Is There an Explanation for Columbine?

November 25, 2009
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Known to be the “worst school shooting in American history,” two murderers/students at Columbine High School are dubbed responsible. The article “The Depressive and the Psychopath” by Dave Cullen, states the reasoning behind the horrific event was not the expected conclusion the media portrayed it to be. After careful examinations of the murderer’s (Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold) private journals and video clips, psychiatrists and specialists claim the reasoning behind the unthinkable shootings was deeper than jocks making these student’s high school lives hell on a daily basis. Their conclusions led them to believe Dylan Klebold was an extreme depressive, and Eric Harris was not only the mastermind behind the entire shooting plan; but, that he was also a deranged psychopath.

As Cullen goes on throughout the article, he periodically quotes psychiatrists who state these boys were psychologically unstable. This statement places me in a moderate position between agreeing and disagreeing with the author and experts.
The article states, “The first steps in understanding Columbine are to forget the popular narrative about the jocks, Goths, and trench coat mafia, and abandon the core idea that Columbine was simply a school shooting.” (Cullen, p.1) This quote is disagreeable; these boys were picked on and this had somewhat of a part in why they chose to perform the killings at their high school. If these boys in fact were not simply taking out rage on bullies and were out solely for blood, why wouldn’t they plan the shooting for a mall or other public place? The article also states that Harris, claimed “psychopath”, had a “total lack of remorse or empathy-another distinctive quality of a psychopath” (Cullen, p.4). But that statement proves false with video recordings of Harris and Klebold apologizing to their parents for the incident while Harris begins to cry on tape. Is there no remorse in those recordings?
Lastly, I deviate with the article on the fact that the boys “set their sights on eclipsing the world’s greatest mass murderers” (Cullen, p.2) and weren’t just “seeking fame”. It is a fact that the murderers committed suicide after the shootings in the library of their own school turned massacre crime sight. If the boys were seeking some sort of world domination and attempting to be the world’s greatest mass murderers ever, why would they kill themselves after solely murdering their fellow students and teachers? If they were proud of what they did and wanted the fame for it, why would they murder themselves and end the tragedies that very day? These questions go unanswered.

Despite the disagreements, the shooters were deeply troubled and more than just bully victims. Their private journals, holding passionate writings of hatred for the world, do point to signs of psychiatric troubles. It is also agreeable because Harris and Klebold had planned the massacre for over a year and “dreamed of terrorizing the entire nation by attacking a symbol of American life.” They wanted to “create a nightmare so devastating and apocalyptic that the entire world would shudder at their power”. (Cullen, p.2) Though no one can be completely sure why these boys would commit such a horrible crime, experts can negotiate that these shootings can be explainable through psychiatric overviews and facts.





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