Could Therapy Culture Help Explain Elliot Rodger’s Rampage? asks Brendan O’Neill on Reason. The 22-year-old started therapy at age 8 and reportedly was seeing multiple therapists while living in Santa Barbara and plotting “retribution.”
. . . 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.
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?
Therapy’s children are “invited to focus” on their inner selves rather than the world around them, writes O’Neill.
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 . . .
In his murder manifesto, Rodger complains that people’s attitudes towards him “really decreased my self-esteem. . . . if they won’t accept me… then they are my enemies.”
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!”
He’s not a religious nut, writes O’Neill. “It’s a therapeutic thing.”
You might call Rodger a homicidal narcissist. His own life has supreme value. Nobody else matters.
Does “therapy culture” turn loners into enraged sociopaths?