Who was Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas mass murderer? Here’s my tentative hypothesis, offered humbly with no pretensions to being right. Mr. Paddock was a psychopath with an incubating slathering to kill. His father had been a diagnosed textbook psychopath–on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list. So, there was a genetic predisposition to psychopathy.
The NY Times reports and describes early attitudes suggestive of a transgressive mentality with contempt for fair play. Mr. Paddock discovered how to make money and did–as an effective, hands-on landlord. He had competencies that enabled his working productivity. He treated those at the casinos where he gambled with contempt, as objects existing to serve him. He likely harbored underlying homicidal compulsions, killing tendencies, in states of incubation and suppression, for decades. Ultimately, they were insuppressible. It’s possible that certain events may have precipitated, or finalized, the full disinhibition of his lurking need to kill–for the sake, sport and pleasure of killing. Or, it may just have been the passage of time that broke the dam of his seething, murderous calling.
Mr. Paddock’s methodical personality is not a confounding factor. The serial (or mass) killer is enabled, not obstructed, by his methodical organization and orientation. The latter confer on him a certain “day to day” functional normality that diverts attention from subtler signs of peculiarity (if they exist); and, in the case of Mr. Paddock supported the effective execution of his fully emerged, consolidated “slaughter agenda.” It’s possible, once Mr. Paddock recognized the futility of containing his long-festering lust to kill, that he withdrew increasingly, grew more remote and antisocial–subconsciously to more fully “objectify” the human beings he was preparing for slaughter. His accumulation of weapons over time, and more rapidly in advance of (and preparation for) his date with “slaughter,” makes obvious sense. That he lived an otherwise somewhat pedestrian life with a simmering, apparently hidden, violent lust–more specifically with a well-disguised psychopathic personality–does not make him unique.
Millions upon millions manage to conceal their darkest sides all their lives from others, who then naively struggle to embrace how rarely, in fact, we truly “know” anyone. Wouldn’t it have been nice if Mr. Paddock had just taken himself out and spared those he murdered and injured? Why didn’t he do that? Because this was the climax he secretly sought; the orgy of violence he needed to reign down before he died; the culminating, sought-after orgasm after decades of homicidal suppression–and he was going to have it.
It wasn’t necessarily about his snapping, going postal over a revenge or setback, or about his secret loyalty to a belief or cause. Even should investigators discover these events, they will amount to little more than pretexts that risk obscuring the more fundamental fact: that, for Mr. Paddock, a violent psychopath, this was about satisfying his murderous blood-lust; about unleashing, finally, decades of that excruciating lust to kill–and to kill big.
There was no meaningful message to leave behind, and little to explain. This, very possibly, explains it.