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The Insanity of Mass Murder

On the face of it, committing a mass murder is crazy; you would have to be insane to murder several people. But according to a recent New York Times article, mass murderers are typically not insane. The gist of the article is expressed in its title, Are Mass Murderers Insane? Usually Not, Researchers Say.

It is true that severe mental illnesses are found more often among mass murderers. About one in five are likely psychotic or delusional, according to Dr. Michael Stone, a forensic psychiatrist at Columbia University who maintains a database of 350 mass killers going back more than a century. The figure for the general public is closer to 1 percent.

But the rest of these murderers do not have any severe, diagnosable disorder. Though he was abusive to his wife, Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub, had no apparent serious mental illness. Neither did Stephen Paddock, who mowed down 58 concertgoers from a hotel window in Las Vegas. ...
The overall rate of any psychiatric history among mass killers — including such probable diagnoses as depression, learning disabilities or A.D.H.D. — was 48 percent. ...
Researchers define mass killings as an event leaving four or more dead at the same place and time. These incidents occur at an average of about one a day across the United States; few make national headlines.
- BENEDICT CAREY, Are Mass Murderers Insane? Usually Not, Researchers Say, NYT, NOV. 8, 2017


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