Recently a well known psychiatrist, Dr. Gail Saltz, and Obama stated that most mass shooters aren’t mentally ill. I’m a little perplexed about this since the most recent shooter, Chris Harper Mercer, and many others have at least a personality issues if not an actual personality disorder. A personality disorder is considered a mental disorder and according to Wikipedia mental illness and mental disorder are used interchangeably.
Most mass shooters are angry loners, not mentally ill. Mentally ill more likely to be victims
According to Saltz they tend to be loners with anger issues. Seems fairly obvious but I’m guessing there is more. They tend to often have a preoccupation with becoming famous and getting some kind of revenge against an unfair world. This could indicate some issues with narcissism and antisocial behavior. Additionally, there seems to be some depression however not the clinical variety. All of these mass shooters know they will not survive so the act is essentially suicide.
One solution to this problem could be to somehow screen students using psychological tests such as the MMPI when they are matriculated into college. After that ones that showed a tendency towards that behavior could be monitored closely. I’m sure at this point psychologists have a profile of this type of person.Many would claim an invasion of privacy but so is getting shot at. The rights of the individual have to be balanced against the rights of the group. At the moment they are too much in favor of the individual.
According to DSM-IV, a mental disorder is a psychological syndrome or pattern, which occurs in an individual, and causes distress via a painful symptom or disability, or increases the risk of death, pain, or disability; however it excludes normal responses such as grief from loss of a loved one, and also excludes deviant behavior for political, religious, or societal reasons not arising from a dysfunction in the individual.[
It’s interesting, looking at this DSM-V definition of what a mental disorder/ mental illness is, how it has to cause distress to the individual. What about relatives and society? Perhaps if these mass shooters don’t fit any definition the DSM-V needs to add a label just for them.
Here are a few articles I’ve read since writing this post that discuss the same topic. It appears one could profile these mass shooters but the description could apply to a lot of people. Mental health is part of the picture but not necessarily the most beneficial thing to focus on. A history of violence appears to be a better predictor.