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Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter, and his psychopathic father

Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter.

Here’s the big question after the horrible massacre in Las Vegas: Why?

Sunday night, Stephen Paddock, from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Casino, started shooting at the 22,000 people attending a country music concert. From his elevation, and with automatic weapons, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. A total of 59 people were killed and more than 500 wounded. It is the worst mass shooting in recent American history.

Stephen Paddock, 64, is the son of Benjamin Hoskins Paddock who robbed two banks between 1959 and 1960. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 1961 — but escaped in 1968.

Benjamin Paddock, Las Vegas gunman’s father, robbed banks and fled FBI, on NYTimes.com.

With his escape, Benjamin Paddock ended up on the FBI’s most wanted list on March 18, 1969. The wanted poster actually says:

CAUTION
PADDOCK, DIAGNOSED AS PSYCHOPATHIC, HAS CARRIED FIREARMS IN COMMISSION OF BANK ROBBERIES. HE REPORTEDLY HAS SUICIDAL TENDENCIES AND SHOULD BE CONSIDERED ARMED AND VERY DANGEROUS.

The fact that Benjamin Paddock was diagnosed as psychopathic in 1969 is pretty amazing. At that time, there was no standard way of diagnosing psychopaths. In fact, about the only book on the topic was Hervey Cleckley’s Mask of Sanity.

Stephen Paddock was eight years old when his father was sent to prison. Benjamin Paddock was not in the lives of his sons as they were growing up.

Stephen Paddock attended college and worked for a predecessor company of Lockheed Martin. He eventually got into real estate and made a lot of money. In recent years, he was a professional gambler.

But he had no criminal record and was not violent. According to his brother, he had no political agenda and no religious affiliation.

Stephen Paddock, Las Vegas Suspect, was a gambler who drew little attention, on NYTimes.com.

So the question remains: Why did he do it? Was he a psychopath also?

From what’s been released so far, only one psychopathic trait fits — it looks like Stephen Paddock had a need for excitement. He lived his life by gambling. He had a pilot’s license and owned two airplanes. He also had hunting licenses.

After the shooting, we can say that Stephen Paddock must have had a lack of remorse, guilt or empathy — it’s the only way he could kill so many people in cold blood. But were there indications of this before Sunday?

I don’t know if Stephen Paddock was psychopathic or crazy. But if he was, in fact, a psychopath, here’s what I think happened: He kept a lid on his tendencies all his life. Then he couldn’t do it, or decided not to do it, any more.

Lovefraud’s research on senior sociopaths found that they either stay the same or get worse as they age. Several of our survey respondents said the sociopaths they knew lost the ability to keep the mask in place any longer, or couldn’t be bothered to try.

Maybe Stephen Paddock was like the school shooters who wanted to go out with a bang — except he waited until age 64 to do it.

I’m not sure we’ll ever know.

 



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24 Comments on "Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter, and his psychopathic father"

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I kind of agree with Donna’s theory that the shooter as he was aging probably wanted to take the mask off and go out with a bang. He seemed to have an ongoing need for excitement or some sort of emptiness to fill, and from all accounts of people who knew him, he wasn’t a very animated person, so all of the high rolling and piloting were not filling the needs. He may have imagined that a big mass shooting would give him some sort of thrill he didn’t get from all the high rolling and real estate and maybe some notoriety similar to his father’s. Given the fact that his father was a high profile sociopath, it is very likely that he was on the spectrum, too. However, this can only be extrapolated after the fact, sadly. This is a striking example of how unpredictable a sociopath can be and why they are all dangerous.

Of course it would benefit ISIS’ to claim responsibility for any act of violence, because this perpetrates their brand of terror with none of the work. This keeps us off guard, which is what they want. I doubt ISIS was involved but who knows?

As for the woman, I think it is a big stretch at this point to implicate her in the shootings. And I also think it’s an unfair stereotype to say that Filipino women all want rich men. It’s very common in third world countries for women (and men, too) to marry outside of the culture for economic reasons. I know several of these relationships that work very well, and the couples are truly in love. I don’t feel it’s something I personally can understand or judge because I’m not living in an economically oppressed country. But at this point I can’t say I wouldn’t think twice if a very wealthy man wanted to marry me and give me a good life.

I’m glad I’m far enough past my brief relationship with the sociopath in 2008 that when the shooting happened, my thoughts went in a different direction. I felt immediate outrage that it is legal to buy and stockpile semi-automatic weapons and to add an accessory that makes them behave as automatic weapons. I’m very angry at the corrupt hypocrites in Congress who express their sympathy for the victims but continue to pocket bribes from the NRA, ensuring that these horrible weapons stay in circulation and that anyone can buy them. THIS, to me, is where the fight begins.

