Today’s world is much different than it used to be. It used to be that acts of terrorism and randomized violence were so rare that no one ever really thought about it. Now it seems like you can’t look at the news without hearing about a terrorist attack or a school shooting. And the emotional atmosphere in the world today as a result, is one of unsafety. It is beginning to feel like anyone could be the target of totally unpredictable attack. But today, I’m going to make things a little more predictable for you and increase your awareness by demystifying school shooters.
As we progress through this episode, I want you to keep in mind that my intention is not to condone the actions of school shooters. The wake of suffering that they create is enormous. No one who has lost a loved one to a school shooter should be asked to feel forgiveness or practice empathy for someone who has hurt them to such a degree. It is up to their own healing process when or even if that ever happens. But so much of the solution with regards to school shooters, lies in our capacity to understand them.
Many people would love to hear me say that school shooters are simply mentally ill and so “don’t worry, they are nothing like you”. But this is not the case. To understand school shooters we are going to have to make our ego very uncomfortable by ceasing to see them as “those people” who are nothing like you. I always get upset when I hear about school shooting drills happening in schools. Because the reality is that if a school shooting happens, there is a very high likelihood that the very kid who is going to be doing the shooting is also participating in those drills. We act as if anyone who could carry out this kind of action couldn’t possibly be one of us.
Our incapacity to understand school shooters begins with our incapacity to understand emotional neglect and loneliness. When we are looking for the conditions that create a person who is suffering enough to carry out an act of terror, we should be looking for something that is often invisible. Instead, we are looking for abuse we can see or for loneliness we can see. And this is why it seems like there are no symptoms, characteristics or conditions that seem to be unanimous amongst all school shooters. But when we can see these things in the life of a school shooter, it is lucky.
It takes a whole collection of different factors to create a school shooter. But the culprit that unites them all is in fact invisible. What is unanimous amongst them is emotional neglect, which is something that can’t be seen because it is a suffering because of what isn’t happening instead of about what is happening. And what is unanimous amongst them, often as a result of emotional neglect, is a sense of isolation that exists even when they are surrounded by other people. This is why not every school shooter is physically socially isolated. But I absolutely 100% assure you they are isolated emotionally.
To understand this dynamic of emotional neglect completely, I want you to watch my video titled: Todays Great Epidemic (And How To Cure It).
We are living in the Emotional Dark Age. It used to be that we were living in the Dark Age when it came to pathogens. This is why the Plague was blamed on prostitutes and taken to be a sign of displeasure by God. We used to be completely confused about why people got sick and how sickness spread. Our confusion about school shooters is exactly the same. We do not understand emotions. We do not understand how to create the right emotional conditions for a person to feel connected to another person. We don’t get what we don’t overtly see and have not experienced for ourselves. This is why emotional neglect is not something parents get they are even doing with their children. It is not something we get that we are doing to each other.
Every act carried out in this universe is carried out for one reason and that is because the person doing it thinks it will help them to feel better. It is a desperate attempt to seek relief. Though every case of school shooter involves a unique cocktail of experiences and influences that makes them carry out the act where other people don’t, the truth is what they all have in common is the inability to truly connect emotionally to other people. So let’s look at how this works in the mind of the most difficult to understand school shooter. This school shooter is not isolated physically to the outside viewer and we cannot see overt signs of abuse in the family.
Imagine that you are a kid who grows up in a house where you are fed and clothed but there is no deep sense of connection on an emotional level with the other people in the household. You do not feel seen, felt, heard or understood. Because of this, often the people in your household are un-attuned to you. Things happen in the household and also in life and these things cause emotional pain. But because the people around you are un-attuned, they don’t realize the impact these painful experiences are actually having. Instead of being emotionally attuned enough to help you work through these painful emotional experiences with a sense of connection, they do things and say things that have real impact and that really hurt. Even when they are trying to love you. But your hurt is invalidated when it occurs because no one sees it and even shames you for feeling hurt. So you have learned to hide it. There is no way then to resolve these emotions of deep hurt.
Hatred is a cover emotion for hurt. It takes over in order to make a person feel less powerless. You feel isolated even when everyone is at the dinner table together. You feel you have no significance and doubt whether you really exist. Because of the deep pain you feel in this situation, you start to hate people. You are secretive about that hate. You simply notice that feeling hate feels much better than feeling hurt that you are powerless to do anything about.
