I have received dozens of texts, phone calls, emails and messages over the past 48 hours from people wanting my take on the massacre in Las Vegas.
It’s a tricky situation because I don’t want to sensationalize the man responsible or capitalize on his victims’ pain with yet another blog essay. But as someone with a unique perspective on mass shootings and those responsible, I am compelled to share my take on what is now the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Like most of you I have been glued to the television since late Sunday night, watching the atrocities in Nevada unfold and looking for as much information as I can find about the person responsible. What we know is that the gunman, Stephen Paddock, was a 64-year-old former accountant who lived just outside of Las Vegas on a golf course in a gated retirement community.*
Paddock was an accomplished pilot, a wealthy real estate investor, had a long-time girlfriend, enjoyed cruise ship vacations, engaged in regular communications with his family, frequently sent fresh cookies to his loved ones, and as of press time the police department had “no derogatory information” to offer about him. He had no criminal record.
In other words, this man was on nobody’s radar. According to police spokesman, Quinn Averett, the Nevada police department had no previous contact with Stephen Paddock whatsoever. No “traffic stops, any law enforcement contact, no arrests. Nothing.” The shooter was not affiliated with any terror groups and did not have any history of violence.
Paddock’s family is in shock. According to them, no one saw this (or anything remotely like this) coming. The shooter’s brother, who texted regularly with Paddock, said the shock was “like an asteroid fell out of the sky.” Their last communication took place a few weeks ago when Paddock reached out to check on their mother, who had lost power during Hurricane Irma.
I have not treated Stephen Paddock. I have never met this man, never spoken to him, do not have access to any of his medical records or mental history, and do I know anything about him that isn’t currently available to the public. That said, there is no doubt in my mind that Stephen Paddock was a sociopath.
I’m not going to bore you with scientific research or give you examples of how this man seems to line up identically with the profile I have created on the modern sociopathic personality. This website is full of that information and you are welcome to take a look around and draw your own conclusions.
The bottom line is this: The Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock, lived a “normal,” conflict-free life and enjoyed multiple meaningful relationships … right before he murdered nearly 60 innocent people in cold blood without raising so much as a single red flag.
This, my friends, is a sociopath. This is the pattern. This is the problem. So where are the solutions? When are people going to wake up and realize we have a giant mental health epidemic on our hands? When is the mental health industry going to update its diagnostic criteria and offer identifying factors and treatment options for people like Paddock before it’s once again too late?
This man wasn’t an ISIS recruit. He didn’t have an outspoken axe to grind. He wasn’t suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, or was the victim of abuse, or a disgruntled employee, or a Nazi sympathizer – or exhibited any of the other baseless identifiers people look for to somehow justify mass murder.
No. This is a man who was as warm as he was cold. He was as social as he was anti-social. He was as deep as he was shallow. I recognize Stephen Paddock because he is me. He is many of you. He is darkness where you least expect it. He is a criminal without a record. He is friendly. He is responsible. He is reasonable.
He blended right in.
Stephen Paddock was a sociopath. And I promise you, he’s not alone.
*The author of this essay and creator of this blog is a professional who lives just outside of a large city on a golf course in a gated retirement community. She is an accomplished doctor, has a long-term husband, engages in regular communications with family, has no criminal record (despite a fairly extensive criminal history), and is a stone-cold sociopath.