There are billboards in Las Vegas asking you to call the FBI if you know anything about the killer’s motives. This would be a good opportunity for someone to call and give them the link to this site and explain the M.O. of a sociopath. You’d think they already know but who knows? 800-CALL-FBI

On Friday, 5 days after the Las Vegas shooting, court documents from the summer of 2016 have been unsealed & released with regards to 3 men arrested for terror plots in New York City.

From the Business Insider:

“Three men have pleaded guilty to terror charges related to a plot to carry out ISIS-inspired attacks in New York City, the US Department of Justice announced in a press release Friday afternoon.

The suspects, one of whom is Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, a 19-year-old citizen of Canada who pleaded guilty to terrorism charges, had apparently viewed New York landmarks and its busy subway system as possible targets, the DOJ statement said.

Talha Haroon, a 19-year-old US citizen who lived in Pakistan and 37-year-old Russell Salic who is a citizen of the PHILIPPINES were also facing charges.

The men wanted to carry out shootings and bombings throughout heavily populated areas of New York City in summer 2016. Some of the targets included Times Square and “specific concert venues,” the Justice Department said. New York hosts several high-profile concert events each year, like the Governors Ball and the Meadows Festival, which typically draw thousands of attendees over several days.”.

ONE OF THE MEN WAS FROM THE PHILIPPINES. There has been countless Islamic terror attacks in the Philippines for years & years (30 plus years). The Las Vegas shooter has a connection to the Philippines his GF. He made several trips to the Philippines.

The Police chief of Las Vegas stated in a news conference last week that it was possible the shooter was “Radicalized”.

Since last summer there have been THREE Concert shootings: 1) French Theater 2) Manchester England Stadium Concert & now this Concert in Las Vegas.

I came here expecting to find this discussion, and I was not disappointed!

What’s more, the theory that Paddock simply “wanted to go out with a bang” was EXACTLY the phrase I had in my own mind, long before I saw this article! Unless there was some motive or circumstance we hadn’t heard about yet, it was the only explanation that seemed to make sense to me, as inadequate as it is.

Considering how well Paddock had done in life, financially at least, it’s hard to see how he could have a grudge against the world, like many others who “go postal,” though what was happening in his personal life is harder to know. Neighbors who knew him were describing him as “surly and uncommunicative,” so he wasn’t exactly a happy camper in recent weeks. His girlfriend too had begun to realize that was no longer stable, even if she wasn’t expecting a blowup of this kind.

Mind you, Donna, I also found your comment interesting about the mental health of these types deteriorating with age. If it does, that could also have much to do with Paddock’s behavior. It reminds me of a serial killer a long time ago—I don’t know if he was ever labeled a “psychopath,” but things were different back then, Freudian theories holding sway at the time—anyway this guy had killed two or three times before without being detected. Later, when he was 53 years old (which is “old” as serial killers go) his health and his attendant financial circumstances deteriorated, and he too seemed to “lose it.” First he did his wife in and buried her under the floorboards. Then he went on a murder binge. He killed three women in the space of three months and hid them in the house he was living in. Since he was only renting the place, when he finally ran out of money he was forced to leave, and he must have known discovery was inevitable. But psychopaths, being impulsive, often don’t look to the future, and some, being terminally bored anyway, don’t care if they die, as long as they get their gratification.

It would have been interesting to know if Paddock perceived that his health was deteriorating and he believed he hadn’t long to live. We may never know. But his psychopathic tendencies certainly showed through in his life. While he was successful as a gambler, I don’t doubt the excitement and addiction of gambling helped to relieve his chronic psychopathic boredom. And he was restless; he moved around a lot. He was married twice, but again, not for very long: once in 1977 at the age of 24, right out of college, and again in 1985 at the age of 32. The first marriage lasted only two years; the second for five years. It would be interesting to hear what his two ex-wives had to say about him, and why their marriages failed. I don’t know why we haven’t heard more from them

The press annoys me. Whenever there’s an unexpected murder, domestic or otherwise, they just love to trot out the same worn-out clichés about how “all the neighbors are asking why, why, WHY??? As if the whole thing is a black mystery, and there’s no possible explanation for why some normal-seeming person would suddenly “blow up” and kill someone. Come on, guys, there is a reason, even if it’s one that nobody has perceived yet… or a reason that some people don’t want to accept! To start with, the neighbors usually had no idea what was going on in the killer’s personal life that very probably accounted for the killing. Even parents don’t know what’s going on in their own teenage children’s lives!—as they weren’t at Columbine. Apart from that, I always feel like saying “The killer is probably a psychopath, you dumb journalists! Or personality disordered in some way at least! Why are you ignoring the obvious explanation?” (Eric Harris was, for one, though Dylan Klebold’s role in their particular folie à deux was more complex.)

