Mass killers often have a lethal cocktail of narcissism, paranoia and the need to “collect wounds” — traits that Dylann Roof appears to share, a former FBI profiler says.
Joe Navarro, a noted expert on body language and counter-terrorism, also says that if people learn more about certain behavioral cues, they might be able to prevent future killings.
“The overriding trait is narcissism, where a person feels superior to others and believes he has a right to devalue others,” said Navarro, author of new book called “Dangerous Personalities.”
Mass killers such as Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, and Norwegian killer Anders Breivik, also were full of paranoia — irrational fears of other people and groups.
This paranoia fueled a consuming need to “collect wounds.”
Wound collectors, he told The Post and Courier Wednesday, “are individuals who collect historical slights and then nourish and relive and burnish them.”
Websites with twisted historical viewpoints make this process easier than ever, he said. It generates more feelings of hatred and self-righteousness. In extreme cases, “a person becomes meta-stable,” he said, using a chemistry term to describe someone who looks stable on the surface but is unstable just below. “This is when they get very scary.”
Violence becomes “a magical solution,” he said. “McVeigh thought that the bombing would cause the government to stop militarizing the police, and (Ted) Kaczynski thought his bombs would bring technology to an end. It never fixes things.”
Numerous photos of Roof have surfaced of him posing with guns, Confederate flags and wearing a jacket with patches from formerly white-controlled countries in Africa. Roof also is believed to have posted a manifesto posted on LastRhodesian.com. In the document, the author says he was not raised in a “racist home or environment,” but grew into an extremist largely because of what he found on the Internet.
The manifesto’s author said he was “awakened” by the Trayvon Martin case. “I kept hearing and seeing his name, and eventually I decided to look him up. I read the Wikipedia article and right away I was unable to understand what the big deal was. It was obvious that Zimmerman was right.” The manifesto’s author then said he promptly typed the words “black on White crime” into Google, “and I have never been the same since that day.”
The manifesto then went on to describe how he went to other websites, including the Council of Conservative Citizens, and “from this point, I researched deeper and found out what was happening in Europe.” The document talks about the author’s decision to choose Charleston “because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet.” Near the end, he brags: “Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.
A Rand Corporation study recently studied 15 terrorists and found that Internet websites serve as “echo chambers” that reinforce people’s existing radical beliefs.
“The Internet is just another vector to feed and collect wounds,” said Navarro, who also penned an article about clues to identifying mass murderers in Psychology Today.
Teachers, family members and friends need to educate themselves about these traits, particularly when someone talks specifically about doing violent acts and buys guns or other weapons.
“Everyone’s entitled to opinions. But this about character disorders that are pathological and are a cocktail for mayhem.”
Reach Tony Bartelme at 937-5554.