Saturday, May 31, 2014

Men Who Watch Porn Have Less Grey Matter in Brain Regions Associated with Motivation and Executive Function

Watch porn and your brain may suffer from the intense stimulation of the reward system. One of the results of this can be a lower top-down modulation of prefrontal cortical areas (i.e., a loss of executive function and the ability to associate behaviors with outcomes). Another outcome is that exposure to porn imagery produced reduced activation in parts of brain associated with motivation - suggesting that porn (like other drugs) reduces the desire to do anything other than look at porn.

The researchers point out, rightly, that they cannot say that porn reduces grey matter - only that those who watch more porn has less grey matter. It may be the later that leads to the former.

By the way, the average porn consumption for the 64 men was 4 hours a week.

Below is a summary of the research from Science Alert, followed by the abstract of the full article (which is sequestered behind a pay wall).

Men who watch porn have less brain grey matter

Porn consumption has been linked to differences in the structure and function of male brains

Felicity Nelson | Saturday, 31 May 2014 

Image: PornHub

Men who watch porn have significantly less grey matter in their brains, a new study shows. MRI brain scans of 64 men between 21 and 45 years of age were taken while participants were shown images of porn and people exercising.

The participants were later requested to provide information about weekly porn consumption via a phone interview. Every person in the study volunteered to answer these questions, even though they were not told that this information would be needed before commencing. The men had a wide range of porn consumption averaging 4 hours a week.

Men with higher porn consumption had lower grey matter volumes. Interestingly, when men were shown sexually explicit material during the MRI scan, the region of the brain associated with motivation showed reduced activity.

"Our findings indicated that grey matter volume of the right caudate of the striatum is smaller with higher pornography use," researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany told ABC Science.

The study could not show that porn caused men's brains to lose grey matter. "Future studies should investigate the effects of pornography longitudinally or expose naive participants to pornography and investigate the causal effects over time", researchers told ABC Science.

This research was published this week in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Full Citation:
Kühn, S; Gallinat, J. (2014, May 28). Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption. JAMA Psychiatry. Online First. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.93

Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption

The Brain on Porn ONLINE FIRST

Simone Kühn, PhD; Jürgen Gallinat, PhD


Importance Since pornography appeared on the Internet, the accessibility, affordability, and anonymity of consuming visual sexual stimuli have increased and attracted millions of users. Based on the assumption that pornography consumption bears resemblance with reward-seeking behavior, novelty-seeking behavior, and addictive behavior, we hypothesized alterations of the frontostriatal network in frequent users.

Objective To determine whether frequent pornography consumption is associated with the frontostriatal network.

Design, Setting, and Participants Sixty-four healthy male adults with a broad range of pornography consumption at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany, reported hours of pornography consumption per week. Pornography consumption was associated with neural structure, task-related activation, and functional resting-state connectivity.

Main Outcomes and Measures Gray matter volume of the brain was measured by voxel-based morphometry and resting state functional connectivity was measured on 3-T magnetic resonance imaging scans.

Results We found a significant negative association between reported pornography hours per week and gray matter volume in the right caudate (P < .001, corrected for multiple comparisons) as well as with functional activity during a sexual cue–reactivity paradigm in the left putamen (P< .001). Functional connectivity of the right caudate to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was negatively associated with hours of pornography consumption.

Conclusions and Relevance The negative association of self-reported pornography consumption with the right striatum (caudate) volume, left striatum (putamen) activation during cue reactivity, and lower functional connectivity of the right caudate to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex could reflect change in neural plasticity as a consequence of an intense stimulation of the reward system, together with a lower top-down modulation of prefrontal cortical areas. Alternatively, it could be a precondition that makes pornography consumption more rewarding.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Fitness Friday - Lyle McDonald on Hypertrophy Training: A 6-Part Series

For this week's installment of Fitness Friday, I am devoted the whole post to the first six entries in Lyle McDonald's "Categories of Weight Training" series. These parts focus almost exclusively on hypertrophy training, so they are natural set - part seven begins a discussion of maximal strength training, which I will likely share on a future Fitness Friday.

Lyle McDonald - Categories of Weight Training: Parts 1-6: Hypertrophy Training

In part one, he spends a little time on metabolic/depletion training, then the rest of the first six sections are devoted to hypertrophy training (getting bigger muscles). Beginning with part 7, he launches into the strategies of maximal strength training.

This is an excellent series.

Categories of Weight Training: Part 1

This is yet another republication of an old series of articles I did. It originally appeared in the now defunct newsletter and was later re-run on the site. If I’m very motivated, I might add a section on power training methods (I had some requests for such when it originally ran) but I’m not sure how relevant that is to most readers of the site. I’m running it here again as a lead up to a (somewhat late) look at a recent study comparing rep ranges and hypertrophy that has a lot of people talking.

What I want to look at over these articles is various “categories” or “types” of weight training, focusing on those of the most relevance to folks wanting to change body composition. That is, I’m not going to talk about things like power training or things aimed more at performance.

The three primary types of weight training I want to talk about are
  • Metabolic/depletion training
  • Hypertrophy training
  • Maximum strength training
I’d note that while I’m going to discuss each type of weight training as a distinct entity, it’s better to think of them as overlapping zones (some call this the rep continuum). For example, the low end of what is typically considered the hypertrophy range (perhaps 5 reps) is often considered the top of the maximum strength range.

As usual, rather than arguing for the inherent superiority of one or the other, I would rather look at the pros and cons of each as they might pertain to such things as fat loss, muscle growth, performance, etc. That is to say, depending on the goal of the trainee, their training age, etc. each type of training can have relative more or less relevance or importance or benefit (or drawback). You get the idea.

* * * * *

Categories of Weight Training: Part 2

Last time in Categories of Weight Training Part 1, I made a quick introduction to the series and talked about metabolic/depletion type training. I won’t sum any of it up here, just click the link. In that article, I also listed the three primary types of training I wanted to talk about and listed the second type as “hypertrophy training” which is what I am going to talk about for the next several parts of the series.

Today, in an effort to confuse everyone including myself, I’m going to re-categorize that one initially as “growth training”, then babble about a bunch of underlying physiology that nobody cares about and then go right back to calling it hypertrophy training.

* * * * *

Categories of Weight Training: Part 3

In Categories of Weight Training: Part 2, I bored you with some of the underlying physiology behind hypertrophy training In that article I discussed the issue of hypetrophy vs. hyperplasia as well as the idea that there are different types of hypertrophy (i.e. sarcoplasmic vs. myofibrillar), I also looked a bit at some of the underlying physiology of what stimulates muscle growth in terms of tension, fatigue and muscle damage (with some brief commentary about the hormonal response issue).

Today I want to use that as background to talk about hypertrophy training in more practical terms in the same way I did about metabolic training back in Part 1. I’ll start with some more general comments and then talk about intensity/rep range as a loading parameter, saving other aspects of hypertrophy training for the next parts of the series.

Now, compared to other types of training, it seems as if you see the greatest variety in what can stimulate or generate hypertrophy in terms of the different types of training that has been done or that seems to be “effective” on one level or another.

Basically, the phrase “hypertrophy training” covers a lot of ground and people have gotten bigger using approaches ranging from one or two sets of moderate repetitions to lots of sets of low repetitions to bunches of sets of high-repetition “pump” training. If you can conceive of it, someone has probably tried it or made it work.

* * * * *

Categories of Weight Training Part 4

In Categories of Weight Training: Part 3 I continued with a look at hypertrophy training by talking a bit about the impact of anabolic steroids (which has caused a lot of very silly ideas to come into vogue) and then began to talk about loading parameters focusing on intensity (with a bit of related commentary about repetition ranges).

As I discussed in that article, due to the variety of pathways involved in stimulating growth (which may act independently or interact somehow) combined with the potential for different “types” of growth and the further potential of fiber type specific growth, you tend to see the widest range of intensities being at least potentially useful for stimulating at least some kind of muscle growth.

On average, intensity for the hypertrophy range is typically given to be anywhere from 60% to 85% of 1 repetition max, yielding an effective repetition range of anywhere from 20 reps per set (at 60% 1RM) down to about 5 (85%). Some use a bit of a narrower range, more along the lines of 70-85% 1RM (about 12-5 reps or so), just for the record. Even lower repetition sets have been used to generate growth (again, I’ll address the new study by Brad Schoenfeld at the end of the series) but it takes a lot of sets and is often very time inefficient.

So with that background, I want to continue on with that discussion of loading parameters for hypertrophy by looking at the issue of volume. Other topics such as frequency, exercise selection and the rest will get discussed in the next parts of the series.

* * * * *

Categories of Weight Training: Part 5

So last time in Categories of Weight Training: Part 4, I continued with the discussion of hypertrophy by addressing the issue of volume. In that article, looking at a recent review paper by Wernbom, I threw out a value of 30-60 repetitions as giving the apparently maximal growth response.

Before moving on to other topics, I want to clarify a few issues from Part 4. After that I’ll address training frequency and exercise selection and save all of the ancillary topics for the wrap-up of this topic next week.

* * * * *

Categories of Weight Training: Part 6

On Tuesday, in Categories of Weight Training: Part 5 I clarified some things regarding volume and then looked briefly at the issue of both training frequency and a bit at exercise selection. Today I’ll wrap up the discussion of hypertrophy training, summarizing all of this mess and looking at some popular programs and how they do (or don’t) match the information I’ve presented at the very end.

This will allow me to talk about maximal strength in the next part of the series and then either look at Brad Schoenfeld’s new paper (comparing low and high repetition ranges on growth) or power training methods. I haven’t decided what order to write in.

Today is going to be sort of a grab-bag of topics, some of which will hopefully answer some of the questions I’ve seen in the comments, some of which will probably leave you with more questions than answers. Thus is the balance of the universe is maintained. Let’s just jump right in with one of the long-standing debates.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

New Insights Into Why Some Men Assault Women

New research reveals what many of us have known for years - men who are insecure in their masculinity are more likely to commit intimate partner violence. This is article is particularly relevant to the killings at UCSB on Friday of last week. That young man was incredibly insecure in his masculinity, not to mention in his sense of self as a whole.

Granted, most men who fit this profile do not progress beyond beating and/or emotionally abusing their partners, but fueled by grandiosity and delusions, with some misogyny from the MRAs and PUAs thrown in to make it even more toxic, Elliott Rodger exemplifies the most extreme end of the violence curve -  it's no longer a woman, it's all women; and it's no longer physical abuse, it's murder (and torture in his fantasies).

The article appears (will appear - this is an "online early" offering, likely due to the killings in Isla Vista) in Personality and Individual Differences (Volume 68, October 2014, Pages 160–164). The abstract is followed by a summary of the research from Pacific Standard (the article is pay-walled).

Full Citation:
Reidy, DE,  Berke, DS, Gentile, B, and Zeichner, A. (2014, Oct). Man enough? Masculine discrepancy stress and intimate partner violence. Personality and Individual Differences; 68, Pages 160–164. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2014.04.021

Man enough? Masculine discrepancy stress and intimate partner violence

Dennis E. Reidya, Danielle S. Berkeb, Brittany Gentileb, Amos Zeichner

  • Masculine socialization has been theorized to predispose men to IPV.
  • However, gender role discrepancy stress has not been investigated.
  • Gender role discrepancy stress and IPV were assessed via the M-Turk website.
  • Discrepancy stress predicted psychological, physical, and sexual IPV.
  • Implications for prevention are discussed.

Research on gender roles suggests that men who strongly adhere to traditional masculine gender norms are at increased risk for the perpetration of violent and abusive acts toward their female intimate partners. Yet, gender norms alone fail to provide a comprehensive explanation of the multifaceted construct of intimate partner violence (IPV) and there is theoretical reason to suspect that men who fail to conform to masculine roles may equally be at risk for IPV. In the present study, we assessed effect of masculine discrepancy stress, a form of distress arising from perceived failure to conform to socially-prescribed masculine gender role norms, on IPV. Six-hundred men completed online surveys assessing their experience of discrepancy stress, masculine gender role norms, and history of IPV. Results indicated that masculine discrepancy stress significantly predicted men’s historical perpetration of IPV independent of other masculinity related variables. Findings are discussed in terms of potential distress engendered by masculine socialization as well as putative implications of gender role discrepancy stress for understanding and intervening in partner violence perpetrated by men.

* * * * * * * * *

New Insights Into Why Some Men Assault Women

By Tom Jacobs • May 28, 2014
A view over the University of California-Santa Barbara's lagoon to one of the Channel Islands. (Photo: Superchilum/Wikimedia Commons)

For some, the sense that they are not sufficiently masculine leads to stress, and ultimately to striking out at the women closest to them.
Last weekend’s tragic events outside the University of California-Santa Barbara, have ignited an impassioned national conversation about misogyny, male anger, and violence against women. Timely new research suggests physical abuse against wives and girlfriends may be triggered by a specific psychological state: The emotional stress that can result when males perceive themselves as less masculine than their peers and cultural role models.

A research team led by Dennis Reidy, a violence-prevention scholar at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, refers to this as “discrepancy stress,” and defines it as “a form of distress arising from perceived failure to conform to socially prescribed masculine gender role norms.”

In the journal Personality and Individual Differences, the researchers present evidence of a link between this type of stress and interpersonal violence, even “independent of other masculinity related variables.”

