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Saturday, July 21, 2012

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Holy Sigmund Freud, Batman. Here is what I believe about this deranged s__t: L-O-S-E-R. I read today about how he is/was some sort of genius. Well, good. Tell that to the friends and loved ones of those he killed or maimed. I count myself as pretty smart---but, obviously, not smart enough to do what he has done.

No, he and his actions are only another symptom of cultural overload, and the vain belief that all our information technology allows us to manage anything. How arrogant people have become. And how preposterous.

It resembles the 1960s hippie phenomenon in reverse (an oversimplification, of course)---but, who knows where we might be if the hippie movement had had access to the internet? Then again,as Graham Martin has written, would it matter? Hard to tell.

Yep.

No, he and his actions are only another symptom of cultural overload, and the vain belief that all our information technology allows us to manage anything.

I can't imagine I know anyone who believes information technology allows us to "manage anything," but leaving that aside, I don't understand what kind of connection you're trying to make between that assertion and Holmes' specific actions and statements. How does cultural overload, whatever that is, lead to just one particular person in 300 million to inhabit the particular character of the Joker and shoot people? Why not identify with Cookie Monster and steal cookies? Explain how this works please.

We don't have enough information to understand this at all, but it is fairly easy to play with possibilities. In the simplest view, society was obviously
his enemy, and references to the Joker (if true), are his style of displaying
the ridiculous nature with which he views it. Anyone with 50+ points IQ above
average can only look seriously at society with disbelief and shocks of the
absurdity and stupidity of people at large.

Combine that with the extreme difficulty, even impossibility of rising above and beyond it all despite monumental effort & personal sacrifice, being a top student in advanced sciences and then being thrust into a McDonald's job - well, I experienced that myself - and it very much changes your whole view on society and people. It's a very disorienting wake-up call to reality at that age, after all the promises & assurances you were given throughout life.

Someone, something is to blame. But who? Personally, it took me 20 more years to lay the blame on parenting, and the neglected responsibility parents have to provide a foundation for a future for any children they bear. But I had to study the world up and down, inside and out, to finalize on that conclusion. I see it as the cause of all human misery & suffering in this world. The genitals are just far to important compared to the things they deliver.

As a man with any morality at that age (24), and feeling sacrificed for naught, having testosterone, maybe you look around for comfort in female companionship, and see only whores for women these days that have been on their back the whole time you were sacrificing for a future (the ugly truth). Looking for intelligence to relate to (like Ted Kaczynski), you only find materialistic morons with sports intellects. Your parents are "professionals", but they are not "human parents", they serve corporations with much higher priority than all else. No understanding or much time for geniune care/concern there. Everywhere you look, everything is being turned into garbage - from food to women, from the economy to marriage/family, from bright future possibilities and lifelong assurances to endless war, from taking away all freedoms to authoritarian inspection of our bodies & communications. Endless obligations to others, but nobody is obligated to us. Endless infringement on peaceful & quiet with cell phones and non-stop communications dog-leashes. In every way, human well-being is being degraded - nutritionally, socially, mentally via endless propaganda and intellectual insult in the media, as well as a man's respected and meaningful labor.

Corruption, immorality, and thievery at all levels, in every sector of society. I am surprised that there are not far more than 0.0000001% of people cracking under the pressure of a dismal future and selfish greedy corrupt self-serving baby-boomers in almost every direction you look. Is it so difficult to imagine someone living in a world with such low intelligence and consciousness begins to view "society" as an enemy, such as a soldier at war? Is it so difficult to imagine someone with high intelligence beginning to view existence as a pointless long dreary road with no way out? With such thinking, is it so difficult to assume some retaliatory action at society at large, since no single person can be blamed? The baby boomer generation rode this country from almost endless bounty, freedom, and wealth into a dysfunctional multi-cultural hell-hole rife with tyranny, poverty, and endless garbage with no hope.

Nobody has strong foundations anywhere (generalizing). Children are just birthed by corporate whores for 100% delivery into the "system", where they are processed for assembly into the Borg/Matrix. So, now, what exactly are you expecting?

Thanks, love, and gratitude?

The innocent are being victimized by the insane/delusional, and some may not want to be taken out in silence. Who are really the dysfunctional ones? The victims, or the perps?

