Could Therapy Culture Help Explain Elliot Rodger's Rampage?

One of the terrifying achievements of the modern cult of therapy has been to churn out a generation of people completely focused on the self and in constant need of validation from others.


Elliot Rodger

The most striking revelation about Elliot Rodger, the alleged Santa Barbara shooter, is that he had been in therapy for most of his life.

A family friend said Rodger had been seeing a therapist since the age of eight. Apparently he had visited a therapist "virtually every day" during his high school years. By the time of the massacre and suicide at the University of Santa Barbara over the weekend, when he was 22, Rodger reportedly had "multiple therapists."

Today it has been revealed that so central were his therapists to his daily existence that he emailed his hateful 141-page manifesto to them (and to his parents) 15 minutes before going on his stabbing and shooting spree.

I think Rodger's reported reliance on therapists from childhood through to adulthood deserves more analysis than it has so far received, because it potentially speaks to a dark side—a very dark side—of the modern therapy culture. There has been a mad dash to blame Rodger's actions on the misogynistic websites that he was known to visit, with some claiming these sites warped his mind and made him murderous. There has been far less focus on the therapy culture which by all accounts, and according to his family and friends, was a far more longstanding part of his life than his Internet habits.

Yes, he might have spent some late nights lurking on "men's rights" websites, but if the reports coming from those who knew him are to be believed, he spent 14 years visiting therapists.

To my mind, if we are going to say that any kind of "culture" was responsible for Rodger's rampage—and that is always a dangerous thing to do, since it lessens Rodger's own moral responsibility for what he did—then we might want to examine the impact of mainstream therapy culture rather than obsessing over the fringe misogyny culture he might have dabbled with.

We know a handful of things about Rodger. One is that he visited therapists. Another is that he was full of self-regard, was incredibly self-obsessed, and was utterly outraged when people, especially women, didn't treat him with the love and respect he felt he deserved.

It is possible that these two things are connected, maybe even intimately connected. For one of the main, and most terrifying, achievements of the modern cult of therapy has been to churn out a generation of people completely focused on the self and in constant need of validation from others; a generation that thinks nothing of spending hours examining and talking about their inner lives and who regard their own self-esteem as sacrosanct, something which it is unacceptable for anyone ever to dent or disrespect.

Could Rodger's fury at the world for failing to flatter his self-image as a good, civilized guy be a product of the therapy industry, of the therapy world's cultivation of a new tyrannical form of narcissism where individuals demand constant genuflection at the altar of their self-esteem?

Many thinkers have attacked the therapy industry's creation of a new and ravenous narcissism which demands constant flatter-feeding. In his classic 1979 book The Culture of Narcissism, the great Christopher Lasch said "the contemporary climate is therapeutic, not religious." He said therapy culture, the post-'60s obsession with self-reflection, had created a new "narcissistic personality"; it had given rise to individuals who "depend on others to validate [their] self-esteem" and who "cannot live without an admiring audience." The therapeutic individual views the world as a mirror, constantly expecting to see his own image in it, said Lasch, where the earlier, more robust individual saw the world as an "empty wilderness to be shaped by his own design".

In her powerful essay "The Overpraised American," Christine Rosen said the "overarching goal" of most therapeutic tomes is to teach people "how to love oneself." She quotes one self-help book which advises people to "Have a love affair with yourself!" Rosen writes: "Today's commercialised therapy purveyors all begin with the same premise: Think first of yourself."

The end result is a new generation invited to focus more on their navels, on their apparently fantastically interesting inner selves, rather than on the world around them; a generation encouraged to see any kind of challenge to their self-esteem, whether it's a tough exam, a presumed slight or a difficult, controversial idea, as an intolerable assault on their inner god. As the late American philosopher Jean Bethke Elshtain said, the era of therapy has created a "quivering sentimental self that gets uncomfortable very quickly, because this self has to feel good about itself all the time."

We see this everywhere today. We see it in university students who want to ban everything that they think harms their self-esteem, because they've been educated to see any attack on what they think and how they feel as utterly unacceptable. We see it in the growing cult of self-revelation and the search for validation on social networks like Twitter, where individuals' frenetic tweeting and their desperate desire for that all-important retweet speaks to the reorganization of society around the need for recognition, the need for an "admiring audience" to make the self feel puffed up. And we potentially see it, in its most extreme form, in Elliot Rodger, the son of therapy, who appears to be the ultimate "quivering sentimental self" made "uncomfortable very quickly" when he didn't feel good about himself.

It is striking how therapeutic is the language used by Rodger in his videos and his murder manifesto. He talks about how people's attitudes towards him "really decreased my self-esteem." He clearly sees such assaults on his self-esteem as unacceptable, saying "if they won't accept me… then they are my enemies." In short, fail to offer recognition to this damaged creature and you will pay the price. And then he makes the key cry of our therapeutic era: "It's not fair. Life is not fair."

Watch Rodger's video. The most alarming thing is how cool and well-spoken he is. This is a man used to talking about himself, following years of practice in therapy sessions. Clearly having decided to have a love affair with himself, Rodger terrifyingly declares: "I am the closest thing there is to a living god… Magnificent, glorious, supreme, eminent, divine!"

This isn't a religious thing. There's no evidence that Rodger thought he was a messiah, as other nutjobs have. Rather, it's a therapeutic thing. Therapy culture has created a new army of little gods made fearsomely angry by any perceived insult against their self-esteem. It has generated groups of people who, like something out of the Old Testament, think nothing of squishing things that offend them or hurt their sense of self-worth. It has made a whole new anti-social generation whose desire to protect themselves from emotional harm overrides the older human instinct to engage with other people and be tolerant of their differences. When Rodger says "I am a living god," he is speaking, not from any kind of wacky religious script, but from the mainstream bible of therapy. The cult of therapy convinces individuals they are gods and that their self-esteem is a gospel that must not be blasphemed against. As the New York Times columnist David Brooks once said of a therapeutic self-help guide to life, death, and life after death, "In this heaven, God and his glory are not the center of attention. It's all about you." The self has elbowed aside God; the self is God, as Rodger seems to have realised.

Perhaps we should see Rodger as a kind of therapeutic terrorist, using murder to gain recognition; his rampage can be seen as a very violent therapy session, a real primal scream in defense of his sacred self-esteem.

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  1. He sounds like a real fucking asshole. Too bad he didn’t do his rampage somewhere like San Antonio where armed civilians would have immediately put him down.

    1. I think that is kinda why it happened where it did and not in San Antonio. It is much less likely for a gun-toting-culture to produce his kind.

      1. That, and carrying a gun improves situational awareness. That weight makes a great reminder.

      2. No, it’s probably equally likely (if everything else remains the same). What changes in a gun-toting culture is that the little stain would have been shot sooner.

    2. #GoSpursGo

      he shoots for three…. BANG!!!

  2. And then he makes the key cry of our therapeutic era: “It’s not fair. Life is not fair.”

    Damn straight. The competitor beating your business into BK doesn’t care. The guy setting up the IED where you will drive doesn’t care. The people who are smarter and more talented and beat you out for a job or a spot on a team or first chair in band, don’t care. Better get used to it.

    1. This is more about an entitlement culture.

      He “needs” what the less deserving have. Society is unjust if it does not supply it to him instead, and it is only Social Justice to use violence against those who have and will not give.

      1. This is a good point he was privileged and his family did not hesitate to provide with expensive care instead of probably the parents trying to talk with him instead of paying someone else. Their are many avenues they could have seeked out other than therapist and medication.

  3. Too early to say if therapy warped him, but I’ll say this – if he’d spent 14 years going to gun shows and shooting ranges, or Tea Party rallies, instead of therapists, that would have meant he’d been corrupted by “gun culture” or “right-wing hate groups.”

