The last couple of days I have been following the story of the Colorado shooter. There is an extensive trail of postings from various forums written by him. You can find them if you are interested. I don’t know if I would recommend reading them. There is a part of me that wanted to understand what led to his actions.
My initial impression was that he was the typical outcast, rejected, bullied, and abused. He was bitter toward YWAM because he wasn’t allowed to go on an outreach trip. He also spewed with anger about Christianity because he believed that his upbringing was excessively restrictive.
Due to his online activities, his writing gives some insight into his perceptions. Matthew’s perception was that of a victim. Everything and everyone opposed his chances for happiness and success. His perception was of victimization and self-pity. Was that his reality?
In spite of the fact that he chose YWAM and New Life as the targets of his attack, it appears that, more likely, they were a scapegoat for his anger. Neither do his parents appear to be the monsters he describes. I couldn’t help but wonder about his family, especially his mother.
Sometimes siblings in a family give vastly different reports of the same experiences simply because of differences in how they perceive themselves and others. It isn’t likely that Matthew’s life was perfect, but I believe his accusations should be taken with some reservation.
Typically after such tragedies, there are widespread attempts to understand why such a thing could happen and what contributed to the motives of the shooters. This often leads to pinning blame somewhere.
This morning the mother of the Omaha mall shooter was also interviewed on TV.
In every one of these tragedies, there is a mother.
As I thought about some of these rampage shooters, I couldn’t help but imagine the horror of this experience in the hearts of their mothers. People tend to blame mothers, and moms tend to blame themselves. The current in the river of mom-guilt runs deep and wide.
Were these bad seeds born or bred?
With many of these shooters, while there isn’t a consistent profile, there often is a lethal combination of factors that add up to devastating results.
The fact is, clinical research clearly demonstrates that psychopathy does not spring unannounced into existence in adulthood. The symptoms reveal themselves in early life. It seems to be true that parents of psychopaths KNOW something is dreadfully wrong even before the child starts school. Such children are stubbornly immune to socializing pressures. They are “different” from other children in inexplicable ways. They are more “difficult,” or “willful,” or aggressive, or hard to “relate to.” They are difficult to get close to, cold and distant and self-sufficient. (The Psychopath – The Mask of Sanity)
Psychopathy is frequently linked to attachment issues in early childhood. Sometimes there are obvious issues of abandonment or lack of bonding between parent and child contributing to the problem. In other circumstances, well-meaning parents struggle in their attempts to connect with a child who is extremely difficult to parent. It is possible that deficiencies in neural processing actually hinder the child’s ability to attach.
Victimization, frequently sexual, at an early age will also set the course of a child’s life spiraling down a destructive path. Often these kids are unaware or confused about the root of their destructive behaviors and choices.
It is not likely we will know all of the factors that contributed to the shooters’ motives. However, I can almost guarantee that there will be mothers wrestling over the question of why long after others have forgotten.