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Many shades of bad behavior

Last month I was in a law firm. Not because of a legal issue—I was there to discuss writing the content for their new websites. Two lawyers, who had been part of one firm, were setting up independent practices. One lawyer hired me. The other wasn’t sure, so he wanted to meet me. A week later I learned that the second lawyer decided he would write his website himself.

On Saturday, I was shocked to see a story in the local newspaper: The second lawyer, Seth A. Fuscellaro, who was also a public defender in Lower Township, New Jersey, was charged in a $15 million mortgage fraud scheme. The FBI actually arrested him in municipal court and escorted him out in handcuffs.

The lawyer was one of 11 people charged in the scheme. One man was also charged with attempted murder—he allegedly shot a witness multiple times. (The witness survived.)

As I read the article for the second time, I still couldn’t believe my eyes. When I met Fuscellaro, I saw absolutely nothing that might indicate any inappropriate behavior, let alone fraud on the scale reported in the newspaper. I had no reason to think the man might be anything but a busy lawyer.

Colorado movie massacre

People are having the same reaction, on a much larger scale, to the news that James Holmes, a shy neurosciences student who was working on his Ph.D., was arrested in the shooting massacre in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater.

People who knew Holmes, and knew his family, are stunned. Neighbors and teachers described him as “smart” but “quiet.” According to an article on CBSNews.com, “In high school, Holmes won a competitive position at a rigorous science boot camp and an internship in neurobiology at the prestigious Salk Institute.”

A video has emerged showing Holmes as an 18-year-old making a presentation to fellow students at a science camp, explaining “subjective experience—what takes place inside the mind, as opposed to the external world.”

Watch: James Holmes: First video of alleged killer released, on ABCNews.go.com.

Obviously, people want to know, “Is Holmes delusional? Does he have a mental illness?” It’s certainly too soon to know. But reporters are already asking the question:

Was this killer mentally ill?

“It says a lot about the type of prejudice we have when we automatically go to the presumption that a clinical mental illness was the cause,” says Praveen Kamban, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California-Los Angeles. “Even the surgeon general of the United States has said there’s very little risk of violence or harm from a stranger who has a mental disorder.

“Not all bad behavior comes from mental illness. Sometimes it can simply be bad behavior.”

Read Probe of shooting suspect James Holmes intensifies, on USAToday.com.

Syndrome of sociopathy (psychopathy)

Here is the point of today’s post: Just because someone behaves badly, even murderously, it does not prove that the person is a sociopath (psychopath).

Sociopathy is a pattern of behavior in which individuals manipulate and exploit others. It is a syndrome, which means the disorder is associated with several recognizable features, symptoms or behaviors.

As I explain on the Key Symptoms page of Lovefraud.com, Dr. Robert Hare identified the traits of a psychopath as:

  • Glib and superficial
  • Egocentric and grandiose
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Lack of empathy
  • Deceitful and manipulative
  • Shallow emotions
  • Impulsive
  • Poor behavior controls
  • Need for excitement
  • Lack of responsibility
  • Early behavior problems
  • Adult antisocial behavior

Although James Holmes has yet to be charged in the Colorado shootings, let alone tried and convicted, he was caught at the scene and his apartment was booby-trapped with explosives. I think it’s fair to anticipate that he will go to prison.

Obviously, his actions were massively evil. Holmes planned his assault in a cold, calculated way. But is he glib, egocentric, grandiose or impulsive? Does he have a need for excitement? Did he have early behavior problems? Look at the video—does this guy at all resemble the human predators that we were involved with? No.

In my opinion, as heinous as this man’s actions were, he probably is not a sociopath (psychopath).

Joe Paterno

Here on Lovefraud, there was also a raging debate a few days ago about Joe Paterno. This case is a bit muddier, because we have learned, through the Freeh Report, that Paterno did lie, at least in reference to his knowledge of Sandusky’s behavior with young boys. We’ve also learned that he wielded incredible power at Penn State, used his power to protect his turf, and was willing to throw innocent children under the bus in order to avoid negative publicity and a stain on the shining image of Penn State football.

This is reprehensible. It is a betrayal of everything that the coach supposedly stood for. Still, based on what has been published about this affair, I doubt that any competent clinician would diagnose Paterno as a sociopath.

Keep in mind that not only is sociopathy a syndrome, it’s also a continuum. That means that a disordered person can have any of the traits listed above to a greater or lesser degree. To qualify as a sociopath, an individual needs high enough scores on enough of the traits to meet the threshold.

So perhaps Paterno would have scored high on “egocentric and grandiose.” But would he have scored high on all, or even many, of those other traits?

Quite honestly, I don’t know for sure. I never went to Penn State, never met Joe Paterno. I only have access to media reports, and they may be incorrect or biased. Many, many sportswriters have been coming out with articles saying, “I believed Joe Paterno and I was wrong.”

Bad behavior

Here at Lovefraud we’re learning about sociopaths, which is important not only for us as individuals, but for all of society. Millions of these predators live among us; they are incredibly destructive; and we need to watch out for them. The more people who are aware that they exist, the better.

Still, we need to guard against seeing a sociopath behind every bush. Not everyone who is power-centered, lies and steals, or even commits mass murder is a sociopath. As the psychiatrist quoted above says, sometimes bad behavior is just bad behavior.


Comment on this article

98 Comments on "Many shades of bad behavior"

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Donna, thank you very much for this article – very, very SAD truths, but truths, nonetheless.

In grade school, there was a young boy with the last name of “Lamb.” He was painfully shy, very reserved, spoke only when spoken to, and actually resembled a lamb with curly golden locks and a seemingly meek demeanor. I was in several classes with this young boy until I was tranferred to a parochial school in 7th grade, and lost all knowledge of him, though I often thought of how doting teachers had been with him and his gentle demeanor.

