Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Adam Lanza II
There has been a lot of speculation over the past several days about exactly what mental disorder Elliot Rodger had.
Although what he did was despicable, he didn't give off most of the usual signals of sociopathy. If he had been a sociopath, he certainly would have been a more skillful seducer. He would have come across more confident with those who knew him. And he would have been a master manipulator.
Though all serial killers are almost by definition sociopaths, mass murderers often are not (they are more likely to be psychotic, or otherwise disturbed).
When I first saw the infamous video, I was a little surprised that (a) he was that interested in girls, because he looked awfully gay, and (b) that he was rejected by so many of them, since he was sort of pretty, if in an effeminate way. He actually reminded me a little of Rudolf Nureyev, the Russian dancer who died of AIDS in 1991 -- and whom women were crazy about back in the 60's and 70's:
Rodger did not lack for delusions of grandeur: “I am Elliot Rodger . . . Magnificent, glorious, supreme, eminent . . . Divine! I am the closest thing there is to a living god….On the day of Retribution, I will truly be a powerful god, punishing everyone I deem to be impure."
Delusions of grandeur often go hand in hand with a paranoid personality, but can also just be the ramblings of someone who is extremely narcissistic. The "living god" bit actually verges into psychotic (divorced from reality) territory.
He also said, towards the end, that he realized that the reason girls didn't get with him was not because he was inferior, but because he was a superior being.
(I too would like to believe that all the girls who ever turned me down did so because I am superior; reality, however, compels me to admit it was far more likely because I'm inferior.)
I heard somewhere that Rodger had been diagnosed with Aspergers a few years earlier. This made sense too; it certainly explained why he was unable to get any girls: they wanted nothing to do with a guy who was so awkward. (An Aspie like Rodger or Adam Lanza has ample reason to hate a world which rejects him.)
But then I read that Rodger had never been officially diagnosed with Aspergers, though his family suspected that he was on the spectrum. (I think they're right.)
Then I heard Roissy's theory, that Rodger was in fact gay and trying to cover it up with his elaborate manifesto. This too had a certain logic: it explained his femininity, and his never having been with a girl. And why would he bother to make those Youtube videos beforehand, if not to convince the world (and maybe himself?) that he was heterosexual? That was an expensive coverup, what with seven people having to give their lives to further it.
(There was a lot of homosexual and also child pornography found on Adam Lanza's computer, though the mainstream media did their best to downplay that angle.)
Roissy also mentioned the racial angle, and refers to the fact that mixed race people are more likely to have mental illnesses. This is the link he provided to make that point (although the writer of the linked piece actually argues mildly against this thesis).
But Rodger's manifesto seems too painfully honest in too many ways to just be a coverup. He talks about his feelings of inferiority, how he hated being short, his dorkiness, his shyness, how he was bullied, his jealousy of tall blond surfer guys, and how he felt left out.
He also mentions his Eurasian heritage frequently. I can't help but think of Andrew Cunanan, the Eurasian serial killer who murdered Giorgio Armani, and Jack Abbott, the Eurasian prison writer who briefly became a cause celebrate back in 1981. (Within a month of having been freed thanks to the efforts of Norman Mailer and others, Abbott killed another man.) I don't know exactly what the numbers would have to be, but it is my impression we Eurasians are now overrepresented in the mass killing sweepstakes.
In any case, after all this, I'm still not exactly sure what to make of Rodger, other than that he was not a standard issue sociopath. He probably did have Aspergers; it's possible he was also gay. I was originally going to guess borderline personality disorder, but I don't have a good enough handle on exactly what that entails for it to have been a particularly educated guess.
He wasn't quite crazy enough to be psychotic, though his warped perspective on what his social life should have been and how people would react to his killing spree were pretty far removed from reality. But that may also have just been the cluelessness engendered by Aspergers.
The killer Rodger reminds me most of is Adam Lanza. Lanza was such an all around dweeb (to use a not strictly DSM term) that he didn't spark any copycat killings. For essentially the same reason, hopefully, neither will Rodger.