May 26th, 2014

Murder in Santa Barbara

So far I haven’t written about the latest mass murder and the latest mass murderer, Elliot Rodger.

That’s because there is a certain repetitiveness to these horrific crimes and the reaction to them. A young and angry perpetrator. Blaming his crime on something else: the failure of the mental health care system, the parents, the police, the school, society. Propagation of his message by the internet, and then subsequently by the MSM. Speculation about whether he was on psychoactive drugs, and if so what role that might have played. The predicable cries for gun control—particularly far-fetched in this case because his first three murders were committed with knives, and some of his victims’ injuries were caused by him mowing them down with a car.

I repeat what I’ve often said before: it is easy to see, ex-post-facto, that something should have been done about this guy. There were certainly plenty of warning signs. But they only look unequivocal after the fact, not before, and everyone who presents with this kind of behavior cannot be locked up, and certainly can’t be locked up forever. Elliot Rodger looks to me (after seeing a couple of moments of the video he made, and reading about it) to have been a psychopath, and psychopaths cannot be deterred except by incarceration, and that can’t be done in the absence of a crime. It certainly can’t be done indefinitely in the absence of a heinous crime.

I only watched a couple of seconds of the Rodgers video; I stopped because it was almost unbearable to watch it. He emanated such pure evil I did not want to look on it any longer. But it’s a mistake to think Rodger seemed that way in his ordinary life prior to the killings. He probably had developed a false front, not entirely effective (many people seemed to sense he was deeply troubled) but effective enough to accomplish the goal of presenting himself as less dangerous than he actually was.

Unfortunately, I see no way to have prevented this.

[ADDENDUM: More here about the actions of the police in their prior interview with Rodger, and his parents frantic efforts to stop him in time. This is also of interest; it seems that one problem was that the parents’ intense concerns about earlier videos were not conveyed properly to the police who went to interview Rodger, and he was able to fool them. It also seems as though the suspicion at that time was that he was mostly suicidal rather than homicidal, and Rodger was very canny in dealing with them.]

48 Responses to “Murder in Santa Barbara”

  1. Ymarsakar Says:

    It’s Hollywood and Californian culture at work. The only way to “prevent it” is to get rid of it or remove yourself from it.

  2. Ymarsakar Says:

    His manifesto is a lot better source on what happened to the media’s…. information.

    The narrative slant these days hasn’t gotten any better or any more accurate.

  3. Matt_SE Says:

    I agree with Ymarsakar. If you find it too troubling to look at the video, you should find it less so to read his manifesto.
    Since it comes in at 144 pages, it was likely the product of extended effort and therefore may give more accurate insight into his motives.

    I’ve already started it, but it’s long and though well-written, is not a “page turner.” Going through it is work.

    Make up you own mind. I’ll give you my thoughts when I finish it. In the meantime, you can safely ignore lefty commentary since its primary objective is not honesty, but to push an agenda.

  4. Oldflyer Says:

    Neo, I really do see this as symptomatic of the chronic failure of government that is manifest at all levels.

    I cannot say for certain that the parents informed the police of the videos, but also have trouble believing that they did not since they were alarmed enough to contact the police.

    Then, there are the gun laws in California. There are the usual requirements to purchase; but then there is a requirement to register hand guns. According to reports his guns were registered. The police could have verified that he had guns before visiting him. In fact that seems like basic due diligence to me. Why else are we required to register? It was not a requirement in Va.

    So, it would seem that the Sheriff not only did not bother to review the videos that were the source of alarm, they did not bother to check their own gun registry–which would have shown that this fellow had 3 hand guns. How many 22 year olds who alarm their parents sufficiently to call for police intervention also own 3 hand guns?

    In another respected forum, I read comments by a Psychiatrist who has worked in San Diego, and in Wisconsin. He said that police in Wisconsin are much more likely to intervene and request professional evaluation of people with questionable emotional states, than are those in California–although it is equally legal in either.

    Just as I expected, my senile Senator Diane Feinstein is leading the parade for yet more laws, and more restrictions on gun ownership.

  5. Matt_SE Says:


    Someone should amend Feinstein’s bill to ban knives and cars, since that’s what this guy used to kill most of the people.
    That should go over well, especially in CA.

  6. Ymarsakar Says:

    I’ve already started it, but it’s long and though well-written, is not a “page turner.” Going through it is work.

    Skip to the end, and go backwards. It’s organized via years and is easier to read than most 22 year old’s “essays”. So skim through the first 16 or so years, and only reference it later.

