Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A killer's clues . . .

More spot-on analysis on the Virginia Tech Massacre, this time from psychotherapist and psychologist Dr. Michael Hurd:

Here are three clues to what contributes to the attitude of a killer--chillingly, illustrated in the aftermath of the disaster.

The killer's roommate: "If I was told before he was depressed or suicidal, I definitely would have kept an eye open ... I definitely would have tried harder to be his friend or know a little bit better."

Dr. Hurd: You can't be friends with a nihilist hell-bent on destruction. Evil is not the same as emotional conflict. If you still don't understand this in the aftermath of the tragedy, then you're never going to understand it; and the way is paved for another one, and another one after that. Killers flourish in a psychological atmosphere where their potential victims think like this. This man didn't need counseling, and never would have benefited from it. He needed to be stopped, back when he was stalking women and making threats, and otherwise violating the individual rights of those on a campus.

The killer's creative writing teacher: "He was so distant and so lonely," she told ABC's "Good Morning America" Wednesday. "It was almost like talking to a hole, as though he wasn't there most of the time. He wore sunglasses and his hat very low so it was hard to see his face."

Dr. Hurd: Many people are lonely. They can't find people with whom to connect; they can't find people on their "wave length," if you will--that is, people who share their philosophy or sense-of-life. Yet they want this connection, and they generally seek it out. Cho didn't want it or need it. He only wanted and needed to destroy. Don't try to understand it; it's too irrational and sick to contemplate. But, at the same time, don't try to relate it to the realm of the reasonable, either.

The killer's poetry teacher: "I know we're talking about a youngster, but troubled youngsters get drunk and jump off buildings," she said. "There was something mean about this boy. It was the meanness — I've taught troubled youngsters and crazy people — it was the meanness that bothered me. It was a really mean streak."

Dr. Hurd: Come on, professor. You can say it. Go ahead, I dare you. Say it. He was EVIL. He was BAD. He was not quantitatively different from your average, stressed out college student...he was qualitatively different. He acted with choice, no less so than the 9/11 killers, the Columbine killers, or the Oklahoma City killers. It's not mental pain or anguish. It's hatred and evil.
Yet as Hurd indicates, look just how reluctant these three individuals are to describe evil--that is, a substantive threat to the living and the good--as the thing it is.

If the take-way from this tragedy is that people like Cho--that is, the viciously amoral and depraved--are helpless victims who only need our "love," "compassion" and "understanding" to deter them from their path, I think we will only pave the road for the next unspeakable tragedy. There are people who choose to be utterly nihilistic, and it is our right to defend ourselves against them.


Bill K. said...

This creep's soul should be publicly dissected in the harshest terms by those like Dr. Hurd.

They could start with the cowardice of his life and the cowardice of his death. We've all the pictures of this bastard posing with all the false bravado he can muster. These pictures, more than anything else, scream out: Loser!

These mass killers imagine that they're so nastly and tough when they're killing those who can't fight back, but when the cops come, instead of going out with guns blazing aginst armed opponents, invariably they put their gun to their head and blow their rotten brains out.

THe MSMs sick fascination with these killers is nauseating. What other psychopaths out there are seeing all this attention paid to this utter loser and thinking of a murderous rampage to give "meaning" to their empty lives?

Ed Cline said...

Listening to discussions on the news this Thursday morning about the state of Cho's mind, and then listening and watching his "video," it occurred to me, first, that Cho was emulating Muslim suicide bombers by making a "farewell" tape; and then, listening to Cho's ranting, that his concrete complaints could just as easily be substituted with a suicide bomber's ranting. I see very little difference in the death-worshipping, man-hating states of mind between Cho and any terrorist killer.

Daniel said...

