America has a problem with gun fetishism, due to a cowboy-macho mentality, and since people mimic other people there is an ongoing tradition of the USA being plagued by mass shootings. I.e. there are people with some sinister character that more easily hear their „call“ (to become mass shooters) in an environment where there are also other people who do – in contrast to the notion that such people are „ticking time bombs“ that are set to „inevitably“ explode I guess most people with sinister character won´t (at a large scale): it depends on their environment on how much they get triggered to really act out like that. Mass shooters seem to be a mysterious case since they usually accept their own death or being thrown into jail for lifetime (and I guess a substantial amount of people who may want to become mass shooters are held back just because of this perspective). What is the damage that is inside them? I remember there was a dicussion about the condition of Norway´s mass murderer/terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, of whether he is actually insane or can be held accountable for his acts (i.e. suffers from paranoid schizophrenia or has a massive personality disorder which however does not render him truly insane). There were psychiatrists who considered him insane and others who did not (public pressure however has been on being able to hold Breivik accountable for his deeds, which he also strived for himself). I remember how an Austrian psychiatrist said in an interview that the „insane“ grin of Breivik would remind him of a patient he had in an insane asylum that had cut off his penis but simply smiled at him, like a naughty child, showing his parents the mess it had done. I was wondering what kind of insanity that could be? Are there more, and more individual forms of insanity than just schizophrenia and bipolar disorder? I also remember a Norwegian psychiatrist who had to deal with Breivik in his youth said he was thinking Breivik had Asperger Syndrome (which may lead to difficulties in capacity to empathise, though more in the intellectual sense than in the moral or emotional sense). More recent American mass shooter Adam Lanza was also believed to have been aspergeroid. Could it be that an Aspie with an evil character and who had to suffer severe frustrations due to being a social misfit can turn into a monster? In some cases, maybe. However, I also read a „confession“ of another young mass shooter once (respectively I have screened it since it consisted of ca. 150 pages): It was a quite bright teenager, maybe with IQ 150, who had written a lenghty, well elaborated statement, the message however was that he was jealous of other (supposedly) happy (and romantically engaged) teenagers and hated them – as he did not consider himself able to ever lead such a happy life. So some kind of teenage angst – it remained unclear why, at such a young age, he considered himself unlikely to ever be able to live a life like those he envied – however, given the darkness or emptiness of his soul his guess that he wasn´t loveable (which he did not express directly, although I have read only parts of the suicide note) was likely correct. What is astounding is the level of hatred against a world about which he felt that it had wronged him and that he would have deserved better. I also remember a case of a juvenile interviewed in prison who had murdered someone, because he had felt that all the others at school were „someone“ whereas he himself had been „nothing“ – and so, in order to be „someone“ he killed a popular girl from high school and went into prison. Strange individuals (also like Mark David Chapman who shot John Lennon in order to become a celebrity himself): Are they extremely narcisstically wounded (due to a personality disorder that makes them so vulnerable) or do they have an even more severe identity diffusion that makes them feel so empty inside so as that they commit the most extreme acts, with which they also hurt themselves, just to „be someone“ (in the case of MD Chapman a more severely disturbed case than just a narcissist, reaching into mental illness, seems evident)? There has been an article „Inside the Mind of the Mass Shooter“ in the aftermath of a more recent mass shooting in the USA, leaving dozens of people dead and hundreds of people injured at a country music festival in Nevada, carried out by 64-year old Stephen Paddok. The article says mass shooters frequently show signs of paranoid schizophrenia and an illusion of narcissistic grandeur – that has been frustrated, and because of this, they act out, also taking into account their own death which does not matter to them anymore, or is desired by them. Apart from their narcissistic fantasies, which do not unfold in reality, they are obviously so empty inside that all that is left in them is to „settle the scores“ with a world seen as hostile or unworthy, and then obliterate themselves. – As far as I can see, a condition common in mass shooters seems to be a paranoid personality disorder. People with a paranoid personality disorder are extremely touchy against personal setbacks (for which they usually blame others), suspicious and anxious against possible setbacks, they hold long or everlasting grudges, they are argumentative, have a sense of entitlement and often are self-referential or have a superiority complex and fantasise about being omnipotent (in contrast to the narcissist they, therein, do not strive for admiration, neither (in contrast to the histrionic) for attention, but obviously just for power respectively for being regarded as superior for its own sake). There does not seem to be so much inside them concerning warmheartedness, their emotional apparatus rather mainly consists of feelings of anger and resentment. When, in their fantasies of superiority they see themselves questioned by others (regardless of whether that is the intention of the other person or not), they become extremly angry and, in a way of projecting their own hostility into others, paranoid (and maybe also their fantasies of large conspiracies against them is a projection of their own grandiose and grand-scale fantasies). Paranoids aren´t easy people and they are likely to become ever more lonely in the course of their life. A paranoid personality disorder can also develop into a paranoid schizophrenia. I think that paranoids aren´t just paranoid i.e. suspicious and deluded (maybe due to an attachment disorder in early childhood) but that they (at least in many cases) have severe problems of regulation of self-esteem and that their paranoia is to a considerable degree a projection of their own proneness to feel hostility towards others. They may lack inner resources and inner riches. They may even know that their paranoid fantasies are bs and irrational, but they hold on to them since they comfort them emotionally. So I guess paranoid personality disorder probably is the most frequent condition inside the mind of mass shooters. (However, among the possibly many causes a murderous instinct may also be caused by a brain tumor: Such was obviously the case of famous mass shooter Charles Whitman who went up a tower and shot several people and made it very difficult to catch him in the 1960s – he had been a normal guy who had become increasingly plagued by the desire to murder and, therein, felt that something „wasn´t right with his brain“ – after his death a tumor was found in his brain. Likewise, also another special breed – serial killers – aren´t necessarily lunatics or sociopaths. They might be neurotypical – apart from the fact that they have murderous impulses inside them. Also sadists aren´t necessarily sociopaths: that they get triggered by sadistic fantasies may be an isolated feature in the arena of their entire personality.)
