The Psychological Profile of the Mass Shooter

mass shooter

We have seen numerous mass shooting, or active shooter incidents in our nation. A poignant question many ask is why this happens. People wonder what would possess someone to go to a school, workplace, or mall and kill as many people as they can, before they are put down by law enforcement or an armed civilian, or they shoot themselves.

Law enforcement and forensic mental health have an interest in assembling a psychological profile of mass shooters in an effort to predict who will carry out this crime and stop them before they act.

Typology of Mass Shooters

Mass shooters will have different motives, and therefore different psychological profiles.

1) The Family Annihilator

They will kill their family, and then take their own lives. They believe their family is better off dead. The decision to kill themselves and their spouse and children is typically precipitated by a major loss or life change, such as loss of employment or divorce.

Other Family annihilator type mass shooters are nihilistic, despairing individuals who feel life is pointless, and make the decision to end it for themselves and their families. Though they are classified as a type of mass shooter, they may use other means to kill their families and themselves, such as stabbing.

2) The Disgruntled Worker

They were fired, passed over for a promotion, forced into resignation or early retirement, or have felt one of these consequences pending. They may target specific individuals in the workplace that they blame for their professional demise, or may kill indiscriminately.

3) The Bullied Student

Go to school day after day for an ass kicking, and abuse, torment, cruelty, sadism, and humiliation. What a surprise when these kids lose their shit, become unhinged, and hose the place down. Maybe the schools should actually do something about bullying.

Maybe parents should be more aware of the cruelty their children are capable of, and teach them right from wrong, and how to check their impulses.

Maybe mental health professionals should learn about identifying and treating disturbed kids instead of becoming experts on multiculturalism, inclusion, and other leftist social justice poison.

4) The Inadequate Loser/Incel (Involuntary Celibate)

Aspire to be things you never can. Pilots can’t be afraid of heights and surgeons need to be able to stand the sight of blood. Most of us are not going to be a pro ball player who snuggles with a supermodel, like Justin Verlander.

Frustrated, their dreams unrealized or shattered by reality, they blame others for their shortcomings and violently act out vengeance. They will target the group or representatives of the group they feel has done them injustice.

The Incel is a subtype. They are involuntarily celibate. They desire intimacy with women, but women will not give them a second look. They become isolated, overdose on pornography, and communicate with other Incels who commiserate with them.

They blame the Chads and Stacy’s, their names for the genetically gifted, socially adept men and the beautiful sophisticated and therefore unachievable women they will never even meet.

They grow to hate beautiful women and good-looking men, and while most Incels are malcontent to hate at a distance, extremists Incels may target Chads and Stacy’s for homicide.

5) The Delusional

Severely mentally ill and acutely psychotic, they are actually saving people in their distorted point of view. They are not shooting people; they are shooting the mutants/alien/cyborg/clones that have invaded the mall. Good move closing down state mental hospitals.

We wouldn’t want to confine people who are so psychotic they cannot care for themselves, and are potentially dangerous to others. That would be cruel. Better to let them live on the street, off of the meds they belong on that improve their quality of life.

Freeze in the winter, bake in the summer, shit and piss on sidewalks, get abused by cruel teens, and harass people with aggressive panhandling as they try to survive another day.

That is such a better plan. Increase access to mental health care. This could help. Give disturbed individuals a place to go and options before they escalate their behavior.

6) The Islamic Extremist terrorist

The barbarians are at the gates of Rome, and we open the gates and welcome them in. Let’s not try to coexist with a political-religious- belief system whose adherents believe it is their holy duty to behead those who do not agree with their beliefs.

This is not conducive to survival. How is it that modern, wealthy, westernized Arab nations such as Kuwait, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia do not want them in their countries? Because they don’t want extremist terrorism.

You Racist!

Umm…, no. Islam is not a race, it is a religious and political belief system that transcends race and ethnicity. I have no problem with individual, moderate Muslims, particularly those who live under oppressive regimes, any more than I “hated” Russians living under the iron grip of the Soviet Union, or Koreans in Kim Jong un’s Glorious Workers Paradise. It is the system of repression, control, and unquestioning obedience upon pain of death they adhere to that I have a problem with.

Some further thoughts on this:

The Predictive Utility of Profiling

Behavioral profiling is of limited utility. It can be used in retrospect, after a shooting has occurred, a profile of the shooter can be entered into a database. Over time, commonalities can be identified.

As a predictive tool, profiles are weak at best, inconclusive, and have poor interrater reliability They will generate false positives, and if over-used in the workplace, can create a Gestapo/Thought Police environment of paranoia in a workplace.

Do you want a workplace where employees start watching each other to see who is going to crack and come into work one morning with a vacant stare, a full magazine, and a general bad attitude toward their fellow man? Ironically such a workplace might actually push someone unstable over the edge.

Just Plain Nonsense

Most of the mass shooters have been on SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors). Therefore, there is a correlation between taking an SSRI and becoming a mass shooter.

I would speculate that most of the mass shooters also drank coffee or a regular basis. Therefore, there is a correlation between drinking coffee and becoming a mass shooter. This is a true statement, but also the basis of a great deal of junk science.

Here is a critical component of science and statistics: Correlation does not equal causality. A correlation is a statistical link or connection between two variables. This is not the same as causality. Causality is a linear relationship between two variables in which variable A has caused variable B. Without variable A, variable B cannot occur.

Correlation Event A ~ Event B
Causality event A= Event B

SSRIs do not cause people to become mass shooters anymore than coffee does. SSRI’s are the most commonly prescribed psychoactive medication in the United States. It is commonly prescribed by PCPs (Primary Care Physicians) for anxiety and depression and overprescribed for worry and dissatisfaction with one’s life.