    The video was BORING as hell to me. Not evil. Not crazy. Just boring. Can’t even hear the audio most of the time.

  7. Ymarsakar Says:

    Someone should rip Feinstein’s husband of his defense contracts and bribes.

  8. Ymarsakar Says:

    Sadly, the daily mail I think has the most open ended coverage of this story. Not American, but British. So sad. Make sure to check that Daily Mail link out.

    Vox has an excerpt of the manifesto, or technically autiobiography.

  9. Don Carlos Says:

    I am not what is called a mental health professional, but unlike our hostess I had no hangup about clinically watching Rodger’s video. He is not emotional at all. His speech and affect are flat. It is not PC to say so, since it is everyone’s pet diagnosis and we see endless campaigns for its “awareness”, but I think he was autistic. OK, with psychopathic features, but autistic. Isolated, unable to relate to others, emotionally dry from the getgo.

    Now what would PC world headquarters, California, do with that? Autism is dangerous? Ohh no no, we can’t have that; they’re just poor babies who do not emote normally, but they deserve normal lives. Autism is the hottest trendiest mental disorder since ADHD, but sometimes the shoe fits..

    Of course there is a way to prevent events like this; look under Soviet Union.

  10. neo-neocon Says:

    Don Carlos:

    First of all, I think you mean Asperger’s.

    Secondly, Asperger’s itself does not make a person more dangerous to others. But Asperger’s can co-exist with other problems (although no more commonly than in people who don’t have Asperger’s). It’s the other problems—in this case, psychopathy or sociopathy, IMHO—that are the problem in terms of violence towards other people.

  11. Matt_SE Says:


    I’m halfway through; page 72. This brings me up to “19 years old.” The last half deals with the last 3 years.

    Although I’m doing the “grad-student skim,” I don’t really want to go backwards (I feel like that would be cheating).

    I’ll say that I’ve already found what I consider to be evidence that he wasn’t a psychopath. He seemed quite lucid and aware of various factors, and the un-reality of fantasized “solutions.”

    I also see evidence of the seeds that led to his troubled thinking.

    I’ve been taking notes for quotes supporting various positions/questions, and their page numbers for easy reference. I’ll post a more in-depth proof when I finish.

  12. neo-neocon Says:


    Psychopaths are extremely lucid and very much in touch with reality.

    I’ve written on the subject before several times on this blog. Do a search.

  13. Matt_SE Says:

    Another thought:

    Considering our recent discussion of the Abramson thing and “true crime” genre, this exploration might be right up your ally, neo-neocon. Personal psychology and motivation, and such.
    Assuming you can get past the horror of the events.

  14. Matt_SE Says:

    It’s gonna have to wait til later, because I’m having trouble finishing the manifesto.
    After about page 80, the descent becomes pretty obvious.
    It’s a fixation.
    It’s hard to keep reading the same story over and over, so I’ll take a break and finish the last 40 pages tomorrow.

  15. Don Carlos Says:

    Autism or Asperger’s, not a big difference. Kinda like the difference between a turnip and a rutabaga. color and flavor but they’re both root veggies, grow in same place at same time, same shape, store ’em the same, they cook the same.
    Anyhow, I’m not a mental health professional, as I said. Just a clinician with three Board certifications, none in soft specialties. My point is about the popularity of the diagnosis of autism plus congeners, the trendiness, why these people are almost cute. Except when they’re not. California thinking.

  16. neo-neocon Says:

    Don Carlos:

    Actually, there’s a huge difference between autism and Asperger’s.

  17. Molly Brown Says:

    This is my first time commenting, although I have followed your column daily for over a year. I want to thank you for all your work in putting it out, I really appreciate the thoughtful approach you take to the issues.
    Like you, I couldn’t stand to hear too many details about this case, as the mother of a 20 and 22 year old it is just too painful. Awue. But I did get the basic outlines and this time I began to think differently about the cause of these kinds of events and the common threads that run through them. I used to think these events were the product of severe emotional dysfunction in the home in conjunction with early and extended drug use and or abuse. The suggestion that autism or Asperger’s is involved is an interesting one. Here’s another the striking similarities in age, sex and disordered thinking of the perpetrators has me wondering about. Could they be in an early stage of psychosis? It is my understanding that the onset of schizophrenia is generally in the early to mid twenties. It would account for the common theme of persecution in these cases. Maybe they truly are insane, rather than the rational, but evil, actors we assume them to be. I’d be interested in your professional take on this.

