Do mentally healthy people commit mass murder?


A little later in the thread I specified that I was referring to people acting on their own, outside institutions…

If your friend considers that video to be a rational argument then he’s mentally ill.

Not all military killing is in self defense. Indeed, I doubt that most of it is.

This is something I’ve thought about, too. If you think about the Rwandan genocide, it was just regular people running around and hacking their neighbours to death. Were they all insane? Maybe a couple were but I have to believe that most of them were just regular, normal people who decided to hack to death (men, women and children) the people they hated.

I think Anders Breivik is a good example, too. I don’t think he’s insane. I think he just really believes in his cause.

So yes, I think that completely sane people can become mass murderers.

When 2 countries are at war, every active duty serviceman in every branch of the military is a target for the opposite side. That is not to say there cannot be murder in war, but it’s simply not true that “all war includes mass murder”.

Time and space - what on earth would we do without them? :rolleyes:
The problem this argument ignores is the present. You know, the moment the shooting starts?

As to the OP, the answer is “yes,” of course. Emotions, morality, laws and motivation aside, from a purely logical standpoint, at the 40,000-foot level, mass murder is a “good thing” simply for reducing the planet’s population - right along with war, plague, famine, pestilence, accidents and anything else that arbitrarily kills people.

Really? Consider someone rescuing their child from a gang. Were you armed, would you even hesitate to kill someone threatening your child? That’s not the generic you, BTW, that’s the YOU you. The NRA are right when they say, “When seconds count, the police are minutes away.”

At least one of your mistakes is to not realise that part of the point of owning a gun is not to kill people but to not be killed (or hurt, or robbed, etc). Try reading up on defensive gun usage. It’s not sexy so doesn’t get a lot of news coverage, but it’s there. And don’t limit yourself to America.

That’s an incomprehensible counterargument to me. What does it mean?

You could perfectly well have good reasons to disagree with my view on guns, but are you really claiming that an analysis that considers only a static snapshot in time is superior to one that the considers also the dynamics through time?

Since gun ownership is probably the single easiest and most effective way to vastly increase the likelihood of being a victim of gun violence, I believe I shall continue to decline participation. (The stats are readily available, start with the FBI)

This? Is the pilot a mass murderer for dropping the bomb? If he is, is he mentally ill for doing it? Or how about a sniper, who is told, “Kill this person.” and does it without any personal reason for doing so?

It’s also a question in my mind that the very willingness to kill at the orders of some authority figure, without making some personal moral assessment every single time such an order comes along, may be a sign of mental illness, regardless of whether the actual killing takes place.

The Milgram experiment suggested that many people are ready to go along with the concept of inflicting pain for no obvious gain, as long as they had the sanction of authority figures for doing it.

Milgram has been largely debunked.

Gavin the Becker explains the how and who, and when, of mass shootings very well in his book, The Gift of Fear.

Ok, I’ve heard of that study. Has anyone made claims that this willingness is some form of mental disease or defect?

I disagree. War is mass murder*. In order for a killing to be in self defense, you have to have been threatened by someone who was not doing it for self defense. Somebody started the damn war. Somebody said “we’re going to go kill a bunch of people from country X”. On purpose, and premeditated. It is not possible for both sides to be acting in self defense.

When I was in the Army, I was a technician. I fixed shit. I didn’t kill anyone in Iraq, but if I did, it would have been in self defense. But the infantry guys weren’t acting in self defense. They had specific missions, some of which were “go kill these guys over here”. When you specifically set out to kill other people, that’s not self-defense.

We can argue about whether or not killing in war is “murder”*. But I don’t think there is anything wildly different going on in the mind of a soldier who kills 20 people or a civilian “whackjob” who kills 20 people. They’ve both justified it in their minds in some way that doesn’t involve immediate self defense. They might be wrong, and in the case of mass murderers who kill civilians I think they’re certainly wrong, but the justification is essentially the same – “I need to go kill these guys even if they’re currently not actively threatening my life or the lives of others. Because if I don’t, bad things are going to happen to me and mine”.

*If these statements seem at odds to you, let me explain. War is mass murder. But the soldiers who participate are usually not mass murderers, in my opinion. They’re more like the murder weapon.

Suppose a radical environmentalist tries to invent a way to murder 1 billion people in an efficient and eco-friendly way because he thinks the Earth is overpopulated. Sane or insane? Rational or irrational?

I absolutely hesitate to refer to a libertarian source, them being the Bane of the Internet an’ all, but there’s an essay on Rockwell, Sniper Theology aka Thou Shalt Murder, by Laurence M. Vance where he kicks the slats of those he first calls:

…Christian armchair warriors, Christian Coalition moralists, evangelical warvangelicals, Catholic just war theorists, reich-wing Christian nationalists, theocon Values Voters, imperial Christians, Red-State Christian fascists, bloodthirsty Christian conservatives, nuclear Christians, and God and country Christian bumpkins.


and sigh necessary disclaimer: I am pro-gun, certainly for Americans:

the question posed by the OP might be a primo method for determining mental well-being. Since nutters who are undiagnosed are free there to buy what weapons (* just as there are many killers and criminals who are necessarily never discovered* ) they may, with little harm so far; a good test of mental stability — only in Amerika — would be to issue the allegedly cured with an AR-15 or such, with plenty of ammo in an open-carry state, and send him out for the day in the malls and plazas. If he comes back with no killings to his name, he can be pronounced as sane as his neighbours.


Surreal, the replication study you are linking to has tested only up until the first verbal protests of the " subject" . Not beyond. And even then the number of people obeying was slightly lower then with the original experiment.

I was referring to studies like

Since these aren’t replication attempts that failed I don’t see how they “debunk” Milgram’s findings.

Lots of comparable experiments have produced similar results to Milgram’s: