How does a clean-cut, PhD student commit one of the worst massacres in U.S. history?



It hasn’t taken long for pundits to assign scapegoats…


Gun Control

Movie Theater Security

Violence in Movies

Improvements in these areas may be warranted, but are these the REAL problem???

Didn’t humans participate in violent atrocities long before guns and movies?

Archaeologists have found ancient graveyards that revealed over half the bodies died from some form of violence.

Entire civilizations and cultures have been obliterated by massacres in the past.

Even religious books like the Bible document numerous massacres (David reportedly killed 22,000 people).

No matter what period in history you analyze, the conclusion remains the same…

Many humans are pre-disposed to violence and our fascination with violence evidences itself everywhere…religion, sports, art, culture and war.

Society has become LESS violent over time, but we’ve also curtailed progress by scapegoating certain ‘enablers’ and ignoring others.

In the case of unprovoked violence like the Movie Theater Massacre, there are two primary catalysts that rarely get addressed:


1.  Low Self-Esteem


Obviously…everyone with low self-esteem will NOT commit a massacre.


However, it’s virtually impossible for a person with HIGH self-esteem to commit unprovoked violence on innocent individuals.


People with high self-esteem value their life, freedom, and aren’t threatened by others.

They are genuinely happy, so their mind is totally insulated from thoughts of killing innocent people.

In fact, people with high self-esteem rarely engage in ANY behaviors detrimental to others.


Conversely, people with LOW self-esteem don’t have as strong a shield to protect their mind from negative behaviors and emotions.  


Most of the time, they exhibit relatively minor things such as loneliness, anxiety, stress, irritability and insecurity.

Occasionally, low self-esteem mixes with other psychological issues and graduates to things such as depression, cutting, anorexia, bulimia, animal abuse, and other self-defeating behaviors.


In some cases, a ‘perfect storm’ of psychological issues can elevate low self-esteem to extreme things like suicide and unprovoked violence against others.


In regard to the Movie Massascre Suspect, here is our ‘take’ based on the limited information provided…


–The suspect was reported to be an introvert, quiet, and a loner.  

If he had lots of friends and enjoyed a great social life, do you think he would have jeopardized his freedom and killed innocent people unprovoked???

He was educated in book knowledge, which trains you to engage the world professionally.  However, he clearly lacked the critical skills necessary to engage the world socially.

–It would not be surprising to hear that he was bullied or mocked…maybe even called the Joker by others.  

Look closely at his smile in the pic above.  Doesn’t it resemble the Joker’s smirk with the characteristic parenthesis look at then end of the lips?  

If other kids noticed this, do you think they would hesitate to point it out and make fun of him???  

Even if others didn’t notice it, it’s likely the Suspect noticed his resemblance to the Joker.  He even dyed his hair red to accentuate it, which evidences he came to embrace it.

–When a person identifies with a villain and has no friends or social life, it becomes easy to resent everyone who supports the hero.

Thus, it’s not surprising to see him choose a Batman movie and these particular victims.  

On the street, most people are innocent to him.

In the movie theater, they are fans of Batman and against the villain.

Hence, it’s much easier (and consistent with his adopted persona) to despise and kill these particular people.

–The outfit he wore was also telling.  

It may look like he was trying to protect himself, but that is only part of the story.  

It was also costume-like.  

People tend to behave differently when in costume.  Their behavior gets accredited more to the costume than the actual person.

In this case, the “disguise” made it psychologically easier for the Suspect to perpetrate a heinous action.  

–Apparently, he also posted a personal ad on a sleazy online dating site.  

It reportedly had the tagline – “Would You Visit Me In Prison?” – and he was “seeking” perverted relationships. 

Choosing this particular service and creating a vulgar profile does not make you a mass murderer, but it further evidences how little he thought of himself, and how primitively he viewed others.

Does any of this sound like a person with HIGH self-esteem???


If it’s important for every student to learn trigonometry and calculus in school, isn’t it equally crucial to educate people about social dynamics and ensure they are well-equipped to socially interact in the world???

