a hospital where she learns to walk again and is able to appreciate the use of her legs far more as a result of being temporarily disabled and unable to walk well.

There’s so much there that fits like a symbolic blueprint over the Watts case, isn’t there?

Fullscreen capture 20180912 155351

Now consider the import of the videos below, and Shan’ann’s attempt to Pollyanna-ize her self, her life and her family in the name of a MLM company and product.

Is Shan’ann a genuine Pollyanna? Is she genuinely optimistic? It’s too easy to simply dismiss the MLM aspect as fake. It’s too easy to dismiss Shan’ann’s personality, as the victim, as irrelevant.

What happens, what’s the emotional cost when someone in a marriage and a household isn’t happy but pretends to be, and more pertinently, how does it impact on someone else in the same household who has a different personality? What happens when the person you married becomes someone else, and even that someone isn’t real?

The irony is, if Shan’ann became that to him, a stranger in his own home, he also became that to her, with monstrous and devastating consequences.

34 thoughts on “Shan’ann Watts: “I refuse to let anyone take over my body, or my life”

    • I wouldn’t go that far Pauline but increasingly wondering if this was a spur to infidelity. Once he’d met the other woman and been around a non-Thriver he encountered something real and the desire to separate became unstoppable. What happened next? We have to wait for the autopsy to discount his allegation that his wife was the one who actually snapped first.


      • Yes, perhaps I have gone a bit too far. But it’s highly unlikely she snapped first. Depressive personality types are not usually violent. They are down on themselves, but not violent toward others. Removing himself from his own life, he had no emotional investment in any of it. I think both of them brought their particular traits to the marriage, a pattern that was well established before they even met. Her prolonged illness could have contributed to her dynamic, and he may have suffered a trauma in childhood for which his coping mechanism was disassociation. Just a theory!


  1. And don’t you think maybe he had already decided before she sprung another pregnancy on him that he had had enough of this life, it was strangling the life out of him so that when she said guess what, I’m pregnant he thought “really? well, it doesn’t really matter.” I don’t think it was the tipping point, I think he had already decided.


    • I wasn’t being critical Pauline, I just have so many doubts about this case and the more clips I watch the more questions I have. The clips weren’t made to be compares but now as I’ve watched them, I keep noticing contradictions. Part of this is the Thrive ( papering over reality) and part of it is probably the couple.
      In one video we’re told the trips are all free, in another we hear that the flights are not paid for and have to be earned and she’s checking out best prices. So in one there is a huge list made of morning chores but when you listen carefully, they are just the morning chores any mum does before taking the kids to school, and both were in school/daycare. In the next, we are told it’s all ( Thrive career) for the kids, then next we’re told the biggest thing she’s grateful for in her life is the Thrive team of friends. Another is initially reading the neck operation was due to lupus and then on another clip she says it’s due to a car accident. On FB we heard that a third baby was Chris’s idea and then later on a video we see her telling Bella to ask her father about having another baby. Nothing can be taken at face value.
      Anyway I don’t know when he decided he wanted out or how long she knew that he did. Before she left for NCarolina? After seeing the omissions & contradictions in the clips I’m not taking the view from her promoter-friends at face value either. I’m going to guess that they had had some kind of discussion well before the killings.
      I think I have a handle on who she is now, not really seeing depressive but I agree it’s seems as if she has had some in the past. I haven’t got a handle on him at all, he’s always in the background and people-pleasing. It’s beyond co-dependency but I’m certainly not seeing the supposed narcissism, which I’ve seen all over FB.
      It would help to know if the co-worker affair started before he made her pregnant.


      • I know you weren’t being critical Jen. Sometimes when I type things here it sounds like I think I know it all and I’m sorry, I really don’t know much at all about the inner workings of this family dynamic, but I think thanks to this blog and all of you and Nick delving into all of this so thoroughly I have a little better idea of who she was and who he was, although he’s still a bit of a mystery. Moron or Monster. I don’t see that the co worker affair had a lot to do with the triple homicide, in the sense that I don’t think Scott Peterson was in love with Amber Frey – more like she was just a distraction. What bothers me most is he ACTED compliant when all along he was probably resentful and did nothing to try to get his discontent out on the table so that they could work on it. He would rather wipe everyone out and be justified in his mind for doing so. There is a remote chance she did kill the children – am I the only one that is even considering that? But his many lies kind of negate that thought for me.