Not saying any of this is applicable, but the thoughts crossed my mind as I read the news.

Isn't it funny to see the inmate chatter inside the correctional facility mirror the chatter outside the facility? :) There just might be something to that correlation!

Chad,

I don't question the many stresses, but what I look at as a clinician are the hows and whys of a particular person's particular efforts and "solutions" to life's challenges, whatever those challenges are. James Holmes did this thing that most people don't do. It' a solution (lone gunman, mass shooting) that is rarely applied in this society of over 300 million, and in each instance it takes on a singular form of expression. This is what I'm exploring. Who is James Holmes and what did this act, done in this way, mean to him?

> It' a solution that is rarely applied in this society of over 300 million, and in each instance it take on a singular form of expression. This is what I'm exploring. Who is James Holmes and what did this act, done in this way, mean to him?

If I personalize the issue by means of some of my own somewhat similar experiences and upbringing, I would say James Holmes had enough of the man-made systems and/or society that makes up life today, and didn't find "intelligence/productivity" in being taken down in silence, he wanted his anguish (probably a composite of factors) to be known and did so in a way to ridicule and punish those without understanding and concern, or those he considered to be perpetrators of dysfunction. He became disillusioned from the efforts he put into life compared to the results returned, and I would say the same of Ted Kaczynski (if he didn't say so himself). Also, James (as Ted) may not have even really *chosen* the path he was on in life. Often, intelligent people are just directed into things by parents just because they are capable, and they later feel used and trapped because they were pushed into things that were not genuine desires of their own.

People need to succeed in life-challenges motivated by their own free-will a reasonable amount of the time to maintain sanity. I am sure "shrinks" (short for all the categories of psych-xxx professionals) have numerous animal studies to support this. An animal will just "give up" and resign their life in futile hopelessness when nothing they do makes any difference in averting failure/pain/punishment. Possibly, also when all of their natural motivations are denied by forced unnatural behavior/demands (another form of failure/pain/punishment).

Generalizing, a man can't do good enough to find a good wife to work & build with in a good marriage anymore. Often, a man can't do good enough to find satisfactory work. Often, a man is "forcibly" put on a track for development that he later finds completely unsatisfactory (because we don't have the time or freedom to know what we really want to do, but the pressure is on to make a choice).

Everyone is disposable/replaceable in today's society - contradictory to previous human existence. Most every result is a failure/pain/punishment regardless of effort, sacrifice, and ability; most especially for intelligent people, because most "jobs" are designed to accomodate those without creativity or intelligence, and those with intelligence must often choose their paths before they are ready with the requisite self-motivation.

I encourage all pre-parents to provide sustainable land for every male child they bear. In reality, society owes us nothing, and when it has nothing to offer, sustainable land (farm/homestead) is our last deserved refuge - it is the least the Creator provided for life (and healing too). There is no way society can continue into the future as it has since WWII (primarily due to the endless unpayable debts, growth, and plunder required to support fiat monetary systems), we must be more responsible to provide life-foundations for children. I do not think James Holmes would have acted out this way if he had some place in this world to rest and recover and readjust in the abundance of nature - a place with fruit trees, berries, gardens, and some animals, and associated people, where he could have lived for just a few $1000/year for electricity/staples. Things will only get worse, and I firmly say that our only hope is to take back responsibility for our own lives as much as possible, and re-establish our independence and humanity outside materialism and economic growth/plunder.

Possibly, the REAL ANSWER you want is that only a very few people have the courage of their convictions when in contradiction to all of society. Most don't. For every 100,000 that may have tinkered with a computer in their garage, only 2 had the courage to pursue with conviction the idea of a "computer in every home" (ag, Apple).

He's just the Steve Jobs/Wozniak of bitter, disaffected, and disillusioned youth that can't take it anymore. And I don't think he will be the last. There's probably 100,000 with his thoughts that just don't have the courage of their convictions.

I wanted to add, in addition to "courage of conviction", you must also be a "high-achiever" (eg, capable of carrying out "courage of conviction").

I better understand your intent now, I think. Success generally requires the same ability in any endeavor: a goal and the necessary intent/drive/ability to achieve it.