You don’t meds if you worry or are not happy with your life; you need to make changes in your life. This could include seeing a good therapist. Meds are indicated if someone is so depressed and anxious that they cannot summon the motivation and energy to make changes, or process and benefit from what they get in therapy and are spiraling into a pit of misery and dysfunction.

Mass shooters tend to (here we go with a retrospective profile) tend to be inadequate, melancholy, dissatisfied with -their-life individuals. PCP’s are going to be quick to prescribe an SSRI to such a person in their office.

Yet More Nonsense

“Limit access to weapons of mass destruction”. (source)

Access to weapons of mass destruction is already limited and controlled by a variety of political, economic, and technological factors. A weapon of mass destruction (WMD) is a generally a nuclear weapon, radiological weapon, or biological or chemical weapon.

An AR-15, which has become the target of the anti-gun crowd, is a small arm. It is not capable of leveling cities or causing mass destruction, mass causalities, or render assets and infrastructure unusable through contamination.

If you want to make an effective argument, use accurate terms and definitions. Of course, what the author means is to limit access to firearms. Once again, a fundamental flaw with the gun control argument is that criminals do not obey the law. Heroin and cocaine are banned, and access is limited. How is that working out?

It is easier to get a gun than an outpatient appointment. (source)

I would like to see some empirical evidence of this statement. I believe the author has again lapsed into an emotional argument, rather than a factual one.

Maybe access to mental health care could be improved if mental health professionals were not inundated with excessive redundant paperwork, and wasting time at sensitivity, multiculturalism, and inclusivity training that have nothing to do with diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.

Prevention

A better application of a profile would be the specific behavioral display of someone who is at risk for some type of imminent violence.

Consider this:

Dos and Don’ts in the Event of an Active Shooter

In the workplace or schools, idiots in “management” and administration will have created plans for employees or students like lockdown behind one inch of drywall and wait to get shot.

That was the plan in three places I worked at. At one place, the health and safety committee came up with the plan that a PA announcement would be made that a threat was in the building, and then we would lock ourselves behind the security of drywall that a .22 will punch through and still have enough energy to kill you when it reaches the other side.

The members of the Health and Safety Cluster Fuck had no conception of violence, firearms, the psychology of active shooters, panic responses in a crisis, or fuck all so they came up with this plan.

Fucking geniuses. Stick with where to place the wet floor signs. When I protested, I was told I scared people and this plan was better than nothing, and I should not comment on this again.

Most people will not notice the sketchy man wearing inappropriate clothing for the weather, heavy on one side, with the 1000 yard stare, sweating, Develop some situational awareness. GTFO if you see someone wrong. Stereotype away. It will save your life.

When the shooting starts, most people will freeze. This is called neuromuscular lock, and it is part of the Fight-Flight-Freeze system that occurs when we are faced with a real or perceived threat. Unlock fast and move. More about this another time.

Some people will go looking for the source of the noise. Are you serious? You think there may be shooting and want to go and look? If you hear a loud bang, pop, wham, or pow, assume it is gunfire and GTFO, leaving your stuff behind, taking anyone with you that you can, but not letting anyone slow you down.

If you are afraid of guns, at least go to a range and listen to what gunfire actually sounds like. Then approach a shooter at the range and ask them if you can try it. You will be surprised at how welcoming they will be.

Armed citizens may get shot by first responders. The police will not know who the good guys and bad guys are. If you carry, you need to have a plan, and know how to respond when the police arrive. More about this another time.

People will jam bottlenecks and get themselves and others killed. Situational awareness is needed. Watch for bottlenecks.

People will stay in the vicinity and increase the probability of getting shot as they look for family members. Have a plan in place with family. Everyone gets out.

Have a place to meet away from the scene. If you stay in the vicinity of the shooter, looking for your family, and your family stays looking for you, you have just increased the probability of all of you getting shot.

People will watch as others bleed out and not know what to do. Alternatively, they will start doing clumsy CPR on someone who is breathing and conscious.

Learn what to do. Get some training and learn how to provide first aid. Carry hemostatic pads with you. Your shoelaces and belt can be used for tourniquets.

If a mass shooting occurs in a supermarket, the deli and meat and fish departments are sources for plastic gloves, and tape and paper towels for makeshift bandages.

Then will come the vigils and rhetoric, and useless idiocy from celebrities and politicians. Mostly anti-gun rhetoric. A debriefing about what was learned from the shooting would be a better idea. Analyze the details to develop and refine plans to prevent and counter active shooters.

What If You Are the One Having Dark Thoughts?

The world can be a cold, dark and cruel place, and people may have hurt you. Don’t add to the pain and suffering in the world with an act of violence. See somebody. Step away from the brink. If you are reading this, it is for a reason. It is not too late to back off.


Further thoughts on this topic, some of which are contradictory:

And last but not least, Teachers are not Soldiers, and my point of view I wrote a while back.


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About Derrick Krane 27 Articles
Derrick Krane is a conservative academic who has taught psychology and criminology for over 20 years at six different colleges. He is also a licensed clinician who provides psychotherapy to criminal offenders and victims of violent crimes and sexually based offense. He is the author of over 250 scholarly articles on various topics in criminology, psychology, neuroscience, addiction and politics. He resides in New England, and when he isn’t doing therapy, teaching or writing, he enjoys working out, taking photos, and reading classical literature. He is a patriotic, bacon eating, woman loving, (prefers tall brunettes with long hair, or short redheads with long hair, or short or tall blondes with long hair) Republican who is very pissed off about the directions our nation and Western Civilization are going. He hopes to increase awareness of the issues facing America, and help people develop strength and self-sufficiency.

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