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wundayatta's avatar

What is in this fantasy about taking a lot of people with you when you go?

Asked by wundayatta (58367 points ) July 20th, 2012

I’ll admit that I’ve thought about it in the past: knowing that if I have to die, I might feel like seeing how many people I could take with me. I haven’t had that particular fantasy in decades. I was in my twenties, I think, when I had it. But it was never something I had any intentions of actually doing.

Clearly some people do carry it out. What is surprising about the movie theater case is that the guy was captured alive. Maybe we’ll get a little information about what was going on in his head.

What do you think goes on in the heads of people who decide to kill as many people as they can at one go? What specific story might lead someone to have this psychology? Are they angry? At what? Do they feel unloved? How do they give themselves permission to kill others—random others?

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13 Answers

Mariah's avatar

It’s different with the current story since he didn’t commit suicide, but with a lot of these shootings, notably school shootings, I sometimes wonder whether the murder or the suicide is the main goal.

Is it like you say, the shooter knows he’s going to kill himself and wants to take people with him? Or does he really want to murder a lot of people but knows there’s no way it can end well for him if he survives?

I don’t have any specific theories of my own, just putting that thought out there. I definitely think there’s got to be a lot of anger involved. Hating the human race in general enough to feel compelled to kill randoms.

Adagio's avatar

A couple of decades ago in NZ there was a man who killed his entire family and then himself, one of the theories given by a psychologist/psychiatrist at the time was that sometimes a person feels so hopeless about the world and the thought of their family living in that hopelessness is just too much for them to bear, despite the hideousness of his actions, by killing them the perpetrator of the crime imagines he is doing them a favour.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

I am lost in the question. You say you had this fantasy yourself. What went through your head at the time when you were ruminating on these things?

chyna's avatar

I cannot imagine this would be a fantasy of many people. What the heck were you thinking when you were fantasizing on taking out many people and then yourself?

wundayatta's avatar

I was mostly wondering about it. What it would be about. I think I was thinking the world was an unfair place, and if I had to suffer, then I might make others suffer, too. I don’t know. It wasn’t anything I really wanted to do. It was just a thought experiment. It never made sense to me, and I couldn’t come up with any compelling reason to support the idea then, any more than I can now.

If I could answer this question, I wouldn’t have asked it.

gondwanalon's avatar

It is hard to understand the reasoning of a person who would kill and injure as many innocent people as possible for any reason. The only person that I ever thought about killing was myself and I couldn’t do that because it would hurt my wife. No matter how badly I failed in life or how unfairly I was treated, it would never drive me to even consider intensionally hurting innocent people. Such a correlation in my mind just doesn’t compute. It is totally illogical and definitely consistent with that of some sort of psychosis.

DominicX's avatar

I think @Mariah brought up a good point. If they’re angry at something, it has to be people in general. It’s not the same as someone who wants to kill people who have caused them harm as a form of revenge; this is revenge against humans in general, which is why they kill innocent people. As to what cause someone to want to seek that kind of “revenge”, I am not sure.

woodcutter's avatar

If the killer somehow feels screwed over by society and wants to do it that way. It has to be a twisted logic any way you look at it. The guy doesn’t want to die alone? He wants to be remembered for doing something spectacular even if he is hated for it? A medication issue? It baffles me, why all the safety gear if he wanted to end it all unless he wanted to inflict as much mayhem before the authorities eventually took him down. And then he gives up? Looks to me this guy has something to say. I’m listening. A sane person could not do something like this, but I’m no expert I’m just assuming wildly.

athenasgriffin's avatar

I think some people have so much darkness inside of themselves that they want to share it. Maybe they’ve felt misunderstood their whole lives and they want to punish people for never quite getting them.

Over the years I’ve heard quite a few guys talk about wanting to do horribly violent things, and none of them actually did it. (So far.) I think the fantasy of harming masses of random people is more common than people think. Just, most people get over voicing those desires at some point.

SuperMouse's avatar

@athenasgriffin your second paragraph is pretty sobering, very frightening, and probably true.

I wonder if there is a pathology wherein a person blames everyone around them for their woes and wants to make as many people as possible pay for what has been done to them. I have known people in my life who flat out refuse to take responsibility for what happens to them. They perceive themselves as leaves at the mercy of an ill-blowing wind. When everyone but you is responsible for your problems, the world is filled with enemies.

bkcunningham's avatar

“The pseudocommando is a type of mass murderer who kills in public during the daytime, plans his offense well in advance, and comes prepared with a powerful arsenal of weapons. He has no escape planned and expects to be killed during the incident. Research suggests that the pseudocommando is driven by strong feelings of anger and resentment, flowing from beliefs about being persecuted or grossly mistreated. He views himself as carrying out a highly personal agenda of payback. Some mass murderers take special steps to send a final communication to the public or news media; these communications, to date, have received little detailed analysis. An offender’s use of language may reveal important data about his state of mind, motivation, and psychopathology. Part I of this article reviews the research on the pseudocommando, as well as the psychology of revenge, with special attention to revenge fantasies. It is argued that revenge fantasies become the last refuge for the pseudocommando’s mortally wounded self-esteem and ultimately enable him to commit mass murder-suicide.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20305080

rooeytoo's avatar

I give you a GQ for this because I ask myself the same question every time something like this happens. I can understand losing control and killing someone in the heat of even a verbal battle but to just want to wantonly kill anyone who appears in the sights of the high powered rifle just mystifies and astounds me. I always assume they are mentally ill and don’t get past that. But it does seem as if this type of person is a self proclaimed ultimate victim and this is their revenge. And there seem to be at least 2 different types, there are the ones with the high powered rifle with a scope who keep a physical distance from their victims and then there are the ones who want to be face to face. It always leaves me shaking my head in amazement.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@wundayatta Great Question! My wife and I were discussing this just this morning. I think he did either want to be killed, or felt it was inevitable that he would be.

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