Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Follow-Up to The Psychological Profile of TJ Lane

Yesterday, I posted a psychological profile of Chardon school shooter, T.J. Lane (pictured to the left). As always happens, the day after such incidents, more detailed information emerges about the shooter. So far, everything I have read confirms the information I posted yesterday. Lane has already confessed to prosecutors that he shot his victims at random and did not know them (although he apparently knew one in middle school). 

This is consistent with the pattern of many school shooters, and the theory that he was lashing out against a “system,” be it society, government, the educational system, or all three. This type of behavior actually transcends school shooters and fits into a broader category of mass murderers who commit terrorist acts. For example, I remember walking through the Oklahoma City Memorial and seeing the tiny shoes of the babies who lost their lives after Timothy McVeigh bombed the federal building. McVeigh did not view the babies as innocent individuals who he had a personal problem with but saw them as necessary casualties of war in his fight against the government. In this sense, the victims are actually symbolic representations of a much larger system that the aggressor is upset about.

Although violence prediction is difficult, for Lane’s lawyer to say that this could never have been predicted is simply not true. Lane clearly was in a high risk category for this type of behavior based on what was noted yesterday. Part of this high risk comes from a troubled family life. More specifics regarding this have emerged that fits yesterday’s profile. Specifically, Lane's father has been arrested several times for violent crimes against female acquaintances, including his mother. For the first two years of Lane's life, his parents (who divorced in 2002) were both arrested for domestic violence against each other. His father also served prison time for assaulting a police officer and was charged with holding another woman under running water and bashing her head into a wall. He has been charged with kidnapping, felonious assault, attempted murder (eventually dropped), and disrupting public service. His father had been warned by law enforcement officials to stay away from him on multiple occasions. Thus, Lane clearly had a role model in life for violent behavior as a means to solve problems and lacked proper parental role models.  

It was noted yesterday that Lane attended an alternative H.S. and that this made it likely that he had academic and behavioral problems. Information disclosed today revealed that his alternative H.S. was a place for "at risk" students who are "reluctant learners" with problems such as "substance abuse /chemical dependency, anger issues, mental health issues, truancy, delinquency, difficulties with attention/organization, and academic deficiencies." Thus, there clearly were concerns that people had about him but it is unclear yet if any mental health professionals evaluated him and if anyone made any connections between his family background, belief systems, and tendencies for aggressive behavior.

On the 911 tape, Lane was described as a quiet kid who did not really talk to anyone, which, according to one friend, was associated with a Goth phase he became involved in as a freshman. Neighbors described him as very sullen, rarely showing his face and always wearing a hoodie, the latter being yet another symbol of alienation from society (when interpreted in the context of everything else that is known about him) as the hood can serve as a shell for him to hide in. It is noted that he wore a gray hoodie (again note the absence of bright colors) on the day of the school shooting based on 911 witness accounts. Another student noted that he would sit in the lunch room and no one knew he was there. That is interesting considering that the shooting occurred in the lunchroom. The school lunchroom is one of the most stigmatizing locations in school because this is where the student body becomes segregated into cliques. Students sitting by themselves in the lunch room (either by choice or through not being accepted) can be another sign of social alienation. Thus, he may have chosen an area that symbolized his social alienation as an area for the school shooting. The large availability of students to chose from in the lunchroom setting may have also played a roll.

Suggested Reading: Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us


  1. Awsome posts

    Did you ever read the full psychologicasl profile of CHO- the kid who did the VA tech shooting? HIs case highlighted the need for centralized communication at all academic venues, along with a clear set of rules regarding when intervention becomes necessary. and proactive interventions.

    So regarding Mr Lane: I wonder if, once students are placed in a high-risk type school, they are considered "taken care of" (in a "set-aside"- kind of manner), and no longer monitored?

    I also wonder if effective early trauma intervention is available for children such as Mr Lane (CHO was difficult case-he refused to go). Even people who have "good" health insurance, are not adequately covered to recover from serious trauma.

    If students have poor- or no- health insurance: then even School counselors cannot adequately help them: such counselors have way too many students to try and help, and are usually not adequately trained to deal with the traumas they are faced-with.

    SERIOUSLY-How many mass-shootings like this-, and multiple-child-sexual-abuse cases- will it take before Mental Health issues are accepted as universal, and pandemic. And when will the public accept this and demand immediate government financial support across socioeconomic statuses?