In 1982, over a decade after I had last seen him, I was horrified to read a local article that reported this young man’s untimely end. He went on a rampage and shot his parents, in cold blood, and then shot himself dead.

Then, a girl that I went to parochial school with was murdered by her father. She was one year behind me, beautiful, brilliant, witty, and beloved. Her mother had been suffering terminal cancer and her father apparently slipped a cog, shot his wife, then my friend, and then himself. I, along with many other former classmates, attended this triple funeral in complete and utter shock – I still contemplate where this amazing young woman might have gone, had her life not been taken.

I don’t believe that either of the people that I’ve mentioned, above, were sociopaths. The Lamb boy, in retrospect, likely suffered an organic mental disorder (schizophrenia?) and there is no knowing what his family life may have actually been like. My friend’s father was distraught and seeking psychiatric help during that time was so stigmatized that it was hardly ever an option.

Not everyone who does “bad things” is a sociopath. And, caution is required when using that term unless I am “qualified” to render a professional assessment. What I have learned, experienced, and processed is that I am “qualified” to use the term, “…fits the profile of…” or, “…exhibits some of the symptoms of…”

This unfortunate association between really bad actions with certain sociopathy should be a catalyst for the Mental Health Professionals to get on the farking ball, set forth guidelines, and redefine some of these “personality disorders.” The term, “disorder,” suggests and infers that someone with a “personality disorder” can be treated, in some way, to “re-order” their personalities. And, this just is not true whether I have earned a degree in this field, or not. This is a known and recognized fact: the “disordered” cannot be “re-ordered.”

Thanks, again, Donna, for this insightful article.

I agree 100% with you, Donna, especially about seeing a sociopath behind every bush.

The shooting story hit me close to home because it was practically in my backyard. The gunshot victims were brought to the hospital where I work and many of my friends/colleagues worked tirelessly to try and save lives. The doctor who worked on the 6 y.o. girl, Veronica (which is coincidentally the name of my boa constrictor) has a young daughter herself. It was a very emotional situation for her and everyone else. The shooter’s school is the campus where I work, and the buildings where he studied are very close to the one I work in. The entire event is just shocking. I want to give a shout out to my colleagues at Children’s Hospital for being one of the finest group of doctors and nurses in the country. I feel so proud to work with these amazing people.

A few weeks ago I missed another shooting by one week at a free jazz in the park concert here in Denver. I was there a week before a police officer was shot there. What a violent society we live in. I’m starting to wonder how safe I am going out to public places!

In any event, I agree that Joe Paterno is not a sociopath based on the evidence I’ve seen. Not everyone who behaves badly is a sociopath. Some people just behave badly. And some just snap for whatever unknown reasons.

Stargazer, I echo Donna’s gratitude for you, your colleagues, and all who have worked to help the victims and their families under such emotionally charged conditions.

I am in such an emotional state, myself, that reading up on any violent tragedies like the Colorado shootings sends me off into a tailspin of horror. I’m avoiding newscasts, posts, and articles with regard to this (and, other) horrific event until a much later date.

I offer my most humble and sincere blessings….and, my positive thoughts go out into the Universe for the victims and their families, friends, and loved ones….

Bad behavior isn’t always equal to sociopathy – thanks for that. I completely agree.

And charges of bad behavior without factual proof are very dangerous too.

If you saw the Batman movie, you’d be touched by the sentencing court scene for the very reason. The press should not be able to convict without fact because the media motives for doing it aren’t always about justice.

I think Gov Hunkenlooper expressed a real sentiment when he refused to speak Holmes’ name at the memorial for the victims. According to the FBI profiler who was interviewed, they were pointing at severe mental illness as of last night.

Sounds like you’re lucky not to have been awarded the website job with that attorney!

IMHO . . . The DEFINITION of INSANITY is

“a person who goes into a crowded theather and shoots as many people as he can”!

NO sane person does this. It makes me angry that people are going to discuss whether the shooter was insane (or not).

He is INSANE by Definition!

For me, I define psychopathy as a condition in which parts of the prefrontal cortex are not functioning. The part which experiences empathy for other people is “numbed”.

How that presents itself is OFTEN (caps for emphasis) visible in the lifestyle choices of a person, but some spaths may decide to live a life that isn’t obviously parasitical or malicious.

Some narcissists are particularly bright and used to succeeding academically. Yet they are shame-based too. For these people, failure or struggling, can be a huge narcissistic injury. And they lash out. I think that’s what happened to this young man.

I guess with spaths there is no way to know except by having a close relationshit for a long period of time. You can’t judge them by any single incident and they can portray a myriad of different personas.

Because someone is biologically/physiolgically ‘ill’, per se, does that excuse their criminal behavior?
Or should they be made to stand accountable for their actions anyway?
Where is the ‘justice’ for the innocent?

I think that is the real ultimate question here.
If these are truly ‘sick’, ‘insane’, psychopathic people,
do they not need and/or deserve to be cut from society and not allowed to continue wrecking their destruction?
When it comes right down to it, we ALL have to stand accountable for our actions, ‘sick’ or not.

Psychopaths have freedom of choice, just like we do.
It’s their choice making that puts them in hot water all the time. They have no ‘social skills’ in dealing with people.
They always choose the ugly choice instead of the decent one. To them that’s a rush.

I don’t think giving “The Joker” a death sentence is going to do anything but cost a lot of money and make him an ‘all time celebrity’.
I do think that leaving him rot in prison would be a good role model for the rest of the loonies on the path.
Dying is too easy.