A while ago also the crackpot/crank personality attracted my attention. A crank is someone who inflexibly holds on to beliefs that are widely considered as wrong (or not-even-wrong) or irrational, obviously as, although cranks may appear to be humble, they also have a massive desire to see themselves as superior towards others. According to Wikepedia characteristics of cranks include: 1) Cranks overestimate their own knowledge and ability, and underestimate that of acknowledged experts 2) Cranks insist that their alleged discoveries are urgently important 3) Cranks rarely, if ever, acknowledge any error, no matter how trivial 4) Cranks love to talk about their own beliefs, often in inappropriate social situations, but they tend to be bad listeners, being uninterested in anyone else’s experience or opinions 5) Cranks seriously misunderstand the mainstream opinion to which they believe that they are objecting 6) Cranks stress that they have been working out their ideas for many decades, and claim that this fact alone entails that their belief cannot be dismissed as resting upon some simple error 7) compare themselves with luminaries in their chosen field (often Einstein, Newton, Edison, etc.) implying that the mere unpopularity of some belief is in itself evidence of plausibility 8) Cranks claim that their ideas are being suppressed, typically by secret intelligence organizations, mainstream science, powerful business interests, or other groups which, they allege, are terrified by the possibility of their revolutionary insights becoming widely known 9) Cranks appear to regard themselves as persons of unique historical importance. – So, although „perhaps surprisingly, many cranks may appear quite normal when they are not passionately expounding their cranky belief, and they may even be successful in careers unrelated to their cranky beliefs“, also the crank condition seems to be an expression of a personality disorder. But what common personality disorder would apply? Obviously you have narcissistic, histrionic and schizotypal features here, yet neither NPD, HPD or StPD seem to truly apply. Upon relfection, it may also be paranoid personality disorder, if we consider the problem of self-esteem regulation, desire for quasi-omnipotence and holding on to colossal belief systems which turn into the delusion of colossal conspiracies being plotted against oneself when ego becomes frustrated. In the German version of the crackpot article on Wikipedia there is a link to the querulant, a somehow similar condition to that of the crank, and as it turns out, querulant behaviour is regarded to stem out of a paranoid condition. Personality disorders are often hidden and people with personality disorders may „function“ relatively well in everyday life – only when you meet them more intimately you see there is something wrong with them. On the other hand, when you meet someone who acts inappropriately and inflexible there is a high probability that such a person has a personality disorder. There is a continuum between (harmless) eccentricities and massive personality disorders. It is good to have knowledge about psychopathology since you are about to meet many people equipped with such a disorder and they may bring severe upheaval in your life. Walter Riso, a therapist who has written a valuable book about dangerous romantic liaisons with problematic people estimates that 20 – 30 percent of people are equipped with PDs („and if we take into account lighter cases, that number would increase significantly once more“). Meditate about that.
