Friday, April 20, 2007

nothing is foolproof

Pre-Incident Indicators in Violent Individuals

"A gun is not an instrument of violence, it is the person who wields it with violence in his heart.”

Though violence can manifest itself in various forms via various entities such as gangs, terrorists, common criminals, and domestic situations, the primary focus of this study will be violence acted out by individuals who commit public assaults on groups of individuals.

Rampage killers, workplace or school violence incidents, and other incidents are often labeled as "random acts of violence." Some of these P.I.N. (s) [Pre-Incident Indicators], are common in all individuals who act out violently.

Two aspects of "random violence" are noteworthy:
*Violence is predictable
*Violence is always the result of a process

Psychological "Soups":
Individuals often display a series of behaviors and are involved in a series of "stressors" that serve as catalysts for their behavior. Combine these behaviors and stressors with particular circumstances and a potentially violent outcome becomes more likely and thus more predictable.

All people's personalities, psychological outlooks, and behavioral make-ups are essentially the products of a mixing, over time, of history, environment, personal morals, genetic tendencies, nurturing or lack thereof, cognitive capabilities or mental disabilities, and many other input related factors.

There is no one singular cause for deviant behavior such as genetics, abuse, economic situations, or exposure to violence. Rather, it is the sum total of many influences and experiences that combine in certain quantities and qualities to make up a psychological "soup". Too much of one ingredient or not enough of another ingredient and that "soup" has a high potential of coming out with any number of varying "tastes."

There are many examples of people who grew up in abusive homes, in poverty, or exposed to violence in various mediums…some of these people become abusers or violent themselves, however many do not. Not every child who is exposed to violence in the media or in the home grows up to be violent. Not every person who is nurtured and brought up in a stable home environment grows up to be a stable individual.

Research will continue to pin down the pathways that individuals take and why they make choices to be productive or deviant. Though no one input, cause, or circumstance can be singled out as the primary ingredient that drives individuals to violence there are certain behaviors, circumstances, and stressors that may indicate an increased potential for acting out violently.

It is these behaviors, circumstances, and stressors that when combined together in an individual's profile become what are called Pre-Incident Indicators. The signs and symptoms of impending violence…

An individual need not have all of these P.I.N. (s) and in fact many individuals who display some of these P.I.N. (s) may never resort to violence. However the more P.I.N. (s) present, especially when combined with cognitive distortions, the more probable the individual will act out violently.

P.I.N. (s):


*Aggressive behavior / violent outbursts of anger
*High frustration levels / easily agitated…seems mad at the world
*Controlling / relationship wise / interpersonal interactions / various environments / attempts to dominate
*Doesn't accept responsibility for actions / blames others
*Overly defensive / takes criticism poorly / feels oppressed
*Objects to the notion that he is powerless of some situations though in fact he may believe himself to be
*Perceives he is threatened / by circumstance / individual / or by "powers that be'
*Feels weapons are a considerable source of empowerment
*Victim mentality
*May abuse drugs or alcohol
*May be anti-social / loner type
*Preoccupation with images of violence / fascination with other violent individuals
*Threatens / intimidates
*Imposes his will on others / bullying
*Degrades others
*May indicate suicidal or homicidal tendencies overtly or by use of vague references


*History of violence / criminal record / disciplinary records
*History of mental instability / schizophrenia / anti-social disorders / bi-polar
*Exposure to deviant groups or ideology
*Poor work record / migratory job record
*Inability to acquire proper treatment for mental instabilities
*Little or no social or family support structure
*Limited outlets for stress relief
*Deteriorating social / economic / physical health


*Loss of relationship / divorce / break-up / death
*Loss of job
*Impending legal action / prosecution / possible jail time
*Not taking medications for mental stability
*Loss of social status
*Perceived increase in persecution
*Perceived feelings of being threatened
*Perceived loss of situational control
*Perception of limited alternatives / feelings of hopelessness

Communication is vital in assessing threats. Some individuals may notice some of the aspects of a violent individual while others may see other behaviors emerging. Without the bigger picture, the puzzle put together if you will, we may miss violence brewing. When people communicate and know what to look for, sometimes acts of violence can be prevented. The bad news is, nothing is foolproof.