I’m curious as to how much (if any) culpability the parents share in the creation of a monster like this. From personal experience, I know that having to earn what I want forces me to focus my efforts to that end (and away from others’ possessions/activities); i.e. it makes me self-centered. And when I succeed, I know I’m good (regardless of what others might say) and I have confidence to attempt more difficult projects/activities. Paying one's own way thickens the skin a bit, thus deflecting the taunts of others. If this effort->success-> reward circuit is broken all hell breaks loose; one needs the approval of others to feel good about oneself and if that praise/acceptance isn’t forthcoming… nihilism sets in. Furthermore, without knowing that possessions require effort to attain them, inequality of possessions takes on a wholly different meaning (i.e. they’re better/luckier than me, their parents/providers love them more than mine love me…). The disparity between what he had and what others had was something that was significant to him since he was complaining about what other students had that he didn't (luxury cars, gold jewelry, fun, That he believed that this disparity had significance for his self-esteem is evidenced by his rant about it followed by his denigration of it (“debauchery”… “hedonists” etc…) in an attempt to rationalize his parity with them (something like, “They’re better than me, since they have this and that, so if this and that are worthless then they’re the same as me”).

So this takes me back to the parents. How does such a disconnect between the need to act and achieve to obtain things arise and how can it be maintained? Due to his utter lack of self-esteem I suspect that he didn't provide for himself, his parents who run/own a grocery store likely footed the entire bill for this and everything else he’s every laid his hands on. So I believe that his parents bear some if not all responsibility for the vacuous monster he had become. Robert Heinlein has an apt quote, as does Aesop have an apt fable:

“Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.” Robert A. Heinlein

The Theif and His Mother (

“A BOY stole a lesson-book from one of his schoolfellows and took it home to his Mother. She not only abstained from beating him, but encouraged him. He next time stole a cloak and brought it to her, and she again commended him. The Youth, advanced to adulthood, proceeded to steal things of still greater value. At last he was caught in the very act, and having his hands bound behind him, was led away to the place of public execution. His Mother followed in the crowd and violently beat her breast in sorrow, whereupon the young man said, "I wish to say something to my Mother in her ear." She came close to him, and he quickly seized her ear with his teeth and bit it off. The Mother upbraided him as an unnatural child, whereon he replied, "Ah! if you had beaten me when I first stole and brought to you that lesson-book, I should not have come to this, nor have been thus led to a disgraceful death.”

Additionally, I'm curious why the school didn't expel him after the stalking events. Even if the victims didn't press criminal charges, the school admin. should've investigated and if/when they found evidence of the stalking they should've booted him.

Nicholas Provenzo said...

Daniel wrote:

> I’m curious as to how much (if any) culpability the parents share in the creation of a monster like this.

I am too—but too a point. As Michael Hurd states on his website, "Don't get distracted by his alcoholic father (if there is one) or sexually abusing mother (if there was one). Many people endure this terrible sort of torture as children, but it would never occur to them to blow up all of existence (or come as close as they can) only because of this pain." I agree with this sentiment, for whatever the failures of Cho's parents, the boy still possessed an independent mind.

>Due to his utter lack of self-esteem I suspect that he didn't provide for himself, his parents who run/own a grocery store likely footed the entire bill for this and everything else he’s every laid his hands on.

That certainly sounds plausible—there has been no mention of his past jobs. It might also explain his rage against the wealthy; if his parents weren't able to make him quite the trust fund baby in relation to his peers, that could be a source of his rage.

>Additionally, I'm curious why the school didn't expel him after the stalking events.

At this point in time, I'm trying to process how a man who was labeled an imminent threat to himself and others by a court of law was nevertheless able to remain in college and legally purchase a firearm.

Daniel said...

I don't believe that his parents abused him or anything like that (neither did the Columbine parents). I believe that the parents in both cases spared their children lessons in responsibility that would have instilled self-esteem from having to earn things. I agree that one should not look for abberations like alcoholism etc. from personal experience. While my parents did have faults of that kind, they did teach me that if I wanted something I had to earn it and I believe that that lesson has served me well.

I agree that he still had his own mind, but a mind with critical lessons in responsiblity completely absent has consequences.

My purpose in my thoughts about this is to learn as much as I can from the incident (not to spread blame). Things like what to do if I find myself as a potential victim in a similar situation on campus, or what NOT to do when raising a child.