I am sorry that there are sick people like this and I am sorry for them.
I am even SORRIER for the innocent people who have given up their lives and/or are still waiting for justice BECAUSE of these sick people. A lot of time their evil deeds just go un noticed and leaves peoples lives in total ruins which is never recognized and/or accounted for.
I am sorry for all the ‘victims’ still struggling to become ‘survivors’. Where are THEIR RIGHTS?
Somehow this all seems so wrong and out of balance.

Difficult to judge.
PPATHS are capable of more personas than one would conceive.
And each one is very convincing.
They are experts at what they do.

There is no ‘changing’ that.
All there is IS: getting it away from you and praying.
There is NO reasoning with the devil.

Dupey

Thank you, Donna and Truthspeak, for your kind words. Fortunately, I do not do direct patient care – I only heard second hand about the massacred victims making their way to my department while I was off for the weekend. I am about to call my boss to see if she’s okay – she was one of the ones who came in. It all seemed very removed for me until I heard the victims ended up at Children’s, even some of the adult victims. Our Section Chief was also called in, and I’m sure he is frazzled. I have had the honor of working with him for the past 2-3 years, and what a very fine person he is. Recently, I took up a collection for our office cleaning people who are from Peru, very elderly, and don’t speak English. He made it a point to give me $50 for them. My boss, the Director of Emergency Services, is a close personal friend of mine. I have known her for 10 years, and can say with complete certainty that there is no finer and more selfless human being. The doctor who worked on little Veronica has an office next to mine, and I’ve known her for 8 years. She is a kind, gentle, humble, and generous person. If I can convey anything to all of you here, it is that though there are some very bad people out there, please take heart that there are also some very good ones. While they were dealing with the massacre over the weekend, I was giving deep tissue massages to two more of my co-workers who were tied up in knots from the stress of their jobs in the Emergency Department. Both of them tipped me by quite a bit, even though neither of them have much surplus to spare. There are some really good people in the world. I believe they DO outnumber the spaths many times over. If you want to see an environment where the good people outnumber the bad by 1000 to 1, come to Children’s Hospital in Aurora, CO.

When the Columbine shooting happened in 1999, I was also one step removed. I was in massage school that day, and one of my classmates came from her waitressing job at a restaurant across the street from Columbine HS where she heard the gunshots. In this way, my whole class was shaken by that event.

In our quest to find some sort of meaning in these situations, we need to see if there were any patterns in the shooter’s history, any previous cries for help, etc. Sometimes there is just no way to know someone’s mind if they keep it hidden or if they suddenly snap. But sometimes there are signs. There was a shooting in a West VA synogogue several years ago. Apparently, the shooter had tried to have himself hospitalized prior to that but he was turned away (I think for insurance reasons?). We live in a culture where people are very isolated and alienated from one another, unlike many other cultures in the world. Many people are depressed, and the standard care for it is to pop pills. It’s easy for someone to get to a point of intense isolation and desperation without anyone ever knowing because everyone is so caught up in their busy lives. I hope the investigation reveals something about the shooter that we can learn something from, so we know how to look for signs. IMO it’s completely pointless at this point to throw the spath word around at him, and I would be very upset to see this situation reduced to that type of labeling here.

His mother was not surprised when the news reporters called her at home. Even before the police did. She is a therapist and she said, “you have the right person.”

She apparently expected something like this.
A mother knows.
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/aurora-dark-knight-shooting-suspect-identified-james-holmes/story?id=16818889#.UAlT2zFrPat

sky, the comments on that article clarify the mother’s statement

“Joe2874
6:20 PM EDT
Jul 23, 2012
ABC should post another correction for this story. The lawyer for the family has now explained that when the mother was contacted by phone by ABC News and told the reporter, “You have the right person,” she meant “Yes, I am the mother of James Holmes of Aurora, CO,” not “Yes, my son is a killer.” Really sloppy reporting”

This seems more appropriate in the context.

Here’s an article from the Huffington Post with the lawyer’s declaration of the mother refuting ABC’s claim

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/23/james-holmes-mother-abc-news-colorado-shootings_n_1696319.html?utm_hp_ref=media

We don’t really need a witchhunt here. The witch has already been hunted. The killer is in custody. I will wait to see how it all unfolds. I truly hope there is something to be learned from this senseless tragedy.

My thoughts first and foremost are with the victims and their families. I cannot imagine the agony the mother of the 6-y.o. girl is going through. I’m hearing she may be a quadroplegic for the rest of her life on top of the violent death of her child. There are no words to describe the horror and sadness I feel for her.

darwinsmom,
ABC news stands by their report, as huffington reports at the end of the link you posted.

If ABC news had contacted me 20 years ago and said, “Are you the wife of Spath Spathiness?” I would have said, “Yes, what is this call about?”

When they said, “There has been a shooting in Spathville and the shooter’s name is Spath Spathiness.”

I would have said, “You have the wrong Spath. My husband, Spath, would never do a thing like that.”

There is no way, I would have answered “I can’t comment because I do not know if the person you are talking about is my husband, and I would need to find out.”

Maybe that’s just my narcissism but the idea that someone I love is capable of murder used to be beyond my imagination. I wouldn’t even ask the question. I would simply defend them until my last dying breath.

Almost did.

Sky,

The update was posted after I posted the link, but will quote it here

“UPDATE: ABC News stood by its account of the conversation. It said that producer Matthew Mosk had called Arlene Holmes, and that she had only said “you have the right person” after Mosk had informed her that her son was identified by police as the lone suspect in the Colorado massacre. The network also said that Holmes’ lawyer had asked before holding her press conference if there was a recording of the conversation. ABC News responded that there was no recording.”

