Monday, July 23, 2012

The "Dark Knight Joker"-The Mind of A Madman or Evil Genius?

First of all I wish to express my deepest sympathies&condolences to those killed and injured by the massacre that occurred over the weekend in Aurora,CO. We as a nation feel the pain of any American family when such a shocking tragedy occurs. Our community experienced something similar after Jared Loughner opened fire in Tucson,AZ and shot former Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords and several others, killing many innocent victims a couple years ago. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims and their families. It is hard to imagine such a senseless act can take so many young&aspiring lives away. I pray for healing and comfort,especially for the wounded. May the victims who are no longer here rest in peace and their memories live on forever.Auroa,CO victims
It appears someone who worked with the Dark Knight shooter,James Holmes, says he was not as smart as some have made him appear. He may have graduated at the top of his class from UC Riverside in San Diego, but he had signs of anti-social behavior and disorganization. He also failed to complete a project given to him during a summer internship and was fired.
The Daily News reports:

John Jacobson helped guide Holmes during a 2006 summer internship at UC San Diego’s prestigious Salk Institute and said the suspected gunman in the Colorado movie theater massacre was thick-headed, uncommunicative and irresponsible.
“He should not have gotten into the summer program,” Jacobson, 37, told the Los Angeles Times. “His grades were mediocre. I’ve heard him described as brilliant. This is extremely inaccurate.”
Holmes’ high school transcripts showed Bs and B+s, and no Advanced Placement classes, Jacobson told The Times.
He was accepted because his resume indicated he had done some computer programming, Jacobson said.
“My experience with him was quite bad,” said Jacobson, who’s now a Ph.D. candidate at UC San Diego in philosophy and cognitive sciences.

The experiment — involving a game of rock-paper-scissors — was in Flash, a multimedia computer platform, but Holmes wouldn’t use it and insisted on an older method.
“He just refused,” Jacobson said. “Finally, I said, ‘Do it any way you can.’”
“He never completed the project. What he gave me was a complete mess,” Jacobson told The Times. “I basically fired him.”
As more information comes out about the shooter, a pattern of anti-social behavior problems appears common. It's too bad, once again like Jared Loughner the Tucson shooter, he did not receive the psychiatric help he needed. Once again, like Jared Loughner, Holmes also is said to have used marijuana,but told police he took Vicodin prior to the shooting. It seems his mother was not surprised to hear it was her son when he was arrested, though reports coming out today say she was just confirming to police that she was the mother of James Holmes when she told police, it is him. There are many unknowns still and we don't know how close the parents were to their son and if they were aware of the recent changes in her son from a few years ago. If there were signs, we may not know why she didn't try to help him, or why he didn't seek help on his own, or why the school/college once again failed to see the signs of a lonely, socially outcast student.
In result, this incident reaffirms that more awareness to spot the signs of mental illness and more social intervention is needed. It's all too common in these cases that you hear, he was such a 'quiet person', 'shy', 'kept to himself', 'a loner'. While being shy is a difficult issue for adolescents and young adults to overcome, it can be a sign that a person needs some sort of psychiatric care or professional guidance&intervention or just the support and encouragement of a good friend, parent or teacher.
young james holmes
While I don't like getting too personal on my blog, I feel this situation requires some personal perspective.
I know I was very shy growing up. I was especially shy after we relocated to a new city&school when I was 10 yrs old. It was a traumatic experience to me because we had only moved once before when I was much younger. I found it hard to get to know new people and trust them because we moved during the middle of the school year and everyone already had their 'clicks',established friends they knew and spent time with. Most had known each other from pre-school or the primary years and grew up together. It took me most of my pre-teen and early adult years to overcome my shyness & anxiety in public and to open up to new people. While I had friends, I always kept one close friend I could trust, but always remained close to my family. I wasn't into 'clicks' &spending time with large groups. I always felt somewhat awkward in social situations, so I would avoid large crowds whenever possible. My anxiety and lack of confidence eventually led me to drop out of high school for a semester. I finally had to make up for my lost time by taking summer school and correspondence courses to meet the requirements to graduate on time.
However, it wasn't until after my first two years of college that I started developing more self-confidence in myself and feeling I had accomplished something in my life that I was finally able to feel comfortable in most social situations. I became confident and comfortable with speaking in public after doing presentations, while getting my degree in Elementary Education. I gained more confidence as I started working with students and saw how they looked up to me . Following several teaching experiences, eventually I felt comfortable speaking in public doing presentations and recruiting foster families as a foster care recruiter.
Looking back now I wonder how I overcame my fears and why I felt so awkward growing up. It was hard for me at the time, but with lots of support,encouragement and attention from my parents, I was able to persevere and overcome those difficult days growing up. I also spoke with my high school guidance counselor and met with a counselor during the time I dropped out of school. I think this helped me to realize people cared and that there was someone and somewhere I could turn to when I felt lonely or needed someone to talk to. Other times I used poetry to express my feelings and frustrations.
before and after james holmesUltimately, I wish there wasn't such a stigma towards people who have mental illness or are shy&feel awkward or out of place in society. If there wasn't such a negative stigma perhaps more people would seek help and get the guidance they need. Unfortunately, not everyone has parents like I had, especially a mom who was very involved and would listen to me when I needed someone to talk to. I can imagine with boys and young men it might be harder for them to get help or seek someone to talk to because many times boys are taught to be tough and to let things roll off their backs.
Parents, educators and others need to become more aware of these people in their life who are shy, loners, appear out of place or awkward. Reach out to them, and show you care. Not everyone has a friend or family member to turn to. Let it be you! If you feel like you need help or feel out of place and alone, find someone to talk to a priest, a guidance counselor, a teacher or a parent or friend. Don't suffer alone, there is always someone ready&willing to listen and help! It doesn't mean you have a mental disorder or a psycholgical problem, but it could be the difference between suffering alone & in silence to saving your life and the life of others.
Also, while anytime a shooting of this magnitude occurs, most want to blame the weapon used instead of the person who committed the crime. We are all responsible for our own actions and behaviors, the strictest gun laws in the world will not stop someone who is determined to harm others. The Norway shooter proved this, along with the crime in Mexico where gun laws are strictly enforced. Instead it leaves innocent victims defenseless while criminals will still obtain weapons. We need to be more aware of our surroundings, be prepared for danger and be more aware of those who may act out and get them help! I think the biggest travesty in this is that everyone wants to point the blame on the weapon of choice, instead of on the killer and the motive behind their actions. It's the behavior, the action of the person, that is the cause and often there is an underlying reason from substance abuse to a mental illness or personal issue that wasn't addressed.