Along with three colleagues from the University of Georgia, Reidy conducted a study of 600 heterosexual American men who were recruited online. Along with basic demographic information, study participants responded to a series of statements revealing how they view their own masculinity.

On a one-to-seven scale, they expressed their level of agreement or disagreement with such statements as “I am less masculine than the average guy,” “I worry that people judge me because I’m not like the typical man,” and “I wish I was more manly.”

In addition, they noted the extent to which they endorse traditional gender roles, and the “degree of conflict” they encounter when such roles are challenged. Finally, they reported the extent to which they have engaged in “psychological, physical, or sexually violent behavior” with their current partner, most recent partner, or past partners.

The key result: Men who felt stress over their perceived inadequate level of masculinity were more likely to have admitted abusing their partners, even after a variety of other factors were taken into consideration.

“Men who experience stress related to perceiving themselves as being less masculine than the typical man—or believing that they are perceived as such by others—may be more likely to interpret ambiguous interactions as challenges to their masculinity,” Reidy and his colleagues write.

“Thus, it would be reasonable to expect that these men would be more likely to respond in a manner intended to demonstrate and, perhaps, bolster their masculine status.”

Acts of physical violence, they chillingly add, are “common methods of demonstrating masculinity.”

The researchers found that men who did not fit into traditional masculine roles but felt comfortable about that were not, on average, more likely to abuse their partners. Rather, violent behavior was specifically linked to the “experience of distress” over one’s perceived lack of masculinity.

The researchers add several cautionary notes to their study. They concede that self-reports of interpersonal violence may not be entirely accurate, as some men surely underreported how often they engage in such activity. In addition, their study does not address women-on-men violence or violence among same-sex couples.

Finally, the correlation they found is not proof of causation. It’s conceivable (although not likely) that committing acts of violence against women led them to doubt their masculinity, rather than the other way around.

These caveats aside, their study provides new insights into the roots of male-on-female violence, and may point toward ways of preventing it. Such efforts “should focus on the role of masculine socialization, acceptance of gender norms, and how they may engender distress in adolescents and adult men,” the researchers write.

“Intervening at an early age to prevent violence in teen dating relationships may avert a series of consequences across the lifespan,” they conclude, “including the perpetration of interpersonal violence in future adult relationships.”

~ Staff writer Tom Jacobs is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years experience at daily newspapers. He has served as a staff writer for The Los Angeles Daily News and the Santa Barbara News-Press. His work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Ventura County Star.

More From Tom Jacobs

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Masculinity, Misogyny And Murder: Unpacking A Killing In California (On Point w/ Tom Ashbrook)

I have already commented on this tragedy in two different posts (here and here), as well as sharing a collection of links devoted to this topic (here). I don't really have too much to add, other than to reiterate that these killings cannot be simplified into a single cause or target of blame.

In Elliott Rodger's actions there are a whole collection of factors, most prominent (as if often true and overlooked) is the delusional and grandiose thinking that justified these actions in his broken mind. It's easy to blame guns (he owned all of his weapons legally), or misogynistic, toxic masculinity (he followed men's rights activists [MRAs] and pick up artists [PUAs] on You Tube), but they are only part of the story - they are shadow elements of our culture that rarely get examined in the light of day unless we are forced to do so by some atrocity like this one.

Masculinity, Misogyny And Murder: Unpacking A Killing In California

A vicious, deadly rampage spurs a new look at misogyny and why it matters.

May 28, 2014 | Tom Ashbrook

People gather at a park for a candlelight vigil to honor the victims of Friday night’s mass shooting on Saturday, May 24, 2014, in Isla Vista, Calif. Sheriff’s officials said Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood. (AP)
What’s in a killer’s heart? We know in the case of last Friday’s Santa Barbara massacre. Because the killer wrote about it at length. He despised women. His unrequited desire turned into a furious hatred. And a plan to kill. A plan he carried out. An overwhelming response followed. A Twitter flood – the #yesallwomen hashtag – women sharing their own stories. Concerns that hatred, entitlement, towards women is woven widely into our culture. Not creating killers necessarily, but haters. Is this true? Where’s the line? And what’s to be done? This hour, On Point: Misogyny. Assessing the damage.
– John Donvan


Soraya Chemaly, activist and writer. Her work has appeared in the Huffington Post, Salon, the Guardian, CNN and in other publications. (@schemaly)

David Futrelle, freelance writer who blogs at “We Hunted the Mammoth,” a site that tracks the “Men’s Rights” movement online. (@DavidFutrelle)

Dr. Robert Heasley, professor of sociology at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Former president of the American Men’s Studies Association.

From The Reading List

Slate: The Pick-Up Artist Community’s Predictable, Horrible Response to a Mass Murder – “I do not blame the Pick-Up Artist community (or its somehow even more deeply tortured counterpart, the Anti-Pick-Up-Artist community) for the deaths of seven people. The man who committed this horrific crime is responsible for this heinous act. But I was interested to see how these groups are reacting to the news. It is disturbing, if not surprising, that they are using these murders to reinforce their hatred of women and “Beta” men, and to cement their own status at the top of the pyramid.”

The Guardian: Elliot Rodger’s California shooting spree: further proof that misogyny kills — “Rodger was reportedly involved with the online men’s rights movement: allegedly active on one forum and said to have been following several men’s rights channels on YouTube. The language Rodger used in his videos against women – like referring to himself as an “alpha male” – is common rhetoric in such circles. These communities are so virulently misogynist that the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks hate groups, has been watching their movements for years.”

Washington Post: In covering Elliot Rodger, writers aren’t shy about blaming misogyny and the groups that perpetuate it — “people have embraced the term ‘misogyny’ to describe Rodger’s online screeds against women, and they've been more receptive to treating Friday’s killings as a hate crime, the way McDevitt suggests. Sunday night, Gawker’s Jordan Sargeantnoticed that Rap Genius co-founder Mahbod Moghadam posted incendiary annotations to Rodger’s 141-page manifesto. The manifesto had been uploaded to News Genius, Rap Genius’s sister site which aims to annotate and explain the news. Moghadam said Rodger’s manifesto was ‘beautifully written.’”

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Tantrum of Masculinity - Omnivore

From Bookforum's Omnivore blog, here is a new collection of links themed on masculinity.The topics include patriarchy, male competition, academic masculinities, education, military masculinities, and pick up artists (PUAs).

And speaking of PUAs, there are also the mandatory links to articles blaming men, masculinity, patriarchy, and guns for the shooting rampage in Isla Vista. If only it were that simple.

