Stephen Paddock: Why?

“Lone Wolf, Anti-Social, God Complex”

Paddock, who killed 58 and wounded nearly 500 in Vegas last weekend, apparently left no clear indication of the reason for his rampage.

The FBI and others are investigating every aspect of his life and so far no motive has emerged.

Perhaps one never will.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 80% of homicide victims know their killers and 16% of them are related.

Paddock was already outside the “norm” as a mass killer and is even more so because his victims were total strangers.

Since he had no stated reason his personality becomes an area of interest and here there are some facts.

Most articles about him consistently refer not only to his aversion to people generally, but that he would go out of his way to avoid contact, literally putting up a mesh fence around his home, even avoiding eye contact with neighbors.

If you are avoiding people you are obviously not making or affirming basic human connections or bonds.

Paddock lived a lifestyle that was effectively itinerant. Despite his wealth, he stayed rather than lived in multiple homes, moving frequently.  One person said the interior of his home looked like a “frat house.”

That suggests that he had no need for a comforting sanctuary or retreat, a way that many people envision where they live.

In fact, Paddock was just as happy living in a hotel, sometimes for long periods, the textbook example of itinerancy.

One casino manager said that Paddock had a “god complex” meaning that Paddock wanted to be noticed and treated as a special person to be catered to, when he wanted.

The Times says that, “Gambling made him feel important, if not social.”

If you are assiduously avoiding human contact yet you want to be given special treatment in some situations you have created an expectation that is hard to meet and rife for conflict and anger.

For someone to meet your special needs they must be vigilant of your presence, the very thing you seek to avoid.

Did he choose the casino environment because he could be anonymous yet expect special and attentive treatment?

The human act of engaging with others, including strangers, in a friendly manner, causes us to be open, flexible and compassionate.

If you purposely, even obsessively avoid contact, you are withdrawing, becoming more fragile, even decaying, at least where empathy may be concerned.

Paddock gives the impression of someone who saw most people as strangers, was content that they remain so, and the odd exception was treated as someone who was there to serve him.

He was, in short, a recipe for trouble, if not disaster.

Add one final ingredient: guns.

He amassed 47 and purchased 33 in the last year alone, as well as a cache of ammo and the tools to modify the weapons to be automatic.

It takes concentration to construct a life where you move among people and yet they are effectively invisible and Paddock applied that same concentration to planning his attack, carefully working out the venue, timing and  equipment for maximum effect.

In a note of irony, Paddock killed humans as he lived among them– they were strangers in the distance, whose faces and hearts he could neither see nor feel.

 

 

4 Comments

  • Betty K says:

    I feel helpless. Our lawmakers will not respond with common sense laws. BK

  • Joe blow says:

    Right on target and beautifully written Eric.
    I grew Up and live in an ‘old’ neighborhood. Nosey neighbors and multi generacional friends sure can be annoying. Bit they excert subtile pressure on us to ‘keep in line’ a bit.
    This guy Lived Thousands of miles from family with no community involvement.
    A great book was written some years ago on the subject: Bowling Alone:the death of community.

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