The greatest threat to our Nation and its Citizens is the perpetrator of murder/suicide, whether a “Lone Wolf” terrorist or simply the individual who shoots his estranged wife at a local supermarket then walks out to the parking lot and kills himself; a phenomenon that we are seeing on the rise in every community. In the Washington Post, “Today authorities arrested a 29-year-old Moroccan man in an alleged plot to carry out a suicide bombing at the U.S. Capitol, the latest in a series of terrorism-related arrests resulting from undercover sting operations.” What is the better test of who will be our next perpetrator of murder/suicide: Probability versus Predictability?
“Profiling” represents the use of “probabilities.” Profiling tells us that within a certain group of people, there is a higher probability of a perpetrator of murder/suicide. It does not tell us who the next perpetrator is! What is the essential method needed to reliably identifying who the next perpetrator of murder/suicide is: Probability or Predictability?
As stated, the highest form of aggressor is the “murder/suicide,” or as we, at the Center for Aggression Management, would describe this aggressor as a 9th Phase Cognitive Aggressor; someone whose goal it is to give up their life for a cause. Subsequent to this level of aggression is the 8th Phase Cognitive Aggressor, the “murder” or in a military sense, “a combatant;” who is prepared to give up their life for a cause but intends to survive. Preceded by the 7th Phase Cognitive Aggression, the “Complicit Tactician,” who is complicit with the 9th and 8th Phase Cognitive Aggressor. Like the 9th and 8th Phase Cognitive Aggressors, the Complicit Tactician wants people to die but will not kill them nor die for their cause; they will inspire others to do so (like the late-Osama bin Laden) or a terrorist handler or, in a domestic sense, an accomplice.
We can learn a great deal from a very thorough study conducted by the U.S. Secret Service & U.S. Department of Education, called the “Safe School Initiative.” It declared that, “There is no accurate or useful profile of the school shooter, nor for assessing the risk that a particular student may pose for school-based targeted violence.” In other words, someone’s proclivities or probabilities to act aggressively are not reliable predictors as to who the next perpetrator of murder/suicide will be. But the study goes on to say, “An inquiry should focus instead on the student’s behaviors and communication to determine if the student appears to be planning or preparing for an attack.” “The ultimate question to answer …. is whether a student is on a path to an violent attack, and if so, to determine how fast they are moving and where intervention may be possible.” If we are to be predictive as to who will be the next murderer or perpetrator of murder/suicide, we must focus, not only on one’s probability to commit these heinous crimes but we must focus on the “emerging aggression” of someone planning or preparing for an attack.
To illustrate this point we can use the recent shooting of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; Jared Lee Loughner clearly had a Thought Disorder and maybe even Schizophrenia but the vast majority of individuals with Schizophrenia are not violent and do not shoot people. Knowing that Mr. Loughner had Schizophrenia adds to his probability to become an attacker but is not a reliable means of predicting whether he will become the next shooter. This was illustrated in another very thorough study, “Report to the President on Issues Raised by the Virginia Tech Tragedy, June 13, 2007,” that declared, “Most people who are violent do not have a mental illness, and most people who have mental illness are not violent.” In fact they determined that people with mental illness tend to become the victims of these behaviors not the perpetrators of them. To further illustrate this Seung-Hui Cho, the infamous shooter at Virginia Tech, who killed 32 people and wounded 25 more, was evaluated on three different occasions prior to his rampage and in each case was deemed to be, “Depressed and anxious but not at risk of hurting himself or others!” Although it has often been thought that mental illness is a predictor of who the next shooter might be, it serves only as another method of setting probabilities but not a reliable predictor of who the next shooter or suicide bomber will be.
Although “probability versus predictability” are not mutually exclusive, too often, we are using only probabilities, which fail the most important key component: Who will be our next perpetrator of murder/suicide!