ABC’s response does not negate the mother’s own explanation of her words. It only pertains to me an acknowledgement on identity, not a foreboding or pre-knowledge of her son’s disastrous actions.

And if I were called by the press around 5am in the morning while still deep in my sleep, I’m sure I might say ambiguous answers to ambiguous questions. And while ABC stands by their quote, I note they do not exactly quote the question she answered either. Now this is exactly the time to quote the question to remove any ambiguity. That they do not quote the question itself suggests that the ambiguity probably would only be confirmed and would verify the mother’s explanation of the quote.

In any case, I see no reason why the mother would first say she expected her son to do this which is contradicted in the same article by ABC by saying the whole of the family was in shock and had not seen it coming towards the end and then the next day by the mother herself of ever having implied that, unless her identification answer was misinterpreted.

Star,
You and I are friends. You know that I like you and am not trying to make you feel bad, but you also know that I don’t mince words. I’m pretty direct. So I have to ask you this:

I’m totally perplexed by this desire to “not judge” a mass murderer as a psychopath.

I do understand that there are many reasons why someone could end up killing large groups of people and plotting to kill more with bombs in his apartment. For example in a war. Or if they were convinced that others were trying to kill them. Also he could have been the victim of a mind control experiment –other spaths could have slimed him, or planted a seed in his mind.

What I don’t understand is how you judge the man who cheated on his wife and played head games with you and lied to the army, as a spath — but you don’t want to be too hasty judging a mass murderer.

I remember our discussion on LF about Phillip Glass, the liar who wrote fake stories for his newspaper. I ventured that maybe he wasn’t a spath, but maybe he just felt so insecure that he lied so that people would admire him. He didn’t kill anyone and he didn’t steal any money directly. He was simply a compulsive liar.

Everyone on LF came down on me like a ton of bricks for saying that a liar wasn’t necessarily a spath.

What I’ve seen consistently, here on LF, is that liars and cheaters are labeled spaths without question. But murderer’s like this guy and also the story about the old man who murdered his wife, for some reason, makes LF people stand back and say, “let’s not be too hasty” maybe he’s crazy.

I think the reason is, that we assume there is something about a crime of passion which makes it seem more “human” compared to a calculated liar/cheater, who obviously has no empathy.

Remember that this guy planned his murders over a period of 2 months or more. It wasn’t a crime of passion. He felt entitled to take other peoples’ lives because his own life was uncomfortable for him. Seems like a big red flag to me.

If your issue is that we keep pointing to people and calling out spath, well, that’s what the topic is about on this blog, so I’m not sure why you are calling it a witch hunt.

Jul 23, 2012 11:14am
James Holmes Gave No Indication of Violent Delusions

Colorado massacre suspect James Holmes gave no outward signs of mental illness or violent delusions, and mental experts said that is common among mass murderers.

Before Friday’s massacre, Holmes had no previous brushes with the law beyond a single traffic violation. Dr. Marisa Randazzo, a psychologist who studies targeted violence, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that, surprisingly, a clean criminal record is not uncommon for people who commit acts of mass violence.

“In most of these cases, these are not what you would call a psychopath or a sociopath, as hard as it may be to believe,” Randazzo said. “These are often folks who often up onto this point have been functioning fairly normally but went through a series of events, a series of losses, ended up in absolute despair or desperation.”

Other psychologists told ABC News it’s likely that Holmes was living in an alternate reality driven by delusions, which may have fueled him as he bought weapons, 6,000 rounds of ammunition and riot gear in the months before Friday’s attack.
More details will likely come as investigators delve into Holmes’ recent past. But by most estimations so far, nothing about his early life was out of the ordinary. He grew up in San Diego, was a bright student interested in science and enrolled in a neurosciences doctorate program at the University of Colorado at Denver in 2011 before withdrawing in June.
No one who knew him has said he displayed any signs of abnormality. Randazzo told GMA that doesn’t mean he isn’t suffering from mental illness.

“One thing we do know about this age group, he’s 24, is that sometimes major mental illnesses, sometimes involving delusions, will develop in this age group,” she said.
Upon his arrest shortly after the shootings on Friday morning, Holmes allegedly told police that “he was the Joker,” a law enforcement official told ABC News, and he had dyed his hair red.

ABC News reported Sunday on “This Week” that police also found a Batman poster and Batman mask in Holmes’ apartment.

Sky,

I’m sure not everyone who lies is not necessarily a spath. But at the same time ever since that discussion about Phillip Glass I’ve been hanging out at the Compulsive Liar help forum about once a week reading up on personal stories… most cases brought up sound like spaths to me most of the time: lying about everyting, blaming, manipulating, cheating and financial messes or cons, lovebombing, sometimes drugs, etc. Anyhow I’m the first to admit I don’t really understand how a compulsive liar is different from a spath. Professionals claim it’s out of guilt and fear, but it’s quite possible that spaths would make up those excuses when cornered into therapy by a partner threatening to leave unless they go to therapy, and often the partners seem to stress for couple counseling (and we know abusive issues have a high risk of getting downplayed by the couple counselor). Very personally, I have strong suspicions that a compulsive liar is often a misdiagnozed spath.

The lying is often so apparent with spaths and seems so senseless if you don’t know a spath’s brain that it’s one of the first clues victims try to pinpoint as the real problem or cause of the relationship issues. Meanwhile those partners who fully stand by a CL being only CL and say their manipulative behaviour of guilt-tripping only SEEMS manipulative (duh?) but isn’t meant that way at least also say that a CL will always be a CL and will never stop lying. Again sounds very very spathy to me, and the whole difference between a CL and a pathological liar with a personality disorder leaves me scratching my head.

