Psychiatry of Mass Killings: Necessary and sufficient conditions?

Is the political motive if any justification or real cause?

Photo of Mikal Hertig

Mikael Hertig, M of Sc. Pol

In Europe we experience a trend in explaining and understanding  mass killings. We have had them in Paris, Bruxelles,  in Nice, in Munich, in Oslo and in Winnenden (Germany). In US, we can mention city after city.  It is quite obvious that the killings in Paris were arranged by islamists and should be seen as political terror while others maybe had a right-wing motive or none at all.

Nevertheless it is quite simple to divide even the Paris attacks into two aspects. 1) Who arranged or financed it if any? And 2) Who were the perpetrators, and what were their motives?

The aim of this article is not to circumvent the fact that some political movements are planning and acting to set up and carry through acts of terror. Indeed it is a good idea to establish surveillance at organizations and people threatening Europe and US in order to prohibit acts of terror.  It should not be denied that such intelligence work actually has been succesful.

In the public debate political actors tend to use all these brutal crimes in a political rather than in a psychological context. This seems somewhat biased .  I terms of logics it may be advantageous to discuss the priorities of necessity and sufficiency according to a given matter.

The actual trend seems to focus almost solely at the political context thus ignoring or underestimating the psychological profile of the perpetrators.

In Denmark, in Nice and in Munich the actual persons were registered as either mentally disturbed or criminals – and even more  remarkable :  both.

This leads to my point number one: If it turns out that a very high percentage of the assaulters  do have some rare psycholical profiles in common the personal profile should be seen as the sine qua non.  One might argue that such kind of profile could not be carried through for all citizens in a country. But is that a proper argument? Into the degree into which the persons have been into contact with the psychiatrics or been in jail earlier it is not belated wisdom tob pinpoint this relationship.  According to this, Breivik would not have been identified; however the latest killings in Nice and Munich might have been avoided.

As we do not actually know the priorities our the intelligence services we just have to bring this theme into the public. At least in Denmark it seems to me that leading politicians and public actors tend to connect any mass assault to islamism or even islam.  There seems to be a lot of fear of hatred generated in order to raise personal political capital. Under such circumstances the political environment tries to set the working conditions of theintelligence services under pressure.

All in all: The psycholical profile of a possible perpetrator might be at hand by examination criminals and mentally disturbed persons. It might also be examined if the both .. and category has a higher risk that just one of them.

When these profiles were at hand and under surveillance it would be easier to observe their possible radicalisation.



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