The tantrum of masculinity

May 26 2014

Here are the requisite articles on the Isla Vista killings last Friday.

 from the 12:00 pm entry:
  • Rightbloggers say Santa Barbara killer Elliot Rodger's sexist rants have nothing to do with sexism (or guns). 
  • In the deadly aftermath of Elliot Rodger’s psychotic and suicidal shooting spree that left six others dead, the muted echoes of David Attias — who killed four people in Isla Vista 12 years ago — will be bouncing off Isla Vista’s blood-stained streets for some time to come. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Elliot Rodger - "Toxic Male Entitlement" or Mental Illness?

Elliot Rodger as a child
It did not take long for some "journalists" to take the easy path and blame "toxic male entitlement" for the shooting rampage of Elliot Rodger. Katie McDonough, a "lifestyle" editor at Salon has made the first move (of which I am aware). I have no doubt that "toxic male entitlement devalues women's and men's lives," the subtitle of her article. But, one must wonder, Did you WATCH the video this kid left behind?

Did anyone notice the delusional grandiosity in his video and manifesto, or the impotent rage, both expressed through ideas of omnipotence and entitlement? Did you notice how calmly, even calculatedly, he spoke in his final video statement, all the way down to the attempted "villain" laugh? Do you understand what it takes for a person to write 137 pages explaining his pain and his plan to kill those he blamed for his suffering?

This is not merely "toxic male entitlement," this is severe mental illness.

The record of events that is emerging suggests that people in his life have been concerned about him for some time. According to ABC News:
Brown said cops have had three previous contacts with Rodger before Friday's shooting, including when a member of Rodger's family asked police to check on him because of alarm over his behavior and videos. Brown said the cops found no reason to take further action on Rodger.
One of the other incidents occurred in January when he made a citizen's arrest of his roommate for allegedly stealing three candles, and again in July 2013 when he claimed he had been assaulted. Police determined that Rodger may have been the aggressor, Brown said. 

* * *

Schifman said in recent weeks that Rodger’s parents were concerned for their son's well being and reported his disturbing YouTube videos to police, which lead to an investigation. According to Schifman, police interviewed Rodger and found him to be “polite and kind.” He did not specify which law enforcement division conducted the interview. 

A social worker also contacted police about Rodger last week, said Schifman.
If you pay attention to his language, both in the video and in his manifesto, you will notice that his issues are all externalized, it is women who do not like him and there is no awareness of his own part in this issue. We call that an external locus of control, he is at the mercy of "powerful others," in this case attractive women.

Julian Rotter is the architect of the locus of control theory - this is from the Wikipedia entry on this topic:
Externals attribute outcomes of events to external circumstances. People that have external locus of control believe that many things that happen in their lives are out of their control.[9] They believe that their own actions are a result of external factors that are beyond their control. Rotter in his study suggested that people that have external locus of control have four types of beliefs which include the following: powerful others such as doctors, nurses, fate, luck and a belief that the world is too complex to predict its outcomes. People that have external locus of control tend to blame others for the outcomes rather than themselves. ... Due to their locating control outside themselves, externals tend to feel they have less control over their fate. People with an external locus of control tend to be more stressed and prone to clinical depression.[10]
What follows may be disturbing for some readers - these quotes are from the manifesto he left behind, 137 pages of rage and delusions, of blaming others for his suffering.

This first quote is about his plan to kill the men who have had successful sex lives, to even the score in his warped perspective:
All of that pleasure they had in life, I will punish by bringing them pain and suffering. I have lived a life of pain and suffering, and it was time to bring that pain to people who actually deserve it. I will cut them, flay them, strip all the skin off their flesh, and pour boiling water all over them while they are still alive, as well as any other form of torture I could possibly think of.

When they are dead, I will behead them and keep their heads in a bag, for their heads will play a major role in the final phase. This First Phase will represent my vengeance against all of the men who have had pleasurable sex lives while I’ve had to suffer. Things will be fair once I make them suffer as I did. I will finally even the score.
That is "phase one" of his plan. In "phase two," he goes after the women to punish them for denying him sex.
I will punish all females for the crime of depriving me of sex. They have starved me of sex for my entire youth, and gave that pleasure to other men. In doing so, they took many years of my life away.

I cannot kill every single female on earth, but I can deliver a devastating blow that will shake all of them to the core of their wicked hearts. I will attack the very girls who represent everything I hate in the female gender: The hottest sorority of UCSB.
Again, notice that he is blaming all of his pain, all of his loneliness, all of his frustration on the men who are successful with women and on the women who have denied him sex and love. I could go on quoting passage after passage, but this is already sufficient.

For the final phase of his plan, he believes he must, "kill my little brother, denying him of the chance to grow up to surpass me." This is indicative of someone who has split, whose ego no longer experiences dissonance between his beliefs about the world and the world itself.

He goes so far as to suggest that after he has murdered all of these people, "everyone will fear me as the powerful god I am," clearly a grandiose delusion of power and control, the things he has never felt himself to possess in his own life.

And there is the crux of this kid's mental illness. His reality, and his understanding of his reality, became so intolerable, so painful, that his psyche split into two separate parts: (1) the lonely, depressed, and socially impotent young man who once believed he could change his situation, and (2) the angry, rageful, and delusional rampage killer. This second persona became his sense of self, to the point that he acted on all of the fantasies he had been experiencing of making other people suffer as he has suffered.

All of this points to a paranoid psychosis. The DSM-IV recognizes paranoia as a personality disorder (possible here), as a subtype of schizophrenia (it seems that he has been in this space for less than 6 months, so it would be schizophreniform disorder), and "the persecutory type of delusional disorder (coded: 297.0), which is also called "querulous paranoia" when the focus is to remedy some injustice by legal action" (quite likely here, except that his delusions include himself as judge, jury, and executioner). He certainly experiences himself as persecuted.

It's far too easy to blame the PUA and MRA groups Rodger was interested in for spreading hateful misogyny, although they are loathsome in doing so.

The tougher, more relevant question is to understand how this young man who comes from a family of wealth and privilege became so alienated, wounded, and violent. For sure there is mental illness here, but mental illness does not grow without some fertilizer. What were the events and experiences that sent him into an alternate world where he can become a god through the murder of those he blames for his suffering and isolation?

In looking at this honestly and with a wider lens, we are confronted with the possibility that he could be anyone's son, or brother, or friend. But for different early life circumstances, different brain wiring, and different maturational experiences, I could be Elliot Rodger.

This is a reality too troubling to look at, so the media will take the easy way out and blame "toxic male entitlement."

Below is the article from Salon mentioned above. Is this the way we want to view this tragedy as a nation, or would we rather struggle to fathom the events as indicative of a young man whose soul became infected with pain, isolation, and rage?

Elliot Rodger’s fatal menace: How toxic male entitlement devalues women’s and men’s lives

In moments after unspeakable tragedy we must not rush to conclusions. But here's one thing we already know too well

Katie Mcdonough
Sunday, May 25, 2014

Elliot Rodger (Credit: YouTube)

We don’t yet know much about the six innocent women and men who were killed in Isla Vista, California late Friday night, but we have come to know a few things about the man who is alleged to have murdered them. Hours before he is believed to have fatally stabbed and shot six people and wounded 13 others in that coastal college town, Elliot Rodger filmed a video of himself — palm trees behind him, the glow of an orange sun highlighting his young face — and vowed to get “revenge against humanity.”

There’s a lot more in the video, and the 140-page “manifesto” he left in his apartment. Rodger felt victimized by women, whom he appeared to desire and loathe simultaneously. He expressed anger and resentment toward other men, often because of their relationships with women. He seemed to be a profoundly troubled, profoundly lonely young man. According to a statement from the Rodger family’s attorney, he was receiving care from mental health professionals after his parents were alarmed by his Internet footprint — a series of YouTube videos and men’s rights chat groups where he expressed his violent views about women, men and himself.

It’s hard to say what any of this actually tells us. Maybe nothing. I won’t pretend to know. What role did Rodger’s misogyny play in this tragedy? And what about his apparent struggle with mental illness — that big, blanket term we never talk about except to throw it around as if it explains why someone would murder six people? And what about guns? What of our cowardice — the cowardice of our elected officials — when it comes to regulating deadly weapons so that we stand a better chance of keeping them out of the hands of men like Elliot Rodger? What about these things? As a friend and I discussed earlier while trying to grapple with the tragedy as we learned each new chilling detail, all of these things matter, but none seem sufficient to explain what happened. They couldn’t possibly, and yet they’re all we have.

It would be irresponsible to lay this violence at the feet of the men’s rights activists with whom Rodger seemed to find support for his rage. Rodger is alleged to have murdered six women and men. No amount of Internet vitriol — no unfulfilled threats of violence — can equal that. But it also denies reality to pretend that Rodger’s sense of masculine entitlement and views about women didn’t matter or somehow existed in a vacuum. These things matter because the horror of Rodger’s alleged crimes is unique, but the distorted way he understood himself as a man and the violence with which discussed women — the bleak and dehumanizing lens through which he judged them — is not. Just as we examine our culture of guns once again in the wake of yet another mass shooting, we must also examine our culture of misogyny and toxic masculinity, which devalues both women’s and men’s lives and worth, and inflicts real and daily harm. We must examine the dangerous normative values that treat women as less than human, and that make them — according to Elliot Rodger — deserving of death.

There is an angry part of me — a frightened part of me — that wants to tear Rodger’s video manifesto apart in the pettiest terms imaginable. Point to how cliched it all is — the tired self-importance, the god comparisons, his lazy use of “sluts” and “brutes” to describe the women and men he would allegedly target and murder only hours later. I have seen these videos before. Women have heard these threats before, and been forced to consider how seriously they should take a man who tells them on Twitter that he knows where they live and that, “You are going to die and I am the one who is going to kill you.” If Rodger had posted his angry monologue to YouTube or fired it off in an email to a woman online and then gone about his day — seething privately and without violence about his wounded sense of entitlement and the sting of having his resentful and warped desires unfulfilled — the country wouldn’t be talking about him. Because until the moment that he is alleged to have killed six women and men, Elliot Rodger was every bit the same as the other men who are defined by their resentment toward women and their sense of bitter victimization in the world. Men who threaten women in person and online in an attempt to control their lives. Men who feel that girls and women owe them adoration, sexual gratification, subservience. Men whose sense of rage and entitlement has rotted their brains and ruined them.

And this anger — this toxic male entitlement — isn’t contained to random comment boards or the YouTube videos of disturbed young men. It’s on full view elsewhere in our culture. Earlier this week, a writer for the New York Post quoted a member of a men’s rights group as the sole source in a report on Jill Abramson’s ouster at the New York Times. Mel Feit of the National Center for Men told columnist Richard Johnson that Abramson was systematically firing men and replacing them with women. He said that our society gives women preferential treatment. On his website, Feit bemoans a culture in which men are subject to the powerful whims of vindictive women who exist on “sexual pedestals.” He argues that men can’t be blamed for rape after a certain point of arousal. These views about women and violence are replicated in our criminal justice system. They filter into our media. This is what makes Rodger’s misogynistic vitriol so terrifying — the fact that in many ways it’s utterly banal.

The news out of Isla Vista is still painfully fresh, and in the coming days we will continue to struggle to understand this pattern of violence. And while we do that — the work of considering what laws, support systems and cultural shifts must be put in place to prevent these tragedies from destroying more lives, families and communities — I can’t help but be reminded of all of the women who have been victimized by a culture and a system that denies their humanity.

I’m reminded of Marissa Alexander, whom the state of Florida is trying to imprison for 60 years because she fired a warning shot to ward off a man who had a history of violently abusing her and had told her that he was going to kill her. I’m reminded of CeCe McDonald, a trans woman of color who was incarcerated for defending herself during a brutal assault. “Her gift for survival was a prison sentence,” trans actress and activist Laverne Cox recently observed. I’m reminded of the 276 Nigerian schoolgirls who were abducted more than a month ago and remain missing because they had the audacity to go to school.

I think of the millions of other women and girls whose names the public does not know, but who have been forced all the same — by institutional forces larger than themselves, by systemic and enduring misogyny and racism, by the sheer bad luck of being at a given place at a given moment — to become statistics or symbols of our culture’s profound disregard for the humanity of women and girls. I am reminded of all of them and I don’t know where to put the pain and anger that comes with that. There is no possible vessel large enough to hold it all.

Katie McDonough is an assistant editor for Salon, focusing on lifestyle. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

Saturday, May 24, 2014

What We Know About Elliot Rodger, The UC Santa Barbara Gunman [UPDATED]


Another young, disaffected male goes on murderous shooting rampage, killing seven people, including himself (it's currently unclear if he shot himself or was shot in one of the two shootouts with police following his shooting spree), and left an additional seven injured.

Pundits are going to have their say, and some are likely going to target Rodger's affiliation with pick-up artist (PUA) and men's rights advocates (MRA) sites.

[UPDATE: Slate now has an article up looking at the PUA responses, and the anti-PUA responses (these are guys who feel they got scammed by PUA marketing, but still think, "women are scum") to the shooting, and more interestingly, the shooter: “Nobody gives a shit about some socially deprived, narrow-clavicle twink with a delusional sense of self. He's a poser.”]

OllieGarkey at the Daily Kos has been looking into some of the You Tube accounts Rodger was subscribed to:
"The Player Supreme Show" which rails against the feminization of men and talks about how to pick up women.

"RSDfreetour" which is a series of self-help seminars run by RSD Nation, a "pick up artist" site.

