Social Question

Demosthenes's avatar

Should we try and understand a mass killer's mindset?

Asked by Demosthenes (3980points) May 19th, 2018

I understand that we don’t want to publicize and glamorize killers and there are many who emphasize how we should not hear anything from these people, let them fade into nonexistence. That might be pragmatic for the media, but what about for law enforcement and psychology? If we want to understand what motivates people to commit mass killings, we are going to have to try and get in their minds.

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22 Answers

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Yes we should. My idea is revenge for being given a raw deal in school, dating , work ?

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Yes, by all means.
Would be nice to recognize early symptoms, and get help for these people before they feel the need to shoot away their problems.

Demosthenes's avatar

I also have to laugh at the way the media has been reporting the pins on his jacket. Left-wing sources have zeroed in on the Iron Cross and right-wing sources have zeroed in on the hammer-and-sickle. As long as we can blame the ideology we hate on this killing, it’s all good, right?

Kardamom's avatar

Absolutely. If you can find out what they were thinking, what went wrong in their lives, if there was any mental or medical problems that played into their ultimate decision to kill people, from whom and how they acquired their weapons. It all matters, because they’re all pieces to a puzzle. The more we know, the bigger chance we have to prevent tragedies like this in the future.

janbb's avatar

We make assumptions about the mindsets of foreign terrorists. Should we try to understand domestic terrorists any deeper? Unless we’re going to make changes, is it useful information? I don’t have the answer.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

A friend married a forensic psychologist. They stayed with me one week while the husband was investigating a local murder. His job was to assess the murder scene and contribute what possibly occurred from a psychological aspect in order to track down a suspect. This guy traveled all over the US when called upon.

I asked him how often he was able to contribute to an investigation. He said that it was fairly regularly. This wasn’t out of pride, but the fact that most crimes aren’t scrupulously planned, thus more evidence available. He initially looks at the first bits of evidence found and can point investigators in a direction based upon patterns.

This can help track down the guilty party sooner.

flutherother's avatar

Well, we can’t stop ourselves from trying even if the killer’s thought processes seem strange and make no sense.

janbb's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Iwas assuming that the OP was talking about mass killings where we know the killer already, not ones we are trying to solve. I might be mistaken.

Demosthenes's avatar

Yeah I was speaking of mass killings where we have the killer alive and in custody, especially since so much of the time they’re killed or commit suicide.

Aethelwine's avatar

I believe we should.

One of my new favorite shows is Mindhunter on Netflix. It’s based on the true crime book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit written by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. Set in 1977 – in the early days of criminal psychology and criminal profiling at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The show is intellectual and fascinating; based on true serial killers, with much of the first season focused on Edmund Kemper. He was the first serial killer the agents interviewed. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5290382/

MrGrimm888's avatar

I think it’s simply a revenge tactic, for most. They were, or perceived themselves as being wronged. So. They lash out.

I can see this easily, as I felt like everything was against me as a teenager. It never occurred to me, to try to kill everyone. It’s as if it has just been presented as an option. When I was younger, suicide was the only option out. These kids want to hurt as many people as possible, before they check out. I think our video game culture has unintentionally given the idea of a high score attempt. So. Each shooter, I think, tries to kill as many as possible. Sadistic though it is, I think that’s part of it…

Yellowdog's avatar

I haven’t heard anyone blame left- or right-wing in the symbols on the jacket.

They were ALL symbols of evil regimes and the occult, all of which, ironically, fell.

Except Great Cthulhu. In R’lyeh, Cthulhu lives. That thing is not dead which can continue to exist forever. And when the strange come, death itself may cease to be.

The Human Occult and Evil symbols he may have thought represented evil and power. But I reiterate—they are no more.

kritiper's avatar

I think it’s some kind of sick afterlife game. “Hey, look at what I did everybody! Anyone care to try and top that???”

Zaku's avatar

Yes, and I think society actually needs to learn from the answer to why our school-children tend to go on murderous rampages. It’s not just a coincidence, and it’s not just that there are guns in people’s houses.

Our children are killing to go on killing sprees at our schools.

Again, and again, and again, and again, and again…

That’s not just something we can blame on bad kids or bad parents. That’s our children deciding they are so upset that they are going to go on a suicidal mass killing spree at school.

This society and our schools need to change something, or it’s going to keep happening, again, and again, and again.

Even if you take away all the guns, there will still be suicidal kids who want to kill large numbers of others at our schools. Even if you take away their access to guns, they’re either going to find other ways to do damage, or they’re going to bottle up that hate and let it out eventually in other ways.