    1. ..or he wouldn’t have done this in the first place and we never would have known his name.

      1. Why is that? Are you saying that only people raised in left wing environments commit mass murder?

        1. You’re the only one saying that.

        2. So far, that’s all we’ve seen.

          1. Wasn’t there something about a Charles Whitman and a university in Texas and a tower. Sixties?

            1. Whitman had a confirmed brain tumor the size of a pecan that likely caused his behavior. That was proven in an autopsy, which he requested in his suicide note, convinced there was something physically causing his recent inability to control his emotions and thoughts.

              He had been having horrific headaches, and had seen several doctors trying to find out what was wrong. He even wrote in his suicide note said if his life insurance policy was valid; “If my life insurance policy is valid please pay off my debts […] donate the rest anonymously to a mental health foundation. Maybe research can prevent further tragedies of this type…”

              He also said in his suicide note: I do not quite understand what it is that compels me to type this letter. Perhaps it is to leave some vague reason for the actions I have recently performed. I do not really understand myself these days. I am supposed to be an average reasonable and intelligent young man. However, lately (I cannot recall when it started) I have been a victim of many unusual and irrational thoughts…”

              I think it’s pretty clear that the brain tumor was responsible – it certainly wasn’t his political views.

    2. On the other hand, some people will say that it was his left wing upbringing that caused this…and they’d be wrong too.

      1. Right, but the people who would blame the “tea party” or gun rights advocates would be reading headlines via teleprompter each evening, or they’d be on the floor of Congress. Not so much in the other case.

  4. It is without a doubt worse than useless to wallow in misery.

  5. On a brighter note, just think how bad he would have been without all that therapy.

    1. That’s basically going to be the line – “society” didn’t do enough to help the poor guy.

    2. He would have taken up a hobby with the extra time, and met a nice girl through the hobby, and led a nice life with 2.5 kids.

      1. Some “bullies” would have pushed him around. Maybe he would have tried some sports – failed at some and succeeding at others. Maybe he would have realized he’s nothing special, adjusted, and become a normal person.

    3. Who’s to say that the ‘therapy’ wasn’t a causal factor?

      Never speak to a psychiatrist, those people are all crazy!

  6. According to his family, Rodger was seeking psychiatric treatment. But to dismiss this as a case of a lone “madman” would be a mistake.

    It not only stigmatizes the mentally ill ? who are much more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it ? but glosses over the role that misogyny and gun culture play (and just how foreseeable violence like this is) in a sexist society.

    I would certainly hope it’s not the kid’s fault. He’s not around to make any hay off of.

    1. Wow, that’s some retarded shit.

      “You guys always bring me the very best violence derp.”

    2. Sadly, he wasn’t seeking treatment–he had abandoned it because he was “of age.” Not that talk therapy could have done him much good (except perhaps to plant the “injustice” seed). But he seems to have the kind of problem that is treated with drugs, like schizophrenia, and he wouldn’t take his drugs. As for misogyny and gun culture, I would simply note yet again that he killed more men than women and seemed to hate everyone he encountered, and that he had had no history with guns before he LEGALLY purchased a few handguns.

      1. “schizophrenia” ??? It doesn’t sound at all like he had schizophrenia. No references to hearing voices, and he was VERY lucid, well spoken, well planned, etc. None of which is consistent with schizophrenia.

        Clearly he was incredibly narcissistic, however. Selfish, narcissistic, entitled, whiny little sick twit. He thought he was perfect, and everything that didn’t go exactly how he wanted was everyone else’s fault, and they were causing him to suffer (as he tooled around in his BMW with $300 Georgio Armani sunglasses living the high life), and so deserved to be punished for it. I don’t know of any drugs to treat that.

    3. Gun culture? This’ll be the gun culture entrenched amongst SoCal movie industry types? Funny, I’ve never heard of it before now.

      1. All they make is movies where the hero kills about 30 people an hour. Then, they complain about gun culture.

  7. If he was seeing a therapist every day for fourteen years, odds are the therapy didn’t fuck him up…. he was already fucked up.

    I mean, sure, a therapist could fuck someone’s head up until they could go on a rampage, but such a therapist would probably leave a huge footprint of messed up clients. My guess is that given the resources his parents had at their disposal, they weren’t picking crappy therapists, but dealing with a kid who was very bad in the head.

    Of course, any speculation now is just that, speculation; the facts aren’t out; it’s premature to form any judgement; and probably people should stop using the corpses of his victims for their soapbox not only because it’s unseemly but also to avoid future embarrassment.

    1. At this point, what difference does it make?

      1. Good point. How many did he kill? Six? That’s nothing. People make too much about a few deaths. And, as you point out, what difference does it make now?

    2. How much does it cost to send your kid to a therapist every day for fourteen years? How is it possible to see a therapist every day for fourteen years, and the therapist/parents don’t recognize that this kid is as fucked-up as a soup-sandwich?

      The problem as I see it is that even though everyone involved knew this kid needed to be carted off to and locked away in a Derpatarium, their little Elliot was too precious, and the income from 14 years of therapy so great, that they sent him to the University of Santa Barbara instead.

      1. We do not lock anyone up any ore. It’s a violation of their rights. Debate that if you will, but it’s no longer an option. You must demonstrate active intent to hurt yourself or others (in front of police or medical personnel) even to get a 72 hour hold for evaluation.

        Blaming the parents seems a bit premature. Sounds like he has an Aspergers-type problem with social interaction–totally clueless and removed. That’s hard to “treat.” And his parents didn’t send him UCSB. He was at a local community college.

        1. I know a few Aspies. They don’t go around killing people. Generally, they don’t go around feeling sorry for themselves, at least no more than neurotypical peeps. And they even manage their social interaction at an acceptable level– it doesn’t come intuitively, the way it does for normal people, but social skills are learnable just like any other skill.

          It seems to me, though, that our culture– therapeutic or otherwise– does a shitty job of actually teaching social skills. So even neurotypical kids seem to be very self-obsessed and relatively clueless about others.

        2. He was never officially diagnosed with asperger syndrome.

  8. Let the rounding up of the weirdos commence!

    1. Starting with the libertarians? 🙂

  9. I think Rodger was fucked up by basking in the Hollywood lifestyle. I was really bored the other day and wanted to peak inside the mind of madness so I read his manifesto.

    Two things:

    1) He should have taken more English lessons. Grammar was off and some of the details were wholly unnecessary.

    2) Rodger’s main obsession seemed not to be with sex but status. He was always ranking things and ranking people. When his father had a new gf months after divorcing his mother he decided that the mark of a high-status male was being able to get women, especially blondes, whom he seemed to view as the best and wrote about constantly. He wrote adoringly about attending (new release screenings) with people he knew through his parents and always tried to imitate what the popular kids were doing. He also had a strong obsession about race and social class. In fact, there are a couple points where he claims he could have made friends but didn’t see anything to gain from the potential friends so he didn’t bother.

    Basically, he was an arrogant son of a bitch but his focus on sex was more a derivative of his drive for status than the main problem. Due to his money and connections covering the other problems sex was the only one he had to fill on his own and couldn’t. If he hadn’t been in the culture of fancy and narcissistic people all the time perhaps he would have grown up with a less inflated sense of self and lower drive for status.

    1. Basically, he was an arrogant son of a bitch but his focus on sex was more a derivative of his drive for status than the main problem.

      So much this. All the people that claim legal prostitution (should be legal anyway of course) might have prevented this are missing a key ingredient: his manifesto, as much as it fixates on his lack of romantic success, is devoid of any lascivious details that hint at underlying lust.

      He was quite simply validation-needy and approval seeking. The area where therapy may have compounded that was where it inflated his own ego and self-love to the level where he couldn’t rectify the disconnect between his opinion of himself and the way others viewed him.