  18. Ymarsakar Says:

    severe emotional dysfunction in the home in conjunction with early and extended drug use and or abuse. The suggestion that autism or Asperger’s is involved is an interesting one.

    Autism and Asperger’s are all variations of the idiot savant lines, where extremely high genius level abilities are acquired in return for certain sacrifices in functionality (such as reading or emoting normal human emotion, even though they have normal human emotions). As a result, emotional problems arise because humans don’t know how to educate or deal with savant level min maxing.

    From my research, some autistic abilities prioritize motor control functions over emotional or reading abilities. This is normally the ADHD label. Asberger’s is often diagnosed as high level savant and autistic abilities, with the presence of cognitive and emotional development on par with normal humans. But on par doesn’t mean the same. Savant level abilities are compensated, mentally, by such things as OCD fanaticism or obsessions. Inability to read human emotions, thus hurting human relationships and destroying them, leading to isolation. Inability to understand the logick of human society, because nobody can explain the rules of human society, and thus alienation from human society or withdrawal from human society due to fear of the unknown. Inability to learn social, scientific, or literature based logick systems, but can learn physical systems such as martial arts and sports with natural genius ease.

    There was a story in Britain where a robot was used to teach autistic children, since a robot was steady, stable, and had the same reactions and rules, it allows the children to find safety and order where a child would find a human adult scary, unpredictable, illogickal, insane, etc.

    Because these things are often treated with mind altering drugs, the diagnosis of such ultimately leads to drugging at an early age and emotional imbalances. Rather than reversing the chicken and egg, the diagnosis itself uses drugs to compensate for emotional problems, but merely makes it worse. Or at least covers up the source of the problem. Autistic individuals, if they are not allowed to develop their individual talents to the highest level, often become broken or dysfunctional in behavior. Their mental and emotional health thus deteriorate and people treat them as idiots, because that’s how they perform in certain fields. But with proper utilization of autistic idiot savant specializations, emotional and mental health is rebalanced via the savant level abilities, bridging the gap between high and low functionalities. Thus a martial art or physical curriculum, can stimulate a person’s emotional withdrawal and mental handicaps, by utilizing the part of the brain that can learn well from physical movements.

    Because Aspergers seem relatively high functioning on the emotional or cognitive level, they are often not treated as savants. Even though they do have savant level abilities (body language reading if they are trained by interrogators) and they don’t really understand human society the way people learn about human society. Normal baseline humans don’t understand human society, but because it’s monkey see monkey do, it’s not necessary to understand, to do it. Aspergers are different, if they don’t understand something, it wears at them. They talk too much. They write too much. They think too much. They are the nail that sticks out. That one is going to get hammered flat, first, in a conformist society. California is nothing if not conformist, to a degree where even China and Japan is not.

    This can cause anxiety disorders, speaking disorders, and thus increase the withdrawal symptoms from society. Then further psychological issues might result, as the mind attempts to defend itself using projection, split personalities, displacement, etc. This is then diagnosed as “mental illness” and drugs are used. The more drugs are used, the more the mind is negatively altered and for those with savant level abilities, their mind was already imbalanced to begin with. But even if drugs are proscribed but not taken, this often causes people to ignore the source of the problem and not treat it, instead using the drugs as an excuse for why the kid is now “healthy” or “cured”. He’s not cured. The drugs only subdue the high savant like abilities that are unstable and unable to interface with average human society. Genius level abilities are difficult for average humans to understand, only other genius level humans can easily deal with it. Savant level abilities are beyond genius level, and thus even more unstable. By subduing these abilities, the patient “looks” and “talks” normal, perhaps, but without the development of their abilities, they have nothing personal to rely upon to stabilize their handicaps. With nothing to rely upon, and nobody to understand them, with only drugs to keep them on a leash and behaving, it’s easy for them to lose their humanity over time or will to live. Society has low expectations of autistic abilities. Well, people might know what my view of society is.

    In terms of savant level abilities, I do not merely think of mental abilities. I include physical abilities as well, such as athleticism or the ability to learn the basic fatal movements of martial arts when taught. Miyamoto Musashi, for example, had his first to the death duel as a teenager, and killed his opponent. Later in his Book of Five Rings, he did not attribute his early success to skill, but to some other quality and difference. That’s either a genius level ability or a savant level ability.

