And Jack Levin, director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and conflict at Northeastern University in Boston, author of more than two dozen books on murder and criminology states: "We're still in the dark about where this comes from."(Neely Tucker, Washington Post)
Part of the problem with research is that the killer often kills himself, so analyzing and interviewing the murderer is impossible. Although most seem to be male (95%) and loners who feel alienated, they often look normal and kill for various reasons, making accurate profiling difficult.
Mass murderers are not serial killers operating on highs like drug addicts; instead, they are usually depressed, angry, and humiliated men who develop shooting fantasies for months until some small personal loss sets them off.
"It's about suicide," Michael Welner says. "It's about tying one's masculinity to destruction." Mass killers just want to kill as many people as possible. They do not simply "snap" but instead plan to carry out a mass killing without any indication of when they will do it.
The Federal Government has found that risk factors include feelings of narcissism and other kinds of emotional turmoil, such as depression, substance abuse or some kind of childhood trauma. It seems many mass murderers are already angry and highly sensitized to setbacks. "If the world outside the home seems to be conspiring in the mistreatment, the sense of invalidation grows worse still." (Time, April 19, 2007) Feeling powerless, these people hit back with rage, often seemingly directed at the whole world.
Reportedly, all mass killers also tend to disengage from the people around them. It seems the gunman has long since convinced himself that the world brought the carnage on itself. Because nobody is exempt from membership in that world, nobody's exempt from the line of fire either. "You forced me into a corner. The decision was yours," were among the most disturbing lines in the suicide videos that Cho (the Virginia Tech gunman) left behind. (Time, April 19, 2007)
Mass murder is really an act of confusion and cowardice. In some sick sense, the purpose seems to be to give the murderer the last word. At least for a time, people will become more fearful that they or someone they love will become a victim of mass murder. Even if that chance is statistically almost impossible, fear, because of the senseless acts of a few in the last few bloody weeks, will be significantly higher.