      1. I think you’ve hit the key here. He wasn’t interested in sex per se; not even pity sex, which for somebody in his situation would’ve been fairly easy to arrange. He wanted to be the power, the one the women drool over. The jerk that women love. Only he didn’t want to see himself as a jerk, so he saw all them as the bad guys instead, not genuflecting to his precious little self. And then he became a bigger jerk than any of those he’d despised.

        I think that Mr. O’Neill here has struck the gold in at least one point here; because the therapy culture is inward, it never occurred to this mutt to turn outward. If you don’t feel good about yourself, as he obviously never did, despite all his ‘self-esteem,’ the quickest way to feel better is to serve somebody else. Volunteer! Do something tangibly good for somebody else. Make yourself worthy of a little earnest gratitude. And even if you start out craving gratitude, eventually it becomes a positive pleasure to help others in whatever way you can, and you don’t want or need gratitude; you do it because you yourself are grateful. That’s the missing ingredient in therapy culture–gratitude. It’s the key to happiness. But it’s really hard to be grateful if you don’t believe in God. So make that two missing ingredients.

        1. I pretty much agree. Also got the impression from reading different articles about him and his own “Day of Retribution” video where he says he’s never even held hands with a girl that he may have been so withdrawn and shy that no girls ever had a clue he was even interested in them (likely a lucky thing for them). That he didn’t realize women don’t just throw themselves at men the vast majority of the time – men generally make the first overtures. I don’t think this guy had a clue.

          I’ve always wondered if taking such self centered narcissists who think they have everything so bad (as he was sitting in his BMW with $300 sun glasses no less), and dropping them into a third world poverty stricken area with virtually no support for a little while might not teach them just how much they actually have to be grateful for.

        2. Well I don’t believe and yet I find it easy to be grateful.

      2. Rather than a neurotic seeking validation and approval, he seems to have a far more basic problem. His writing suggests someone who is so far removed from reality and, in particular, the ways that humans engage in social interaction, that it brings up autism spectrum behavior for me. That’s a hard nut to crack. I don’t see him as arrogant; he’s mouthing words that sound arrogant, but it seems like he’s reading a script. No passion. No connection.

        1. Asperger’s isn’t really that hard a nut to crack. You don’t change the underlying biology, but you teach the appropriate responses to different social situations & explain the reason why (since it often won’t occur to an Aspie). The more they practice, the more it makes sense, and they eventually develop something that is either empathy or something that strongly resembles it.

          Unfortunately, it appears Rodger’s parents and therapists (and teachers, no doubt) went in exactly the opposite direction– focusing on his precious self-esteem, rather than working hard to teach him that the selves of others are just as real to them as his self is to him. I think David Foster Wallace’s famous commencement speech is extremely insightful in this regard.

          1. He was never officially diagnosed.

    2. (a)

      wanted to peak [sic] inside the mind of madness


      He should have taken more English lessons.

      Given (b), something like (a) was inevitable, yes?

      1. He should of been more careful.

  10. glosses over the role that misogyny and gun culture play (and just how foreseeable violence like this is) in a sexist society.

    His parents said that?

  11. Maybe we should have affirmative action for ugly short dudes that can’t get chicks?

    Make all hot chicks, as a matter of duty and for the good of all, take turns banging these guys.

    That and a strict gun policy should do the trick.

    1. If only California had strict gun laws.

      1. Funniest remark here, oh my side hurts

        1. Maybe you missed this one then. It was also good.


    2. God Alice, don’t you know that the real purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to allow its citizens to have a shoot out with the armed forces? Haven’t you read the Turner Diaries?

      1. That’s only when the government has been taken over by a bunch of liars, beggars, thieves, and criminals… like – oh, I don’t know – socialists.

  12. this kid was a massive beta, so I dunno why they have to attack masculinity. That definitely wasn’t the driver behind his actions. The kid was mentally ill. It’s sad really. But seeing the blubbering vicitims’ parents scream about the NRA tells a LOT about our culture- not one single person I saw interviewed on TV blamed the individual. Not one. They all sought to make it some political thing, like “why didn’t mommy/daddy Godverment stop this bad bad man?”

    Personal responsibility is a foreign concept these days- and it is manifesting in all the worst ways.

    1. The NRA represents the Gun and murder machine manufacturing business and uses gun owners as stooges for that cause.

      Thsi boy would had killed people with his car or perhaps made a bomb.

      Nevertheless, the gun discussion is very relevent here. I know that people here feel we don’t need a gobment, but I and luckly many americans discagree.

      1. Murder machine manufacturing? Shouldn’t that be “Murder manufacturing machine”? Would have made more sense. Does Media Matters send that kind of crap to their top agents in the field? Being a double naught drone, please tell us.

        1. My murder machines haven’t murdered anybody.
          I need to sue the murder machine manufacturing bidness!

          1. My murder machines haven’t murdered anybody.
            I need to sue the murder machine manufacturing bidness!

            Try blowin’ on ’em.

        2. Give Joyce Brown a call, she’ll lessen your anger toward responsible gun owners by helping you feel good about yourself.

      2. Alice, that’s stupid. Guns are not the issue, narcissism may not be either, but it is much closer.

      3. I discagree! We need a government program to
        Teach you to rite good!

        1. I give you “The Vulgar Madman Center for Internet Derptards Who Want to Learn How to Write Good, and Do Other Stuff Good Too”!

      4. too early in the AM for a strawman murderfest.

        Simply- the kid killed people, not the gun. It was a mere tool. I have multiple guns, yet haven’t killed anyone today- how is that possible?

        1. It’s still early.

        2. He “allegedly” stabbed buddies to death so I guess we need to ban sharp objects as well as guns.

          1. Yes, he stabbed three to death (ban knives) and injured several with his car (ban cars).

            1. As I understand it he beat them in the head with a hammer and then slit their throats.

      5. Thsi boy would had killed people with his car or perhaps made a bomb.

        Not if we had sensible car control laws!

        Way to fucking undermine your own point all of one sentence into your post.

        1. Hard to detect his/her logic. Hate guns and boy bad.

      6. He would have made a bomb if he could have, therefore we should ban computers!

      7. Alice, that’s the most retarded thing I’ve ever seen. Like crazy person in the forums retarded. And I find it jarring because you seemed to be making some reasonably cogent points elsewhere.

      8. Keep on herpin’ dat derp Alice!

      9. Oh please.

        There are an estimated 1 million or more cases of successful self protection using firearms every single year. This, and the right to hunt, is what the NRA represents.

        You are right, however – the young man would have killed even without guns. In fact, at least 3 of his victims, his roommates, were killed with a knife, not a gun. And I believe one other victim with his car.

        Blaming this on guns or the NRA in any way is just absurd.

    2. ^^This^^

      He was a bad man who did bad things. Gun control laws, strict or lax, will not stop anyone planning a violent “Day of Retribution” 3+ years.

  13. Does anyone know how long it took the police to process the crime scenes? Seems like a lot of folks were able to start waving around the bloody shirts of the victims pretty quickly, so the police must have been very efficient.

  14. We don’t need the police. The tax that goes to paying for a police is THEFT.

    We should all fend for ourselves and /or hire our own security.

    And those that can’t, there’s charity organizations they can go to.

    1. Need to see a therapist?

    2. You can wait for the police to help you, sweetheart.

    3. I’m betting that you are not aware that the police are under no legal obligation to protect you, even though you are forced at the point of their guns to pay their salaries.

    4. We should just outlaw crime, and then we wouldn’t even need police!

    5. Alice Bowie:

      We don’t need the police. The tax that goes to paying for a police is THEFT.

      We should all fend for ourselves and /or hire our own security.