The press response was only slightly different after this latest tragedy. I think it was in Monday’s USA Today, which comes as a filler in our local newspaper, that one article claimed there was no obvious circumstance to explain why Paddock acted as he did. It went on to say (paraphrasing roughly from memory) that there was just one odd little detail (this was added as though it were an irrelevant afterthought): that Paddock’s father had been a bank robber who was diagnosed as a psychopath! Instantly I told myself “But of course, that’s it! That ‘detail’ is supremely relevant! It supplies a good part of the explanation! So why is it being relegated to a mere afterthought?”

If anyone wants an answer to my own last “why?” question, it was in Wednesday’s edition of the same paper. (With apologies for digressing, I’ve never forgotten a business trip I was on years ago when a guy from Unisys couldn’t get his usual newspaper in the city we were meeting in, and he had to settle for USA Today instead. As we all sat down to breakfast in a McDonald’s, he waved this journal in the air and said “McPaper!” It was so deliciously appropriate, we couldn’t stop laughing.) This time I’m quoting verbatim:

Paddock’s late father, Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, was a convicted bank robber who spent years on the lam in the late 1960s and 1970s and took a spot on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. The father was captured after gaining notoriety for operating Oregon’s first legal bingo parlor.

Though the FBI described the elder Paddock as “psychopathic,” federal law enforcement officials downplayed the notion that the father’s notorious past may have had an impact on the gunman’s actions. Eric Paddock, the gunman’s brother, noted that his father wasn’t very involved with the family and that the brothers grew up without him in their life.

I’m frankly surprised that “federal law enforcement officials” would downplay this connection when they ought to know better. Of course, there’s no telling how far some of the silly ideas that have been contaminating our culture for decades can rot the brains of the entire Establishment, including much of our Government. However, this may just be what the two journalists who wrote the article preferred to quote, after filtering “official” statements through the lens of their own biases. And the leftist bias of what we laughingly call our “mainstream” media is well-documented and notorious.

The particular “leftist bias” I’m talking about here is the excessive insistence on “social constructionism,” which frequently amounts to denial of biological realities. In short, an insistence on the exclusive role of “nurture” at the expense of denying Nature. It’s the same issue that got James Damore into hot water at Google, for daring, like Galileo, to write the truth, when the truth he wrote was seen as “heresy” by the priests of the leftist religion. In the context of psychopathy, the assumption of McPaper’s journalists was obvious: that Paddock’s criminal father had to be personally involved with his son to influence him in an evil direction. But he didn’t have to be! All he had to do was pass his bad genes on!

In saying this, of course I’m not suggesting the role of a father (or mother) in a child’s life is unimportant. Not at all! Inheritance too is a crapshoot. Plenty of psychopaths breed normal children—which is just as well! Conversely, normal parents can be unlucky enough to breed a psychopathic child, possibly due to traits unknowingly inherited from further back in the family tree. Then too, there is evidence that good or bad parenting may make even a psychopathic child turn our better—or worse!

However, I’m afraid there are cases where Nature, not “nurture,” has the last word, and a child turns out a “black sheep” in spite of all the parents’ best efforts. Sometimes—not always, but sometimes—“biology IS destiny.” We have to face the fact that some people are just born bad!

I was not surprised to hear that Paddock’s father was diagnosed as psychopathic back in 1969. Although Dr. Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist didn’t exist at the time, the nature of the condition itself had been recognized at least since the 19th century, when it was often referred to as “moral insanity”—as I expect you know. And it wouldn’t surprise me if people with psychopathic traits had been informally recognized as a “type” long before that. It’s also interesting to see, for instance, how often the type turns up in Agatha Christie’s novels, mostly written in the first half of the 20th century. She didn’t use the word “psychopath,” but the traits were obvious: slick, superficial charm, a charismatic personality—and a facile liar and deceiver with no morals! What’s more, Christie was well aware, like others of her generation who had not yet discarded the wisdom of the ages in favor of later twentieth century wishful thinking, that traits could be inherited, for better or for worse.

When it came to diagnosing psychopathy in a clinical setting, there had to be criteria that professionals were using long before the PCL—even if they didn’t always agree on those criteria. For instance, I recall a murder suspect who after an interview was classified as “an inadequate psychopath with schizoid traits.” This was way back in 1949.

