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Why Mass Killers Aren’t Necessarily Psychopaths
The term psychopath isِ often a misunderstood one; althoughِ people frequently refer toِ alleged mass killers likeِ Colorado shooter James Holmes orِ the Tucson, Ariz., shooter Jared Loughner asِ psychopaths, thatِ doesn’tِ mean theseِ men fit theِ description ofِ this mental health disorder.
Meanwhile, lawyers forِ Holmes announced theyِ believeِ the 24-year-old suffers fromِ mental illness, thoughِ theyِ haven’tِ yet determined theِ exact nature ofِ hisِ illness.
Lynne Fenton, University ofِ Colorado professor whoِ specializes inِ schizophrenia, hadِ alerted university police aboutِ Holmes’ behavior.
And although psychopaths can be violent, that doesn’t mean they commonly kill.
Most psychopaths don’tِ kill anybody, Schlesinger said, andِ not everybodyِ that kills isِ a psychopath.
Michael Welner, a forensic psychiatrist atِ the NYU School ofِ Medicine, whileِ psychopaths doِ commit homicides, theirِ motives tend toِ beِ specific – theyِ areِ usually driven byِ money, sex orِ a desire toِ escape fromِ the scene ofِ anotherِ crime.
But forِ mass killers, a motive canِ beِ that theyِ seeِ themselves asِ failures, Welner said.
What drives someone to commit mass murder
There areِ different types ofِ mass killings, allِ driven byِ a differentِ motivation, saidِ Dr.
Douglas Mossman, a forensic psychiatrist atِ the University ofِ Cincinnati College ofِ Medicine.
Killers might be motivated by grief, anger, resentment, or feeling used or mistreated, he said.
There haveِ beenِ school massacres, hate crimes, workplace killings, evenِ entire family killings, Mossman said.
In mostِ cases, theseِ followed fairly recentِ events thatِ happened to individuals whoِ responded inِ ways thatِ led them toِ doِ what theyِ did.
But thatِ doesn’tِ mean thatِ allِ mass killers suffer fromِ mental illness, andِ mass killers whoِ doِ have seriousِ mental illnesses onlyِ represent a small fraction ofِ people withِ mental illnesses, Mossman said.
Detecting someone with violent tendencies
Mass killings areِ generally committed byِ men, asِ areِ most violent crimes.
According toِ theِ Bureau ofِ Justice Statistics, men areِ nine times moreِ likelyِ to commit murder thanِ women.
Men haveِ higher testosterone levels thanِ women, making themِ moreِ aggressive, Mossman said.