      And those that can’t, there’s charity organizations they can go to.

      With your suggestion, maybe this would happen less often. Or declaring the cops innocent due to being cops.

    6. I am genuinely curious why you are posting this here, now. It seems beside the point. Enlighten me.

      1. I’m sure Alice will correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that she’s suggesting that without a government monopoly on protection rackets, mass shootings are inevitable.

        Oh, wai….

  15. Nice straw man. I’ve never seen anyone here argue that we shouldn’t have courts or police or military.

    1. I’m not sure about the military, but police and courts could be privatized.

      1. ah ha

      2. Sold to the highest bidder, just like Cato, Heritage and Reason. Yep, that will work just fine!

        1. You can be smug in your misguided bad assumptions, or you can read and learn.

        2. Yeah, I prefer the purity of the system we have now where the police and courts are sold to the highest bidder and there’s no competition.

  16. There is little doubt the kid was mentally ill. Parents don’t send their 8-year-olds to therapy, unless they’ve already seen some really disturbing behavior. The constant attention from his parents and the army of therapists may have been the only thing that kept this kid from popping any earlier than he did. Blaming “therapy culture” is stupid, an attempt to blame something that perhaps can be controlled. But you can’t control mentally-ill people; all you can do is try to limit the damage they inflict on others.

  17. Therapy is like welfare. It’s not that there’s too much; it’s that there’s too little.

    I’m going to engage in bit of parent blaming. If your kid requires near daily therapy sessions, you might want to keep him at home or near home so you have eyes on him. Now for those who say he was an adult, I’d say if your kid had a physical disability that required daily assistance, wouldn’t it be a good idea to keep him near? The parents were too reliant on “experts”. Like good Americans they absolve themselves of guilt because they contacted the necessary experts.

    “He’s in therapy. We called the police to check on him!”

    Sorry, no therapist or cop is going to assume responsibility for your kid. If you don’t do it no one else will.

    1. great point.

    2. I really think it depends on the therapy. My own brushes with the mental health profession (through a family member that lives with me) quite frankly make me terrified. It’s not that all therapists are bad, far from it; many are solid, hard-working, well-meaning people who do a terribly hard job. But there are heroes and scuts in every race and profession, and the damage a fashionable but incompetent therapist can do is incalculable. What’s more, the diagnostic abilities vary wildly. The family member I spoke of has had four different diagnoses over eight years (which I understand is pretty low) but strangely enough the therapy is the same for each diagnosis. This is an infant science, so young it’s not even a true science yet, just a lot of guesswork mixed with a few drugs that appear to work on some issues. It’s like watching toddlers playing with nuclear weapons. Sure, the weapons have childproof safeties, but…

      1. I once worked for a guy who let his five year old play with a nail gun the way people used to give a kid a hammer to play with.

    3. Breathtaking. Do you have kids? Ever had a problem with one? You know NOTHING about the parents or their relationship with the kid but are willing to condemn them anyway. Which would make you a good tabloid writer. Need a job?

      1. The parents are Hollywood folks, and they gave their therapy bound kid enough money to purchase (or bought for him) a luxury car, his own apartment, and three guns. What else is there to know?

        Almost all of the recent mass shooters except for Christopher Dorner were detached from the families and friends, not just “society”. They either broke off contact with them or just let them play 5 hours of video games or write manifestos.

        What did Kelly Thomas’ parents do for him while he wandered in the street homeless? If I was in that situation, my mother would have threatened to end her life before me if I didn’t come home.

        “Oh, but they’re adults, and we’re not responsible for them”. Sure, you’re not legally responsible for them. But anyone with a modicum of sense can see it’s a tremendously bad idea to shower kids with issues with money and hope that therapists can solve the problem.

      2. We’re not talking about a one-off problem with a rambunctious teenager, we’re talking about a 14-year history of behavioral problems that indicated some sort of mental illness. Also, I don’t care how difficult your kid is to handle; responsibility doesn’t end when the task becomes more difficult than you’re comfortable with.

        With that said, this wasn’t a kid, this was an adult. He was living on his own. Yeah, he was on his parents’ dime, but a lot of 22-year-olds are parent-subsidized. Maybe the parents had an obligation to do more, maybe not, but regardless, this guy was a legal adult and was thus entirely responsible for his own actions.

    4. The problem is that therapy is useless. It’s based off the soft, bullshit pseudoscience of psychiatry. Hollywood liberals are too dumb to take care of their kids, so they pay namby-pamby, narcissism breeding therapists to “reinforce the self esteem” of their little angels.

    5. And you are supposed to accomplish that HOW, when it’s a 22 year old legal adult who doesn’t want to comply?

      Oh, that’s right, you CAN’T.

  18. The self has elbowed aside God; the self is God, as Rodger seems to have realised.

    The interesting thing about that is as we are exalting the self to the point of obsessive narcissism we are simultaneously denying it in just about every sense and subsuming it into the great collective. It’s no wonder in a culture where you aren’t allowed to celebrate any individual achievement or enjoy any individual success without immediate castigation and guilt tripping that people have a difficult time self-validating and turn into narcissistic assholes dependent on others for their entire sense of self worth.

    1. *This. The ones who dug the hole have to dig bigger ones in an attempt to mitigate the damage from the first one. Because, you know, avoiding individual responsibility was their initial goal.

    2. *This. The ones who dug the hole have to dig bigger ones in an attempt to mitigate the damage from the first one. Because, you know, avoiding individual responsibility was their initial goal.

    3. Cognitive Dissonance – it’s what’s for dinner.

  19. I think that one thing this shows is that psychological counselors are woefully incompetent at handling people with personality disorders – particularly borderline and narcissist personality disorders.

    They take far too long to recognize them if they do at all. People with those disorders simply play the game of counseling and many counselors buy it hook, line and sinker.

  20. Typically young men like Eliot simply kill themselves rather than killing others and had he done that we’d never have heard of him.

    Psychology has basically ignored the fact that the male suicide rate is 400% higher than women’s and typically dismisses it with some conversation stopping comment.

    The difference with Eliot is that he’s like the many others who suicide except for the fact that he lacks any kind of empathy and so took a whole lot of others with him.

  21. “therapist” = the rapist.

    Rodgers is another example showing that it’s just a scam with no demonstrated (positive) results.

  22. Regarding therapy, all I see is a couple of isolated quotes and a lot of pure assertions/speculations. The opinion piece does not jive with my own experience of several years in therapy, which helped a lot. A knee-jerk rant about therapy is no more helpful than a knee-jerk rant about guns, such as some of the nonsense already posted on this thread.

    1. It’s not saying that therapy doesn’t serve a role or have a useful function for a lot of people, but holding a mirror to the therapy industry and forcing it to examine itself it may be a useful thing to touch on.

      Yes, plenty of people go to therapy, and there are perhaps limits on the effectiveness of therapy in dealing with certain individuals. But as opposed to someone falling on tough times, going through a difficult patch and questioning himself, here we have a kid who was incubated in this environment. Therapy became a surrogate parent, a social network, and a feedback loop for his narcissism. It’s worth examining what role it played, as it seems a more central part of his existence than anything else.

      1. Examining is one thing. Making all kinds of assertions without examining is another.

        1. I think Rodger’s reported reliance on therapists from childhood through to adulthood deserves more analysis than it has so far received, because it potentially speaks to a dark side?a very dark side?of the modern therapy culture.

          Compared to the rest of the interwebz and the finger-pointing and grandstanding about guns/men’s rights movement/etc. this seems to be pretty decently caged in “maybe, if” language. It gives a pretty fair read about one of the central goals of therapy (increasing one’s self-esteem) and discusses how in this case, that over the course of 14 years including some of the most formative of a person’s intellectual development, that may have furthered this kid’s psychosis.