Individuals who (obviously) combine a high IQ with a paranoid personality disorder may have been Bobby Fisher, Ted „Unabomber“ Kaczynski, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Christopher Langan. Bobby Fisher was an entertaining and flamboyant chess genius before he turned into a person that made antiamerican and antisemitic comments at every occasion, as if he had been compulsed to do so. At September 11 2001 he welcomed the terrorist attacks (in a Japanese radio show) as „wonderful news“ and in his last radio interview in Iceland (where he lived in „exile“) he could not refrain expressing his sympathies for the North Korean Dear Leader. Yet already in former times it had been noted that Fisher was deeply troubled, arrogant and with a short temper, which however he had managed to somehow balance with being funny and exiting and a genius. Psychologists noted that for Fisher playing and winning at chess was about fantasies of power, and in a TV interview he once gave answer to the question what he would experience as „the greatest pleasure“ in chess: The moment when he „breaks the opponents ego“. – Ted Kaczynski was a normal child at first. At age 2 however he suffered from a shock of the immune system and had to be isolated in hospital. After that experience he had become a very reclusive child and person. I guess, apart from genetic disposition, personality disorders stem out from severe frustrations in early infancy where the infant does not have a fully developed concept of self and the own body and cannot recall memories (therefore, unlike neuroses, personality disorders do not appear as something „attached“ to a personality, but an element deeply ingrained in that personality itself). Apart from being a maths genius hardly understood by anyone Kaczynski became a reclusive and bizarre individual who gave up mathematics to become the Unabomber. Despite employing a primitivistic (and a bit Rousseauian) ideology he admitted to himself that the true motive for his criminal crusade had been his „hatred“ for people. When I once took a short look at his manifest, I noticed that it was full of paranoid hatred against the political left (I would have liked to analyse that further since it appeared to me as an expression of an inferiority complex, respectively a hatred against everything that is „soft“ and tolerant because of self-hatred for one´s own perceived inner weakness, but I am not interested to do that at the moment). – I have not read or studied Jean-Jacques Rousseau a lot, but it is commonplace that he sent his offspring to orphanages and that after a while he antagonised against everyone, became suspicious about Voltaire et al. betraying him or plotting against him. When he finally arrived in England, David Hume welcomed him, therein dismissing warnings that Rousseau is known as a problematic person, only to find those warnings justified after a while. Maybe his entire apparently humanistic but also anti-civilisational philosophy is an expression of his paranoid condition, an attack against a society about which he thought that it did him wrong (note that intellectually a paranoid person may well be a humanist). – Christopher Langan is noted as a person with one of the highest IQs currently on stage. He developed a metaphysics, the Cognitive-Theoretical Model of the Universe (CTMU) as a „Theory of Everything“ (ToE) i.e. as a „theory of theories“ that finally explains (or provides a framework for understanding) the entire reality. I have read some of his texts and also the counterarguments by others (which Langan however says they do not exist or are invalid) but still do not know what to think about it. As far as I can see it contains at least some plausible claims or suggestions as well as apparent exaggerations, as Langan claims he can prove the existence of God, of the afterlife, of the ethical character of reality and the like (note that in Langan´s theory those categories are somehow distingiushed from what is commonly understood by them). I cannot discuss the CTMU at the moment, but, as Christopher Langan appeared on Facebook (in a group for discussion of the CTMU) a while ago, I can discuss his behaviour: He joined the group as people in it have expressed curiosity why Langan had spoken out for Donald Trump. He went there to explain his motives and since then, apart from engaging in discussion and explaining about the CTMU, he compulsively rants against academia (which he flat out denounces as all corrupt and interested in anything but scientific truth), immigrants, left-wingers, „cultural marxists“, tech-billionaires, („stooge-like“ and sociopathic) politicians, atheists, (philosophical) materialists, liberals and people who don´t stick to guns – regardless of whether it is any issue in the respective thread or not. He bitterly blames „academia“ for not being „famous like Einstein“ and disrespecting the CTMU (what he fails to mention however is that the CTMU has also met opposition in the high IQ communities) and, as it becomes apparent after a while, he rants against the elites as well as the more stupid parts of the populace of a world that fails to acknowledge that the CTMU is the greatest intellectual achievement of all time and the overall solution to everything and that Christopher Langan is the greatest genius of all time and the greatest saviour since Jesus Christ (as, concerning the more stupid parts of the populace, he likes to engage in dreaming about eugenics). There is some rationality and things being worthy of consideration in what he says, but it becomes apparent that Langan says them for psychological reasons and that he is not at all a balanced individual. In arguments he goes ad hominem pretty quickly and he employs an uncannily contemptuous and scornful language in which he dehumanises others: he does not radiate much goodness and warmheartedness. He is excessively self-referential and, in contrast to humbleness and proneness to question and re-evalute one´s own ideas and beliefs as common characteristics of the genius he never ever comes up with any sort of „self-irony“. He is excessively sensitive to being „trolled“ (which, of course, he occassionally gets, however he seems to understand every disagreement as „trolling“, specifically if the other person has a point: in such a case, when he runs out of arguments, he simply derisively claims that he is much smarter and the other person an idiot). Like the paranoid