The Inner Voice

Rethinking Introversion and How We See the World from the Inside

Introversion: A Killer Personality?

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personality disorder + psychosis = tragedy

No, of course introversion (or extroversion) is not the key factor here.

I'm betting that the KEY factors that wound up generating this tragic event include an underlying, long-term/chronic but mild form of a psychotic disorder (like schizophrenia or high-functioning autism) which caused a break with reality PLUS a personality disorder like narcissistic pd or psychopathy which is the basis for the gigantic ego that became wounded, resulting in the narcissistic rage and revenge fantasies.

In this particular individual, all the various factors combined and coalesced in exactly the wrong way, as in "the perfect storm", to allow this individual to feel entitled to enact his fantasies of power and revenge in real life, with real people.

I think that is the deadly combination: psychosis PLUS personality disorder = tragedy

Of course the psychosis/break with reality could be due to drugs, but my own speculation is that a young man who lives with his parents throughout his college years and has no social life/peer group to speak of, is more than just "shy" or "introverted."

I think Holmes had a long-term, mild psychotic disorder that was under control because he was living with his parents: they were his stabilizers. They provided a social outlet, and oversaw his care needs RE meds and therapy. When he left home for the first time, I'm guessing the stress of being completely on his own plus being required to perform at a higher level than he could achieve was too much for him to cope with. His narcissistic ego was wounded, and his mild psychotic disorder worsened until he began to self-identify with "The Joker". He even announced his revenge fantasy-turned-reality plans ahead of time, just like any comic-book super-villain would do: he sent his notebook filled with descriptions and drawings to a campus psychiatrist a week before he executed his plan.

A very intelligent twenty-three-year-old with the emotional development level of a spoiled and sheltered 8-year-old (narcissistic pd) who was "spanked" (warned/reprimanded for not performing up to doctorate-level academic standards) which flooded him with shame-based rage and revenge fantasies (narcissistic pd) fueled with testosterone... who loses his hold on reality (psychotic break due to schizophrenia or autism or drugs.)

Perfect storm for disaster. That's what happened, in my estimation.

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Jennifer Grimes is a research assistant at Wellesley College.

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