    The Western world seems to complacently think that genius level abilities are only mental. That if someone isn’t a prodigy musician or math calculator, that they are somehow disabled, stupid, retarded, or in need of medication to force them to behave as normal humans behave. This is more of a eugenicist or cultural belief, stemming from the old Democrat philosophy that aristocratic virtues are held through leisure and power, while those born to work the fields are marked with the black skin only. Geniuses and savants cannot be understood by normal human society. There is little to nothing to form a link or bridge of comprehension. So instead of treating it as a rare born quality that few people have, it’s easier to treat it as a social stigma or illness to be “treated”. If only we can “fix” this problem, it’ll go away. If only the government can fix hunger, being poor, and the existence of crime (demon guns).

    The state of things are such that if I mention this trait and specialization ability of autism, the parents of autistic children have mentioned to me that they actually remember seeing this split in their children, for when they are trying to read in class vs how they perform in soccer outside. The first looks dumb and slow, while the other one looks confident and smart. And they speak of this as if it was a surprise or something they just noticed because I mentioned it in passing. That’s the state of the Anglosphere, the level of education on this matter. It’s very easy for doctors to get money and authorizations to proscribe medicines for this ADHD kid, to control the kid. The fact that taking mind altering drugs early in life will stunt your growth, and without growth autistic individuals withdraw into a shell and became catatonic like, isn’t the problem of doctors after all. It’s the problem of parents and their kids. They offload this issue, society offloads it, unto scape goats, in return for money.

    If a lot of this sounds like a fantasy world where magicians have dangerous gifts that need to be trained and controlled, it’s probably why such fiction is popular. There are books, written by autistic people who have achieved high literary functions, on what their own experience and upbringing were. They can be very valuable sources.

    As for the murderer of our little story here in the OP, the things that make people dangerous are multifaceted.

    1. They need to have the capability or power to use lethal force, whether trained or tool in nature.

    2. They need to be properly psychologically conditioned to form the intent to kill other humans.

    3. They need a reason to do so, a benefit, or absent that they need sociopathic qualities that shortcut it (Marathon bombing).

    Because the almost OCD nature of the murderer turned into delusional fantasies, he ended up with the correct conditions for 2. He conditioned himself to kill humans without guilt, by first removing himself from the human species and secondly by treating his targets as non humans. It’s easier to pull the trigger. Because if you aren’t human, then any human can kill you, so you aren’t saving yourself by obeying humans. And if your targets aren’t human, then you need feel no guilt in killing them, any more than we do when stepping on ants.

    For 3, he had revenge, thus didn’t need sociopathy. Plenty of people have pulled triggers on lovers who cheated on them, etc.

    For 1, he bought guns and registered them.

    The Left says if we give them the power to remove 1 for us, things will be okay. I consider 2 and 3 far more omnipresent and critical here.

  19. Sergey Says:

    “psychopaths cannot be deterred except by incarceration, and that can’t be done in the absence of a crime. It certainly can’t be done indefinitely in the absence of a heinous crime.”
    Why not? The man is dangerous for society. This alone justifies his life-long incarceration in mental institution. You need to reevaluate your policy toward psychopaths.

  20. Ymarsakar Says:

    It’s a weak society that creates people more dangerous than it.

    It’s a centralized top down authoritarian solution, as seen in Japan or Singapore, to control humans at the bottom.

    This alone justifies his life-long incarceration in mental institution.

    An authoritarian solution, certainly. ALthough not an American solution based on liberty.

  21. neo-neocon Says:


    I don’t think you understand the liberty on which America is built. You can’t incarcerate people here (except for a little while, in a mental institution) because you think they might be dangerous and yet haven’t committed a crime. It’s the price we pay for liberty, and if we stop paying that price we give up too much.

  22. neo-neocon Says:

    Molly Brown:

    Welcome to commenting!

    We just don’t know enough about this particular guy to say. His therapists probably had a diagnosis for him, but did he actually reveal all that much to them, either? My quick reading of him, for what it’s worth, is that he’s a sociopath/psychopath, and perhaps high-functioning Asperger’s as well. But that’s just a guess. I wouldn’t say schizophrenic because his thoughts don’t seem characteristic of that.

    However, you are absolutely correct that this age group is when schizophrenia most usually rears its ugly head.

  23. Ymarsakar Says:

    We just don’t know enough about this particular guy to say.

    They don’t know enough, sure. But why do you say that after reading his entire auto biography, Neo?

  24. neo-neocon Says:


    I only have read little bits and pieces of it. I don’t believe I ever said I had read a substantial amount of it; others have done so.

    But even had I read the whole thing, that’s only a small and edited piece, just what he wished the world to hear. It by no means would contain what a person would need to know to understand what was truly going on with him.