While I'm obviously not a psychiatrist, but based on my opinion and knowledge of anti-social behavior, it appears to me that while James Holmes might have done well in school, he had several personal & social issues he needed help overcoming. Instead of taking care of himself mentally, he focused too much on pleasing others and excelling so that he could run from his 'demons' so to speak. However, his inability to complete his internship & failure to get a job after graduation were set backs that he struggled to overcome. As a high achiever, with high expectations, he likely couldn't overcome the pressure he or his family placed on him.

I know many times people who put all of their focus on their work or their career are often running from something they need to fix either at home or within themselves. Some people use drugs and alcohol to escape. In this case it seems he used education as his first escape, especially since he couldn't find work after graduating with his degree in neuroscience. Eventually he became so overwhelmed with how alone & unaccomplished he was feeling, he dropped out of classes a month ago, & sought another escape through online video games & role playing, along with drugs such as Vicodin and marijuana,which can lead to hallucionations. In result, the pressure to succeed became his focus and his escape became virtual reality games & drugs.

I believe he was looking for an escape and it eventually resulted in him escaping reality and acting on a delusional reality. He became someone he wasn't,someone empowered, by playing the role of the Joker from Batman and instead of it being a video game, it became his delusional reality. It gave him a sense of control and power over his 'demons'. The drugs helped him to create that delusion by making him 'numb' to the pain and enabling him to act out his delusional reality. I believe his studies in neuroscience also helped influence his ability to mainpulate his thoughts. He used this process to create his escape and carry out this heinous crime. Since he studied or had an interest in 'temporal illusions', I think the drugs helped him create the illusion he sought.
According to his presentation in 2006, Holmes described "temporal illusions" as "an illusion that allows you to change the past". Holmes said he had been working on "subjective experience, which is what takes place inside the mind as oppose to the external world". Hence, my conclusion that he sought to live in a delusional reality rather than reality. He created his own 'movie scene' [temporal illusion]to help him carry out this crime and to help him escape from the life he was living which he could not control.
...after the massacre Holmes calmly told detectives he had taken 100mg of the prescription painkiller Vicodin, and identified himself as "The Joker". The same drug was found in the system of actor Heath Ledger when he died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs in 2008. Ledger played The Joker in the previous Batman film The Dark Knight. Vicodin side-effects can include euphoria, paranoia and, in rare cases, hallucinations.

The first video footage of the suspect showed him as an awkward, nervous 18-year-old giving a talk at a science summer camp in San Diego on "temporal illusions". It also emerged that in the days before the attack, Holmes, a cannabis smoker, joined a dating website seeking women for "sexy times" and also tried to join a gun club.
His profile posted on the dating website was headlined "Will you visit me in prison?"
"The first thing people usually notice about me is my soul penetrating eyes," he wrote. "Learning is really great, knowledge is power as the famous Sir Bacon [sic] said." Holmes also said he liked techno music, had "middle-of-the-road" political views, was agnostic, and "definitely" wanted children.
Holmes secured his bachelor degree in neuroscience from UC Riverside in San Diego in 2010 and fellow students described him as "weird". In his apartment in Aurora he had a poster advertising a DVD called Soldiers of Misfortune showing men in masks.
According to his CV he spent the summer of 2008 working as a counsellor at Camp Max Straus, which offers activities such as horse riding for underprivileged children.

The CV said he was an "aspiring scientist" and his neuroscience research included mapping the neurons of zebra finches and studying the flight muscles of hummingbirds.

Holmes received a grant from the National Institutes of Health for his PhD. He had recently undergone an intense three-part oral exam, before withdrawing from the course.

On June 25 he applied to join a private gun range, the $250 Lead Valley Range, in Byers, Colorado. Glenn Rotkovich, the owner, called to invite him for an orientation and got through to a "bizarre" voicemail message. "Looking back, and if I'd seen the movies, maybe I'd say it was like the Joker," Mr Rotkovich said.
In the end, I believe James Holmes acted deliberately, but also cunningly. Ultimately, it was premeditated,he knew what he was doing and planned it out over several months, but he also used drugs to help numb him to the reality of it. I don't know that he has an actual psychiatric disorder, such as schizophrenia but it is very possible this had something to do with it since the onset can occur at his age. However, I think his anti-social behavior and desire to escape reality, along with his frustrations led to this heinous act. Eventually it all snowballed on him and he finally put his "evil genius" plan into action and created his own delusional reality as "opposed to the external world".
Finally, please take time to remember the victims and their families and learn about who they were. 
A look at the Aurora shooting victims 
Reach out to survivors who may suffer the guilt of knowing they couldn't do more to help the victims and asking why not them rather than someone else. Here is an official facebook page put together by a survivor to support other survivors, along with a page to remember the victims and send your thoughts&prayers. 

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