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This project examines personal and situational instigators for the perpetration of sudden, extreme, and seemingly senseless violence committed by individuals without serious mental illness. Research indicates that seemingly senseless violence does in fact have identifiable instigators, motives, and rules, but that this “sense” deviates from typical human thought processes enough to go unnoticed or dismissed as a possibility. I present threats to sense of self as the initial trigger, and three psychosocial elements as primary contributions to the thought processes that lead to coping through extreme violence: Conventional masculine ideals increase the number of hypersensitive self-aspects while limiting acceptable coping mechanisms, low self-complexity decreases defenses against threats to self-aspects, and shame introduces a particularly severe and debilitating emotional reaction. When combined these elements produce a desperate demand for self-esteem enhancement while severely limiting accessible and effective coping possibilities, leaving violence as the most consistently accessible and immediately effective recourse.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.
Barone, Christina Taggart, "The Sense Behind Senseless Violence: The Influence of Masculine Ideals, Self-Complexity, and Shame on Coping with Stress Through Extreme Violence." (2014). Senior Projects Spring 2014. 127.
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