What causes a child to go…
This mother’s story tells it all . . .
You Can’t Fix it if You Don’t Know How it Got Broken!
From the outside, mass shooters seem to come from nowhere.
Their neighbors, family members, and school friends almost always seem surprised when they become rageful and violent.
There’s no slippery slope issues for developmental psychologists–they are never surprised. When they ask the “what happened or didn’t happen to this mass shooter person?” question, they expect to find a childhood history filled with Developmental Trauma.
The first kind of Developmental Trauma is attachment trauma, as Ted Kaczynski’s mother describes in the video.
It involves repeated experiences of abandonment beginning during infancy and lead to a break in basic trust between the mother and child.
Ted, a mathematics prodigy, coped with his attachment trauma by avoiding people and escaping into the world of things and ideas, until this didn’t work any more. Then he unleashed his rage on the world, killing three people and wounding 23 others.
Neglected Lost Child
The second kind of Developmental Trauma is caused by neglect.
Many neglected children withdraw from close human relationships and become the Lost Child. They are often very sensitive and empathic, and feel the stress in their families.
They cope with this overwhelming stress by minimizing the demands on their unavailable mothers. They expect nothing from her or others, and have no idea how to make their needs known.
Gradually they become isolated, feeling alone, and empty . . . without any awareness of what they want or what is reasonable to expect from life and relationships.
While young, they spend their time daydreaming, fantasizing, reading, watching tv, playing video games, studying, playing ‘pretend’ behind the sofa or the drapes, and building things with Lego.
As they get older, they hang out at the library, video arcade, or other places away from home. From the outside they can look fairly normal, but their chaotic and painful interior life is invisible to others.
While every child does some of these things, the neglected Lost Child survives by staying ‘out of sight’ and ends up being ‘out of mind.’ In becoming invisible, they don’t take care of others, because they know they aren’t able to fix the family’s problems. They are often shy or extreme introverts and become loners. This allows them to avoid the chaos, conflict, and stress in their family.
The neglected Lost Child becomes socially awkward and uncomfortable around other people. If the focus moves to them, they panic.
They are unable to have authentic emotional interactions with others, and often become attached video games and other forms of technology, though they might have one close friend.
They don’t know how to accept the connections that they need, and often reject opportunities to engage with others. They find themselves in a spiraling cycle of loneliness and isolation.
Over time, the Lost Child’s isolation often turns into depression, which can lead to despair, rage, and becoming either suicidal or homicidal.
Many mass shooters with histories of attachment trauma and neglect suffer emotionally. They struggle with paranoid delusions and low self-esteem, hang out with an outcast group, and are driven by revenge.
This is why many of them focus their rage at a school or a workplace where they felt rejected. Often there is usually a triggering event such as bullying or a social humiliation that finally makes them snap, and they act out their fantasies and repressed emotions in mass shootings.
Parkland, Florida mass shooter Nick Cruz, fits the Lost Child to Mass Shooter profile. Over a seven-year period, his mother reportedly called law enforcement officers to their house 39 times to have them try to talk some sense into him.
Other news articles say that Cruz began cutting on himself in 2016 after a breakup with his girlfriend, and that his adoptive mother died late in 2017 from pneumonia. He often introduced himself as a school shooter, enjoyed showing off his firearms, and posted photos of himself with guns and knives on Instagram.
A third kind of shooter lacks a conscience is the psychopath who commits violence in a premeditated fashion.
Violent psychopaths tend to be older, predatory, choose targets carefully, create a variety of alias’s, and move frequently in order to avoid being caught.
In addition to having more extreme childhood experiences of Developmental Trauma involving abandonment, cruelty and violent abuse, they also exhibit a sadistic streak, lack empathy and compassion, are self-centered, and have histories of setting fires, hurting animals, and criminal behavior.
Rather than erupting in a moment of overwhelming emotions like the first two categories of mass shooters, this category acts in a very premeditated manner.
This less common shooter profile has been attributed to Mark Conditt, the Austin, Texas bomber. Most people saw him as a clean-cut, somewhat nerdy-looking 23-year-old with an engaging smile. In a “confessional” cell phone recording found after his death, however, he claimed to have been a psychopath since childhood. He ended the recording by saying, “I wish I were sorry, but I’m not.”
His family said they had no idea of the darkness that he must have been in, and described themselves as “tight,” a “Christian family, and normal … in every way.”
A close high school friend, however, declared that Conditt was not a psychopath. This friend said said, “Something broke him … this was never a thought that this could be how his life ended.”
In reality, Conditt fits the Lost Child to Mass Shooter profile–someone who experienced deep Developmental Trauma that no one recognized or knew how to help him overcome.
How to Fix What’s Broken
Fixing a broken society is an overwhelming task, one that takes a long time.
There is, however, a very simple question that you can ask that can help change things. The next time that you hear people talking about a mass shooter person, ask, “I wonder what happened or didn’t happen in that person’s childhood?”
As soon as you ask this question, the focus changes from judgement, blaming, and negativity . . . to curiosity, understanding, compassion, and feeling connected to the person’s desperate struggle.
Once you ask the question, go looking for the answers.
Then share what you’ve learned with those around you who are in the fear| blame| shame mode. I can guarantee you it will shift how everyone is feeling.
The best “fix,” however, is looking at where YOU can make a difference in the life of a Lost Child, because they are all around you! Unfortunately, there are also a lot of Lost Adults, so reach out to them.
The most important thing is to learn HOW to truly heal developmental trauma.
Please come hear us talk about it at our one-day April 6th, 2018 event, Restoring the Body’s Wisdom: An Integrative Approach.