So what is the difference between compulsive liars and mass murderers. We know that all spaths lie, but not all spaths murder. Mass murder of strangers aren’t passion crimes to me, but there are mental disorders that aren’t personality disorder that can lead to mass murder.

I think it’s safe to say though that a mass murderer has some disorder or mental problem at least, including a mental problem that may have developed in a short time before the crime and was not noticed by other people, because the mass murderer hid the symptoms.

I guess it doesn’t bother me to label people spaths because I have compassion for spaths. It’s not forgiveness, it’s compassion. It’s a feeling that God gave them this burden they struggle with, this lack of feeling attached to the human race and they are handling it by lashing out at all those who embody the opposite.

When I say spath, that’s what I mean. It’s not a witch hunt.

Yes, I am frustrated by all the spaths in my life who want to kill me. Some I hate, some I don’t. I still have enough cog/dis in my mind that I don’t actually hate my spath most of the time.

I know some people disagree with me about shame being the same as bypassed narcissism, but that is why I feel compassion for spaths.

In this case, this young man was shy (an indicator of shame), he was a high achiever who was beginning to fail (shame again). His family members are high achievers too. (fear of not belonging/abandonment). So he lashes out at the community.

Trying to figure out whether he fits a label is not the same as lacking compassion for him. I’ve not been one who says he deserves the death penalty or that he is a monster or anything negative about him at all. Just saying I think he’s a narcissist who went off the deep end of the continuum when things got tough.

When I was 14 I had to face for the first time, that school was hard. It had been a walk in the park before that. I’d never been challenged academically. I took an advanced algebra class taught in the most absurd manner by a man I detested. (turns out that he recently was accused of child rape, so I’m kinda vindicated, but anyway…) My reaction to not being able to handle the class was similar to this young man, though not as extreme, obviously. I rejected school completely. Didn’t do homework, Failed all my classes on purpose, left the private school system a year later and even stopped attending school for a couple of months. My life changed completely.

Learning to handle failure should be taught early on. It’s hard to learn it when you get older. I’m glad I learned it.

Never mind.

I’m sure if we googled, profile of mass-murderer, we would find out the “type” of person who commits the “type” of crime. It may or may not have some of the same symptoms that sociopathy does, but that may be a good place to start answering these questions. Think I’ll do that, now.

The stress of medical school is grueling. I witnessed a suicide from a nearby medical school building last year (saw the body after the person had jumped). I heard rumors that it was a medical student. Who knows what kind of delusions or mental illness may have been triggered by stress or other events in this person’s life?

Did any of you ever see the movie “Falling Down” with Michael Douglas? He is an ordinary business man who has a series of frustrations that drive him to obtain a gun and go on a shooting spree in a manner of hours. The story line illustrates how someone can be a non-spath and just get to a point of desperation. This can happen. People can be complex. There are a whole range of dangerous people who are not necessarily sociopaths. A sense of isolation and inability to express ones feelings can created a sense of being bottled up. When the bottle explodes, that can look different for different people.

In any event, I’ll let you all continue the debate over whether he’s a spath or not. I’m not interested in that part of the conversation. The point of my post was to show you that there ARE good people in the world. All the people who responded to this event are good people. When stuff like this happens, it is important for me to know that there are good people. I thought maybe it might be important for some people here, too.

Yes, Falling down. Very good movie.

Yes this is a tragedy but all I can think of is he is a creation of a screwed up society. Look at the violent vidio games children grow up watching..shoot shoot kill kill…
What james holmes did in that theatre was actually a scene he reenacted from a previous batman movie. If society feed’s this kind of crap into the mind’s of people from an early age what can we expect in the future?
I dont care what he is, I hope this wakes up some folk’s that let their kid’s grow up on this kind of shit..People are fuckin CRAZY

Star,
of course there are good people. It’s very important to recognize that and the media is already hailing all the amazing heroes who saved lives in this tragedy.

Those people are absolutely amazing. It overwhelms me emotionally.

Falling down does seem to epitomize some of this guy’s problems. maybe I need to watch it again. It’s all about perspective.

Darwinsmom,

I think I get what you mean: It’s all about the mask. For most of his life, it doesn’t appear (from what we know) that he wore a mask, or very much of one. He didn’t live a life of lies so he might not be a spath. That’s a very good point. You make very good sense. Just wondering if someone who has psychopathy along with another problem, like high-functioning asperger’s, might not be so good with lying?

There is definitely something to that, hens. We live in a society with more crime per capita than many other countries. Why? The roots of violence are deep in our culture. I think Michael Moore did a great job examining them in his movie “Bowling for Columbine” which took on the subject of the Columbine shootings. He asks the question of how something like this can happen. And the answers are pretty sobering.

We can look at the gun control angle and ask why it was so easy for Holmes to have ordered so many weapons in such a short period of time.

And then there is the personal angle of what was going on in his brain to cause his particular type of genius (and I’m guessing he probably has a genius level IQ) to destruction. Genius is pain in a society that values conformity and mediocrity.

Sky, we have it eons easier than people in third world countries. However, those countries have built in values and customs that enable people to feel connected to one another. This decreases stress. The poor people of Costa Rica are amongst the happiest in the world. Happiness has nothing to do with material wealth. If it did, Americans would be ridiculously happy.

