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APsaA OREGON MASS SHOOTING: We Can Make a Difference

posted Oct 5, 2015, 12:34 PM by Ruth Maya   [ updated Mar 23, 2016, 8:40 PM by Crissy Nolen ]
Tragically, we see yet another mass shooting, this time at a community college in Oregon. Hearing about the marathon bombing in Boston, where I have a daughter in college, my wife and I felt quite scared until we learned that she decided not to go to the finish line. But, even when it is not close-by, hearing about these tragedies makes the world feel less safe.

What can we do? Here are a few ideas.
  1. APsaA has a 2013 position statement on gun violence ( that we can all use when speaking to groups about such violence.

  2. If we are not doing it already, APsaA can develop a spreadsheet of state and national politicians, which can be used to send mass e-mails with individualized letters from our President, on behalf of us all, and to send our position statement. It could be possible to send out responses any time such a tragedy occurs, using modern technology, without incurring great expense. 

  3. I consulted yesterday with Reid Meloy, a psychoanalyst who is has made scholarly contributions, consults, and is highly respected for his understanding of such violence. He recommends supporting two groups that are doing very good work in trying to make our country safer. 
One is Americans for Responsible Solutions: americans for

The other is the Sandy Hook Promise and can be found at:

We can certainly support these organizations individually, but perhaps APsaA can establish a fund that can support such efforts in the name of Psychoanalysts Care; such efforts are one of our six missions: Advocacy and Public Relations. We can join other organizations that are in-line with our missions.

4. In listening to the news on this tragedy, I heard several leaders and news reporters comment that it does not matter why he did this mass murder...that it only matters to stop such tragedies from happening.

As psychoanalysts, we know that understanding why people do what they do is essential to responding. We need to find all the ways we can advocate for that position publicly. 

Dear Voters....I know this is the elections.list, but since I am precluded from posting on the members.list, and one important APsaA function is education and information, I will post it here. We are in the midst of a national crisis.

I received some responses to my earlier post about yesterday's mass murder that made it clear to me it is important to know the research; both demographically and psychologically. Until I consulted with Reid Meloy (who I referred to in my earlier post) I did not know much about these mass murderers.

Reid is a psychoanalyst specializing in understanding and studying such violence. He helped me in a consultation years ago, to understand and respond to a very challenging clinical situation: with early detection of being at risk, with a series of interventions, and in the end a good outcome. As a child and adolescent psychoanalyst I am particularly concerned with early detection of children at risk. Prevention does not require prediction.​

For those who are interested, here is some information about such perpetrators. I will share with you some facts I received from Reid, then and today. I am a messenger here, but one who has learned a great deal. It is important we know when we might be dealing with a child, adolescent or adult who is at risk, and that we know the recommended responses, so we can do what is possible to protect everyone.

A​ctive public shootings (with multiple victims usually) have increased 150% in the US when comparing 2000-2006 and 2007-2013 (2014 FBI study); Average time between such events is now 64 days.

​It is only a bout 25% of mass murderers (N=235) ​that ​ are psychotic (major mental disorder) in ​the​ latest, best study by Michael Stone (Violence and Gender, 2:51-86, 2015).  ​A​ variety of psychotic ​diagnoses ​ account for this percentage, ranging from paranoid schizophrenia​ to various delusional states with a variety of causes.

The rest of the ​the​ m: the most prominent evidence ​is of ​ various personality traits and personality disorders: paranoid, depressive, antisocial, narcissistic, schizoid, schizotypal, commonly sharing one or more accumulated losses and humiliations in love and/or work​,​ which become ​​ the triggering event.

Paranoid themes are pervasive (see Knoll and Meloy attached below). 
Another important contribution is: ​ Auchincloss, E.L., Weiss, R.W. (1992); Paranoid Character and the Intolerance of Indifference. J ​APA​ , 40:1013-1037 ​ (available on PEP)​ .

Also, note that the majority of these individuals die during their perpetration, either at their own hands or by the police;
​so ​ many of these acts are homicide-suicides, so depression and hopelessness are real clinical concerns.
​According to Reid, and based on my own experience, we​ do have a​ lot to offer.

I am attaching some more information below if you are interested. We surely need to do whatever we can. Early detection and intervention is important, so we can help educate parents and schools. We can try to get to the press so a deeper understanding goes public, given that many of these children and adolescents will never be seen in our offices. We can also consult with government and police assisting the victims and all the others traumatized after such horrific acts.

Also and very importantly, we need to follow though on our commitment to rational policies concerning gun control, as our position statement reads:

The American Psychoanalytic Association, through its membership, public information, lobbying, educational programs, research, and liaison programs in our communities, is committed to working with other groups and experts to facilitate research about firearm violence and create effective policies and interventions to prevent firearm violence.

I surely agree that we need rational policies for gun control.

Lee Jaffe, Ph.D. F.I.P.A.