If he was obviously losing his mind in some way, someone would have spoken about it, and it would have been reported. But I only see "loner", a personal attack more than relevant data IMHO. Despite psychology opinions, I think it is perfectly OK to prefer personal interests/activities to socializing for some people at one time or another, especially studious & nature types.

1. He was conscienscious enough to carry out a long term plan; this was not a psychotic/schizophrenic episode.

2. The spitting in the correctional facility demonstrates extreme disgust with the police/system, and maybe people generally.

3. The booby-trapped apartment appears to be targeted at police.

4. The shooting appears to target the possibly more frivolous/uninformed segment of the population - or maybe people of his own age - or maybe it was just the right place/time for maximum impact with the general Joker theme of his finale - or maybe a combination.

5. He didn't really desire to work on a PhD, he wanted to find work with his undergraduate degree, but couldn't. This implies a situation he didn't enjoy or couldn't cope with.

6. He wore full body armour, he didn't want to die.

7. He planned things out and accomplished the necessary tasks over many weeks.

8. Nothing implies a simple matter of being bullied or shunned or similar personal matter. He seems to have socialized as well as he desired.

9. It appears he had an answering machine with a message that was "bizarre", in that it was hardly audible, with strange music/sounds.

He is not "insane" or "going crazy". He is deliberate and focused over a long term. He is full of hate/disgust at society generally, he has disassociated from society with no plan to return, and he doesn't care too much about personal consequences, but he doesn't want to die. He wants to make his statement with a single sacrificial climactic event, content to live out the rest of his life in solitary.

I think an intelligent "sane" person generally requires a "moral purpose" where one may rationalize they are actually saving more lives than they are killing, such as Ted Kaczynski's belief that he was doing his part in saving mankind from the dangers of technological enslavement, and the end of free-will. But that is not so clear in this case. It seems more like a big "FU, all of you! You disgust me, you make me sick, and I don't want any part anymore, you can all go to hell!" Whatever is behind that disgust seems to remain a mystery at this time, but his mother appears to have knowlege, so it may have been years in the making.

It would be telling to know if he studied behavior out of interests in himself, or others.

Alternatively, many people will be thinking he may have been programmed/guided by secret government psy-ops, possibly using thought generating devices, for the purposes of eliminating guns.

My best friend/neighbor was a genius++, and built a crystal radio in 1st grade and was light-years ahead of everyone in speed of learning and general knowledge - he put a bullet in his head when he was 12, in the woods, alone. People thought he ran away; it was many years later before they found his bones. I don't think people appreciate the frustration of those with real genius - at critical times in life, often they have nobody that can understand them, appreciate them, or help them with solutions/answers - and from their perspective, they are forced to live and suffer under the endless stupidity and insanity of others.

Of course, we don't know enough, but it is upsetting to see people having "no idea" how this could happen. I have many ideas how this could happen. Utter despair is enough to cause self-sacrifice, and vile disgust is enough to sacrifice others (due to endless anguish under the perceived stupidity & ignorance of others).

Imagine living in a world, and everyone around you has 50IQ, and you are forced to live under their terms & conditions & judgments - eternal anguish under their brute stupidity (often biased against you - who is not understood and possibly feared). It could make you jump off the deep end eventually, and maybe want to take some of them with you under your terms of justice. Life is valuable, but that value has limits.

It's scary to think of losing our lives, but people in the military will tell you: after the first kill, it's no different than killing animals. Maybe the answer you are looking for is: the lives of others have little value when our own lives have little value, and this type of case is only a rare occurance because the necessary conditions of capability, intent, and depth of despair & vile disgust rarely manifest simultaneously to the degree necessary to sustain a long term plan of mass murder. Mostly, these things dissipate to tolerable levels.

If you tried to intercept/imprison such people with psychological testing, I think it would harm far more people than help, and would likely push many more overboard.

People need the freedom to "leave it all behind" to sort things out sometimes, but that really isn't allowed in today's society.

