JEFFREY BROWN: We turn to Stanton Samenow, a clinical psychologist based in Alexandria, Virginia. He's the author of "Inside the Criminal Mind." And Paul Viollis, he's CEO of Risk Control Strategies, which provides security consulting for corporations and educational institutions. He's the author of "Avoiding Violence in our Schools."Check out the transcript or view the clip here. I haven't read these books, but both experts gave testimony to the fact that in these types of cases, the perpetrator has certain defining characteristics. For example,
And from Samenow, "They do have unrealistic expectations of other people. They have this all-or-nothing thinking, but that is not mental illness."
PAUL VIOLLIS: Typically, this type of person is someone that's found as a loner, more or less the quintessential outsider, someone that's never accepted, someone who has a difficulty accepting criticism.
This person finds himself in a position where he's constantly searching for attention, constantly searching for inner control. And if it escalates to the extent that he cannot find that, it builds to a sense of powerlessness. And when that happens, typically violence is imminent.
So it seems to me, that this is somewhat systemic, in that, the perpetrator goes down a downward spiral, with behaviors that reinforce each turn. Say you are this person who is an outsider, never accepted, etc. But then some kind hearted soul reaches out to you and tries to be friends. But unbeknownst to you, you have unrealistic expectations of this kind friend, and the first time they cross you (whether real or imagined/misunderstood), you respond with exaggerated anger and perhaps even violence. Well, how is the friend going to react? I know if I were in those shoes, I would get freaked out and probably not want to be friends anymore. Indeed, I would probably warn others to stay away from "you" because I think you have a screw loose. Thus, the downward spiral. Isolation and erratic behavior beget more isolation and desperation.
I think we need to develop the response-ability to recognize these situations and stop the downward spiral. How to do that? Well, I think it has to start with our hypothetical friend. The friend needs to first recognize that unrealistic expectations were held, and then not give up on "you" so quickly. Somehow, explain that sometimes things don't go exactly as we'd like them to, but that doesn't mean the end of the world, or relationship or whatever. This is definitely the tricky part.
My two cents.