Dr. Meloy is a forensic psychologist and expert in mass shootings and terrorist attacks, and he has worked for the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI. He was interviewed by CNN surrounding the Buffalo and Uvalde attacks.
CNN Interview of Dr. Meloy:
Dr. Meloy said that mass shootings are not the product of mental illness. He is wrong.
- BERGEN: What are the most ridiculous things people tend to say after a school shooting or a terrorist attack?
- MELOY: When people claim that it is all about mental disorder, that sets my teeth on edge. If you say it’s about mental disorder, how do you then account for the millions of people in the United States who struggle with mental disorders and are not violent?
By rational definition of sanity and insanity, no sane mind would do what they did. The racially motivated shooting in Buffalo and the senseless killing of schoolchildren in Uvalde are not the acts of a sane and rational person.
That is a fact. The cause is a mind with a mental disorder.
What Dr. Meloy means is that he cannot identify the insanity involved. That is correct. He cannot identify the mental disorder involved because he lacks the necessary knowledge to recognize and comprehend the patterns involved.
He asks how I account for all the mentally ill people who do not become violent? They have a different mental illness than the ones that affect the Terrorist Mind.
The pathology of the Terrorist Mind is an attachment pathology – it’s specific damage in a primary motivational system of the brain. It is a motivational pathology in a motivational system he does not understand.
Dr. Meloy is not an expert in the attachment system, he does not recognize what the damage is and how the pathology acts as a result. He sees the action, just not the motivational movements.
He does not see the patterns that create the motivation that then creates the act. He sees the behavioral sequence but does not understand inside the evolving motivations of the terrorist mind. He knows what they are, but not why they are.
He identifies the behavioral sequence. It’s a pattern, it repeats variations on a pattern he does not understand. He doesn’t understand the psychological sequence involved in the movement.
Nor does he understand who will trigger into violence and who will not trigger. He researches his understanding of the violent mind and finds his understanding reflected in the findings from the research he constructs.
He emphasizes the presence of a “personal grievance” – that’s sadness, the inability to process sadness, grief, and loss creates the continuing “grievance” that is unresolved, and indeed nurtured. That’s attachment pathology. Sadness, grief, and loss are metabolized through the attachment bond – Bowlby Volume 3, Loss: Sadness & Depression.
Sadness, grief, and loss are metabolized through the attachment networks. The inability to process sadness and loss creates the prolonged and unresolved grievance.
- From Maloy: Another characteristic that’s shared is that even when you peel away the ideology motivating some of these individuals, you will oftentimes find in both groups a personal grievance, and the grievance typically is a major loss that may be cumulative, or it may be one event that has happened to them. The loss could be the loss of a job. It could be the loss of an important relationship. Typically, it is a loss that heavily impacts their day-to-day life.
They want to cause suffering. It gratifies them to cause our suffering. It feels good to cause our suffering. They are not alone anymore. We understand their loss, we understand their pain. They like causing our suffering.
That’s their motivation. If feels good to imagine our suffering. They extend the planning because it feels good to be in the state of imagining our suffering.
But it’s like sexual foreplay, it keeps urging further developments, the motivation wants more and it’s not content to remain where it is. It needs more satisfaction and it builds to its climax, the outpouring of violent destruction, self-destruction, our destruction, it’s all over.
There’s a reason sadism is sexualized in its violence. I read enough of de Sade to find what I was looking for, I found the line of gratification. I know where that is within the lines of shame and how it functions within the sadistic mind.
Why does causing our suffering gratify, why does it feel good to them? It’s empathy – for their shame. They don’t understand this. They just feel better when they imagine our suffering, when they cause our suffering.
They’re not alone anymore. We understand their suffering – and – we understand something more. We understand their deviance and their shame.
We understand their shame at who they are, that they have collapsed into indulging their sadistic gratifications, they have left our shared morality, they have collapsed into their shame.
Sadness itself is in the limbic-emotional system. Depression is in the limbic-emotional system. Grief and loss are in the attachment networks. This is a pathology of relationship and bonding – and not.
Always there will be a shame line, they want us to see them for who they are. They will profess their righteous cause while they expose their barbarous cruelty, savagery, and evil.
They want us to see who they are inside – they are ashamed of who they are and cannot escape back to us. They hate us for that, they hate us because they can never come back to us – they’re too damaged.
Because they can never come back, because they’re too damaged to return to us, there’s only one option. Death. An end to everything. An end to us, and end to their pain, and end to their shame, an end to their life here. An end.
When they decide, a calming peace descends from their new certainty of purpose. This peace and tranquility feels good. They think about the act, it feels good too. It makes them feel warm in the cold places inside.
They like to plan it, planning and thinking about the act gratifies a motivational urge – a sexualized urge of gratification that wants more. They feed our imagined suffering, grief, and loss, to the deathly cold and empty places inside. It warms them.
Imagining our suffering stops their suffering, and it brings them pleasure. It’s not just about stopping pain, it’s about gratification in causing suffering – our suffering feels good to them.
There’s a specific pattern to their empathy damage – to their capacity for cruelty. It’s more than just cruelty, there is an absence of a shared morality, they are evil in their intent. And it’s more than that, it’s a gratification in causing our suffering – they enjoy our suffering, causing our suffering makes them feel good.
That’s why no other mental disorders result in the violence of the Terrorist Mind. No other mental disorders are motivational disorders with damaged empathy, evil intent, and a sadistic line of shame.
Of course it’s a mental disorder. No sane mind does that. It’s just that Dr. Meloy doesn’t understand what the insanity is and why it does what it does. It’s a motivational pathology in the attachment networks of the brain.
They love us but can never have us, so they hate us for being unreachable. They are empty of love, they want to die. They are filled with anger from their pain, they hate us because we’re normal and they can never be with us, they want to kill us, they want to hurt us as we hurt them.
They want to die, they are rejected, they want to kill us. The decision is made and the pathology begins to construct the trigger.
It constructs the trigger in two parts. There is a proto-trigger which remains dormant until activated by context. The proto-trigger does not motivate to action. Instead, when the proto-trigger is activated by context it begins to construct the trigger to action.
It builds motivation in stages of amplification until it reaches its climax in the act – the release into violent action. The trigger to action is the completion of the preparation arc – the climax, the release to the increasing buildup of tension.
They become an avenging angel of the righteous cause in their mind’s perception. Their life becomes a flame from hatred to a purpose, a last point of meaning to a life that’s without meaning.
They release to their act, they release to their purpose, they release to the time and the end. It feels good, they are causing our suffering, our grief and loss. Finally we know.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, CA PSY 18857