Eric Harris

Topics: Psychopathy, Columbine High School massacre, Antisocial personality disorder Pages: 8 (3204 words) Published: March 1, 2013
The Columbine Massacre

Psychopaths revolve in our worlds, some severely dangerous to the community, others not so much. The shooter of Columbine, Eric Harris portrays the signs of psychopathy extensively. The purpose of this paper is to assess Harris using the PCL-R to determine whether Eric Harris is in fact a psychopath. Writing this paper will conclude if he is psychopathic or not, and to which degree if he is. All of the twenty traits will be assessed to come to a conclusion. The paper will be structured in three main parts; the concept of psychopathy, a description of the traits Eric Harris portrayed and a conclusion of whether or not he is actually a psychopathic. Concept of Psychopathy

The first personality disorder to be recognized in psychiatry (Millon, Simonsen, Birket-Smith & Davis, 1998, pg. vii) was Psychopathy. Psychopathy is a personality disorder that is compromised of one or more of the following: Psychopathic Personality Disorder, Sociopathy Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD). Amongst these three, the broadest range of psychopaths comes from APD. APD is defined as a severe irresponsible and anti-social behavior beginning in childhood and continuing past age eighteen (Passer, Smith, Atkinson, Mitchell & Muir, 2008, pg. 588). The most effective way to diagnose psychopathy is with Dr. Robert D. Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) (Hare, 1993) is the psycho-diagnostic tool most commonly used to assess psychopathy (Lynam, 1996, pg. 230). The checklist has a total of twenty distinct traits. Each item in the PCL-R is scored on a 3-point scale (0, 1, 2) (Patrick, 2006, pg. 58). The cut off score in North America that determines if one is in fact a psychopath is thirty. Causes of Psychopathy

Two specific potential social causes contribute to psychopathy: nature or nurture. Nature indicates that an individual whom is psychopathic is born a true psychopath with no sense of conscience. Recent data suggests that there is indeed a genetic contribution to the emotional dysfunction facilitating antisocial behaviors (Blair, Mitchell & Blair, 2005, p.29), thus genetic factors greatly stimulus the development of psychopathy. People that are born with psychopathy are known as primary psychopaths (constitutional). Environmental factors affect the specific traits that predominate in an individual. This would be the nurture aspect of being a psychopath. These psychopathy tendencies are triggered later in life by an emotional event (Crim 214, Lecture #3, 2012). This category of individuals have a valid conscience, but it has been turned off. This collection of psychopaths is known as secondary psychopaths (adaptive). Description of Case Study

Eighteen-year-old Eric Harris put an end to his life, and many other lives as well on April 20, 1999. At 11:35am on the 110th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birthday, Harris and his companion, Dylan Klebold, killed 13 people and left 25 injured. In Jefferson County, Colorado, the walls of Columbine High school were faced with a rampage. Till this day, Columbine Massacre is the most drastic high school shooting in the world. Harris claimed he was apart of the “Trenchcoat Mafia”, hence on the day of this tragic event, he showed up in a long black trench coat with guns and bombs hidden underneath the coat. The initial plan of the two boys had been to kill a minimum of five hundred students and teachers at once. Thus thirty to fifty bombs were planted around the school and were discovered after the mass killings. Fortunately, the homemade bombs the pair planted around the high school did not all go off. Teacher and coach—Dave Sanders, was literally an angel sent from heaven for many of the students in the school. This gentleman saved an enormous amount of lives by getting them out of the school in time. Unfortunately, it cost him is own life in the process. The prior Boy Scout laughed and made sarcastic remarks as he gunned down the rest his fellow...

References: Blair, J., Mitchell, D., & Blair, K. (2005) The psychopath: Emotion and the Brain. Padstow, Cornwall: Blackwell Publishing Ltd..
Criminology 214E. (2012) Sel Topics in Crim:Psychopathy
Cullen, D. (2009) Columbine. New York, NY: Hachette Book Group
Fast, J. (2008). Ceremonical Violence: a Psychological Explanation of School Shootings. Woodstock, NY: The Overlook Press, Peter Mayer Publishers, Inc..
Hare, R. (1993) Without Conscience. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Lynam, D. R. (1996) Early Identification of Chronic Offenders: Who is the fledgling Psycopathy? Psychological Bulletin, 120(2), 209.
Millon, T., SImonsen, E., Birket-Smith, M., & Davis, R. (1998) Psychopathy: Antisocial, Criminal and Violent Behavior. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Passer, M., Smith, R., Atkinson, M., Mitchell, B., & Muir, D. (2008) Psychology: Frontiers and Applications (3rd ed.). USA: Quebecor Printing Dubuque.
Patrick, C. (2006) Handbook of Psychopathy. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
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