Why is this happening? What happens to men who turn a psychological corner and decide, for it’s a conscious decision, to go on killing rampages?
I’m sure many variables are going to be discussed by bloggers out there, primarily physical and sexual child abuse.
When I returned to graduate school in 1996 I wasn’t a kid and neither was one of my colleagues, Sylvia Margolin. I wanted to teach, become an academic, just be TherapyDoc on the side.
Sylvia wanted to study something called Peer Rejection.
I, of course, was interested in Internet Sex, chat room sex, and was laughed out of the water by a research chair at the University of Illinois. How ridiculous, hot chat. Who does that? No sour grapes here. All fences mended. Move on.
Anyway, I never forgot that Sylvia wanted to know what happens to kids who are rejected by other kids. A library search turned up her dissertation on "social support and activity involvement that reduces isolated youths' internalized difficulties," not exactly on the variables that make people kill kids. But there were 210 hits on peer rejection.
I did a little studying and wrote the story posted on this blog, Bullies, Guns, and a T.D. Bedtime Story. It's in the August archives.
Now’s a good time to quote from that post, just a little. The story is about a boy who was scape-goated. He was the one kid in the class that most of the others made fun of, teasing him mercilessly for everything and anything he did, anything he was. This went on for years and years.
At the age of seventeen the following happened:
. . .Thinking about his classmates, who happened to be good kids in the eyes of their parents and teachers, by the way, did have an effect upon him. It made him very angry, very, very angry. The more he thought about them, the more he wanted them to disappear.
The next day, when one of the kids called him clutz and all the other guys laughed, he shot back, “Maybe it would make me happy if I came to school with a gun and killed everyone of you—you, and you, and you.”
The boys were taken aback but then one of them said, “Sure, like you could even handle a gun, you weakling.”
But he kept repeating it every time they said something mean, which was often enough that day.
“Maybe it would make me happy if I came to school with a gun and killed everyone of you. It’s been done before. Hmm… now there’s an idea. Take you out, one by one, bullet by bullet.” Well. . .
See, I think that this fantasy, taking them out BULLET BY BULLET is exactly the fantasy that is seeded in peer rejection, and I’ll bet Sylvia’s dissertation bears me out. It’s a seed that takes root, probably between the ages of eight and ten and it grows, and grows, and grows.
Compound peer rejection with other forms of abuse, i.e., violent parenting, sexual molestation or rape, and voila', you have murder in Colorado, murder in Pennsylvania, murder. . .where else?
Should parents talk to their children about this? Well, yeah. They should ask their kids, WHO ARE THE LEAST POPULAR KIDS IN THE CLASS? WHO DON’T THE KIDS LIKE AND WHY NOT? ARE THERE ANY KIDS IN YOUR CLASS WHO ARE CRYING THEMSELVES TO SLEEP AT NIGHT? Shouldn’t we invite those kids to our home and get to know them?
Hard not to pontificate, hard not to preach. Social conscience? I'm thinking it better become the next new fad.
Copyright 2006, TherapyDoc