There's also a user called McHenry Cruiser who in addition to being a pickup artist is a comedian who has some kind of beef with Louis CK, and another called "Squatting Cassanova," who seems to be your average PUA.

I'm still digging through some of the folks he's subscribed to.

He is what the Men's Rights movement calls an "Incel" which is short for involuntary celibacy. It's a hot topic in various parts of the manosphere.

Rather than seeking mental help for some obvious issues, he sought out the Men's Rights Movement. He watched their propaganda. He internalized their hatred of women. (There's no shortage of anti-woman rhetoric and nonsense. For some of the worst of it, check out The Red Pill's "Pussy Pass" forum, where they take isolated incidents, remove them from any rational context, and blow them way out of proportion.)
As much as I dislike the PUAs and MRAs, I suspect they will painted as the villains here (other than the kid), as the writer at the Daily Kos is already doing. Difficult as it is, I am afraid that blaming these hate-mongering groups for the actions of a disturbed kid is about as unfair as is blaming hard rock/heavy metal for teen drug abuse or violence.
So this kid who needed some serious mental help sought out the destructive, BS views coming from the men's rights movement. He felt entitled to sex with women. He blamed women for not providing him with sex. He exposed himself to hateful rhetoric about women.

And then he acted on that hatred, and targeted college girls for a drive-by shooting, killed six, wounded seven, and then shot himself.

I don't think we should be at all surprised that when hateful rhetoric is trained on any group, lone wolves like this guy get triggered.
The author is correct about the mental illness aspect - and his family has revealed that he was receiving psychiatric care (they say he has high functioning Asperger's, but that alone cannot explain this episode of murderous rage). The real failure here is with the parents and possibly with a mental health system that did not catch this kid's rage and social isolation, or take it seriously enough. In some ways, the situation is very similar to Jared Loughner, minus the schizophrenia with which Loughner clearly suffered. 

I am not going to post the video manifesto Rodger's left behind, or its transcript - if you are interested you can view them for yourself: video | transcript.

To wrap this up, here is some information from Journalist's Resource, by John Wihbey (April 3, 2014) - the article includes links to a lot of relevant research.
What some researchers call “rampage violence” — such as the shootings in Newtown, Conn., at Columbine High and Virginia Tech, and at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s political event in Tucson — plays a prominent role in the national consciousness, often touching off political debates over gun control laws, shifts in the culture and the role of violent media, particularly video games.

Though each act of violence has a distinct context, over the past decade the social science research community has continued to search for more general frameworks of understanding. But some researchers believe that establishing more precise psychological/criminal profiles in the hope of preventing such events through interventions may ultimately prove elusive. Though much speculation is offered in the media immediately afterward, scholars often note the limits of existing knowledge. (For a review of the research literature on such profiling, see the first article below.) It should be said that the connection between violence and severe mental illness is often over-simplified in the news media, and claims should be framed and informed by the existing empirical research. A 2013 survey and report published in The New England Journal of Medicine has data on the public’s views on mental illness issues and violence, in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting incident.

In terms of violent acts in a school context, the FBI compiles useful background materials and data, as does the Centers for Disease Control.

Below are studies that provide a window into the state of knowledge in this area:

“The Nature of Mass Murder and Autogenic Massacre”
Bowers, Thomas G.; Holmes, Eric S.; Rhom, Ashley. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 2010, 25:59-66. doi: 10.1007/s11896-009-9059-6

Abstract: “Incidents of mass murder have gained considerable media attention, but are not well understood in behavioral sciences. Current definitions are weak, and may include politically or ideologically motivated phenomenon. Our current understanding of the phenomenon indicates these incidents are not peculiar to only western cultures, and appear to be increasing. Methods most prominently used include firearms by males who have experienced challenging setbacks in important social, familial and vocational domains. There often appears to be important autogenic components … including dysthymic reactions and similar antecedents. There have been observations of possible seasonal variations in mass murders, but research to date is inadequate to establish this relationship. It is recommended behavioral sciences and mental health researchers increase research efforts on understanding mass killings, as the current socioeconomic climate may increase vulnerability to this phenomenon, and the incidents are not well understood despite their notoriety.”

“Rampage Violence Requires a New Type of Research”
Harris Jr., John M.; Harris, Robin B. American Journal of Public Health, June 2012, Vol. 102, No. 6, pp. 1054-1057. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300545

Abstract: “Tragedies such as school shootings and the assault on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords share features that define them as acts of “rampage violence.” These types of events can lead to despair about their inevitability and unpredictability. To understand and prevent rampage violence, we need to acknowledge that current discipline-based violence research is not well suited to this specific challenge. There are numerous important, unanswered research questions that can inform policies designed to prevent rampage violence. It is time to develop alternative research approaches to reduce the risk of rampage violence. Such approaches should incorporate transdisciplinary research models; flexible, outcomes-focused organizational structures similar to those used to investigate other catastrophic events; and an expanded inventory of analytic tools.”

“The ‘Pseudocommando’ Mass Murderer: Part I, The Psychology of Revenge and Obliteration”
Knoll, James L. Journal of American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, March 2010,  38:1:87-94

Abstract: “The pseudocommando is a type of mass murderer who kills in public during the daytime, plans his offense well in advance, and comes prepared with a powerful arsenal of weapons. He has no escape planned and expects to be killed during the incident. Research suggests that the pseudocommando is driven by strong feelings of anger and resentment, flowing from beliefs about being persecuted or grossly mistreated. He views himself as carrying out a highly personal agenda of payback. Some mass murderers take special steps to send a final communication to the public or news media; these communications, to date, have received little detailed analysis. An offender’s use of language may reveal important data about his state of mind, motivation, and psychopathology. Part I of this article reviews the research on the pseudocommando, as well as the psychology of revenge, with special attention to revenge fantasies. It is argued that revenge fantasies become the last refuge for the pseudocommando’s mortally wounded self-esteem and ultimately enable him to commit mass murder-suicide.” (Also see Part II of the article.)

“Attributing Blame in Tragedy: Understanding Attitudes About the Causes of Three Mass Shootings”
Haider-Markel, Donald P.; Joslyn, Mark R. American Political Science Association, 2011 annual meeting paper. Accessed through Social Science Research Network.

Abstract: “Individuals develop causal stories about the world around them that explain events, behaviors, and conditions. These stories may attribute causes to controllable components, such as individual choice, or uncontrollable components, such as systematic forces in the environment. Here we employ motivated reasoning and attribution theory to understand causal attributions to the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, the 2009 Fort Hood shootings, and the 2011 Tucson, Arizona shootings. We argue that causal attributions stem from individual reasoning that is primarily motivated by existing dispositions and accuracy motives. Both motivations are present for attributions about these mass shootings and we seek to understand their significance and whether dispositional motives condition accuracy drives. We are able to test several hypotheses using individual level survey data from several national surveys to explain attributions about the shootings. Our findings suggest a substantial partisan divide on the causes of the tragedies and considerable differences between the least and most educated respondents. However, our analyses also reveal that while education has virtually no influence on the attributions made by Republicans, it heightens the differences among Democrats. We discuss these findings for the public’s understanding of these tragedies and more broadly for attribution research.”