  25. Eric Says:

    What’s the difference between schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder? I’ve heard that the latter schizo- fits Rodger but not the former. I don’t know the difference, though.

  26. Eric Says:

    Neo: “just what he wished the world to hear”

    I agree that his manifesto is an important piece, but not the whole puzzle. It’s biographical spanning his whole life, but told from a single point of view. For example, Rodger leaves out his apparently extensive psychiatric treatment history and, while acknowledging loneliness and isolation, also talks about a higher level of socialization than media accounts have portrayed of his social life.

    That’s not to say he’s a liar. This was his suicide note, his final testimony of his life story. I think there are notable omissions, but I also think he’s sincere and trying to tell his truth. His interpretation of events given his state of mind, however honest, though, is likely not what others saw while sharing the same events.

  27. Eric Says:

    Sergey: “Why not? The man is dangerous for society. This alone justifies his life-long incarceration in mental institution.”

    Innocent until proven guilty – at this point, the balance of the law still tips to personal liberty on this issue when no crime has been committed. Angry, even violent thoughts and fantasies aren’t a crime.

    But the bar has been lowered. If Rodger had made a cognizable, more-specific threat, more might have been done by the State. If Rodger had committed even a minor criminal act, say setting a small random fire on a neighbor’s driveway (eg, how ex-actress Amanda Bynes was institutionalized last year), Rodger might have been taken by the system. But from what I gather, Rodger presented no cognizable threat nor committed any minor criminal act before carrying out his “retribution”.

    It’s a difficult area of law because there are people who have been institutionalized with much uncertainty whether they are actually dangerous, although they may seem more threatening than Rodger did before he acted out. Many psychotic people who seem they could be dangerous are free, if problematic, yet don’t cross that line until, sometimes, they do.

  28. Ymarsakar Says:

    It by no means would contain what a person would need to know to understand what was truly going on with him.

    So who would know, the therapists? The media? The parents?

    If you have not read his auto biography, then what exactly is the criteria you’re using for information?

    Primary sources are the only sources of information on the least corrupt scale.

  29. neo-neocon Says:


    I indicated in the post that I was making a snap judgment based only on the few minutes of the video I watched, and summaries of it. I wrote:

    Elliot Rodger looks to me (after seeing a couple of moments of the video he made, and reading about it) to have been a psychopath…

    “Looks to me” after seeing just “a couple of moments”—meaning it’s not some sort of definitive judgment, it’s merely an impression based on a small amount of information. However, I must say that it was a very very strong impression. That doesn’t mean it’s correct, of course.

    But his “autobiography” is more of a manifesto, his thoughts, written by him, controlled by him. I would say that, in order to make a more reasoned and comprehensive determination (which I’m certainly not equipped to do), one would need to read the autobiography of course, and watch the tapes, but also to interview his friends, acquaintances, family, teachers, and therapists (of which he apparently had several) to get a fuller, more accurate, and more rounded impression than just what he wrote for the world to read.

  30. Ymarsakar Says:

    it seems that one problem was that the parents’ intense concerns about earlier videos were not conveyed properly to the police who went to interview Rodger, and he was able to fool them.

    That sequence was written in the auto bio of the murderer.

    So how is it that the police and media “know” what went down there, without the need to read and cite the auto bio as a source?

    In fact, they had his videos which told them what was going on, and they didn’t do anything with it. So how would they know anything?

    The videos were a case of bad opsec. He took it down right after that incident, proving while he wanted people to know certain things, it was dangerous letting them know too much, even if they failed to figure it out.

    As for being small, that’s not something of an accurate assessment.

  31. Ymarsakar Says:

    Okay, now I’m reading the above reply of yours, Neo.

    But his “autobiography” is more of a manifesto, his thoughts, written by him, controlled by him.

    I would say the reverse, the manifesto is more like his auto bio. How would that be different from anyone else’s autobiography, the presence of editors? Everyone chooses to put down certain things in interviews and books that they want people to read about them. How is this any different from those other sources people use for historical research?

    I indicated in the post that I was making a snap judgment based only on the few minutes of the video I watched, and summaries of it.

    Okay, I can see how your methodology on the sources connect to the prior judgment of the video. A judgment which I haven’t disputed, yet.

    and watch the tapes, but also to interview his friends, acquaintances, family, teachers, and therapists (of which he apparently had several) to get a fuller, more accurate, and more rounded impression than just what he wrote for the world to read.