          It’s less: “therapy is the demon” and more “hey. instead of looking to demonize everything let’s take a look at this one aspect and examine its potential for having failed in this case.”

      2. . Therapy became a surrogate parent, a social network, and a feedback loop for his narcissism.

        Yeah whatever. Honestly, you’re trying way to hard with this.

        1. Not having been through therapy, I can’t speak from experience, but it strikes me that “a feedback loop for narcissism” is entirely possible. You sit around and talk about yourself, after all.

    2. Allan–I had the same reaction. Knee-jerk rants all around today, it seems.

    3. I’ve known some people who really gained quite a bit from therapy – and others who got less than nothing other than very empty pockets and who were strung along for many years.

      It all depends on the therapist. There are a few good ones, mostly mediocre ones, and some really bad ones. They are humans after all.

  23. The failure of his therapy seems to be that the therapist didn’t explain to him the reason he wasn’t getting laid is because he is so fucked up.

  24. The culture of narcissism can also explain why people want to talk about themselves so much on the Internet and reality TV.

  25. This article reminded me of the prejudice from centuries ago that seeing a doctor was dangerous since so many people who saw them, died. Admittedly, given the kind of “medicine” some of these doctors practiced, there was some truth to that.

    Responsible shrinks will regularly say that they can’t diagnose someone remotely by reading articles, watching TV interviews or whatever. They need significant first hand experience with the person. Similarly, I don’t think it’s responsible at this point to say that therapy screwed this kid up. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t – as of now, we don’t know enough about the therapy to draw a reliable conclusion one way or the other.

    Having said that, I also believe that if someone needs to see therapists on a daily basis for years on end, then the therapy probably isn’t working all that well.

  26. So in summary, Elliot Rodger was seeing Hannibal Lecter for therapy.

  27. What we’re missing here is the truly novel solution that would save therapy costs, mental institution costs, and be a boon to warlords: take the little kids who are psychopaths (as this guy obviously was) and send them to some civil-war torn African country. They need the recruits, and we need to get rid of them.

    In fact, this solves a lot of issues – mental health costs go down, the gun lobby would like it as less killers will use guns, and there may be some colonial reparations in there too!

    1. #we’lltradeyouourcrazyboysforthosegirls

  28. My question is who sent him to a therapist at the age of eight. I’m thinking maybe parens who couldn’t handle what was probably a normal active little boy. Unless a child is trying to kill the cat at that age or there is some outstanding actions by him, children don’t need therapy. I’m going to blame the parents for their inability to interact with their own child and decided to let loony therapist raise him.
    BTW I have biased, I have a condition that caused very shacky hands this caused very poor writing one of my 6th grade teachers was concerned and thought I needed therapy luckily my dad had the same problem so my parents said no. At the same school in 7th grade I drew art work all over a my test papers, that teacher thought maybe I had a family problem and suggested therapy, again my parents said no and I told the teacher the reason I draw all over his test is because they are boring and I have the time to do so.
    Therefore I always question who put who in therapy and why for those questioning a persons mentality often have problems themselves that they like to project onto other or they gain self satisfaction from judging others and controlling their lives through therapy. therapist and teachers the ultimate narcisist.

    1. Bingo!

      I’d be willing to bet that his parents gave him everything he ever wanted and spoiled the shit out of him. And when he acted up he went to therapy, and when things finally came along that weren’t just given to him (popularity and girls), he couldn’t handle it.

      But what do I know, I’m just a Podunk little mid-western boy.

      1. I find the “spoiled rotten rich kid” kneejerk analysis just as helpful as the “pervasive misogyny” and “gun culture” theories–i.e., not at all.

        No one who is normal, just spoiled, writes and speaks like that. There are major tangled wires in that brain.

    2. He was not normal. People don’t send 8 year olds to therapy unless the kid has major problems.

      I think too many people see him as “functional” because on the surface he seems functional.

      But functional does not mean “normal” at all.

      1. Or is he not normal because he was sent to therapy, starting as an 8 year old?

        I don’t find it unreasonable, at all, that incompetent parents might send their normal 8 year old to therapy.

        1. As a parent, I’d suggest that you skip blaming the parents before you understand the facts and perhaps have stood in their shoes. Yes, people do send kids who are pretty normal to therapy. But there are some kids whoa regarding seriously mentally disabled/ill. A child with a serious disorder like autism or Aspergers could be sent to therapy at eight.

          1. I think questioning the parents ability to raise their own child is just as valid the question of weather the therapist are of any real value or not or if anybody should have been able to see this outcome before it actually happened. We may never know the answer and blaming may accomplish nothing but if we don’t question everything then we will never have any insight. to absolve the parents of any questions is like leaving a key puzzle piece hidden and the key may be good or bad but we can’t know if we don’t question their role as well as everyone ones part but in the end lets not forget that the kid did the killing here not the parents.

            1. No one’s looking to absolve the parents; nor am I barring questioning. I’m looking for people to wait and learn the facts and think before reaching conclusions, such as blaming anyone here other than the perpetrator.

              1. Actually, it seems like you absolutely are trying to absolve the parents. You’re bending over backwards to argue how normal it is to have a child in therapy for the majority of his/her youth, and you seem to be arguing very strongly that this homicidal outburst couldn’t possibly be influenced by poor parenting.

                I’m not saying I blame the parents, but I think a conversation about the way this guy was raised is certainly as worthwhile as any other if we’re trying to look for some sort of causality.

      2. // People don’t send 8 year olds to therapy unless the kid has major problems.

        You’d be surprised

    3. Of course the other possibility, which I think more likely from the various reports about him, wasn’t that he was acting up at all, but that he was so withdrawn and unable (or uninterested) in making friends that his parents sent him to a therapist.

  29. It takes a village to create a psychopath.

  30. If we are going to indulge in navel gazing about navel gazers maybe we should take a moment to quietly reflect on an atomized political culture and a laissez- faire economic philosophy that emphasizes the priorities of privileged billionaires over the welfare of the majority of citizens.

    1. Agreed comrade! Never again should mental institutions, privately owned, dot the landscape so sporadically! Only The People’s State can assure the populace that they can be safe! All the current system does is inculcate and indoctrinate the proletariat with false consciousnesss!

      1. Closing of mental institutions was as much about the move One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest than a right wing budget-cutting agenda.

        The Left watched that movie and decided that we should open the crazy bins.

        1. Mind you, I might agree that we should have less people in them, or even no one, but we then should expect the occasional crazed murderer and be more vigilant.

          1. Exactly. The mental institutions were closed by the ACLU and co. They were then pissed that taxpayers didn’t want to pay for “community housing” therapy for all the inmates. The occasional crazed murderer on the loose IS the result.

        2. Heh, just like when the Left read a novel about poisonous insecticides and decided to ban DDT? Great thing 50 million people didn’t die of malaria from that one.

      2. I would also add libertarian firearm ownership laws to things we should think about, although my beef with this country goes deeper than that. However, I would most emphatically agree when the article states: “and that is always a dangerous thing to do, since it lessens Rodger’s own moral responsibility for what he did?”

        Which leaves me wondering why this article on therapy culture was written. It’s no biggie I guess… I’ve certainly seen worse like people here that feel ok about making fun of the victim’s father.

        1. Your beef with this country goes deeper than that? Who would have thought that?

          What particular “libertarian firearm ownership laws” are you referring to? True libertarians would have no such laws. Now, liberals would, even if they are demonstrably ineffective. Just like, well, California had when this kid bought his first gun.

        2. End KKKalifornia’s Radically Permissive Gun Laws NOW!!!

          God, what a dope. How come so many other people besides amsoc get swallowed up by sinkholes or fall off cruise ships?