      • That’s good sleuthing Jen! I did hear one video the kids were in school so that clears that up for me. But what does she do all day? Order product, sample the wares and talk to her recruits? And I think you are right, they may have had a discussion about it not working before the killings. I wonder if she confided in either of her parents?


  2. I was just watching a Watts family Christmas video. It’s odd that someone describes it as a warm and loving close family. Nothing could be further from the truth. We see what we want to see, don’t we? What I saw was really an UNhappy family playing out. Chris is dressed as Santa Claus, Sha’nann is directing the show, she tells Santa several times to sit down. He mumbles a few ho ho ho’s, but the children are too scared to come out. She finally pushes Bella into Santa’s arms and she’s squirming and uncomfortable, CeCe is still screaming somewhere. She then gets CeCe to sit on Santa’s knee and tells her if she doesn’t cooperate she won’t get any presents. Meanwhile Chris is lethargic, not even pretending to be a jovial Santa. Finally it’s over, Chris goes out the front door he came in, and says “see you next year”. So here comes the psychoanalyst in me. He is a “dissociative.” Not just from this video. In general. Dissociation goes from mild to extreme on a continuum. It’s a detachment from immediate surroundings. What happens when a depressive and a dissociative come together? Does the depressive personality cause the dissociative personality or does the dissociative cause the depressive? Is it enabling? And what kind of children does this pairing produce?


  3. Indeed, Nick, and Shan’ann’s calling Bella as a Grinch, when it’s Shan’ann’s insistence on staging and controlling the Christmas narrative that steals everyone’s joy. She also never misses an opportunity to criticize Chris in front of others—even on what I assume is Christmas Eve. What a miserable family. I don’t see any happiness here. Thanks for sharing this video. Very revealing.


    • There’s another comment which I found intriguing on this one where she says to a friend on a FBook live, during a chequers game “ bring me the baby before he’s a toddler and I don’t want him any more.” I thought that one was interesting because she’s also said on FB that she wants five or more children, has said she loves to be pregnant and plenty of times has said she wants more kids. I don’t believe in the perfect mom, under too much pressure as it is but I still couldn’t help thinking that there was some kind of neediness, conflictedness and impulsiveness there, for having another child when in reality having two toddlers is hard enough.


  4. Still in all it doesn’t justify murder, does it. If Chris felt used and abused, he went along, he played along. Imagine how things could have gone another way if he had said sweetheart, we’re in serious trouble here, our relationship isn’t working. But he harbored resentments, let them build. Probably secretly delighted in them. I think Sha’nann didn’t know any other way than the way she was doing things but Chris – he just decided a cowardly way out because he is a coward.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course it doesn’t justify any crime or any level of domestic violence, ever and that’s before we get into the deaths of two children. That’s a given.Your scenario of building resentments is equally possible. What if it was not pre-planned for days though, rather than decided a cowardly way out, what if nothing had been decided? So many men just walk and leave their responsibilities. That would have been cowardly too. He could have gone back home and got a job again as a mechanic and paid out. Surely he must have thought that through at some stage? At this stage Pauline, pre-autopsy what % chance would you give that his confession might be the truth?


  5. At the risk of sounding like the devil’s advocate, the contention that “it didn’t justify murder” muddles the issue. As long as we say this crime wasn’t justified, we’re simply admitting that we don’t know much about it.
    Why are we here? Is it to agree that this was a despicable crime? Of course it was. So let’s move beyond that.
    We’re here because we don’t know what went on in this family, we don’t know what went wrong, and we may not realize it, but what we’re really asking is “what justifications *were* there”?

    Whatever we think, Chris Watts did feel justified otherwise he wouldn’t have committed the crime, and wouldn’t have addressed the media on the porch for several minutes, further justifying himself.
    What we’re learning is there is an enormous archive of available information that can potentially assist us in these questions, but the archive isn’t like a straightforward Google search telling us what we want to know in terms of how our questions are framed. This is true crime. We have to do some thinking too.

    If we wish to understand this case, we can’t answer any of these questions from the perspective of being on the outside looking in, or out of our own experience.

    When we start to be inside their experience of the Watts family, and beyond the LIVE interludes when the camera is off, that’s when we’re getting a real impression we can use. That’s very, very difficult to do, because we have a lot of behind-the-scenes learning, listening and catching up to do.