Well if some law abiding person or person’s with a gun permit had been carrying a concealed weapon maybe they could of taken him out. In November people in my state can openly carry a gun. I guess that include’s mass murderer’s and various degrees of personality disorder’s mixed in with the honest lawabiding guy out to proctect himself and his family. Aint life interesting. Let’s face it we are never going to have gun control law’s that work, not in our life time. If this orange headed freaking genious could buy assault weapons and bomb building supply’s online, with the money we tax payer’s were giving him (grant’s) what’s the next tragedy going to be? Reality is bleak sometimes.

That’s just it. I don’t see why it should be so easy for someone to order 50 assault weapons without anyone stopping to ask why he needed them. The Columbine shooters, two high school students, were able to buy bullets at K-mart. Why did no one ever question why high school kids were buying bullets or guns for that matter? These are just common sense things. My neighbor upstairs, a former cop, has a concealed weapons permit, and he owns a gun. This is a guy who is seriously depressed and living on SSDI for his depression. Did anyone ever question why a seriously depressed person needs a gun?

Star and Hens,
when I left my spath, I made sure to take his case of 1000 rounds of hollow point bullets for his semi automatic whatever thing he bought. Gave it to a spathy cop far from our county.

argh. I wish I’d sold it for the $1000 it was worth but I was too freaked out at the time, my spath parents wanted it out of the house and my car was heating up to a thousand degrees in the summer and I was afraid it would expode. I really needed the money, I wish I’d sold it.

Hens, I was thinking the same thing, but then someone online pointed out that he was wearing armour. Yeah, he’s smarter than the average rat. unless you carry an ak47 into the theater, your little gun would just get you killed. UNLESS, maybe, you can shoot his face with deadly accuracy. oh wait he was wearing a gas mask.

Yeah, interesting questions. If you’re under eighteen you can’t buy cigarettes, but you can buy an arsonal. hmmmm.
My dad was a dyed in the wool conservative, and he was a sportsman, a hunter and a fisherman….My Dad was a good man, but as I grew up, I didn’t like that he slaughtered animals….he also was a member of a trap and skeet club, and recieved a lot of trophys for his accumen at shooting clay pidgeons…it was his hobby. He had a small arsenol in his den, that he kept locked up, and a sticker on the bumper of his car that read, “when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” This is, yet, another conundrum, because there is so much truth to that. Our Governent is corrupt, psychopathic, even, that convincing us that taking guns out of the hands of the people, leaves us at the mercy of Government and hoodlums….so, another politically packed issue.
I’m sure, though, that there could be some sanctions in place that would make it against the law to sell bullets to alled kid….or some kind of technical record keeping, that signa someone was stocking up on assault weapons and might pose a danger to society.

US gun culture is unique in the industrial world (though similar gun culture is present all over the Americas).

Personally I think that if someone wants to go out and create a massacre they will: the Liege massacre last year in Belgium (spath); the Utoya island massacre along with a bombing of a year ago in Scandinavia (also spath); teen Hans Van Temse who went on a racist killing spree in Antwerp, Belgium with a shotgun couple of years ago; but also Kim De Gelder who violently entered a daycare center and knifed babies in Belgium (there are a lot of signs he was psychotic for a while already; but prosecution experts diagnozed him a spath faking psychosis… personally I believe he is psychotic, but they want him tried for murder anyhow… a psychosis diagnoze would have meant no trial and straight to the mental hospital; as a BTW he looked like the Joker because of his neglect in personal care – white faced, dark circles around the eyes, and therefore stark red mouth – and it happened not long after the Batman movie with Heath Ledger came out). Kim De Gelder shows that massacres can happen even without guns and bomb material. But that doesn’t necessarily mean society imo should make it easy on people though to acquire lots of massacre weaponry so easily.

The biggest difference though between countries with gun control and the US are the fatalities of accidental shootings. A child dies every 3 days in the US because of an accident with a gun.

Sorry, I don’t buy the concept of ‘bad behavior’ for a massacre. If a premeditated rampage is bad behavior then I think bullying should be called the act of compassion.

There may be environmental influences triggering a genetic predisposition but ‘bad behavior,’ I don’t think so. Even a gang member, used to of crime, differentiate his/her targets and don’t kill whoever comes in front of his/her weapon.

mani, I understand your response, but the article is not just about the massacre, and Donna does not call massacring people ‘bad behaviour’ but ‘murderous behaviour’.

Donna wrote: “Just because someone behaves badly, even murderously, it does not prove that the person is a sociopath”

Other than that ‘bad’ in general is the adjective opposite of ‘good’.

Well, at least, that’s how I read it 🙂

There are many unanswered questions about the Colorado shooting, but two stand out to me. 1) The prevalence of violence in our culture. For example, the movie that the victims were watching? We cannot expect our culture NOT to be affected by watching horrific violence and have it not affect most of us – some worse than others. 2) I do believe that it is highly probable that there will be many elements of mental illness discovered in the shooter. Sandra Brown has written in her book “Women who love Psychopaths” that many psychopaths are “combo platters.” They exhibit signs of depression, OCD, ADHD, and bi polar disorder. Personally, I think this shooter does display a lot of symptoms of psychopathy. Predatory, intelligent, aloof, deattached, glib, superficial, guiltless, and poor behavioral controls. There is still much work to be done for this horrific event, but I do not think we should eliminate this as the work of a psychopath yet. Remember, there are many things we dont know about the human brain. We are still discussing human beings and there can be variances in their behavior.In the meantime, we wait and pray for the victims and their families.