Because you have learned connection (or lack there of) from your family, you carry these patterns into your relationships outside the household. Even though it may look like you have friends on the outside, none of them are genuinely close to you emotionally. They don’t really know you. That causes you pain as well. You notice that the closest you can get to feeling emotionally close to someone, is when they are suffering emotionally like you are. You notice that when tragedies occur, people feel like you feel and for the first time, you feel like you exist. When they go back to being happy, it feels like they leave you behind. They are in a different reality that is inconsiderate of the pain you are in. This makes you feel hurt by them and totally alone.
You begin to fantasize about forcing them to see you and forcing them to be in your reality. You dream of forcing them to feel empathy through going through a situation that forces them to feel what you feel. This makes you feel less alone. None of this is particularly conscious of course. You begin to pre-meditate about it.
So then, you lose the hope of ever really being connected because of a series of events that push you over the edge. Perhaps someone breaks up with you and you get disapproval in the form of a bad grade in your class and you get a parking ticket. On that day, you decide you have nothing to lose anymore, because the parts of you that put the brakes on this impulse are the ones that thought connection might just be possible and now they see it is futile. And so they are overpowered by your pain. You go out into the world (for a student, school is their world) and you carry out the attack. If you have particular people who you feel have hurt you in this way, like school personnel or girls who broke up with you, you will target them. If you feel this way about everyone, because you feel like the world is entirely me and them, you will shoot anyone you see. In that second, you are significant. In that moment, even though they don’t consciously realize it, you have succeeded in making them join your reality.
This is where I need you to really stretch your mind. This is the real reason that anyone carries out this type of attack… Underneath it all, it is the literal only way that a person feels is available to them after all other hope is lost to get the emotional connection they can’t get in any other way. In that moment that you injure or kill them, they feel your loss. They feel your powerlessness, they feel the pain that is bad enough at this point that it feels like life cannot go on. They feel the horror of your emotional life. They feel and see the world that is going on inside you underneath the surface façade.
You may have been trying to get them to see this. You may have been dropping hints or crying out for help before. But no one succeeded in seeing you. So, you had to force them to. Now they get it. But now, they turn you into a monster. When you perceive that it is not you that did it to them. It is them that did it to you and now they are getting a taste of the very same emotional medicine.
This is what happens in the case of the school shooter that no one can explain because on the outside, nothing seems to set them or the pain they experienced in life drastically apart from anyone else. Every other case offers more easy to understand elements that contributed to such an action.
It is critical to understand that each person’s perspective is very different. Nowhere is this truer than the perspective of a child and the perspective of an adult. For example, for an adult, the jealousy that a toddler may feel when a new baby enters the house should not be a big deal. To an adult, it should be exciting to welcome a new family member and it is something the kid should just get over. To the toddler I can promise you it is quite a different experience. If the parents don’t play that situation right from the get go, it is a massive betrayal. To put it in a way you can emotionally understand it, imagine that tomorrow, your spouse walks in the room and says, “I have decided to be in a relationship with this other person too. Oh and since it’s a new relationship, they are going to need more attention in the beginning. Don’t be jealous because only bad people are jealous. Eventually, you’ll get used to it.” And you are just expected to be ok with that. Chances are, you’d see that as petty abusive.
That is the emotional experience a child has when a new baby comes into a house where they had such an intimate relationship with mom and dad before when the introduction isn’t done well. But no one would ever call it abuse from the outside, even though it very much felt that way to the child. And believe me, many people never actually get over that experience even in their adulthood.
So if we are looking specifically for pain drastic enough by our external standards to constitute as abuse or to cause the kind of actions a school shooter carries out, but we are looking for that pain to be caused by something that we, being outside their perspective would consider to be “bad enough”, we are going to fail to see them, fail to see reality and fail to understand how to change this dynamic in society so these acts don’t occur.
School shooters contain an emotional void where true connection and human intimacy should be, but isn’t. And this connection is not something that can occur when you are simply around other people physically. And what the future will prove is that trauma (all be it trauma that most people don’t’ see) is the cause of both narcissistic personality traits and psychosis, which are two traits that are most common amongst school shooters for whom we cannot overtly see a traumatic experience to pin their behavior on. I will be talking at length in the future about this because it is not something that mainstream psychologists have caught up with yet.
There are some reasons why school shootings are getting so prevalent today.
One is that in this era of very fast awakening and shift in collective human consciousness, human shadow cannot hide in a closet anymore. Instead, it is coming out in plain view to be integrated.
