It is now a month since the Las Vegas massacre. The news has moved on and the tragedy has started to fade from the public’s consciousness. However, it will haunt the survivors and the families of those gunned down forever. The occasional news items now mainly have to do with psychological profiles of the killer, Stephen Paddock — and his apparent lack of motive.
He left no suicide note or manifesto for posterity. He apparently had no political or religious animus. He didn’t have a grudge against Las Vegas, the Mandalay Bay resort or the country and western singers performing when he started shooting. He destroyed the hard drive of his computer. It seems that perhaps he was being deliberately opaque.
What I have gleaned from the news is that Paddock’s slaughter was very carefully planned. He scoped out other public venues that would be soft targets and ensure a plethora of casualties. Over several years he stockpiled dozens of guns and thousands of rounds of ammo. He also had materials for making bombs.
It is unclear if he had an escape plan, but he must have known that he would have been quickly apprehended. However, it did not appear to be a “suicide by cop” scenario — still as police closed in on his hotel room he shot himself.
What we know is that he was successful as an investor and a gambler and that he was somewhat wealthy. One estimate had him being worth as much as two million. He was a college educated accountant who at one time had worked for the IRS. He owned investment properties. There are some reports of gambling losses but he appeared to have no money problems. Shortly before his rampage he wired $100,000 to the Philippines for his girlfriend.
He was not isolated. He had a live-in girlfriend, and a brother in Florida to whom he seemed somewhat close. He was not a loner or overly eccentric. Some acquaintances have described him in positive terms and others have said that he was private or not very friendly. He was 64-years old, but as far as is known, in good health. Had autopsies revealed brain pathology or serious health issues I’m sure we would have heard about them by now.
He drank — and perhaps rather heavily. People describe him as having alcohol on his breath in the morning. Some believe he was suffering from depression. He also took Valium which can can contribute to depression and enhance the effects of alcohol.
His family history (and possibly his genetics) were rather spotty. He was the oldest of four boys who were raised by their mother. His father at one time had been on the FBI’s most wanted list but he had never been an active part of their life. Also, one of his brothers has subsequently been arrested for having child pornography.
He appeared to have some feelings for others. He seemed concerned about the welfare of his 90-year old mother after the hurricanes. She lived in Orlando — and he made arrangements for his girlfriend to be out of the country when he perpetrated the massacre. He wired her money.
None of what we know up to this point provides a clue to the motives of someone who would murder 58 people in the process of intentionally mowing down hundreds. It almost seems as though Paddock was trying to set some perverse record for lone-gunman mass murder. He did exceed the Pulse Massacre by nine. Yet, law enforcement, profilers. and the media seem quite puzzled.
People have to discern a motive for heinous acts to feel safe themselves. It has to make some kind of sense. Because of that there will eventually emerge some sort of psychological explanation — but I suspect that it will be highly speculative. He has already been labled a narcissist and I’m sure that will stick. One acquaintance has said Paddock felt that he was superior to other people. But if most alcoholic narcissists suffering mild depression were inherently murderous there would be hardly any people left in this country.
As far as I’m concerned, the explanation for folks like Paddock was provided by M. Scott Peck over three decades ago in a book titled People of the Lie. Peck was a Harvard trained psychiatrist. He was in the Army during the Viet Nam war, and he was assigned to do psychological profiles on the perpetrators of the infamous My Lai Massacre. For those who may not remember, in March, 1968, over 300 unarmed Vietnamese civilians were slaughtered in a rampage in My Lai and surrounding hamlets. The only conviction handed out was two years of house arrest for Lt. Calley, the massacre’s prime perpetrator.
Based on the My Lai investigation and the case histories of a number of his patients Dr. Peck concluded that psychiatry was inadequate in “diagnosing” people who could only be described as “evil.” These are individuals who dwell in a dark area well beyond the realm of mere sociopaths or narcissists. As a psychotherapist, People of the Lie helped shaped my thinking. Reading it in 1984, it opened my mind to a previously unthinkable area having to do with Satan and the demonic, and it lent insight about not only some clients but also the nature of reality itself. Many of Peck’s thoughts have been incorporated into my blogs and into my book Satan’s Top Ten Tricks.
Although it can’t be proven, I tend to think that people like Paddock are inhabited by demons, and that this offers at least a partial explanation of the inexplicable nature of their behavior — behavior that goes beyond being merely anti-social into an area that wants to snuff out light — and life itself. I am a Jesus-follower and Jesus devoted a considerable amount of his ministry to casting out demons. If you consider yourself a Christian and you don’t believe in demons or the devil then you believe in an extra-biblical Jesus and not the One of scripture — not the Jesus who was the light-bearer and life-giver.
Scott Peck eventually participated in a couple of exorcisms and documented the results. It led him to believe in demonic possession. Of course, the scientific community is highly skeptical of anything that smacks of religion, especially Christianity. Peck’s endeavors in uncovering the demonic were highly criticized both by the scientific community and secular reviewers.
However, I don’t think any better explanation for Paddock’s motives have been offered. The Archangel Satan’s original sin was that of pride — that of not wanting to play second fiddle to God. And it’s a skewed demonically inspired pride that motivates men like Paddock to set records for murder. It is the resultant behavior of the spirit of the antichrist.