There’s an interesting article in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, “The ‘Pseudocommando’ Mass Murderer: Part I, The Psychology of Revenge and Obliteration” that has some relevance to the events of the last several days. Here’s a bit from the abstract:
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.
It’s been said that each age has a characteristic psychological malady. So, in the Middle Ages that malady was hysteria and in the 19th century depression. If we have a psychological malady that characterizes our own age, it may well be narcissism, the disorder that contributes to “pseudocommando” mass murderers.