        3. I would also add libertarian firearm ownership laws to things we should think about,

          Because when you think of a libertarian utopia with unrestricted gun rights, the first thing that pops into your head is Cali-fucking-fornia.

    2. american socialist:

      If we are going to indulge in navel gazing about navel gazers

      This statement makes no sense.

      1. I did not know about this form of meditation. Is this what’s going on at BRC lately?

    3. Wait, we have a laissez-faire economic philosophy?

      Because I see a massive regulatory state and an increasingly crony capitalist system. Neither of which is “laissez-faire”.

      1. Heh, nothing says “laissez-faire capitalism” like the gov seizing or regulating mental health to sawdust then closing the majority of the institutions after that.

        Doesn’t matter which political party was involved – it’s matter of public vs. private property.

    4. as, the fairest navel gazer of them all…(that’s what the mirror told me)/derp

    5. Because, of course, everything comes down to economics. Sheeesh.

    6. The culture of detachment, isolation, and a sense of entitlement is product of progressive ideology. Who has the penchant to rationalize violence if it serves social justice? Christopher Dorner was hailed as a crusader by many not long ago.

      The left emphasizes “community” only in celebratory terms or spending issues. No typical progressive kids in college are going to attend the annual Kwanzaa or Chinese new year celebration, unless beer is served.

      And who privileges whiteness, aesthetics, power, and sexual escapades more than liberal Hollywood? This guy wasn’t getting any in a town where celebrities sample marriages and have secret sex parties. And he probably knew it.

      1. “The culture of detachment, isolation, and a sense of entitlement is product of progressive ideology”

        So righties are now forming communes? That’s funny – I’ve visited all over this country as well as many places in Europe and it always seemed the more liberal areas had more “real” towns, neighborhoods, associations (other than churches), etc.

        Let me remind you what the “bad” liberals and progressives are about. I don’t see anything which says “every man is an island” or “it’s all about keeping all the money I earn” – those seem to be constructs of the right.

        See my reply below

        1. Progressivism is a broad political philosophy based on the Idea of Progress, which asserts that advances in science, technology, economic development, and social organization can improve the human condition. Progressivism became highly significant during the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, out of the belief that Europe was demonstrating that societies could progress in civility from barbaric conditions to civilization through strengthening the basis of empirical knowledge as the foundation of society.[1] Figures of the Enlightenment believed that progress had universal application to all societies and that these ideas would spread across the world from Europe

  31. It’s the-rape-y culture, amairite?

  32. The number one thing that strikes me, reading feminist sites about this tragedy, is how they are all but uniformly more upset about the guy’s raving misogyny than they are about his murdering six people, four of whom were males.

    1. Bingo. They don’t even MENTION the males most of the time. But UCSB is like the Olympics of victimhood-they will pull each others’ hair out arguing about who is the sorrier “victim”–or “survivor.”

      1. Hey, the theory is that he wouldn’t have murdered those people if it weren’t for his raving misogyny. Who knows, the theory may even be right.

        1. Yes, and the “theory” ignores his spewing hate about the males and his stepmom and everyone else he seems to have encountered in his life. Misogyny is the meme of the day.

    2. That says more about you – and possibly something about the 20-1 male makeup of the “Libertarians” than it does about the news story.

  33. Wow, I’m amazed at the Reason commenters here. Only one sub-thread recognized the real issue which is therapy is bullshit and a substitute for rich people who suck at life for dealing with problems (that is Ron’s post and the responses)

    The modern therapy culture is fucking nonsense that doesn’t do anyone any good. The therapist just has you talk, and gives no concrete recomendations on how to thiink or act, so that they can re-schedule and re-charge you.
    This whole bullshit scheme has clashed with a yuppie, wealth-obsessed culture that sees wealth as the only value in life and schooling as the only road to self-improvement, and ultimately sucks at life. These people take the idea of pyschology, and envision it as a panacea. “Is there something wrong? Clearly there’s a medicine for it.”

    My cousin is in some school for seriously disturbed or learning disabled kids. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with him. You know what his problem was? He was naughty when he was a kid. He was naughty, his parents couldn’t imagine that a child wouldn’t behave perfectly, and so they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to send him to special schools.

    I could go on with examples. But I don’t want to air out more serious family matters.

    1. so basically, these idiots sent this kid to therapists, instead of dealing with him. The therapists didn’t teach him anything, and just exacerbated any egocentrism he had, as the article describes.

      The solution to all his “problems” would otherwise be simple. He has a neurotic personality type (if you don’t know what that is, look it up. And it does indeed exist). So the way you deal with it is you ignore your negative thoughts, and make a point of actually going out and DOING; engaging with girls and friends and such. Further, make a point of adjusting his view on reality to remind him that plenty of people go years without girlfriends/boyfriends, regardless of what sitcoms show. And [tell him he has to] be patient.
      There, that’s all it would have taken. God damn

    2. Well, that’s a breathtaking oversimplification.

    3. I hate to admit it, but you are right about many of these points.

      I’ve been to therapists. The old school shrink my dad suggested many years ago (I was an insomniac) told me after 4 session “There is nothing wrong with you – or with me. Probably is, we two are probably some of the only normal folks around”…..he was a big time famous professor, etc… he knew what he was talking about.

      Once I went to more “new style” therapist with my wife. She listened, gave some tests, listened some more and didn’t say shit. As you say, no recommendations!

      In fact, all she did was state the obvious “well, if she wants to be like that and you don’t want it, then she’ll have to deal with anything that comes of it”.

      I’d make a better therapist than these types of folks because I would tell them “Walk 3 miles a day and eat well – meditate and read”.

  34. To be fair, he also talks about sex as if he were an anthropologist visiting a remote tribe (college); he talks of “mating” and “alpha males” in a calm and serious tone. There are pretty clearly some major organic disturbances in his brain. (No excuse; just pretty clearly not on the same planet.)

    1. You’d be surprised, though, how accurate some of those things can be.

      We lived in a very upscale town for 25 years. After we met numerous people, we came to the conclusion that – in general – “she was the cheerleader, he was the jock”.

      He ended up making money from connections or because he was tall and had a deep voice (good executive qualities)…or, maybe even due to education which was paid for by wealthy parents.

      She went for him because of the security he represented.

      After 15-20 years, when the kids were teens – they usually got divorced. Of course, it was usually the dude (jock, remember) who thought he was Master of the Universe so he would boff his office help.

      Not saying this dude is sane. But insanity is often seeing too deep into really How Things Really Are.

      Let’s not pretend that the sexy young ladies and jock bullies don’t have a big lead in many facets of economic and social life.

  35. and… From what I read, this kid HATED PUA and MRA communities, NOT loved them.
    And what I read actually had an excerpt from his tomes, where he described hating such guys. In one case a supposed PUA was having sex with his sister and he overheard.

    Am I missing something here/?

  36. How does a person fix mental health issues without becoming too self-centered?

  37. Blaming “therapy culture” is just as dumb as blaming “gun culture” or “rape culture”.

    Therapy is useless for those lacking insight, or incapable of it. Just as a gun is useless to someone lacking the ability to aim or use good judgment. Or how a bad gun can blow up in your hands.

    This kid was in therapy because he had fucked up parents and step-parents, and spending thousands of dollars on therapy was easier than actually trying to spend time with him, parenting him. He says it in his own writings, how he was emotionally abused by his parents and step-parents. Did therapy help him? Did it coddle him? Who knows. But therapy didn’t produce him. His upbringing did. But no parent wants to look at their fucked up, narcissistic, emotionally crippled kids and think, “did I do that?” So this problem goes unexamined, blamed on every externality under the sun besides the obvious.

    1. So you believe that his parents and stepparents abused him, just like those campus blondes did? Really? It’s easy to blame parents, I guess, especially when you know absolutely nothing about them or their life with their kids. Here’s hoping you never have to address issues like this with your kids.

