I didn’t watch all of the Barbara Walters special where she interviewed the father of a recent mass killer, Elliot Rodger, called the “virgin killer”, who stabbed three roommates to death then took a gun and killed three more at random, then himself.
Peter Rodger has reached out to help other families by starting a web site “Ask for help” http://askforhelp.org/
Peter and his wife, Chin, were divorced when Elliot was a young child, and Peter said Elliot was “very shy” and he was given therapy. Though Peter said that Elliot had never had a formal diagnosis of Aspergers, he thought that diagnosis might apply since Elliot had difficulty relating to others in a socially acceptable way. I had read as much in several news articles.
While mental illness accounts for some of the crime committed, drug and alcohol addiction, bi-polar in particular is problematic, there is little that “mental health professionals” CAN do with a patient if they refuse to comply with medication and change their behaviors. Many mentally ill people do wind up in prison now because in the 1980s it became illegal to keep mentally ill people who were not an ACTIVE threat to others or themselves in a locked facility. This has led to a continual swinging door with severely chronically mentally ill patients living on the street, committing theft to eat (or buy drugs or alcohol) hitting bottom, going back to the hospital when they become “dangerous” and then while there become, with medication and therapy, no longer an ACTIVE danger to themselves or others and are released out on to the street to start the cycle over again. It isn’t against the law to “self neglect” as long as you are not actively harming yourself or others.
Mr. Rodgers somehow believes that gun control regulations will stop the kind of mass killings that his son did, but he seems to forget that Elliot stabbed three people to death before picking up the gun and killing others.
There is no way I can “diagnose” Elliot’s mental condition from news reports, so this is just a guess, but his social problems did seem to be of the Asperger’s type. However, Elliot seemed, from his videos and manifesto, to have a grandiose sense of entitlement to have everything he wanted. Peter Rodgers said that his son envied his father’s success, and the happiness of others.
While most people on the autistic spectrum are lacking empathy to one extent or another (empathy is not a yes or no question, but more like a ruler, a little, a medium amount, or too much empathy. Even sharing this trait with psychopaths who are on the VERY low end of the empathy scale, most people on the autistic spectrum do not seem to enjoy hurting someone else, or taking joy from hurting others. So, I think, that indeed if Elliott was somewhat on the Asperger’s scale in his social interactions, there was more than that going on, with his grandiose narcissism which when his desires were frustrated led to a violent rage, and a desire to revenge himself on “the world” which rejected him.
Elliot, coming from parents who were financially able, received many financial and social perks that he did not earn, but felt entitled to them and to more besides. His parents provided therapy for him from the time he was a little boy, but apparently that therapy was not “successful” in treating his problems.
It is difficult for a parent to even suspect that their child is likely to commit murder, but there were obviously signs that his parents “saw” but “didn’t see.” I have been caught in that trap of denial of what was right before my eyes with my own son. It hurts to come to the conclusion that your child is truly a monster in spite of everything you have tried to do for them.
While Elliot may very well have had some “mental health” issues, I do not believe he was “crazy” or that he could not control himself. I believe he made a choice to do what he did.
I grieve for the families of his victims, but I also grieve for his family and friends as well. Since my own grief was not national news, and Barbara Walters didn’t want to interview me, I can’t even imagine how Peter Rodger must feel…trying to find the answers to “why did this happen?” or “what could I have done to prevent this?”
Peter Rodger has a terrific burden that will weigh him down for a long time, if not the rest of his life. I think in his pain he is trying to “blame” something (guns) or someone (mental health professionals) for not stopping this, but the truth is that his son made the decision to do what he did, with a gun and with a knife. Timothy McVeigh used a bomb made out of fertilizer, the 9/11 terrorists used box cutters and airplanes. People who want to kill, whether it is one person or many people, will always find a way to do so.
Chicago has some of the most strict gun control laws on the books in the US, but it is the murder capitol of the country.
Here are some articles about Peter Rodger and Elliot Rodger