You are very close in your understanding. We as a civilization have been chasing out tails since the end of WWII. Rehash of already conquered realms. Re-loading already used ideas as new territory. The Media as a whole is and institution used to polarize views and shape mood. Acting out on an ignorant society is no way to make change. Killing in any mode is unnecessary when the end result is nil. Everyday that you wake up the onslaught of disease is permeated in every facet of your being. The blind eye tactic is the only saving grace otherwise, well there is no otherwise. Yes, I agree with you. He was disenfranchised and thought that acting out might change something, but in order for him to allow himself this goal he had to place a mask on to placate his sanity. It's hard to say whether or not he was genius or simply very gifted. If not the personal views he had where his own or a cumulation of taught ideas or nature/nurture. The boundaries of our mind are infinite, but some people place perceived obstacles in their path. I also agree with you that we have become a very pleasure orientated society. Where everyone wants to take a short cut to a believed or programmed state of ecstasy.

@Chad:

Despite psychology opinions, I think it is perfectly OK to prefer personal interests/activities to socializing for some people at one time or another, especially studious & nature types.

I can’t imagine any psychologist holding the opinion that preferring time alone couldn't be OK. This preference could describe introversion, for example, which is a common variation in human disposition. It can, indeed, be perfectly OK, but that shouldn’t be an automatic assumption. Knowing that a person spends most of their time alone can generate many questions. Examples: is this typical introversion or is something else going on? How do I know what’s going on? Is all the time alone an actual preference? If a preference, what is behind the preference for time alone? Does this person lack the ability to connect with others? If so, there are many questions to ask about why this might be the case. Some people don’t lack the ability to connect, they connect quite well, but for various reasons they prefer lots of time alone. We also might ask how time alone actually affects the person. How does it affect their relationships, if at all, and how does the person feel about their particular social disposition? Do they want to spend time with others, but then feel socially paralyzed when they have the opportunity? Do they want time with others and find themselves rejected for some reason? What reason(s)?

Let’s say I spend a lot of time alone because it recharges my batteries and affords me opportunities to engage in certain solitary interests such as reading. But I’m also comfortable with other people and can connect very deeply. When I meet someone else who likes to spend a lot of time alone, I could be making a mistake by assuming that they like to spend a great deal of time alone for the same psychological reasons I do. They may like to spend time alone because they have overwhelming paranoid feelings around others. So, in many cases, you can’t just judge the behavior as OK or not OK. We should instead explore the whys and the meanings of the behavior for that particular person.

Asking all these questions doesn’t imply that something is wrong--or right. I would similarly have many questions about a person who prefers time with others.

I hope I’m giving you a glimpse into how psychologists think. I’m not sure if it’s all the pop psychology and talk show pseudopsychology out there, but there are many misconceptions about how we think about people.

Preprogrammed theories imply abject simplicity into the conscious realm. Quantum theorist qualify a stage V civilization as a species that controls all aspects of life. Where we only control ten percent of our minds. We as a species need to wake up and listen, learn and adapt. If not we will fail. we will end up as all else.

This reply is a mix of sincerity and a little humor in light of some strong disagreement. I hope you find it acceptable, and will not discard it, because I did spend a few hours to give your words my attention and thought - because this topic is worthy of serious attention and thought ... I do not have more time to make it all sound warm & fuzzy, just know that all is said in friendly & light discourse!

> I can’t imagine any psychologist holding the opinion that preferring time alone couldn't be OK.

That is what I have read in Psychology Journals, that it is universally accepted in Psychology that being a "loner" is *definitely* symptomatic of a mental disorder - no ifs/ands/or buts about it :) I don't have the references handy, but I am fairly certain, if you have a PhD in Psychology, I am not sharing the latest revelations with you.

> This preference could describe introversion, for example, which is a common variation in human disposition. It can, indeed, be perfectly OK, but that shouldn’t be an automatic assumption.

I strongly disagree. I think all people should automatically be assumed to be perfectly OK (content of their character?), and thereafter, we all have free-will to accept or reject behavior we deem unacceptable.

> Knowing that a person spends most of their time alone can generate many questions.

You know, this type of intrusional thinking into the lives and affairs of others is scaring many people - not only "loners", but also those that know them, at least in many comments I have read around the Internet, and most especially with the constant barrage from the FBI to look out for "lone wolves" - well, I don't know what it is helping, but I am sure it is making many neighbors worry, and many loners paranoid.

> Examples: is this typical introversion or is something else going on? How do I know what’s going on? Is all the time alone an actual preference? If a preference, what is behind the preference for time alone? Does this person lack the ability to connect with others?