At Optimacy, we do our small part to help as many people as possible with poor social dynamics and low self-esteem, but much more is needed!

Unfortunately, modern society offers only “distractions” or drugs to satiate most loners and introverts that suffer from a low self-esteem.

If you don’t like your life, distractions and substitutes are available.  You can now live “virtually” through others via the internet, TV, video games, books, or movies.

Professional help is available for SOME, but too often the treatment is just medication with no cure.

The sad truth is that…

Low self-esteem is an epidemic.

One can only imagine how many more “issues” society would have to deal with if modern day distractions and medications didn’t exist!

It’s time we start putting more effort into CURING the problem…or even better…start being pro-active and PREVENT the problem.

Instead, we seem to be going backward.

In fact, a new “enabler” has risen for people with low self-esteem…in the case of the Movie Massacre, it trumped all the other coping mechanisms.

The new enabler is…


2.  The Media


We cannot ignore the role of modern media in bringing “fame” to those who do terrible things.

For someone who has never been socially accepted, the “attention” of being on TV and suddenly famous can be intoxicating.

Think about it…

If the Suspect knew that the media WOULDN’T release his name or picture, do you think he would have done it???

His low self-esteem and other issues still may have resulted in destructive behavior, but it likely would have been a suicide or something on a much smaller, less grandiose scale.

While pundits “theorize” over motive, it really is quite simple…ATTENTION.

The movie theater and booby trapping his house are probably NOT the only things he pre-meditated.  

If he were “finished”, then he would have killed himself like many others have done after committing heinous acts.

Watch how he handles the justice system in the upcoming months.

He will likely implement many of the concepts learned in pursuing his neuroscience degree and see if he can “get off” easy with a mental health defense.

Regardless if he is successful or not LEGALLY , he will be successful in acquiring what he really wants…MORE ATTENTION.

Don’t be surprised if he expresses no remorse and relishes becoming a ‘hero’ to similarly deviant people.

His life in freedom was nothing special to him.  He didn’t ‘fit in’ and was an outcast.

In his mind…prison is actually an improvement.

Now he has fame, attention, and will even be pursued by certain women who have fetishes for famous guys in jail.

At some point, the media must acknowledge how they enable fame for people undeserving of the attention.

To-date, most ridicule of the media has been focused on how they are “played” by people with no merit such as the Kardashians, Jersey Shore, and similar sluts to the camera.

Now…even criminals are realizing how easy they can manipulate the media and achieve notoriety and fame for deviant behavior.

High powered defense attorneys are also drawn to it like moths to a flame.

We intentionally left out the suspects name and blacked out his face in this article (except his smile to evidence the Joker point made above).

ALL media should start doing the similar situations.  It may SEEM responsible to disclose every detail, but it now causes more harm than good.

Things won’t change though until we, as an audience, demand it and legislate it.

In many ways, we – the audience – are culpable for hinging on every word and watching hour after hour.  We provide oxygen to the flame.

As much as we watch with disgust, there is also a natural level fascination…like watching a car wreck.

Things on TV have a comforting level of detachment that allows us to watch horrible things longer than we should.  Because the media spends so much time on it, we then feel comfortable talking about it with others and spreading the attention even more.

The media must do a better job balancing their desire to “fascinate” us with their responsibility not to abuse their influential power.

Currently, incessant media focus is creating folk heroes out of people for accomplishing nothing or perpetuating negative behaviors.

This must change!

If we don’t focus on catalysts like this, deviant individuals will only attempt worse and worse crimes to garner the attention they so desperately seek.




Let’s be clear…If someone has low self-esteem and commits a heinous act, they are 100% responsible for the consequences and blame.

However, the ‘perfect storm’ that causes a person to do a heinous act involves many components.

If we just blame the easy targets such as assault weapons and violence in movies, then we miss another opportunity to make real progress in areas that can provide equally strong results.

It’s time we start addressing LOW self-esteem and the role of the media in enabling unspeakable tragedies before it’s too late.

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Thanks for sharing!!!


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