Yes, we need to understand them and then look at what’s causing it, and change things.

Or else, it will happen again, and again, and again…

SQUEEKY2's avatar

What brings these kids to kill someone and at the same time throw their own life away as well?
Anti gun people say it’s just to easy to acquire a gun that is why these shootings are happening,that might be one cog in the wheel but there is more to it, and as a society we need to find out why.

Yellowdog's avatar

Well, our news media doesn’t give them a lot of hope.
Morality is relative and ambivalent
Everyone is ignoring the danger signs even when a lot of people know what is about to transpire.

T-shirts and trench coats with symbols of hate, evil, and killing—and the reports of others, should make us aware that something needs to be done.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Now we’re talking. But are we talking to our children, the kids we know? Or are they buried in an electronic device, that keeps them occupied?
What I think I see, is lots of parents, that are happy to use electronics as babysitters. Parents need to parent.

Engage the child frequently. Make sure that you know what’s going on in their head. If you are a parent, change it. If it’s really serious, and it isn’t your kid, talk with the child’s parents. If it’s crazy bad, tell someone. Call the police.

I’ve worked in law enforcement, in varying ways, for a long time. Situations don’t normally come out if nowhere. If you see signs of something off, get it investigated. Worst case scenario, we know that we did SOMETHING.
In some of these shootings, there were signs. There were neighbors, friends, or family members, that had odd feelings about someone.

If we feel a kid is suffering, in some way, we need to talk to them, or tell their parents, or both. Nobody’s perfect. Some parents, may miss things that others don’t. Awareness of our surroundings, is important. Humans have gotten away from that. Be aware. Not paranoid, but just know what’s going on around you.

That serial rapist/killer, uh “Golden State Killer” maybe, was snooping around neighborhoods ALL THE TIME. And nobody saw him seeking around, and breaking into houses for years? Come on!!!!!!

Stay woke.

That will seriously help us all.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Did you say something @MrGrimm888 , sorry I didn’t get it was busy reading an email and texting a friend.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Seriously man. Our children are like, not the same anymore. They don’t have to develop social skills, because they can use electronics, to satisfy some social needs.
Social interaction, is tough. Especially if you are different from the majority of other kids. That difference, could be a wild variety of variables.

This kid in Sante Fe, wore a black trench coat. I’m not saying that we stop and frisk the kid. But we could have talked to him. Adults around him could have engaged him, in general conversation, and maybe either helped the kid, or learned something that could prevent a calamity.

I used to talk to my nephew, every day, when I lived in a big house with him. Usually in the morning, before he left for school. If he had problems that weren’t too serious, I would counsel him. If I thought that the issue was out of my authority (vs his Dad,) to opine on, I talked to his father about it.

I wonder if some of these kids, just needed someone to recognize that they needed to be spoken to, and maybe they could be helped with whatever is troubling them.

Ugh. I hate Hillary, but I’m going to quote her, “it takes a village.”

That’s actually a very deep, and true saying, in reference to raising our children. Right now, some of our children have a village of electronic crap, that doesn’t care about them, or ask them how they’re doing, or even listen to them. Sometimes, a good listening session with a kid, with no advice given, can be therapeutic for a child with nobody to talk to.

I think about the increase in these violent incidents. The biggest change, is we are letting our kids grow up with all this technology, that doesn’t really help them interactive with people.

Throw a football with your young cousin you never see at Thanksgiving. Chat with him, (or her.) Shoot some hoops with that sad kid down the street. Help that kid fix their bike chain. Be a part of the community. You’ll help lots of people, and know more about what’s going on.

This kid in Santa Fe, is a potential goldmine. I hope they psychoanylize the shit out of him, and learn where, or if something would have changed his mind about things.

Maybe we can learn from him, and make recommendations for the future.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

You are totally correct,I just hope maybe society and the parents might clue into what your saying and learn from it,but I won’t hold my breath.
But it’s far easier to just turn them loose with their gadgets and let them deal with it,(look how well it’s done so far).
I have been bitching about smart phones for years, and people non stop defend them saying how it keeps them in touch with the people in their lives, but they don’t want to talk to these people just text them, is that really keeping in touch,or just playing with a gadget?
If firearms are the first cog in this mess,then smart phones are the second,we have to get our noses out of our phones,and get back to real communicating with people especially our youth ,or these mass shooting are just going to go on and on.

Yellowdog's avatar

MrGrimm: You really got it on this one. One of the best answers I’ve ever read on Fluther

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