      As for his upbringing producing his behavior, you might want to sign up for Psych 101 and learn about organic and genetic disorders–like schizophrenia and autism. Gonna blame those on the parents? Well, there is the genetic predisposition . . . .

  38. Lets not make it overly complicated people-The bottom line is he KNEW better and he destroyed the lives of 6 promising young lives,
    Personal responsibility is where the problem lies,
    I blame in order

    1-Elliot Rodger- Bad attitude, lack of empathy, a narcissistic lil boy who was used to getting everything he wanted.
    2-The parents-It sounds like his parents neglected him from a young age and knew of his issues.
    3-The progressive utopian environment that he grew up in, it taught him to blame others and no one dare offend his ego.
    4-His therapists, Really? they could not figure out that he was an time bomb waiting to go off? Seriously these shrinks get paid enough and spend years in school, no excuse.
    5-The cops, I’m sorry but the piggies were sent to his house a few weeks ago, they should have been more thorough.
    6-The gun shop(s) How could he buy the guns if he was seeing so many therapists???

    1. In fairness, several Reason articles have pointed out that therapists (and cops) are lousy at predicting who will go on a murderous rampage. Pre-emptive incarceration isn’t the way to go, not unless you have solid evidence that a murderous rampage is imminent.

      Yes, this means we’ll have to deal with occasional mass murders that could in theory have been prevented. The alternative is worse, unless you like the idea of letting government agents lock you up just because they got bad vibes from you.

      1. I agree with you on your point of pre-emptive incarceration, I do not want the police to have even more powers,
        What my point is, this looney bird was sending out all sorts of signals, right? Now I’m as libertarian as you can get on most issues, but with the level of signals this dude was sending out and the least we can say is “o well, that’s too bad”

  39. “Yes, he might have spent some late nights lurking on “men’s rights” websites, but if the reports coming from those who knew him are to be believed, he spent 14 years visiting therapists.”

    Sorry, he did not lurk on any men’s rights website.

    He posted on PUAHate, which is dedicated to hating pick up artists that teach awkward men how to talk to and attract women through self improvement they call “game.”

    The disgusting little rejects at PUAHate reject that, believe it’s all a scam, and that women only care about looks. They are psychotic trolls.

    He was anti-PUA, anti-men’s rights and misogynistic at the same time.

  40. Bad Parenting by narcissistic self-absorbed materialistic parents reenforced by the entitlement generation and the leftist environmental ideology that views humanity as a scourge …sounds like the parents were using therapy as a way to avoid spending some quality time with their kid and teaching him empathy and that you can’t always get what you want. So there is the result…a spoiled self-absorbed lust driven brat. No surprise here.

    1. Agree 100%

    2. So the right wingers I know who have kids that enjoy beating up others at school, drinking 20 portions in an evening and stealing stuff…they were taught the Right Way to Live, eh?

      Some kids just come out differently. I’ve seen some of them – on the autistic spectrum. The society and most families simply don’t have the tools to deal with this.

      Hopefully in the future they will come up with a way to help these families.

  41. Lots of speculation here about what could have/should have been done and what did/did not influence this kid’s behavior, but I suspect that Elliot Rodger, like most psychopaths/sociopaths/narcissists/name your problem, was born not made. And like most tragedies that occur as a result, it’s inexplicable. Regardless of his diagnosis, WTF could the parents or therapists have done? Lock him up? Put him down? Trying to predict human behavior, much less change whatever course it happens to be on, is like trying to blow out a light bulb.

  42. I just read the whole ridiculously long ‘manifesto’ which describes what seems like every moment of his life from birth on up. He seems to be equally resentful of women and men–it’s sex that he came to hate. Woman who has sex (with anyone other than him)=evil. Man who has sex (with woman he considers attractive)=evil. He also has a lot of contempt for other people his age who are ‘beneath him’ but doesn’t really clarify what that means, though it suggests it’s anyone who doesn’t go to fancy private school. He talks about WoW and Halo a whole lot too, so the evil video game thing might come up if the gun-banning efforts fail.

  43. Could Therapy Culture Help Explain Elliot Rodger’s Rampage?


    Many thinkers have attacked the therapy industry’s creation of a new and ravenous narcissism which demands constant flatter-feeding.

    Most people who engage therapists usually have low self-esteem. Low self-esteem is what breeds the kinds of problematic behaviors, particularly addictions, that lead people to the therapist’s office. People with high self-esteem don’t engage therapists because they don’t think anything’s wrong.

    Therapy culture has created a new army of little gods made fearsomely angry by any perceived insult against their self-esteem.

    This is Slate-level, check-your-privilege stupid.

    There is no “therapy culture,” only therapists, and therapists prescribe self-esteem training because virtually all of their clients are neurotic and suffer from low self-esteem. Generally speaking, people are happier when they have higher self-esteem than when they don’t. They’re not magicians, and they don’t “create” monsters like this narcissistic asshole.

    Assholes exist. Always have, always will. Talk therapy doesn’t create them, but it can help many of them to be less openly asshole-ish in their treatment of others.

    O’Neill has no business writing for a living, and I’m disappointed to see this bullshit on Reason.

  44. Well, Ann Hornaday, as apt a representative of the formidable intellectual juggernaut that is the Washington Post, apparently believes that this was all caused by bro-coms made by Judd Apatow and Seth Rogan.


    Keep it up, progs! At this rate we’ll turn goddamn Hollywood libertarian within the decade!!

    1. Turns out that piles of corpses make useful podiums.

  45. Reason has proven themselves unreasonable with articles like this.

    Maybe the Koch money just has to be spent, so all these folks have to produce words? Makes sense…..still, I don’t see the point.

    Anyway, let me explain what he failed to study…

    It’s not therapy culture that makes monsters like this! In fact, we could turn that on it’s head and say “it’s free markets and prosperity” that make them! Why?

    Well, he had everything, didn’t he? A nice house, plenty of cash, a nice Beemer to drive around in, some nice guns, etc.

    That would make just about anyone happy in a “I’ve got mine, screw you” sort of libertarian fashion….

    But something is/was missing.

    “It takes a village”.

    What is missing is the loss of connection – part and parcel of “every man an island” and “I get to keep what’s mine” and “I built that”…

    Americans are taught by the greater culture – and even by libertarian thought – that community is a socialist endeavor. Only MONEY (economic interests) runs things.

    Human society is much more complex than libertarians know…or at least than the BS they often spout. As the old hippies say, LOVE is a big part of it. So is community. The Libertarians picked up the “peace” thing from the wise hippies, and we know lots of them smoke dope – now it’s about time that they pick up on the other aspects of the movement. But it probably won’t happen because they define community as communism and socialism…..forced on them at the point of an IRS or Tax Man gun.

    1. Human society is much more complex than libertarians know…or at least than the BS they often spout.

      Lol! It’s ironic, then, that libertarians recognize the information problem and infinite complexity as the fatal conceit of the central planning that you advocate.

  46. Hey guys, I’ve got a great idea – why don’t we take this tragedy and use it as a forum for our zany pet political and sociological beliefs!

  47. Hey guys, I’ve got a great idea – why don’t we take this tragedy and use it as a forum for our zany pet political and sociological beliefs!

    I’ll start! This is an example of why we need –

    A raised minimum wage!

    1. This is the reason why the Koch Brothers must be blamed for everything, they are the new witches, or maybe the new Jews… And we the AmeriKKKan voters are actually the new NAZI socialists… Some “other” must be blamed! NEVER us and OUR kind, we are pure and innocent! Just like the spoiled brat at the root of this latest tragedy was pure and innocent in his own mind…

    2. Your comment seems like anti-liberal snark, but your web page is anti-libertarian. Just wondering where you are coming from. Thanks

      1. When reading my web site, have your sarcasmometer calibrated first… Who in their right mind seriously proposes the worship of Government Almighty and the FDA?

