James Holmes - The Psychology of a Killer
Over the last few days we have seen terrible scenes on the evening news concerning James Holmes the fresh faced young man with only a speeding ticket to his name. So what makes people suddenly turn from a normal male adult to crazed murderer?
I have studied psychology for a number of years, and the one thing that we were always taught was that there is a fine line between a cold blooded killer and a person with mental problems.
If you think psychologists can tell the difference then you are wrong. Sometimes its obvious, but other times it takes a lot of evaluation to even begin to understand why they did it. In the case of James Holmes, my first reaction to seeing the whole thing unfold was, "Evil man, who did he think he was? The Joker?!"
Those are the exact words I said to my family when watching the terrible news on TV. Does this mean I can read him like a book? No of course not. My theories are purely based on what I believe may have triggered these alwful killings. Whether right or wrong we will have to wait and see.
Neuroscience Doctoral Student
As we now know, James was a neuroscience doctoral student. In plain English he studied and learned about the brain, which is ironic considering he turned into a killer. The old saying, physician heal thyself obviously doesn't work in this case.
So does he fit the typical profile of a killer? Well yes, in one way he is the typical introvert, who has followed in the footsteps of his father. But not all introverts are murderers. Locally he is known affectionately as Jimmy. But if we look closer we can see that he is just trying to emulate his father.
But after taking a look at Robert Holmes CV we can see that James has a lot to live up too. Robert has a doctorate in statistics and a degree in bio statistics, and even a bachelors in mathematics.
James Holmes has excelled in his studies right up until this year, when they plunged to such a low that he told fellow students he was going to drop out. Was this because he had already decided to kill? Or did he realise that he would never be as good as his father?
No, of course not. There is much more to it than that. I believe that James has always had a psychological disorder, with a Walter Mitty existence. An introvert who lives in a dream world, but looks perfectly normal to the outside world.
When his mother was interviewed she stated "You've got the right person".So it seems as though his psychological disorder was known to the family. Behind closed doors, the family unit was not quite as stable as the public face shown to the world.
There was not one particular incident that set him on his killing spree, but a series of small things that either made him angry, or drove him into his dream world state. My first thoughts were:
- He grew up reading Batman and acted out scenarios in his bedroom.
- Something in one of the comic books caught his attention, maybe even years ago. The particular murder in the cinema episode from the 1980s. As talked about on the News.
- He believes he was pushed into studying a subject that was his fathers choice and not his.
- As the world of academia sucked him in, he began to live more and more in his fantasy world.
- Possible desire to be an actor, or someone artistic. Believed that he was better than the actors on screen, and felt that he should have the fame.
- It was his way of escaping from the life that had been chosen for him by his parents. His world of fantasy had slipped into reality.
- Depression, drug addiction and disociation.
These points are obviously only my opinion, but I am sure a couple of them will prove to be true. I think this particular killer lived in a world of murder, evil and power probably delivered by online video games, DVDs and films. He was rebelling not against society, but against all the parental control that he hated. In his mind he wanted to be an actor, or prove his worth by using his hands in a manual job, not his brain. This combination of childish dreams, augmented reality and most of all being pushed in a direction that he didn't want to go, culminated in James Holmes turning into a cold blooded killer.
Depression, anxiety and possible drug exposure is also suggested as a trigger that tipped the balance between reality and fantasy.
In the last few days before the murder, James dyed his hair a bright orange color. This is a classic example of someone taking hold and embracing the new personality, therefore leaving behind the introverted boy. Classic dissociative disorder. By letting go of the old James and embracing the new, or in this case the Joker, James will place the blame on the Joker and see himself as totally innocent. Whether he really believes that or not is in question.
There are no excuses for taking someones life. But there should be blame passed on to other members of his family who did not see, or chose to ignore the pressure that he may have been under. What was it that his mother knew about his personality, that made her so certain the police have the right killer?
Is this a case of his father living his life again through his son? Maybe, but that doesn't change the fact that James Holmes will always be known as the Batman Murderer.
copyright nell rose
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