  2. I agree MI. Cho's case was also fascinating and contained many similar elements to Lane's case. Your points are well taken.

  3. Quite simply there are those who are just "born bad", genetically wired for severe psychopathic personality disorders that are highly narcisstic in their sense of entitlement and seething resentment of others.Having some negative experiences and poor modeling from early childhood onwards consolidates negative proclivities. This youth has been reported to exhibit the blog writers profile, and there are other personal reports indicating capacity to relate well in normal positive ways as well as academic success.This type who has no empathy or real connectedness, seethes and takes offence when others can smile and breathe at the same time cannot find satisfaction from any normal role since it cannot feed his ego so abandons this to consolidate his alienated contemtuos self playing a goth like withrawaland even erupts.Bundy and the BTK killer grew up in an era where even psychopaths understood they had to endure some delay in gratification and death penalties were very real options. They waited to adulthood after making some achievements to satisy their kill thrills.Today an era of instant gratification, professionals making excuses for the twisted but not genuinly dysfunctional with assumptions that all children can be treated and no consequences for deliberatly vicious behavious are the factors that unleash these monsters into killing at school. These monsters lie, he didn't shoot at random, he knew most of those he shot at. He will play sick puppy intelligently having learnt the scripts assuming that would get him off again. Most of these school shooters marginalise themselves, especially the most impatient ones of a psychopathic personality disorder. As the blog identifies they always leave warnings.They can be removed if studentsare warned to report all such statements and if each region hires persons to infiltrate school aged social networks to filter all texts for specific terms of negative word clusters to then read the whole communications if these crop up.More emphasis on responsability and quick trials with executions of such youth would help.Unfortunately defense lawyers outside of Texas prevent that.I know that from even 5yo I viewed killing others was abhorrent and so wrong and death was forever.I think all normal persons from 5yo grasped that too. It is smaller crimes that children or teens often don't understand fully.

  4. To MI there are children and adolescents that cannot and would not be helped by the most massive expenditure in counselling or by the types of treatments that exist currently outside of incarcerated or confined abberant youth. The hopless are the ones who are neurologically hard wired for psychothic personality disorders with extreme narcissistic features provoked by very little to desire power and thrill through enacting severe violence on others. The money you propose is better spent on revising structures to deal with the types of risks they can pose. Read Hare on psycopathy to understand this personality disorder.

  5. One of the victims fathers said his son 'never knew a boy like that'. Nick W. (who I admire in the way he is dealing with paralysis) in a radio interview, started to say his friends didn't know TJ. He hesitated then said "the girlfriend thing was a long time ago he should have gotten over it. Then CBS reported the TJ and girlfriend breakup was only a week before she started going with the first victim, Russel King. Russel King was a former friend. The breakup was on Valentines day according to one internet source. One fellow student said Russel King was really mean to TJ after he and his former girlfriend started dating. 'He said really mean things and threatened to beat him up.' One fellow student said he was regularly teased and bullied. Many other students denied bullying. One friend from his church group said he needed support because he was treated poorly. Many other students denied bullying. The prosecutor says there was no bullying drugs or other motive. I doubt this. I wish I could verify all of this. My gut tells me that the school and the legal system have found the guilty victim. Its just easy for it to be TJ. There are those who are lying to protect the reputation of the dead. It would be right to know the truth. A week is a short turnaround for a new relationship. One facebook picture shows new muscles. TJ was supposed to have been working our for a year to stand up to Russel King and bullying. Could TJ's outrageous behavior at his sentencing be the hurt and injury covered by bravado. The whole of the community decided that he had no more right to live, mostly for good reason. He stated no motive. It is the responsibility of the legal system to find him guilty not TJs. He shouldn't have to be the only one to defend himself. If there were mitigating circumstances they should have found them out. As an act of self imolation he did not explain himself. I think if he thought of the consequences, he planned to die by police suicide. I have the video image of his childhood home. There are padlocks on the outside of the bedroom doors. His life with his father until he was five locked his feelings and his words inside. He is obviously guilty but I just pray for God's mercy.

  6. Thanks. I'd be curious to see that picture of the home. You can post here or send to the MedFriendly contact email address. Thanks.

  7. You people have brought up some good points about this about the T . J . Lane case! I'm glad I'm not the only one who smells something bad about just writing him off as a Dirty Harry movie villain ! There are a lot of factors that should be looked at! It would be nice to learn from these tragedies to hopefully disarm human time bombs!


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