My reponse would be: mind your own business. That used to be a popular phrase in the 60s/70s, but I don't hear it much anymore. The lives and affairs of others are not your business, unless there is mutual agreement to that effect. It is nobody's duty to make sure all people are "perfect" according to any person's or group's standards. Nor is it anyone's duty to submit themselves to the concerns of others. It is none of your business if "something else is going on", or to "know what is going on", or what someone's "preferences" are, and "why", and
whether or not a person "connects with others". This type of thinking or concern is symptomatic of a transition in society from individualism to socialism, from agrarianism to urbanism, from liberty to tyranny, from personal responsibility to wards of the state, from sovereigns to subjects. I do not know what will come of it, but do not think it is best for humanity; it is merely a coping mechanism to deal with ever-increasing population density and the associated engineered monolithic interdependency (endlessly increasing taxpayers are required by the endlessly increasing unpayable debts of a fiat money system, while interdependency ensures there no escape). I would be more aligned with Jefferson's view of an agrarian America, and his warning:

"When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe."

The human species has an optimal population density, whereafter, humanity and the ability to manage/govern well declines, and I would say we passed this point mid-20th century or earlier - maybe back to the time where a man could not hunt and live off the land anymore. The Bell Curve applies to most, if not all, measurements of nature. I would prefer to respect your sovereignty on your land, and request the same in return. The concerns you express are merely indicative of the fact that the American people have given up personaly responsibility for their lives in favor of a nanny state, where your line of questioning finds its justification. I do not find all the psychological dysfunctions present in modern societies in primitive/agrarian societies. After a certain level of civilization, civilization itself creates as many problems as it solves, as it slides down the other side of the Bell Curve.

> If so, there are many questions to ask about why this might be the case. Some people don’t lack the ability to connect, they connect quite well, but for various reasons they prefer lots of time alone. We also might ask how time alone actually affects the person. How does it affect their relationships, if at all, and how does the person feel about their particular social disposition? Do they want to spend time with others, but then feel socially paralyzed when they have the opportunity? Do they want time with others and find themselves rejected for some reason? What reason(s)?

Maybe some people don't benefit much from others - did you ever think of that? :) Maybe socializing, in general, is a dull activity for some people? Maybe some people prefer to work and accomplish and develop themselves compared to talking with others? Maybe some people just don't like most other people - is that OK? Or is there a law that everyone must enjoy socializing with everyone? Maybe there are a million things in the world to have relationships with, and people are just 1 of those million things, and not necessarily the most stimulating? Maybe people in general cause more troubles than assist with troubles and are a net loss in life? Maybe Jesus, Buddha, and Lao Tze were loners, does that mean they had psychological problems? Historical accounts do not show they had much faith in men, nor were they particularly social - maybe even anti-social! Maybe most people prefer their animalistic instinctual fear-and-security driven nature to fully conscious and self-aware spiritual nature, which is not attractive to the latter minority? Maybe some people have burdens in their life that require all of their time, such as illness or physical/medical disability, and they have no time for people? There are as many reasons or more to prefer personal challenges and solitary relationships compared to socializing. My question to you would be: why do you think it is normal to be social (even oversocialized)? I think it is a mental dysfunction of humanity generally, and induces a form of endless schizophrenic internal chatter that deprives people of inner stillness, peace, and awareness, which is the larger and more important part of human development. A long originating history of hunter-gatherers was not particularly social. Hunting/gathering is very much a quiet and solitary activity.

> Let’s say I spend a lot of time alone because it recharges my batteries and affords me opportunities to engage in certain solitary interests such as reading. But I’m also comfortable with other people and can connect very deeply. When I meet someone else who likes to spend a lot of time alone, I could be making a mistake by assuming that they like to spend a great deal of time alone for the same psychological reasons I do.

Most definitely. You would be "assuming", which is about as reliable as a "belief" :)

> They may like to spend time alone because they have overwhelming paranoid feelings around others.