“Psychological Profiles of School Shooters: Positive Directions and One Big Wrong Turn”
Ferguson, Christopher J.; Coulson, Mark; Barnett, Jane. Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 2. doi: 10.1080/15332586.2011.581523

Abstract: “A wave of school shootings in the mid- to late 1990s led to great interest in attempts to ‘profile’ school shooters with an eye both on identifying imminent perpetrators and preventing further incidents. Given that school shootings are generally rare, and many perpetrators are killed during their crimes, the availability of school shooters for research is obviously limited. Not surprisingly, initial profiles of school shooters were arguably of limited value. Although school shooting incidents, particularly by minors, have declined, some evidence has emerged to elucidate the psychological elements of school shooting incidents. School shooting incidents may follow extreme versions of etiological pathways seen for less extreme youth violence, and youthful school shooters appear more similar than different to adult perpetrators of mass shootings. The quest to understanding school shootings has led to several wrong turns, most notably the quixotic desire by politicians, advocates, and some scholars to link both school shootings and less extreme youth violence to playing violent video games, despite considerable and increasing evidence to the contrary.”

“The Autogenic (Self-Generated) Massacre”
Mullen, P.E. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 2004, 22(3):311-23.

Abstract: “Mass killings can be of a variety of types including family slayings, cult killings, and the by-product of other criminal activities. This article focuses on massacres where the perpetrators indiscriminately kill people in pursuit of a highly personal agenda arising from their own specific social situation and psychopathology. Five cases are presented of this type of autogenic (self-generated) massacre, all of whom survived and were assessed by the author. Not only do these massacres follow an almost stereotypical course, but the perpetrators tend to share common social and psychological disabilities. They are isolates, often bullied in childhood, who have rarely established themselves in effective work roles as adults. They have personalities marked by suspiciousness, obsessional traits, and grandiosity. They often harbor persecutory beliefs, which may occasionally verge on the delusional. The autogenic massacre is essentially murder suicide, in which the perpetrators intend first to kill as many people as they can and then kill themselves. The script for this particular form of suicide has established itself in western society and is continuing to spread, and to diversify.”

“Mass Murder: An Analysis of Extreme Violence”
Fox, James Alan; Levin, Jack. Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies. Vol. 5, No. 1 (2003), 47-64, doi: 10.1023/A:1021051002020.

Findings: “Mass murder involves the slaughter of four or more victims by one or a few assailants within a single event, lasting but a few minutes or as long as several hours. More than just arbitrary, using this minimum body count — as opposed to a two- or three-victim threshold suggested by others (e.g., Ressler et al., 1988, Holmes and Holmes, 2001) — helps to distinguish multiple killing from homicide generally. Moreover, by restricting our attention to acts committed by one or a few offenders, our working definition of multiple homicide also excludes highly organized or institutionalized killings (e.g., war crimes and large-scale acts of political terrorism as well as certain acts of highly organized crime rings). Although state-sponsored killings are important in their own right, they may be better explained through the theories and methods of political science than criminology. Thus, for example, the definition of multiple homicide would include the crimes committed by Charles Manson and his followers, but not those of Hitler’s Third Reich, or the 9/11 terrorists, despite some similarities in the operations of authority.”

“Predicting the Risk of Future Dangerousness”
Phillipps, Robert T.M. Virtual Mentor. June 2012, Volume 14, Number 6: 472-476.

Abstract: “A consequence if not a driving force of the pendulum swing away from benevolence and toward the protection of others has been increased attention to an individual’s dangerousness, with the operative presumption that dangerousness is often the result of a mental illness. But dangerousness is not always the result of mental illness. Individuals who commit violent or aggressive acts often do so for reasons unrelated to mental illness…. Research, in fact, confirms the error in associating dangerousness with mental illness, showing that ‘the vast majority of people who are violent do not suffer from mental illnesses. The absolute risk of violence among the mentally ill as a group is still very small and … only a small proportion of the violence in our society can be attributed to persons who are mentally ill.’ Violence is not a diagnosis nor is it a disease. Potential to do harm is not a symptom or a sign of mental illness, rather it must be the central consideration when assessing future dangerousness.”

“Predicting Dangerousness With Two Million Adolescent Clinical Inventory Psychopathy Scales: The Importance of Egocentric and Callous Traits
Salekin, Randall, T.; Ziegler, Tracey A.; Larrea, Maria A.; Anthony, Virginia Lee; Bennett, Allyson D. Journal of Personality Assessment, 2003, Vol. 80, Issue 2. doi: 10.1207/S15327752JPA8002_04.

Abstract: “Psychopathy in youth has received increased recognition as a critical clinical construct for the evaluation and management of adolescents who have come into contact with the law (e.g., Forth, Hare, & Hart, 1990; Frick, 1998; Lynam, 1996, 1998). Although considerable attention has been devoted to the adult construct of psychopathy and its relation to recidivism, psychopathy in adolescents has been less thoroughly researched. Recently, a psychopathy scale (Murrie and Cornell Psychopathy Scale; Murrie & Cornell, 2000) was developed from items of the Million Adolescent Clinical Inventory (MACI; Millon, 1993). This scale was found to be highly related to the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (Hare, 1991) and was judged to have demonstrated good criterion validity. A necessary step in the validation process of any psychopathy scale is establishing its predictive validity. With this in mind, we investigated the ability of the MACI Psychopathy Scale to predict recidivism with 55 adolescent offenders 2 years after they had been evaluated at a juvenile court evaluation unit. In addition, we devised a psychopathy scale from MACI items that aligned more closely with Cooke and Michie (2001) and Frick, Bodin, and Barry’s (2001) recommendations for the refinement of psychopathy and tested its predictive validity. Results indicate that both scales had predictive utility. Interpersonal and affective components of the revised scale were particularly important in the prediction of both general and violent reoffending.”