Another reason is that we are being desensitized to violence on a mass scale. The media is making killing seem commonplace. And many of the video games that people are playing for hours upon hours cause the player to identify with the person carrying out the violence and in many cases shooting. And unfortunately, many of the people who suffer from emotional isolation and powerlessness tend to gravitate towards video games where they can exit their reality as well as identity and also carry out violent acts because it makes them feel less powerless. These violent movies and video games allow the person to see that it is possible to transform from a nobody with no personal power or significance into an earthly god who is above laws and empowered through aggression and violence.
But it is much harder for the brain to differentiate between the images it is seeing on a screen (as well as the feelings and associations caused by it) and reality than we currently know. When we desensitize our brain to violence, we no longer feel there being a drastic gap between what is occurring physically and what is occurring in the mind. There is often a sense of dis-reality already present in the perception belonging to the people who carry out these acts. And we have to continue to increase the level of stimulation in order to feel the same chemical release on our brains. So there is often an escalation path they take, just like we see with addiction but relative to violence.
Another reason this is so prevalent today is that the people of today (even more so the children of today) have much, much more stressors thrown at them but with much, much less resources for dealing with it. We have become increasingly more and more isolated. When we used to live in tribe and then community, and then even with extended family, we had multiple people to go to for help regarding how to deal with stressors. If we couldn’t get connection from one person, we could find someone else to connect with. That is not the case today. The world is too hard for most of us to deal with. Which leaves us much less available to our children. But now, we have become so isolated in our own little households that we are all they have. And so, they have only the resources that we demonstrate to them to work with.
So for example, if we show them that the way to deal with emotion is to stuff it down and pretend it doesn’t exist, they will copy that. It will work horribly for them. But they don’t have anyone who deals with emotion in any other way to sit there with them and actually help them with how they are feeling. And our schools today are not a place where most kids can get these needs met and find these resources. They are places where many kids feel more isolated and more traumatized and more powerless and more disciplined instead of guided. School is a place that adds to emotional pain for most children alive today. It is even more so the case for the two most isolated kids in school 1. The social outcasts who are isolated in every way. 2. The social actors who are surrounded by other kids, but no one sees them because they are in a relationship not with them, but with the role they play.
Prevention of this kind of violence is necessary. And that goes much further than actually noticing the signs when they occur. There is often a degree of hinting with regards to attacks. They often try to recruit others to participate or tell people not to go to school on certain days or talk about what they want to do or engage in progressive forms of violence. We have to really take ownership of each other in society in that when we see these signs, we take responsibility to do something about them and in a loving way, not a way that isolates them further.
We need to make more resources available to all children so they have more tools available for how to deal with the stressors in their life. We need to be emotionally close and connected consistently with our children so they feel significant and develop empathy and feel as though they belong. Many people would imagine that most school shooters come from underprivileged circumstances. But this is not the case. Though there are school shootings that occur in impoverished and underprivileged demographics, it is not the norm because ironically in underprivileged areas, there is often more outreach of people providing resources outside the resources they get in the home as well as more of a banding together of community. This is not often the case in middle to upper class households where it is assumed the child is getting all the resources they need, when often the emotional resources they need are totally absent.
But the best form of prevention we have is to understand emotions and how to deal with them. We have to understand connection and genuine intimacy and to create it. And even though it would be good for this to happen at any point, this has ideally got to start before these people develop the emotional void so consistent with emotional neglect. Pain that is not properly addressed, either becomes directed externally or internally or both. In the worst cases of all, this means suicide, murder or both. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: The emotional wakeup call.
The real reason these attacks are carried out is because a human being feels an insatiable need to emotionally connect and feel significant and empowered but for a vast variety of different reasons and conditions in their life, they have failed in every other way to get it to happen. I know this is not what meets the eye, because it seems like anyone who is killing people is trying to push people away from themselves. But in fact the opposite is true. And we need to have the awareness to see that in order to do what it will take to prevent it.
School shooting is not a problem with an individual. It is a problem created by society itself. We fail to connect to one another and really see, feel, hear and understand each other. And because of this emotional distance between each other, we feel the world is unsafe and renders us powerless. And because of our unconscious psychology, when we are put in this position, there are only two roles to identify with. A winner or a loser, the strong or the weak, a victim or a perpetrator. Because of this collective psychology, we are sending a mixed message. We may say at a societal level that killing is not ok. But look at what a superhero does in a movie. He kills all kinds of people and we look at him and call him good. The rift between the bad guy and the good guy is a rift that further separates us from one another. It is a rift that makes us alone and powerless to one another. And it is a rift that has to end.