Take someone who is mentally ill/unhinged, add rage, and paranoia, then weaponize this individual, and you’ve got a murderer/mass murderer on your hands.
The “rage + paranoia” is a highly incendiary combination. In these mass murders it strikes me that “paranoia” is almost surely present and necessary—the murderous individual believes that it’s “him against a world” that has “screwed him over,” the world (and everyone in it) becoming a global, generalized “object” and “target” of his violent contempt and rage.
His is a worldview in which he is the “outsider” and everyone else is “on the inside;” in his paranoia, immaturity and narcissism, he has divided the world into these rigid categories—himself on the “outside,” and everyone else “on the inside” (literally and figuratively “on the inside”); the latter become “fair game” for the vengeance he has accumulated and the plans he incubates to ventilate it.
This is how innocent people, and small children, seemingly inexplicably get lopped into the vortex of his rage: as members of the “inside,” everyone in his warped mind becomes a “target”–a generalized, deserving target of his hatred (again, by virtue of merely being “on the inside,” where he, alone, is not.)
I worked for two years, weekly, with a client who, two years after I last saw him at the community mental health center where I worked, gunned down seven children at a hotel swimming pool. He had been full of rage, paranoia and was mentally unhinged. He found himself some weapons, big surprise, with perverse ease. Having weaponized himself, he went to town and shattered the lives of these innocent kids and their families.
He was on the “outside,” perceiving himself to be alone there; where the world, and everyone in it, had it easy, he perceived himself as a “victim,” as an “outsider,” as not belonging, as ignored and persecuted; blatant paranoia and delusions warped his thinking terribly; his rage was chronic and rose as implacably as flood-waters, becoming uncontainable.
Finally, easy access to weapons was the final stage of what, in retrospect, seemed an almost inevitable outcome.
(This article is copyrighted (c) 2012 by Steve Becker, LCSW.)