Forensic psych on violent minds

Boing Boing

A large number of commentators suggest that people who commit massacres are mentally ill. There is some evidence to suggest that this is not the case…that it is culture.

But when we try to pin killings like these on mental illness, Mullen says, we’re not quite hitting the right point. The people who go on killing sprees are mad, sure. But that’s not the same thing as diagnosable, objective, physical mental illness. Only about 10% of the people ever arrested for crimes like this had actual mental illnesses. In fact, Mullen thinks these killings have more to do with culture than brain chemistry. His argument is interesting. And it might sound a little similar to the old “angry music made him do it!” trope. But what Mullen is talking about is different than that:

watch the video…very interesting:


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  • captain Kidd

    Personaly I think it has something to do with the fact that since the evolution of the welfare systems present thinking has it that what ever happens to you (or doesnt)is someone elses fault,and this instills contemp for your fellow compatriots who may be better off.

  • Neil

    Agree with the video – no sane person would go and do this sort of thing – but that doesn’t mean they have some disorder that can be treated…..I draw the same conclusion about violent sex offenders and child abusers – it’s not something a sane person does – but again it doesn’t mean you can treat them – and certainly not by putting them behind bars in prison…they require to be kept from society for the rest of their lives.

  • Mediaan

    Paul E Mullen appears to be a psychiatrist who is a Professor Emeritus at Monash university in Melbourne Australia. His appears to be a middle of the road view.

    He refers to a personality type, rigid, obsessional; some characteristics of mental state, angry, disaffected, suicidal; the degree of preparation, loads of data on other killings, months of planning; the surrounding culture.

    Interestingly he refers to a history of such incidents back to 1913 near Stuttgart Germany, 1924 in a botanic gardens in Melbourne, and to what he suggests is a longer history in Malaysia of people who are known as “amok”.