Yes, it is can be argued that living in a culture where bad guys have guns, good people should have the right to arm themselves, too. But the culture of violence and guns in this country runs deep and is tied in to our ongoing fear that is perpetuated by the media. We are a very fearful people, and owning weapons ties into our irrational fears that the bad guy is around every corner. News stories in our country tend to focus mainly on crime and to sensationalize everything that plays into our fears. When people are in fear, they perceive that they need weapons to make them safe. Couple that with the fact that guns have been glamorized in our society since the John Wayne days. It’s considered being a “man” to be able to fire your first gun. If any of you haven’t seen it, “Bowling for Columbine” addresses this issues with great depth. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth seeing. Now if you guys also consider Michael Moore a sociopath, then I don’t have much more to say.

My Jamaican friend heard of the massacre and wrote to me worrying about me. I had to explain to her that a massacre like this is very rare, and Denver is very large. The probability of this happening to me is still infinitessimally small. But based on the media coverage, you would think America is a warzone like parts of the Middle East and you can’t walk down the street at night safely. It’s really not like that at all here. But when events like this happen, people go into fear, and that fear is perpetuated by the media.

This is NOT to say that if you are being stalked, your life is not in real danger. I’m not talking about those situations, where having a gun can give you a sense of peace and possibly save your life. I’m talking about the average person feeling like he/she needs a gun just to walk down the street.

hope52, I think this guy is one taco shy of a combo platter.
Star, Recently here in OK, a 12 year old boy killed his little sister for interupting his vidio game. He got two years in a juvinile detention center.
At the same time an american/indian mother got 12 years for selling 30 dollar’s worth of weed. Go figure.

When I make the statement about violence in our culture I say it in referring to the violence in our media. I have two children now in their 20s who have witnessed far more violence in movie theaters and on video games than I think is healthy. It is desesentizing our culture to violence.The shooter may have been thinking it was a “movie” and those were not real bullets OR he knew that he wanted to kill a lot of people for the sport. They deserved it. At any rate, gun control doesnt help because where there is a will there is a way. I think we need to take another look however at the violence in movies, video games, and on tv. It does have an affect on young children and adolescent behavior.

hope52: I agree with you.
The media is sensationalizing violence and bad behavior.
I absolutely agree with you. However, where is the line between doing what is absolutely morally right, and freedom of expression?

When I was a kid, growing up, most of the things we see on television and/or in the news never made the news but perhaps in a brief passing comment because of the suspicion that people become influenced and desensitized. Just as you have brought up here. The so called ‘copy cat’ crimes that follow due to over coverage and reporting.

I never allowed my children to watch televison as they were growing up for that very reason. While I DID make them aware of the ‘ugliness’ that exists in life, I did not spoon feed it to them on a daily basis. Nor did I allow them to make their own choices and/or decisions until I felt they were responsible enough to handle it.

I was Mom and Dad, both, to them, for over half their lives. They have all turned out well adjusted, smart and successful people and I can’t think of a better achievement I could have ever made in my life: my children.

Yes, all of this DOES have an immense affect on children. And, I would guess there are a whole lot of ‘latch key’ kids out there, in our society…just sitting prey for these kinds of influences, without the proper guidance because Mom and Dad are NOT rotten people but because their thoughts are on trying to make a life. I don’t believe it’s intentional but parents have to be aware PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR KIDS. They need to be safeguarded from the violence and things that are not good for them. Things that will ‘taint’ them as human beings. It’s all about the ‘attention’.

GOD BLESS THE CHILDREN
AND WHAT THEY SEE AND HEAR.

I totally disagree with the article. All the above names listed in my opinion, at the very least, are all sociopaths, evil, in fact, no normal thinking person does those things. I don’t even want to play the game of semantics, in the end they are all evil bastards. Enough sad.

I will second in concurrence, thedoorisclosed:
“I don’t even want to play the game of semantics,
in the end they are all evil bastards.”

More than enough said.
I still stand true to that resolution.

Just evilness because it can and no other reason required.

Dupey

Shootin’ from the hip a little bit, and from personal experience, I’d say Paterno probably is a sociopath. In my experience, sociopaths seem entertained by and even defend and supply sexual predators, particularly pedophiles (which is also a disorder on a continuum.)

In Columbus Ohio, we have a sociopath that runs all the major gay bars. He markets/targets the kids at Ohio state. He brings them in and supplies them to his business partners/friends. They’ll do anything for him. As long as the young flesh keeps flowing. It’s a sick situation. But it’s right out there in public for all who can understand what they’re seeing.

Have only commented on here once and don’t know most people’s stories. Stargazer, we must be neighbors of sorts. This thread touches close to home because I grew up in Aurora and my two oldest sons attend CCA and knew one of the victims, A.J., who was only 18 years old.

When we went to the vigil on Sunday, Governor Hickenlooper refused to even say the shooter’s name. He was referred to as ‘suspect A’. He also said that if someone is determined to carry out a horrific act that they will find a way to do it, whether guns were legal or not. I think that we should learn as much as we can about any red flags or warnings that were possibly missed. Not so that we can blame someone or point fingers but so that we learn and try to prevent something this horrific from happening again.

As far as guns go, the laws in Colorado are pretty loose but this particular movie theater did not allow guns inside. Something the shooter probably knew about, plus he had body armor so even if people had been armed it would not have mattered in this case.

We are trying to concentrate on the victims and their families. Stargazer you are right about this community being full of good compassionate people. I saw one of the doctors being interviewed and she almost broke down. The toll this must have taken on the emergency personnel is unimaginable.

As far as the shooter, when he was in court he looked like he was trying to ‘act crazy’ or like he was not all there. He would bug his eyes out or pretend he was dozing off or have a ‘confused’ look on his face. It was so fake. We are sure he will be trying an insanity defense which will be difficult considering the six months he stockpiled weapons and ammo.

Was he a ppath? who knows. Call him a psychopath, deranged or just crazy. In the end it really doesn’t matter. It can’t change what has happened to our community and the devastation left behind. We would prefer to concentrate our thoughts and efforts on the victims, survivors and their families.

