HARTFORD, (CBS Hartford) – Elliot Rodger killed six innocent people in California blaming his rage on a non-existent sex life and not having a girlfriend in videos he posted on YouTube before the murders. But if Rodger did have relationships and sex with women, some psychologists suggest that he still would have gone on his rampage because his problems run deeper than just claiming to be a virgin.
“If Rodger had the capacity to be in a real, loving relationship I would imagine that he would have been much less capable of such callous behavior towards others,” clinical social worker and psychotherapist Laura Miller told CBS Hartford. “His disconnect from the humanity of others and their inherent worth would likely preclude any such relationship from occurring, however. So I don’t think having a girlfriend or sex is the issue here, but rather a direct result of his lack of self-awareness and lack of empathy towards those around him.”
Miller said that Rodger is “projecting and externalizing his issues constantly” throughout his manifesto and the same behavior can be seen in some of the YouTube videos he posted online.
“In his manifesto, he is projecting and externalizing his issues constantly, not taking responsibility for any role he might have in his lack of meaningful connections,” Miller stated. “He does not even seem to view relationships with women as about connection, but rather about pride, power and domination.”
Dr. Krystine Batcho, a licensed psychologist and professor at Le Moyne College, added that one particular theme is found over and over again within Rodger’s manifesto.
“I do think when you read the manifesto the jealousy theme is extremely powerful and can be found within the manifesto over and over again,” Batcho told CBS Hartford. “A lot of it might have been based on his own distorted perception on things.”
Batcho noted that there are several other recurring themes featured in Rodger’s manifesto in addition to jealousy.
“There are several recurring themes in the manifesto and I would say that one of the most predominant features of it is narcissism,” she said. “Much of his arguments and perceptions are based on being narcissist. He didn’t appear to have a way of viewing reality from other peoples’ points of view. The entire document seemed to show that he only viewed it from his own perspective. He would attribute motives to other people or blame to the popular people when in reality, he had the major role in it.”
Miller added that pain is another factor that contributed to Rodger’s feelings of hatred.
“All that said, it does seem that this young man was in a lot of pain, the origin of which I am sure goes beyond rejection by women that became channeled into rage and hatred, rather than real sadness and loneliness,” Miller explained.
Batcho asserts that there are more factors that played into Rodger’s actions than being a virgin and not having a girlfriend.
“In my very humble opinion, I doubt that if he had a real relationship and sex with women that it would have prevented him from killing people,” Batcho, who has been seeing patients as a psychologist for over 30 years, stated. “I don’t think it was the only element. Many people become disappointed; they become discouraged, frustrated, and angry. But statistics wise, what Rodger did was so rare. There was definitely more going on than him being a 22-year-old male and not having sexual intercourse yet.”
Dr. Michael Broder, a renowned psychologist, also agrees that Rodger had more issues than what he tried to explain in his manifesto.
“He wasn’t a bad looking guy, he didn’t seem to present any obvious problems that would make him somebody that would make girls or women avoid him,” Broder, who is a bestselling author of Stage Climbing: The Shortest Path To Your Highest Potential, told CBS Hartford. “So obviously the reason he has had these problems with members of the opposite sex, is because his problems were psychological in nature.”
Broder explained that Rodger created some sort of barrier between him and the opposite sex.
“If I have to guess there is something that created barriers between him and women that made dating not work and then of course he has this extreme reaction,” Broder said. “The thing that strikes me more than anything else is that behavior like this does not happen just like that. With killers like Adam Lanza, James Holmes, and Rodger, there has to be warning signs that these extreme actions can take place. There has to be something, some kind of social distancing such as Asperger’s syndrome in play, but an extremely tiny number of people who have it have those kind of behavioral issues.”
Miller said that some therapists may have a blind spot for recognizing such psychopathology that Rodger had.
“It is important for clinicians to pay attention to such signs and to model appropriate empathy, while striking a balance between that and being manipulated by such a patient into not setting appropriate limits or intimidated into not confronting dangerous tendencies,” Miller said. “Antisocial personalities like these mass killers need unfortunately a kind of help that they are least likely to seek out, which involves a real human connection with a therapist who can also monitor their behavior closely enough to protect them from becoming dangerous and take necessary precautions when possible.”