person I have personally known, he permanently complains how hard his life is and how „infinitely entitled“ immigrants are (because of plutocratic-cultural marxist anti-christian conspiracy engineered by tech-billionaires and the government (if it is run by democrats or an „Obamamessiah“ and where only Trump can be a saviour)). Concerning his fantasies about conspiracies and plots he even goes that far to come up with conspiracy theories that the attacks of 9/11 were an inside job carried out by the government (and fantasises about the purpose having been to distract public attention from the game-changing and mass illuminating CTMU) – whereas no serious intellectual, regardless of nationality or ideological affiliation comes up with such a thing since to anyone who is capable of critical thinking it is evident that those conspiracy theories are much less plausible than the „official version“. In general, also as an intellectual he is pretty picky in taking into account stuff that confirms his vision and neglects stuff that does not. For someone who claims to be „closer to absolute truth than anyone else“ in history, Langan is quite casual in making claims he, at least somehow, knows himself that they aren´t exactly appropriate or pay tribute to „absolute truth“, but preeminently serve the purpose of comforting him emotionally. For someone who humble-brags „Do I think this (my achievements/IQ) makes me better than anyone? No, I still work in a bar“ he is quite immodest (note: the quotes are from a video portrait about Langan easily to be found on Youtube). And, at any rate, someone who claims to be the „smartest man in America“ and then speaks out for Trump! Ok, granted that Langan is a conservative, but also most of the more illuminated conservatives turned away from Trump. However, Langan finally makes it clear that he endorsed Trump because Trump runs against left-wingers and „cultural marxists“ which he deems accountable for lack of success of the CTMU – I mean, so much for Langan as an honest intellectual who claims being solely interested in the progress and enlightenment of humanity, but endorses an aggressively anti-intellectual/scientific individual who is a slap in the fucking face for any rational person and is irresponsible enough to elect someone like Trump into the most decisive office in the world! Ok, granted again, Trump is a personality disorder guy and a narcissist like Langan, but an intellectual should first and foremost ask whether someone is intellectually honest and accountable. – To sum up, while operating at a high intellectual level and at least containing elements that should not be dismissed the CTMU makes the impression of being something Christopher Langan wants to come up with to prove that he is the greatest genius in history (i.e. a toy, not a theory). Certain paranoid elements like its grand dimensionality, dismissal of „moral relativism“ in favor of an absolute truth/logos that Langan equates to a pantheistic/psychic deity (that equates to the universe itself) (and where Langan is his prophet) seem to be there, or could be interpreted along these lines. – I actually feel a bit uneasy mentioning all of that since Chris Langan hasn´t done anything bad on me personally, but I am, among other things, here to document my age, and that is how he exposes (and deconstructs) himself online (and, as I can see, he doesn´t do it only on Facebook, but also in various other threads on the internet – as for instance HERE). I have been aware of Chris Langan for some years now and have been reading and observing this and that in bits and pieces from time to time and did not know what to think about him, but given such exposure – which, by the way, does not invalidate (parts of) his theory, but sheds a strange light on it – I am skeptical. On Facebook I can even a bit understand his „eccentricity“, as in the respective group there is a considerable number of people who applaud to Langan and kiss his ass to anything this idiot says, no matter how outrageous it ges (for one or many reasons). Even if they are sympathetic to his views or his theory, I do not quite get why many of those folks do not see, at least after a while, that Langan simply is not a balanced individual and that his behaviour is flat out abnormal. Of course, his frustrations can be understood – thinking that he has come up with one of the most significant intellectual/spiritual achievements of all time, with important implications for self-understanding of man and is not credited for it – yet contrary to good intentions, a basic abrasiveness of his personality is obvious (what is most frustrating that some individuals fall out with Langan after a personal unpleasant encounter, but not so often because of his genral behaviour). They think they are geniuses themselves and oh, so special and so damn clever when they endorse Langan and the CTMU, or so. Concerning true geniuses, it gives me an indication why folks like Einstein preferred to solely talk at length with Gödel, Nietzsche went to Sils Maria, Wittgenstein went to Norway to think or to Lower Austrian children to communicate or Emily Dickinson refused to leave her house after a while (as now does Perelman). I mean, those highly gifted physicists around Einstein, what did they do? Crying „Hurra!!“ when the First World War broke out, and then again crying uncritically „Hurra!“ when a tricky thing like quantum mechanics manifested! There seems to be a bit of a lack of inner clarity in those people! Even people who are not commonly retarded may follow dangerous leaders. The fog of the world. That is the quintessence of „Moby Dick“.
UPDATE April 1 2018 (sic!): In the CTMU group on Facebook they are meanwhile, spearheaded by Christopher Langan, up to attributing personality/mental disorders to „demons“, with Chris Langan claiming that the CTMU, as a theory of everything, would also allow for a „very advanced theory of demonology“ – without, unfortunately, seeing much use in writing an extensive paper on that subject, since the always ignorant and stupid academia would not be interested in it. („While the CTMU happens to support the development of a very advanced „theory of demonology“, this is not something in which most academic journals would presently be interested. (A shame, given the liabilities of abjectly clamming up and letting a howling pack of oligarchical demons do a collective hotdog dance on the face of humanity.)“)