AnnieO, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Sounds like this story has touched a little closer to home for you too.

Today there was tightened security where I work (which is on the same campus where the killer took classes). They were checking our badges at the entrance. I continued to hear stories of people who jumped in and helped out. My officemate, a former flight nurse, just showed up on her day off to offer support for staff over the weekend. This was all people talked about today. Tomorrow there is an open forum for the entire hospital, which I will attend.

I agree – shooter obviously a dangerous person, whatever flavor you call it. And the only attention I want to give him is to learn what we can from his behaviors so we can prevent this in the future. It does seem that in his twisted mind, he wanted reality to imitate art somehow as if he thought that would be amusing somehow. The anger I feel is over how easy it was for him to amass all those weapons. I thought perhaps we would have learned our lesson after Columbine and tightened the reins a little on that.

I can’t imagine the pain and guilt the survivors must feel who lost loved ones. I especially keep thinking about the mother who lost her young daughter. Naturally, you want to question why a mother would bring a young child to a midnight showing of a violent film. Probably not the best judgment. But who would ever imagine she’d have to pay that kind of price? She will have to live with that for the rest of her life. So senseless.

My friend and I drove to town today to do some shopping and on the way home we were talking about the drouth here and the fact that her husband is having to sell his cows because he can no longer afford to feed them, there is no hay anywhere locally at affordable prices, and a few years ago her house burned….and she lost a daughter in a horse back riding accident two years ago this month…alll “acts of God” so to speak. All bad things, horrible things, but NOT something that someone decided to DO that was evil. No one deliberately burned her house, no one shot her daughter, it isn’t anyone’s fault because it hasn’t rained. So we can “understand” and accept these bad things that happen….but when someone does something like this to deliberetely bring on pain to others, to deliberately hurt others “for the fun” of it, out of just plain meanness, it staggers the imagination.

Welcome AnnieO, and I am so sorry that you have experienced up close and personal the tragedy in Colorado. God bless.

Thank you Star and Ox~ It was deliberate and callous and unthinkable.

I was talking to my nineteen year old shortly after it happened and I asked him why someone supposedly so brilliant would pull this off at a theater just across from the Aurora Police Dept. He said to me that it looks like he booby trapped his apartment, which is across town in North Aurora, so that the police and first responders would be at that scene when he shot up the theater. He had planned it so that his stereo would start blaring music which would prompt someone to enter the apartment and set off the booby traps.

This was all supposed to happen before the movie started. We just heard on the news today that the bombs he set up were so powerful they would have likely blown the building and the one next to it to bits. That explains why he told the police about the bombs, because that part of his plan didn’t work. Plus I think he wanted to show off his ‘brilliant’ work. Highly narcissistic and very methodical.

The college my sons go to in Aurora is also having a meeting tomorrow and they are offering support to students. Glad to hear that your work is allowing an outlet as well. We need to process what has happened. This was in the middle of the city in a place where everyone should feel safe.

I have noticed that people seem a bit more patient, more humble and polite. We want to honor the victims and live better lives with an understanding that life is just too damn short to waste. A reminder to tell those you hold dear that you love them. A reminder to live free and live well.

I’ve noticed at work today people being kind to one another, having heart-to-hearts, and mending fences. Tragedies like this can bring out the best in human nature.

Yes it does Star, when it’s close to home like that, but it doesn’t last long. I remember the okc bombing was like that, now it’s just another tourist attraction.. Sorry if I sound jaded.

Hens,
after 9-11, my trojan horse spath BIL would say, “All day long I find myself breaking out in spontaneous crying. I can’t help myself.” He was trying to feed off my emotions to see if he could get me to express the same.

His brother killed himself. Tried twice before and finally succeeded after he called BIL and BIL wouldn’t answer because, as my sister said, “He’s tired of listening to him whine.” So he called my spath sister and tried talking to her. I was in the room and heard her telling him that “nothing you do matters to anyone. You can do anything you want.”

The funeral was amazing. Spath BIL planned every last detail. He chose the coffin, the music, the slideshow, the speeches. I cried and cried and cried, it was so emotionally overwhelming. Yet I’d only met the deceased ONCE.

Spaths never let an opportunity to suck on emotions pass them by.

Yeah, I’m jaded too, but at least now I think I can tell real emotions from the crocodile tears.

I hate it when the first thing people say after a murder is mental illness…millions of people worldwide manage to cope with mental illness without killing or harming anyone. It’s just an excuse quite often.

And even if someone is mentally ill that does not excuse an atrocity: they have a responsibility to manage their problems just like anyone else.

Isn’t that the boundary between mental illness and personality disorder: the sociopath or psychopath is unable or unwilling to empathise with victims and to take appropriate action to avert suffering or harm?

This happens on a scale I think with the low-level personality disordered willing to permit or enjoy cruelty for their own gratification, for example with Paterno to protect his little empire, or on a larger scale with the lawyers who would tolerate and enact violence to commit fraud.

The society we have become encourages low frustration tolerance and acting out fantasies and being irresponsible: sex and greed are subject to less and less social controls. The whims of a few middle-aged male egos mean anyone can get access to weaponry. Huge industries build up around promoting irresponsibility because it makes vast profits and political power.

People are applauded as celebrities just for being out of control…and some people would rather get attention for unspeakable actions if they can’t succeed in more positive ways.

It’s not a popular position in psychology any more but yes- some people are literally evil, they enjoy and willingly do harm: some on a small scale, some much worse.

But anyone who enjoys cruelty is going to wreak havoc and ruin lives somewhere…

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