      2. Are you referring to me or SQRSLY One?

      3. Are you referring to me or SQRSLY One?

  48. Watching Anderson Cooper right now… whatever you do Anderson, don’t mention the words “gun” and “control” in the same 15 minute segment. Not unless you want a couple thousand death threats, hysterical fat men on AM radio directing their mindless drones to you twitter page, and the possibility of getting fired because your producers don’t have any balls and deem you a political liability.

    And to think right-wingers complain about left-wingers having a heckler’s veto on speech. What was the name of that Alanis Morrisette song, again?

    1. The gun nutters, I hear, are threatening women involved in the gun debate with rape, death, etc. – another great PR move for the “guns everywhere will solve things” movements!

      1. Just stop now, Craig. Questioning the 2nd amendment, the 10th greatest document in the Bill of Rights, is dancing on the graves of children. You should be ashamed of yourself.…..feature=kp

      2. Either of you have any examples of these death threats, violence, heckling, and firings? One? Anybody? Bueller?

        1. Boy, those gun nutters sure are nutty though, aren’t they? If they get any nuttier they’ll sit around on web forums all day discussing the conspiracies against them that they’ve, uh, heard about, and are, like, positive have actually happened… and stuff.

        2. Yep, plenty of them.

          Read it and weep.

          “A mom, gun owner, and Second Amendment supporter, Longdon was paralyzed in 2004 after being shot in her car by unknown assailants, and has since been a vocal advocate for comprehensive background checks and other gun reforms.

          As Longdon sat waiting for her flight, a screen in the concourse showed footage of the press conference. A tall, thin man standing nearby stared at Longdon, then back at the screen. Then he walked up to Longdon and spat in her face. No one else blinked.”

          1. More:
            “After a fundraiser one night during the program, Longdon returned home around 10 p.m., parked her ramp-equipped van and began unloading herself. As she wheeled up to her house, a man stepped out of the shadows. He was dressed in black and had a rifle, “like something out of a commando movie,” Longdon told me. He took aim at her and pulled the trigger. Longdon was hit with a stream of water. “Don’t you wish you had a gun now, bitch?” he scoffed before taking off.

            “It was like a mock execution,” Longdon says”

            You guys are really big men. Can you imagine – a gal in a wheelchair?

            1. This is how the OCT guys treat teachers:

              “The woman?a high school teacher who asked not to be identified?quickly got pummeled with text messages and voicemails, copies of which she provided to Mother Jones. Callers told her she was a “stupid bitch” and “motherfucking whore.”

              “They fought for their right to carry guns,” said another. “You’re a piece of shit.” One caller threatened to come after her with a gun.”

  49. What about the guy was just what it used to be called “an evil man” before the era of nonsensical “therapy this, therapy that”.

    The guy was an evil criminal, of the kind that there have always existed in society and there will always be, unfortunately, in the future.

    1. Exactly. This kid was an outlier. And we don’t have enough knowledge or skill to unravel the mystery of why, much less do anything to prevent it from happening in the future. Ban guns, up the therapy, shovel the drugs, pass another law, and throw more money at it. But, sometimes, shit just happens, regardless.

  50. A hypothesis: Self absorbed,…let’s see,…unwilling to accept criticism,…ahhhh… …society must change to accommodate his presence,…I think I know this person! Yes! It’s Obama,…no,’s Rodger,.. right? Could it be that the real difference between Rodger and Obama lies in their method – not in their attitude? Rodger “changes” society by punishing its members, while Obama “changes” society by restructuring its culture. In both cases our current society is to blame for their discontent. Neither person can or would consider accommodating society by altering themselves.

  51. Well this is one of the more despicable things I’ve ever read here.

    1. I wonder what the runner up was.

    2. You mean aside from your “shit into my hands and clap” comments?

  52. In absolutely the very best case scenario we can conclude that his 14 years of constant therapy was a complete waste of time and money.

  53. Therapy can be useful sometimes, but at its core is supposed to make you feel okay about yourself, no matter what you are doing. If change is recommended it is only change that will make you feel better about yourself somehow.

    Unless you talk about a mass murder, the therapist is not going to tell you that you doing something ‘bad’; it’s the essence of the nonjudgmental culture we live in.

    Also, sounds like this boy never learned how to have a conversation with another person, probably why he was not such a hit with the ladies. A therapist is typically not going to tell you how he/she/it (whatever pronoun is least offensive to that individual) feels about a situation so of course the boy is going to have trouble relating.

    In any case, what is most needed appears to be some good old fashioned religion, which is designed to make people think about others and not just themselves.

  54. I like the therapy culture perspective but maybe it is a combination of that culture and the Scarlett letter people wear for getting therapy?

  55. All too true.

    But you’re also describing to a “T” the narcissistic, selfish culture of libertarianism these days, especially as espoused by Reason writers. Funny to hear you preaching about not being selfish.

    1. Would somebody please explain to me this weird aversion some people have to their fellow human beings being allowed the right to grow up and be happy? As if every instance of someone getting a good job, raising a family, making money, and enjoying the fruits of their labor is somehow being done at the expense of some other poor sod being denied those very same rights? As if there are only so many pieces of the happiness pie to go around and therefore no one should be allowed desert? And the way you justify your miserly little feelings of resentment is by calling those normal human urges “selfish”? Come ON. Aren’t you tired of continually trotting out this dusty old trope? Elliot Rodger’s problem was not that he was selfish. His problem was that he was a monster.

  56. Selfishness: Lack of regard for the selfishness of others.

  57. In short…..Facebook

  58. His life-time of (useless) therapy should have raised red flags at the FID level.

  59. …a new “narcissistic personality”; it had given rise to individuals who “depend on others to validate [their] self-esteem” and who “cannot live without an admiring audience.”

    But, enough about The President.

  60. Start working at home with Google. It’s a great work at home opportunity. Just work for few hours. I earn up to $100 a day. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out

  61. Philosophy, not therapy, determines whether someone has an entitlement mentality or not. Someone who believes others owe them something that they want will be dealing with rage and resentment in therapy. On the other hand, someone who believes that others do NOT owe them something that they want will be dealing with what issues they have that are interfering with them going out into the world to try and earn those things. This article really misses the mark completely by just lumping everything under the banner of “therapy”.

  62. Any tool can be used to serve or destroy lives including therapies and guns. I like the author’s perspective that self help therapies end up promoting narcissistic tendencies. But the opposite is also true. For some, therapies have saved their lives. There was not one cause for mr. Rodger’s demise and the lives he took with him. Plenty of kids and otherwise are laser focus on social acceptance. These folks are often ill adapted to rejection and loss. Why else would you seek acceptance? What can a person do when filled with rejection and loss? Rejecting and destroying. A good lay, a combat or a triathlon would have been more effective for mr. Rodger. The guy had way too much free time and testosterone.

  63. Speaking as a mental health counselor, I would like to say shame on those therapists who counseled him for years and did not notice the countless red flags.

    Another thing, the field of counseling is very diverse. Some much more person-centered, self-esteem focused, etc., some more medical, cognitive, and diagnostic. The therapists he may have been going to may have not even cared about a diagnosis. A more medically minded counselor who has a mind for society’s safety would have noticed enough to AT LEAST have submitted this kid to an MMPI assessment and checked for personality disorders, which they should have noticed without it. Clearly has NPD, Antisocial personality disorder, and more.

    Also, this brings up questions of free speech and rights, etc. When is it appropriate for a counselor to have someone committed or monitored by police? As a libertarian, I’m struggling with this question.

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