And you might be a predator or stalker or have some other deranged interest for spending so much time in the minds of others, and not enough in your own, which is really where you belong :) As well, it is true, some people may have suffer paranoia, but your line of questioning would only make the condition worse :) Also, there is the phrase "it's not paranoia if they really ARE out to get you ..." :) Hehe - sorry :) I couldn't help but enjoy a little toward the end :)

I do sincerely appreciate the time you took to share your work and thoughts, and hope I shared something of value in return. There are many varieties in most any plant/animals species, and every one is individually distinct even within a variety - and I think that is the way we are all meant to be appreciated and enjoyed. As long as we are not doing damage to the life, liberty, and property of another, I see all as the spice of life - but we are populating ourselves to densities where we are losing our natural rights to life, liberty, and property; and I can't think of anything that should concern us more, regardless of our profession, or our work in life.

> So, in many cases, you can’t just judge the behavior as OK or not OK. We should instead explore the whys and the meanings of the behavior for that particular person.

I disagree. As stated earlier, I see no need or justification or jurisdiction to go beyond demonstrated behavior - that is all we need to determine the depth of any relationship we create with others - the content of their character. I do not see how anyone can demonstrate any natural authority over the personal behavior of others after the age of majority. It only becomes our problem if it destroys our life, liberty, or property; or if there is mutual agreement for one to share problems with another. There is no natural authority for "pre-emptive strikes" against others based on "assumptions" or "possibilities". In law, the threat must be *immediate* - only then do we have authority to act. We can only govern ourselves, and that is enough of a challenge - for those that accept responsibility for their existence.

> Asking all these questions doesn’t imply that something is wrong--or right. I would similarly have many questions about a person who prefers time with others.

Really? :) Such as "Why aren't you at home studying something useful or meditating instead of socializing?"

> I hope I’m giving you a glimpse into how psychologists think. I’m not sure if it’s all the pop psychology and talk show pseudopsychology out there, but there are many misconceptions about how we think about people.

Yes. I find it an interesting and inherently blurry science, since the basis of its study is amorphous and intangible. I would align myself with the likes of Maslow and his hierarchies of self-actualization. Thank you for your time, efforts, and insights!

Chad, I don't have the time to fisk that whole comment, so I'm going give one response to one of your many arguments. Your entire comment is full of the same kinds of misunderstandings on your part:

I wrote:

Examples: is this typical introversion or is something else going on? How do I know what’s going on? Is all the time alone an actual preference? If a preference, what is behind the preference for time alone? Does this person lack the ability to connect with others?

Your response to this was:

My response would be: mind your own business. That used to be a popular phrase in the 60s/70s, but I don't hear it much anymore. The lives and affairs of others are not your business

Chad, do you realize what I do for a living? People come to me to tell me their business. They want me to ask about their personal business because they've sought out a psychologist to help them with how they feel about their personal business and how they feel it's affecting their lives. Many years of training and experience have prepared me to do this in ways that people find helpful to them. Most of my questions are raised silently, in my own mind, but sometimes it's helpful to ask a question out loud and patients regard it as my business to do so. I cannot be helpful to them if I'm not attempting to understand them more deeply than every other person in their life who has not been helpful to them.

I don't approach strangers on the street and ask them intrusive questions about their personal business.

Would you hire a tax preparer, then, when he or she asks you about your income, snap at them, telling them that your income is none of their business?

Every one of your points entails similarly huge misunderstandings. We're not going any further with this. I am not going allow you continue to scold me based on your unwarranted assumptions and misunderstandings.

This is a good analysis, another BIG piece of the puzzle (hmmm, an unintentional Batman reference, i.e. the Puzzler). I watched Batman as a kid but totally forgot what the Joker was about. Thanks for the refresher course.

Other possible parts of the overall "story arc" of the life of Mr. Holmes?? Here are my totally unprofessional, Stupid Wild Ass Guesses:

Aspergers Syndrome / autistic spectrum disorder. NOT the proximate cause of a horrid act like this, but possibly part of the story leading up to it. Problems with empathy, with imagining others' feelings, might contribute to the ability to do something so horrible, so contrary to "do unto others as . . ." Might help to make the whole thing an abstraction to Mr. Holmes. Just an unprofessional guess here from a layman; feel free to reject this. I do know that Aspies are generally NOT violent, dangerous people prone to acts like this.