    And I don’t disagree about using additional information. However, right now, the auto bio is the most easily and readily accessible source. And in fact, all the news coverage, so far, has only provided “interview” information that I already read in the auto bio, and I didn’t even read 100% of it yet. Baring what happened after the incident of course, things such as his sister’s boyfriend’s interview with the media, saying the murderer was creepy and refused to speak to him. The reasoning was detailed in the manifesto. If that is confirmation, then so be it. But the more confirmation the manifesto gets from other sources, the more reliable it becomes as a source.

  32. neo-neocon Says:


    I would say that ALL autobiographies are suspect, some more than others. That’s one of the reasons biographies exist.

    But Rodger’s publication is different than a usual autobiography. Most autobiographies are by relatively famous, or quite famous, people, famous for their life’s work. With Rogers, he was not famous at all when he wrote it. However, he was contemplating becoming a mass murderer, after which he would become famous for the first time, and people would read this document for clues as to why he did it. He was shaping it to that purpose, and as such it’s even more suspect that most autobiographies, and is both an autobiography and a manifesto, his letter to the world that never wrote to him. As such, it was much different from the usual autobiography, and even more suspect as a document of truth, I suspect—especially because there was obviously something very very wrong with this guy and his thought processes, as well as his evaluation of others. So that’s another way in which this document is suspect (although not completely irrelevant) as a guide to what was really going on and why he actually did this, as well as what a correct diagnosis for him could be.

  33. Ymarsakar Says:

    As such, it was much different from the usual autobiography, and even more suspect as a document of truth, I suspect—especially because there was obviously something very very wrong with this guy and his thought processes, as well as his evaluation of others.

    On that note, how do you explain the confirmations from the media and interviews with people, that support the relevations by the murderer?

    A person that doesn’t even realize that posting up youtube videos of his rants is an opsec violation against his own Day of Retribution, is someone I judge to be rather weak on the covert ops side of information control and manipulation.

  34. neo-neocon Says:


    I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about psychological truth about the motivation for his acts and what possible diagnosis to give him, such as for example psychopath. As I said before in this thread, psychopaths are quite in touch with reality.

    I read him (quickly and cursorily) as a psychopath because of his absence of empathy, insight about others, conventional morality, guilt, etc.. Just off the top of my head, malignant narcissist might work, too (the two are not mutually exclusive). I’m not a psychiatrist, by the way, so pathologic diagnoses are not my forte.

  35. Ymarsakar Says:

    Well certainly, diagnosing people for disorders from their writing would be easily abused by the Powers that Be.

    Although some people prefer to use the state’s power to lock up people they see as a threat.

    To me, personally, the murderer of our little story is not such a high threat that I would pay permanent liberties for someone to take care of for me.

  36. rammerplex Says:

    Ok, so in 2 seconds you know he is evil. How can no one else see that? How can we not respond?

    Do we need a panel of 9 super-analysts to dress up in black robes and assess the crazy/evil?

    If we can force people to take tuberculosis medicine, every day, because some sputum test came up positive according to a single junior-college med-tech, then we can make whack-crazy people do the same based on the results of an interview or two by a couple of board certified medical doctors of psychiatry.

    With just the same sort of daily monitoring and judicial punishment for non-compliance.

  37. Matt_SE Says:


    You only “know” he’s evil because he kindly posted a YouTube video. Maybe some of the other recent madmen did that, but I don’t think most of them did.
    Your “plan” falls apart right there, without the cooperation of the perps.

    Secondly, we can’t force mental health treatment like you want. That used to be easier in the U.S., but after a concerted push by the political left in the ’60s, they got the system changed. See: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and the media furor surrounding it.
    The system wasn’t perfect, and I acknowledge bad abuses within it, but it’s another example of the left changing things willy-nilly with disastrous consequences (that they will never admit to).

  38. Matt_SE Says:

    OK, I made myself power through the last 40 pages.

    Wow. I could analyze this from 1000 different angles. I find the story more complex than is being made out, but I’m not a mental-health professional so it’s only my opinion.