“Violent Video Game Effects on Aggression, Empathy and Prosocial Behavior in Eastern and Western Countries: A Meta-Analytic Review”
Anderson, Craig A.; Shibuya, Akiko; Ihori, Nobuko; Swing, Edward L.; Bushman, Brad J.; Sakamoto, Akira; Rothstein, Hannah R.; Saleem, Muniba. Psychological Bulletin, March 2010, Vol. 136(2), 151-173

Abstract: “Meta-analytic procedures were used to test the effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, empathy/desensitization, and prosocial behavior. Unique features of this meta-analytic review include (a) more restrictive methodological quality inclusion criteria than in past meta-analyses; (b) cross-cultural comparisons; (c) longitudinal studies for all outcomes except physiological arousal; (d) conservative statistical controls; (e) multiple moderator analyses; and (f) sensitivity analyses. Social-cognitive models and cultural differences between Japan and Western countries were used to generate theory-based predictions. Meta-analyses yielded significant effects for all 6 outcome variables. The pattern of results for different outcomes and research designs (experimental, cross-sectional, longitudinal) fit theoretical predictions well. The evidence strongly suggests that exposure to violent video games is a causal risk factor for increased aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, and aggressive affect and for decreased empathy and prosocial behavior. Moderator analyses revealed significant research design effects, weak evidence of cultural differences in susceptibility and type of measurement effects, and no evidence of sex differences in susceptibility. Results of various sensitivity analyses revealed these effects to be robust, with little evidence of selection (publication) bias.”

“Posttraumatic Stress Among Students after the Shootings at Virginia Tech”
Hughes, Michael; Brymer, Melissa; Chiu, Wai Tat; Fairbank, John A.; Jones, Russell T.; Pynoos, Robert S.; Rothwell, Virginia; Steinberg, Alan M.; Kessler, Ronald C. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, December 2011, Vol. 3(4), 403-411. doi: 10.1037/a0024565

Abstract: “On April 16, 2007, in the worst campus shooting incident in U.S. history, 49 students and faculty at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) were shot, of whom 32 were killed. A cross-sectional survey of 4,639 Virginia Tech students was carried out the following summer/fall to assess PTSD symptoms using the Trauma Screening Questionnaire (TSQ). High levels of posttraumatic stress symptoms (probable PTSD) were experienced by 15.4% of respondents 3 to 4 months following the shooting. Exposure to trauma-related stressors varied greatly, from 64.5% unable to confirm the safety of friends to 9.1% who had a close friend killed. Odds ratios for stressors predicting high levels of posttraumatic stress symptoms were highest for losses (2.6-3.6; injury/death of someone close) and inability to confirm the safety of friends (2.5). Stressor effects were unrelated to age, gender, and race/ethnicity. The exposures that explained most of the cases of high posttraumatic stress symptoms were inability to confirm the safety of friends (30.7%); death of a (not close) friend (20.3%); and death of a close friend (10.1%). The importance of high-prevalence low-impact stressors resulted in a low concentration of probable cases of PTSD, making it difficult to target a small, highly exposed segment of students for mental health treatment outreach. The high density of student social networks will likely make this low concentration of probable PTSD a common feature of future college mass trauma incidents, requiring broad-based outreach to find students needing mental health treatment interventions.”

“Adjustment Following the Mass Shooting at Virginia Tech: The Roles of Resource Loss and Gain”
Littleton, Heather L.; Axsom, Danny; Grills-Taquechel, Amie E. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice and Policy, September 2009, Vol. 1(3), 206-219. doi: 10.1037/a0017468

Abstract: “Unfortunately, many individuals will be exposed to traumatic events during their lifetime. The experience of loss and gain of valued resources may represent important predictors of psychological distress following these experiences. The current study examined the extent to which loss and gain of interpersonal and intrapersonal resources (e.g., hope, intimacy) predicted psychological distress among college women following the mass shooting at Virginia Tech (VT). Participants were 193 college women from whom pre-event psychological distress and social support data had been obtained. These women completed surveys regarding their psychological distress, coping, and resource loss and gain 2- and 6-months after the VT shooting. Structural equation modeling supported that resource loss predicted greater psychological distress 6 months after the shooting whereas resource gain was weakly related to lower levels of psychological distress. The study also revealed that social support and psychological distress prior to the shooting predicted resource loss, and social support and active coping with the shooting predicted resource gain. Implications of the results for research examining the roles of resource loss and gain in posttrauma adjustment and the development of interventions following mass trauma are discussed.”

“Murder by Numbers: Monetary Costs Imposed by a Sample of Homicide Offenders”
DeLisi, Matt; Kosloski, Anna; Sween, Molly; Hachmeister, Emily; Moore, Matt; Drury, Alan. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 2010, Vol. 21, Issue 4. doi: 10.1080/ 14789940903564388.

Abstract: “Prior research on the monetary costs of criminal careers has neglected to focus on homicide offenders and tended to minimize the public costs associated with crime. Drawing on expanded monetization estimates produced by Cohen and Piquero, this study assessed the monetary costs for five crimes (murder, rape, armed robbery, aggravated assault, and burglary) imposed by a sample of (n = 654) convicted and incarcerated murderers. The average cost per murder exceeded $17.25 million and the average murderer in the current sample posed costs approaching $24 million. The most violent and prolific offenders singly produced costs greater than $150-160 million in terms of victim costs, criminal justice costs, lost offender productivity, and public willingness-to-pay costs.”

“More Support for Gun Rights, Gay Marriage than in 2008, 2004″
Pew Research Center, April 2012

Findings: Opinions on gun rights have shifted significantly over time. In 2000, 66% of Americans said controlling gun ownership was more important than protecting gun rights, while just 29% said rights were more important. By 2012, 49% supported gun rights versus 45% favoring gun control. Support for gun ownership among both men and women has increased from 2008, with a 14 percentage point increase in support for gun rights for men and a 9 percentage point increase for women. Partisan division over gun control has also grown in recent years. Republican support for gun rights increased from 65% in 2009 to 72% in 2012, while Independent support for gun rights increased from 48% in 2009 to 55% in 2012.

“Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review”
Wellford C.F.; Pepper J.V.; Petrie C.V. National Research Council of the National Academies, 2004. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Findings: “Empirical research on firearms and violence has resulted in important findings that can inform policy decisions. In particular, a wealth of descriptive information exists about the prevalence of firearm-related injuries and deaths, about firearms markets, and about the relationships between rates of gun ownership and violence. Research has found, for example, that higher rates of household firearms ownership are associated with higher rates of gun suicide, that illegal diversions from legitimate commerce are important sources of crime guns and guns used in suicide, that firearms are used defensively many times per day, and that some types of targeted police interventions may effectively lower gun crime and violence. This information is a vital starting point for any constructive dialogue about how to address the problem of firearms and violence. While much has been learned, much remains to be done, and this report necessarily focuses on the important unknowns in this field of study. The committee found that answers to some of the most pressing questions cannot be addressed with existing data and research methods, however well designed. For example, despite a large body of research, the committee found no credible evidence that the passage of right-to-carry laws decreases or increases violent crime, and there is almost no empirical evidence that the more than 80 prevention programs focused on gun-related violence have had any effect on children’s behavior, knowledge, attitudes or beliefs about firearms. The committee found that the data available on these questions are too weak to support unambiguous conclusions or strong policy statements.”