Mind you, I can’t tell how the criteria used in that instance would stack up against today’s standards, or indeed whether the man in question was truly a psychopath, since this was a preliminary “seat of the pants” impression by the doctor concerned. It may be worth quoting how this doctor is said to have described the nature of a “psychopath”:

“…one who tends always to want to get his own way and who will act without any foresight, regardless of possible consequences to himself. [The doctor] stressed this lack of foresight and lack of reasoning power. A person so described might make a statement to his own detriment just as a perfectly normal person who had committed a serious crime might do. The Doctor said that such inadequate people do not worry at the right time or over the right things. They might take trivial matters too seriously and serious matters too lightly.”

While it is true that psychopaths can be impulsive and reckless of consequences to themselves, this description must strike us as “missing the point,” the problem of paramount concern to most of us: that psychopaths want to get their own way regardless of consequences to OTHERS! Not to mention that they’re by no means lacking in “reasoning power.” Paddock for one showed no lack of “reasoning power.” On the contrary, he must have been a highly intelligent man to make a living at gambling as well as in business, and his planning skills showed through in the detailed way he plotted his massacre. Psychopaths can be devilishly cunning, as we know.

However, in fairness to that doctor, I must mention that he also characterized the suspect in question, an illiterate man of 25, as a “mental defective,” with a mental age estimated at 11 years and an IQ of 65. This suspect was in the bracket that used to be labeled “morons”—a formal clinical term at the time, not a term of opprobrium, describing those with an IQ between 50 and 70. So the suspect’s “reasoning power” wasn’t very good anyway. This is one of many examples of how psychopaths (and abusers in general) are not “all the same” by any means (a superficial claim I often tire of hearing). Aside from their disorder, they can be as diverse in character as any of us normal humans. The point with psychopaths, I dare say, is not that they “lack reasoning power” in general, but that their thought habits and their impulsiveness especially can at times sabotage what reasoning power they have.

In addition, the doctor’s remarks were addressed in response to a specific question: namely, whether the suspect might have made a false confession. So he was discussing the aspects of the psychopathic personality that could bear upon that question, not necessarily the psychopathic personality as a whole. I imagine if he were giving a lecture on psychopathy he would have rounded out the picture more fully.

The “inadequacy” he spoke of seemed typical of a number of the psychopaths Hervey Cleckley was describing in The Mask of Sanity, whose first edition was published in 1941. My first impression on starting to read Cleckley was that some of the subjects he was describing were a bigger problem to themselves than they were to the people around them! No doubt they were an annoyance by perpetrating petty thefts, getting into stupid fights and whatnot, but all that got them was a bad reputation, a mountain of debt, lost jobs or sent to jail or even a mental hospital. So mostly what they did was wreck their own lives. Stupid, stupid, stupid! This subclass of psychopaths is a far cry from the Machiavellian cunning of the villain who “plays” others for his or her own benefit—“sex,” “money,” “power” or whatever… and succeeds in getting away with it!

I find this particular suspect intriguing because there’s so much we can’t be sure about, and will probably never know after a lapse of 68 years: a lifetime, for practical purposes. And it bugs me when I can’t figure out a definite answer to a puzzle! Among other things, was he or was he not in fact a psychopath? There are reasons for thinking so, but alternative explanations are possible. He could be violent at times; but he had good cause to be frustrated, which were likely to make him “lash out.” He certainly was “inadequate.” But he had plenty of reasons to feel inadequate. One striking trait was that he was an inveterate liar. He lied, according to one chronicler, “fully, gloriously, nearly all the time. He would lie about almost anything and half the time he did not know he was lying.” He told people his father was an Italian count; that his brother owned a fleet of cars; that he’d taken a trip to Egypt. It is, certainly, a notable psychopathic trait to lie automatically, out of habit, even when there’s no obvious reason for lying. Yet some people feel the need to tell lies, not because they’re psychopaths, but simply to cover up feelings of guilt or to compensate for their own inadequacy. So that doctor’s snap diagnosis might be right or it might be wrong—especially if he was influenced by the assumption that this man was guilty of murder that he may or may not have committed.

Really though, that’s all so much waffle on my part, when the main point is that diagnoses of psychopathy were indeed being made at least as early as the 1940s. So it doesn’t surprise me at all that Stephen Paddock’s bankrobbing father was diagnosed as a psychopath twenty years later. What’s more, I’ll bet they got it right!

Astrology plays a big role in Paddock’s personality as well as everyone else. I looked up his astrological chart and he’s an Aries. Aries men have a propensity toward violence and anger. They like to fight. He also has a mars pluto square in his chart within 6 degrees. His mars is in taurus. MArs square pluto describes a violent hateful person who has the capacity to kill and the tendency toward a violent ending which we saw evidence of. Now not everyone with this violent aspect will act out they do however have the potential. I have met men with this aspect and they were cruel, mean people. Also, mars in taurus makes a person hard-nosed, rigid and stubborn. They tend to harbor anger as well. Which fits all of him that we have seen.

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