    Some overall impressions:

    1) The discussion of Rodger’s mental illness is not a destination, but a journey. I can’t be sure there wasn’t an underlying chemical imbalance (which would be immune to talking therapy), but I see the seeds of pathological thought processes early on.
    2) The first half of the manifesto is where the best information is. His pathology is already self-reinforcing by age 15, but not necessarily unchangeable. From 15 to 19, he starts spiraling down the drain. After about age 19, he starts becoming delusional; at times descending into frothing gibberish. By the end, most of the prose is useless except for the relation of some specific events or thoughts. You see the same story repeated over and over, which generates the sense of psychological fixation.
    If you think you can skim by cutting to the end, you will have an incomplete picture based on the worst information.
    3) Some have claimed he had a sense of entitlement, based I think on the last half of the manifesto. In this case, I think the question refers to sex. I don’t think he felt entitled to sex, but felt entitled to status from his upper-class upbringing.
    He hoped status would lead to sex, hence his various pretensions throughout the manifesto (“sipping fine vintages,” and such). He was wrong.
    4) The narration of the manifesto is odd. We already know how it turned out, and the most disturbed psychology is seen in the last half of the manifesto, ages 19 to 22. And the entire thing can be safely assumed to have been written in maybe the last year.
    But the frothing hatred seems mostly absent from the narration of the early years. Almost as if it were written contemporaneously, or written by a different person (although one with the exact same writing style).
    Perhaps it’s a case of those memories being devoid of sexual pressures?

  39. Matt_SE Says:



    1) Upper-class privilege (damn, I hate using those words). Disconnected/absent father, less-strict biological mother (divorce complex), adversarial step-mother, series of nannies (who the hell has a nanny?!), playdates, movie premieres, series of luxury items like computers and a BMW, even the fact that the parents could afford to spring for psychologists and “life coaches.” (of dubious quality, or at least, effectiveness?)
    Result: This led to his unwarranted view of being “elite”. That he was too good for certain jobs, friends or girls. It gave him the false impression that things like extensive travel would be valued by anyone else. It overinflated his hopes that status could substitute for being a decent person.

    2) Indulgence in trivial affairs: Pokémon, skateboarding, hackeysack, video games.
    Result: All these were time spent substituting for meaningful social interaction. Important, because he continued to fall farther behind others in socialization as this time was wasted.

    3) Physical traits: Elliot Rodger was self-admittedly short and scrawny. Mixed ethnicity was alluded to in the manifesto, so he was aware of some significance, but not really elaborated upon.
    Result: Classic Napoleon complex.

    4) Early exposure to porn?: Alluded to only a few times, but was noted at least by age 14.
    Result: Another substitute for social interaction? Maybe not, since he seemed plenty interested in women on his own. But maybe accounted for his view of women in mostly sexual terms. Objectification, in other words.

    5) Progressive social/emotional marginalization: Rodger was obviously not too emotionally attached with his parents or siblings. He had initially greater attachment with friends, but as he spiraled downward he alienated them.
    Result: Initial and increasing social isolation. As his illness progresses, fewer people are in a position to help him, assuming they even knew how (they didn’t, DUH).

    6) Bullying: No support forthcoming form the “alphas,” naturally. In fact, ridicule.
    What can I say except that people can be awful, especially young teens?

  40. Sergey Says:

    There is always some trade-off between security and liberty, and I can understand that different cultures strike this balance differently. But even in USA there are opinions that the present situation is unbearable and needs correction. See, for example, this editorial calling for more aggressive treatment of mental ilnesses:

  41. Sergey Says:

    As I understand, for lots of americans liberty is not just a value among other values, but a supervalue, a sacred cow which should not be sacrificed in any circumstances. Is this quasi-religious approach universal across partisan divide or more pragmatical stance is also acceptable?

  42. Matt_SE Says:


    Specific points:

    1) By age 15, parents already must’ve known that he needed correcting. They tried to force him to socialize, but exposure to peers reinforced his sense of alienation instead. IMO, he needed to be removed from the stimulus and “life coached” to fix his misconceptions about the way things worked. I will note that he was already self-pitying by this point and resistant to intervention, but his spiral was not at this point inevitable. It became more so as time went on.

    2) Elliot exhibited classic “pedastaling:” He wanted sex/love. Women had sex/love to give. Because they had what he wanted, they were “better” or more powerful than him. He romanticized them because of this, making them into idols of almost Platonic purity, instead of realizing that they are people with their own (sometimes base) motives. Upon further and repeated humiliation/rejection, he began to hate them. Subsequent failures reinforced and intensified this hatred.
    2a) Self-reflection could have told him that he was doing something wrong, but this impulse was thwarted, I think, by his already-instilled sense of elitism.
    The repeated application of experience led him to a perverse conclusion: He was good/worthy, but women rejected him, therefore women must be wrong.
    This could be viewed as narcissism, but I think it’s just as likely that it was an intellectual defense mechanism against rejection.
    Instead of unwavering self-love, I find plenty of examples (earlier on) of self-loathing.

