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Narcissistic entitlement: What made Elliot Rodger kill?

Written By | May 26, 2014

VIRGINIA, May 26, 2014 — The tragic circumstances of rampage killer Elliot Rodger may have happened over a long period prior to his killing spree.

According to media reports, Rodger was receiving mental health therapy and his parents knew enough of Rodger’s outward signs of mental disorder(s) to get him help. A social worker was also trying to assist the family.

When his therapist and family discovered some unnerving and unsettling writings and YouTube postings from Rodger, they called in law enforcement. Their hope was that authorities would take Rodger in for psychiatric evaluation to determine if he were harmful to himself and others.

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Rodger put on a display of kind humility and honesty that conned the untrained eye so efficiently that law enforcement did not follow procedure and determine if Rodger had purchased weapons or ask to go to Rodgers’ bedroom to determine if there was evidence of a disrupted mind.

A bedroom search would have uncovered guns and knives and evidence of intent on his computer. By Rodger’s own admission, that search likely would have prevented him from acting violently.

Unfortunately, this scenario happens all too often. It is left to law enforcement or an undertrained social worker to determine the mental and emotional state of those they evaluate, and people with narcissistic traits easily con others who are not equipped to see through the veil of untruth.

Narcissistic entitlement appears to be a large part of Rodger’s mental disorder and despite the mournful accusation of the father of victim Christopher Michael-Martinez, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and politicians could not have predicted, affected or stopped Rodger’s actions or the onset of Rodgers’ final psychotic break.

What psychology knows of rampage killers is they are usually young, single men who feel inferior, have been bullied, carry a severely wounded pride, have continually come up short in sexual competition and often fault their parents for their problems desire media attention.

Rodger’s own ‘manifesto’ and YouTube videos display all of these features.

Rodger is a young, single male, had severe feelings of inferiority, alluded to having been bullied by his statement that the pretty girls date “obnoxious brutes,” complained loudly and constantly of sexual oppression and his wounded pride and blamed his mother for not “Marrying a rich man.”

Both parents’ worked jobs that kept them away from home quite often, and Rodger’s slight build and odd manner may have made him a target of bullying.

What was wrong with Rodger’s psychometrics? At the very least, he suffered from narcissistic entitlement that is a narcissistic disorder combined with an unrealistic sense of entitlement, and when his efforts failed to fulfill his fantasies, he had a psychotic break.

Rodger’s biggest concern was he could not ‘run with the wealthy’ and not only blamed others for his lack of wealth, but blamed others for their access to wealth. Rodger’s reach exceeded his grasp, and he could not accept this. He was a very small fish in a very large pond looking to be a whale among sharks.

Rodger was competing against athletes, wealthy students and popular, attractive males. He had his sight set but little ammunition and refused to consider himself anything less than those he came to despise.

READ ALSO: Mental illness, Women or Asberger’s: Why did Elliot Rodger kill innocents in San Diego?

Rodger’s own words show his proclivity to self-entitlement as he fantasized himself as brilliant, was consumed with self-centeredness and did not understand why he was not the center of attention among his peers, particularly females. He was in college, drove a nice BMW and claimed he was the “ultimate gentleman.”

Rodger had little empathy or sympathy of others and was envious of those around him meaning he may have had a co-morbid or a separate but associated disorder and this or these disorders were activated to keep law enforcement and his social worker from making better decisions. His outward appearance was deceiving.

Rodger’s delusions of grandeur can be found in the wording of his intent via descriptive adjectives. He used ‘slay’ in lieu of kill or murder, spoke of “rivers of blood and mountains of skulls” followed by forced and fake laughter.

Rodger appears to be not unattractive, and his complaint of being a virgin at age 22  indicates his peers, particularly females, must have picked up on Rodgers’ odd personality traits and he may have tried too hard, pushing people further away.

What may have prevented this bloodshed would be to have sent a psychotherapist to the Rodger home for an evaluation. This is a nationwide problem.

Having law enforcement making psychological evaluations is akin to calling a psychologist to make an arrest.

Rodger was out of his league and instead of adjusting his social strata, he tried to fly to high and like the Greek mythical figure Icarus, he burned.

Unlike Icarus, he burned those around him, as well.


Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based psychotherapist and writer.

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Paul Mountjoy

Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based psychotherapist and writer.