Sexual frustration; not surprising given the socialization deficits from an autistic spectrum condition. "Objectivization / Depersonalization" of sexuality -- thus the "friend-finder" web site ad (if that was in fact Mr. Holmes, an uncertain point last I read). Orange hair on the ad pic -- already sinking into a fantasy world to deal with an immediate problem, i.e. sexual frustration.

But perhaps the biggest wave: the only thing this guy going for him had was his academic ability. That was his primary source of self-fulfillment, his "self-actualization". Some reports indicate that he was bombing out in the PhD program at U Col. If true, then very deep frustration, very deep alienation, very bad vibes.

Social support networks: given his social deficits, Mr. Holmes did not easily form friendships and communal relationships. He supposedly had bonds with his parents and family and maybe some videogame groups. But not much else. His isolation suddenly increased from leaving California for grad school in Colorado. Loneliness, lack of human affirmation, self-worth crashes.

But let me thrown in one more Stupid Wild Ass Guess, again from a layman who has no professional training in psychology or therapy at all. There was some sort of immaturity in this guy's mind-brain structure. His intellectual abilities were very advanced; but his executive abilities, his "life skills", his "reality perception", his identity formation, his ability to separate fantasy and reality -- there is something very teen-age about Mr. Holmes. The orange hair at the court appearance, the dazed look . . .

This guy was not a normal 24 year old; parts of his brain are working at about half that age. Again, on a SWAG basis, I have to wonder if Mr. Holmes was interested in neuroscience because he was trying to figure himself out! Can't help but wonder if there is some neurological condition in the growth and development of his physical brain structures and electro-chemical processes that were stunted or delayed or weakened, manifesting in behavioral vulnerabilities akin to teen age immaturity.

The story of his behavior at the 2006 internship also hint at "immaturity", un-reasoned rebellion against authority.

And the whole Joker thing . . . injecting himself into a Batman movie showing . . . a teenage video-game dream come true. Video games too often offer nightmarish visions; add in a messed-up brain pushed by hormone-driven frustration, achievement failure and social isolation . . . so he calls on teen-age mythologies in his immature mind, a mind without proper behavior / reality checks and boundaries.

Again, this is SWAG, I may be totally off the wall . . . but it does bring this unfortunate dude and all the pain and suffering and horror that he created into better focus, for me anyway. The Joker thing seems to fit in and help sharpen the overall picture. Again, for me . . .

The bottom line, of course . . . can we somehow come to understand each other, better understand our human needs, understand how some people (perhaps all people) can go off the rails under certain conditions . . . can we form a more humane world where stuff like this becomes less likely?

As to what the criminal justice system needs to do about this guy . . . I don't want to touch that right now. The guy caused a huge, bloody scar in the social body, and sympathy for what Mr. Holmes may have been going thru and what his brain may or may not have been doing relative to a "normal" person would NOT necessarily let him off the hook. A society cannot relinquish or mitigate the responsibilities of its members lightly.

It is not uncommon for frustrated misfits to vent their angst on society.

Sublimation can refer to the ability to transfer and direct untapped resources, energy to focus on creative and productive endeavors. This sociopathic loner apparently lacked that capacity.

It is estimated 1 percent of the population is psychotic. I am inclined to believe that is a conservative number.

I wanted to say something more about my (totally unprofessional) theory of James Holmes as a very badly isolated and frustrated Aspie with additional psychological deficits and-or brain structure defects causing immature thoughts and behaviors manifesting themselves in a video-game like fantasy being acted out (in the context of Batman mythology, i.e. the story of The Joker). I suggested that the lack of empathy often attributed as a key aspect of Aspergers Syndrome might have contributed to a mass murderer's psycho-pathological indifference to the suffering and mayhem he causes.

I need here to admit that even if Mr. Holmes did have an autistic spectrum condition that contributed over the course of his life to the social isolation that he found himself in at University of Colorado, it would not have contributed much if at all to the direct inspiration and cognitive / emotional patterns behind his horrendous behavior. I took a better look today at the Aspie empathy issue, and it seems that more than one expert (including Baron-Cohen) believes that empathy has two significant components: first, a cognitive component, the ability to realize in some way the feelings of another; and second, an affective component, the ability to sympathize with the other party's feelings once aware of them, to have an emotional response to them. According to Baron-Cohen and others, most Aspies have a deficit in cognitive empathy. They just don't pick up the usual clues as to what another person is feeling, mostly non-verbal communication methods. However, if and when the Aspie does become aware of another person's emotional state, they seem just as able as neurotypical people to affectively relate to that. Some observers postulate that Aspies have above-average affective sensitivity to the feelings of others! (And if so, then perhaps the cognitive empathic deficit is a protective strategy; but OK, I'm way into SWAG-land here).