    The enormous value in working on a narrative of the case, is that one is forced to put all the pieces together and reconcile bits and pieces until the fragments start fitting together. We’re never going to have everything, because pieces are intentionally withheld, buried and concealed, and many of the pieces that are out there aren’t what they seem. But what the narrative does do is integrate and build the foundations for a story.

    When we look at individual pieces and say “that doesn’t justify murder” it’s really our own failure to not see further, or deeper, and at the same time, take a wider perspective that allows us to see the wood beyond the trees.

    I’ve worked hard on the second Two Face narrative, harder than on the first, to make more sense of the psychology, and to figure out precisely this question of why Chris Watts DID feel justified. The answers are there, but it requires us to think long and hard.


    • Well said, Nick. I do believe though it’s inevitable that you will bring some of your experiences into trying to understand the puzzle pieces. You know much better than I, but I think the art lies in relegating your own experience to the background versus using it to create a guiding framework for all of the pieces.


      • Absolutely. Even if we undertake to be neutral, to put our own bias aside, it’s inevitable that it’s going to creep in. Our own experiences aren’t useless or irrelevant. There are certainly some areas where what happened in the Watts family are common to all families. But we can’t start with what we think. We have to start with the idea that we have no idea who these people are, all of them [even the personalities of the children], and then try to get to know them on their terms, not ours.
        One aspect that I’ve found quite surprising in this respect is Chris Watts background. I think he grew up pretty poor. I think they both did, but him more than her. Now you take that alone. Is it helpful to see that through your own background, or to try to see it through his?


    • Agree to all that Nick. Just on the point about the interviews the following day, I noticed, a long while ago now that a poster had said that had read that the friends the Thayers had encouraged him to do the TV appeals and where with him for part of that day. Apparently there is a photo of the three of them all stood outside the garage at Saratoga, as the TV teams are there. ( I haven’t seen it but maybe someone here has. Puts a slightly different angle on that willingness to do all the media, when I read that.)


  6. Nick, great I teaching moment as per true crime analysis: “we can’t start with what we think.” Sounds pretty straightforward, but I imagine it takes a lot of self-discipline. Thanks.


  7. It’s helpful to know about someone’s childhood experiences. To know about Scott Peterson you have to know about Jackie Peterson. To know about Chris Watts you have to know about his background, and I’m glad you have uncovered alot of pertinent information, Nick, I’ve tried every way from Sunday to find out anything i can read about Chris Watts’s background and I found very little. So I started where I started and I’m eager to learn more.


  8. In my opinion, Shannan seems depressed and low energy in the majority of her videos. While she is supposed to be upbeat and positive as you mentioned in your article, she does not in my opinion. In fact, there is often an undercurrent of hostility in my opinion. Hostility towards Chris, hostility toward her children.
    Nick, have you seen the video of Shannan repeatedly squirting her toddler in the face with a squirt bottle, as if she were a naughty cat?


    • No I haven’t. Have you got the link? Her words “super-excited” “amazing” etc are what I mean by upbeat. She’s also often trying to smile etc.


      • People with Borderline Personality Disorder exhibit periods of intense depressed mood, irritability or anxiety lasting a few hours to a few days. I think she also exhibits Histrionic traits which present as emotional lability and shallowness (which you refer to with the hollow “amazing” comments, etc.).
        I’ll find that video link for you.


  9. The squirt bottle video: a toddler is repeatedly squirt in the face with a firm stream of water by her mother. This action is sometimes used by pet owners to deter bad behavior. This action goes on for over 2 minutes. She calls to the other child, who refuses to come out. The father remains in the shadows, quietly looking on, making sure the child being squirted does not become upset. When the child has had enough, note who quickly pulls her inside & who yells, “Don’t save her!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • You all are trying to find something that isn’t there. Bella was having fun! I’ve played water guns and water balloon fights with my grandchildren and they squeal just like that. Their not being tortured they are playing. Sometimes they even act like they want nothing to do with it. Until you tell them to go inside. Then they get upset because they really want to play. If anything Shan’ann says how she loves hearing Bella’s laugh and keeps on playing because of it. Chris is detached from everyone and everything in every video except one I’ve seen. Even in their last photos. He’s a psychopath who wanted an easy way out and thought he was smart enough to get away with it.


    • It’s hard to say, Pauline. There are so many videos of her, and very few of him. In the ones I have seen, while he does seem submissive to his wife and even sometimes harshly criticized, he appears to be gentle, loving, and paternal towards his children. With that said, he has confessed to murdering Shannan, and his actions afterward are unusual at best.


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