    In this, I find him complex. To borrow from (of all places) the Lord of the Rings movie, Gandalf speaks about Gollum: “He hates and loves himself, as he hates and loves [women].”

    …but that’s just my opinion.

    3) His spiral was driven by an increasing sense of desperation; a feeling of being trapped: He alluded to this multiple times, using that word. He thought he needed to have sex, and thought he had multiple avenues to get it, initially. But as time went on, each avenue was foreclosed with the pathetic spectacle of him returning to the same avenues multiple times that had already failed: status/wealth (with the ridiculous fixation on winning the lottery), fashion, working out/dying his hair.
    He said himself that he didn’t want to die, and that his plan of vengeance would result in his death. By the end, he felt he had no other options.

    4) Around the 17-19 year ages, he had various fantasies. He admitted they were unrealistic. As he progressed, the rational objections vanished into delusion.

    5) I would’ve thought “life coaches” were exactly what he needed (and I commend his parents for trying to do something). I don’t *know* they were hacks, but I wonder about their efforts. In their defense, by the later stages he was highly resistant to coaching.

    6) Medication “Risperidone” was proscribed late in the history, but he refused to take it.

    7) When outlining his plan for vengeance, he specifically notes that police will try to stop him, so he plans to avoid them for as long as possible. So much for gun-free zones, huh?

  43. Matt_SE Says:

    Summary Opinion:

    I think this guy got some wrong thoughts into his head early on. Repeated failure with women increased his mental illness. Attempts to help him were too timid early on, and the initial social isolation from family and friends (and sense of elitism) conspired to make corrective measures difficult.
    By the time people realized that things had gotten serious, and were willing to take more drastic measures, it was already too late.
    I admit the possibility of chemical imbalance (what I would call true psychopathy), but it’s impossible to be sure.

    I feel most sorry for the victims, who were entirely innocent. But this guy also elicits my pity. Poor bastard.

    I think marginalizing his case, or oversimplifying it (especially to advance an agenda), or counting one’s self as lucky because you “aren’t a loser like he was” to be grave mistakes.

    There are more out there like him. If people want to preen instead of doing something constructive, they had better hope they don’t know the victims. Because there will be more.

  44. Ymarsakar Says:

    situation is unbearable and needs correction

    There will always be people going on about body armor being needed at the front, while they armchair in safety at the back. Doesn’t actually do anything for a society, same for a war.

    The Leftist alliance in the US, composed of Democrats and thousands of other factions, believe in the security of tyranny and totalitarianism. Thus slavery is their best economic and moral model of mankind.

    The core value of America is self improvement, and without liberty, there is no self.

  45. Ymarsakar Says:

    As I understand, for lots of americans liberty is not just a value among other values, but a supervalue, a sacred cow which should not be sacrificed in any circumstances.

    Your view is unrealistic. Liberty is the most pragmatic principle by which society is engineered.

    The engineered social application is bottom up hierarchies, as seen in Japanese police boxes.

    Without individual initiative and judgment, the US military would not be very effective, technology or no technology.

    The idea that the human world can be controlled by the top making judgments as to who or what is useful, is already belied by the successful examples of social engineering in the world.

  46. Nick Says:

    As a society, we glamourize the damaged mind. One reason for this is that we consume more entertainment than anyone in history – probably by an order of magnitude. We’re a cynical age, and we find villains more compelling than heroes. No one remembers the name Clarice Starling, but everyone knows Hannibal Lecter.

    What strikes me about this killer’s manifesto is that it’s so boring. That’s what we forget about mental illness. Real mental illness is repetitious, tedious, and truly unhealthy. A healthy mind is endlessly more interesting.

  47. neo-neocon Says:


    Of course Americans sacrifice liberty at times. It’s just that the reasons have to be very extreme. At least, so far. That is because we consider liberty a very high value, and that is very basic to what America is about, and what makes it different from almost every other nation. We often sacrifice safety to liberty. That’s why our legal system is structured so that sometimes guilty people go free if there have been illegal searches and other compromises of liberty.

    And yes, we certainly do have civil commitment. It’s just rare, hard to activate, and doesn’t last all that long.

  48. IGotBupkis, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." Says:

    particularly far-fetched in this case because his first three murders were committed with knives, and some of his victims’ injuries were caused by him mowing them down with a car.

    That’s easy to fix… just mention, what, 6 dead? Then don’t mention anything but do, by all means, call for more gun control. The presumption is clear. He can’t possibly have killed so many without using a gun. “Duh!!” :-S

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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