After feeling put down and pushed away long enough by the world, your mind can sometimes create voices telling you to get in and get even.
Well another tragic shooting and tragic loss of life that again seems so senseless. As a neuroscientist and neuropsychologist I have tried my best to make sense of what, why and when causes Aaron Alexis and other shooters to snap.
This is a work in progress and I invite any and all to refute, dispute or refine what follows.
These are the stages that I believe many mass shooters go through that cause them to snap:
- Out of luck - rightly or wrongly it appears (to them) that life is just not going their way. This usually has occurred over a prolonged period of time often extending between months and years. No matter what they try, it appears to them that it never works out. And they have little or no insight into how they continually set themselves up to fail.
- Out of sync - this occurs both in their life and in their minds. In their life they feel increasingly estranged, criticized (not being aware of how they are provoking this in others). In their minds, their three brains - their human/thinking, mammalian/emotional, reptilian/"fight or flight" actional - begin to decouple from and get out of sync with each other.
- Out of sorts - when our three brains are in sync and working together we can "sort" out the universe to interact with it in reasonable and somewhat rational way. However when a person's mind snaps, their brains (and minds) instead of being aligned (and able to talk themselves down from an impulse or an action) break apart (often triggered by an Amygdala Hijack that prevents them from tapping into their rational mind). The next step beyond feeling out of sorts is feeling that their mind could shatter.
- Out of time - when their brain and mind is between "out of sorts" and shattering, a state of panic steps in. Panic is the feeling that their shattered mind is about to be decimated. At that point they are feeling desperate and will do anything to reassert control and will often hear voices commanding them to do something. That is when commanded by an auditory halluciation, their mind and brain align with retaliating against a world that they believe has caused this to them. In essence, at the moment when a shooter hears a command hallucination, plans their murderous deed, heads towards their target and then perpetrates it, they haven't lost control. When we feel such a person has lost control, the reality is that we have lost control over them, and they ironically feel much more in control.
What can be done about this to prevent these awful tragedies. I believe that once the person in question has crossed over into being "out of sorts" they cannot make sense of the world and it's almost too late.