So, maybe Mr. Holmes is on the autistic spectrum, but that IS NOT why he became a mass-murderer. Aspies are generally harmless, perhaps even MORE sympathetic to others even if they often mis-read the usual emotional clues left by neurotypical people. I don't want to leave any mis-impressions that Aspies are ticking time bombs. Whatever pushed Mr. Holmes over the edge was much, much more severe that a mild-to-moderate autistic spectrum condition. An Aspie I know suggested that perhaps Mr. Holmes has a brain tumor, akin to what was found in mass-murderer Charles Whitman.

The following is a tautology, I know, but obviously some combination of factors came together in this guy's head to form a perfect storm of cool, calculated violent psychopathology. Increasingly violent video-games and action movies that Mr. Holmes probably grew up with? Behavioral immaturity? Isolation from the social structures that formerly helped to control Mr. Holmes despite his psychological vulnerabilities? Inability to form new social structures to replace what he experienced in his home town and in college? Perhaps all of the above. But certainly, Mr. Holmes' "affective empathy" was gone, totally off-line. He and his "Joker" rage were all there is, in his universe. I wish you psychology professionals the best in figuring all of this stuff out, because given the social trends in the high-tech / pseudo-communitarian world of today, I fear that we are going to see more like James Holmes.

I considered your challenge(?) to explain myself on the matter of what I called cultural overload. Then, after reading the many comments on this post,and distilling those for commonality, I decided that any such effort on my part would be an exercise in futility. However, I'll make a probable futile comment, by way of comparison. You are, no doubt, familiar with the phrase: multi-tasking? Let's say, just rhetorically, that you BELIEVE that people can multi-task and do everything in that set efficiently and effectively.

I don't. Thirty years as an administrative professional showed me how vain the notion of multi-tasking is, on its face. So-called multi-taskers consistently screwed things up and made horrendously bad decisions. And this happened, regardless of the intellectual prowess of the individual. I learned this truth from hands-on experience---my most accessible avenue of knowledge. Multi-tasking, in my context, then, is a form of cultural overload.

And so, as to the subject under discussion, I would concur with Sam Spade. And yes,his estimate is conservative.

Warmest Regards,
Neuman.

Dr. X, This was a great post and a very interesting comment thread. But, I have a question that is a bit off topic. You wrote at the end of your post:

One reason we often see psychological problems become acute as young people are leaving the nest is that structures, supports and interventions provided by parents and schools continue to drop away in college...

I didn't know that that was the case. I have a personal interest in the subject and Googled to read more about it, but couldn't find anything.

Can you recommend some reading on the subject? If so, I'd really appreciate it.

Thank you!

Blue Girl, Poke around Google Scholar or, if you're near a university, do some computer searches of their holdings. I don't know any definitive articles or books, just a lot here and there that turns up in some of the literature on psychosis and depression in young adults, or adolescent development and college counseling literature. For example

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/j.2164-4918.1980.tb00439.x/abstract

When I was a psychologist at a major university counseling center this was very much something we dealt with as students found themselves without structures and support of family and old friends.

Thanks so much!

As a person who is mentally ill I have always identified with The Joker. I found this post by Google searching “fourth wall joker” because I was going to attempt to articulate why I understand why James Holmes identifies with The Joker. I think you did a very good job of it.

The coping mechanism I've used most often is comedy. It's been a way for me to get the approval that I crave and make my intelligence non-threatening. I believe there are many types of intelligence, I think that societies inability to recognize and reward these types are what cause James Holmes to become The Joker. Unlike the traditional serial killer who kills because of lack of empathy, he probably had too much of it which contributed to his “intelligence” but also to his feelings being hurt when society constantly rejected this intelligence in favor of the average.

I think you've hit the nail on the head. The inability or unwillingness of some of the comments give it a feel of poetic justice.

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