Tragic events always hit me hard. Whether it is the movie theater shooting or something as horrific as the Boston Marathon bombing, my mind is consumed by the terrible pain the families of all involved must be feeling [I just published this previously unreleased draft, written right after the Newtown shooting]. I question what brings a person to do such a thing, I ask how their life was so different from my own and others who live non-violent lives. I wonder how it could have been avoided in any way. Are there signs that people missed? The recent story of a boy in southern Minnesota is one such case in which a disaster was thwarted, which means people can see things and speak up. Yet terrible things continue to happen…
Trying to find answers to so many of these questions, I continue to read the articles and follow the updates. This University of California Santa Barbara shooting is like nothing we’ve seen in recent times (aka, my adult life). Not only is there video that gives us a peak into his mind but there is also a memoir of his life that may shed some light on how this tragedy came to be.
I hoped that reading the story would help show how some people end up so damn fucked up. Sadly, it didn’t.
At the beginning, I found many ways that I connected with the younger Elliot. He was never popular in school, he wanted to be liked, etc., and how many other people feel this same way? Having a similar experience in school, how did I turn out differently? At the same time though, he always blamed others for his misfortunes. Even in school when he got in trouble he would blame it on the other kid, thinking it was their doing. In effect, I think he truly believed that everything was happening *to* him, rather than him having an active role in his own life.
At age four, he blamed his inability to swing on physical limitation, and this along with his shortness are things he believed always stifled him. Even at a young age, everything was just handed to him and this caused him to take everything for granted, and actually caused him to believe that these things were needs rather than just desires. His NEED for Pokemon cards was only fair, he NEEDED cool clothes and instantly they were delivered.
Another example of the world being utterly unfair to him, and therefore deserving of retribution, was his inability to become a professional skateboarder. He practiced for an entire year!
While I understand his feelings of loneliness, I truly believe he has no ability to feel empathy. He saw himself as an all-deserving man, tortured by women and anyone else that had things he could not.
Another curious element was that he was extremely revolted by sex. At age fourteen, he caught a glimpse at porn and the fact that humans did this was horrific to him. Even as he aged into his early twenties, the idea of sex was “vile.” But then what drove him to believe that sex was his right and something that women “owed him?” Why was it something he desired more than anything else? He repeatedly claimed that no women would give him a chance, but because he was unable to have any conversation with someone new, let alone a girl, I find it hard to believe anything would escalate to sex on the timeline he desired… by the end of the first day.
As I got to the end of the book, I became completely shocked by his beliefs. “Women are incapable of reason or thinking rationally,” and “women are the main instigators of sex.” He truly felt that women should be abolished, and spoke of having a concentration camp filled with women and from his tower he would watch them all starve to death because if he couldn’t have them, no one could…
From a young age, he sought therapy. He had psychiatrists and counselors that he saw on a regular basis. He had caring parents and friends that knew his true feelings – it is shocking that everything came to this.
In the end, reading this didn’t make me feel any better and it was naive to think it would. Not only am I now more scared to face the world because of a deeper understanding of the kinds of people out there, I don’t see a solution to a problem such as this when therapy and medication didn’t work. Should he have been hospitalized? And to what end?
How did he come to have these beliefs and what could be changed so that they don’t continue on in society? He described very little of his relationship with his mother, other than that they were close. He has a deep hatred for her though, because she wouldn’t marry rich so that he could have everything he desired because money = sex with blondes. I have so many questions about how to tackle this, because at some point we need to accept that what we are doing is not enough.