Psychopathy or Sin: What Caused the Sandy Hook Shooting?

December 15, 2012 § 3 Comments

This is a discussion under a Facebook post calling for a focus on mental health reform following the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14th, where 27 people, 20 of them children, died at the hands of a lone gunman. The comments reflect different ideas on the root of the problem of such heinous crimes.


Let’s get down to it people. This country needs renewed focus on mental health. There is a serious problem here that won’t be solved by wishing, giving or taking. This heinous crime was committed by a psychopath.





That’s true. Try to stop it at its source.


They’re closing all the mental health institutions due to budget constraints. This is what we get?


Maybe so, but it is greater than that. It starts at home. Greater consequences for a start. There is a world of knowledge available, and the signs of psychopathic behavior are freely listed and available to know, and act upon.

Mike (me)

Does heinous crime come from being mentally ill, or do we decide he is mentally because he committed such a heinous crime?


I have to be honest, I don’t think there is a solution to this. Psychopaths exist. They do not empathize normally. They blend within our society, and are adept at manipulation so they may escape detection even within the aid of mental health professionals.

Modern science and psychiatry needs to be enlisted to determine what makes them take the move from desire or thought to planning and action.

But… That won’t happen. A sufficient enough part of the population has already made this their political rallying cry, or blamed the cause on a supernatural evil, or just can’t look because it hurts.

Mike, the nature of the crime… He killed his parents, then children at where his mother works in a premeditated manner, leads on to believe he lacks basic human empathy and has penchant for violence against the most defenseless.

I don’t see how it could be said any other way than a mentally ill psychopathic person acted upon that illness or the effects of that illness to commit the acts he did.


I agree that we won’t get to a solution the way we’re going, refusing to recognize evil for what it is: simply evil.

What is the threshold someone like this (whose name I’ve intentionally forgotten to rob him of any more fame) crosses that makes him the victim of a sickness rather than an instigator of evil to a high degree? Were the 9/11 bombers all merely sick? As you said, the act was premeditated. This crime was calculated and planned by a clear and morally responsible mind. A mindless drone acting on the effects of a clinical condition couldn’t have pulled it off. It’s so evil, we would rather think there is some cause we could isolate and treat with psychotherapy or a pill.

I don’t think there is healthy thought and desire behind a barrier of unhealthy planning and action. Each flows into the next.

We can’t blame his upbringing, or economics, or dismiss sin as a sickness we don’t carry responsibility for. If sin is a sickness, it’s self-inflicted.


I believe we will be learning more about this in upcoming days and weeks.

I am sure it will become clearer what made him a monster.


Exactly Mike. No one in today’s society can simplify it to that. There are some people who are just evil End of story. No doctor or social worker is going to help. The only thing we can do is protect our selves and our loved ones and get to know the people around us. Start talking to people again instead of texting and e-mailing. Start getting to know your neighbors and report the out of the ordinary…Stop avoiding and being politically correct.


I am with both David and Mike on this one. I think mental illness IS real, and it doesn’t necessarily lead to the extreme, horrifying ends witnessed yesterday; in fact, mental illness generally decays its victims slowly and often with little outside observation or, God forbid, acknowledgement from people affected by it themselves. It is a tragic disease that needs more, not less, attention in our society. That said, evil (and grace, and we often forget that) indeed exists in the world as well. That acts of evil is a manifest of sin itself, and I believe both extreme mental illness and evil were married together in yesterday’s news. Also think Edwin’s right…regardless of belief, we ALL need to know our neighbor’s better. Put the Smartphone down, and go next door to say “hello”…


Yes, this guy’s story will unfold in the days to come I’m sure, a story that began in Genesis 3. I think the corrupting effects of sin in the world are far reaching (Romans 5 and 8:22), that “creation groans”, even in the form of very real mental illness. But truly, we’re all messed up and need a Savior from what we saw yesterday.

Great thoughts. For me, the love for neighbor starts with the reality of sin and and its effects. But we’d all be better off to get in touch with people. Will be spending some quality time with my wife and son today, perhaps more than usual given yesterday’s events.


This society inspires crazy. Religion and belief can and do contribute to this, as well as the zeitgeist, and the simple fact that man is on the top of the food chain. We just make more of us us as it is to other animals.

The prisons are not filled with athiests.

We need to look at how we do things differently than other societies that are not subject to the same ills to find out what we have done to ourselves.

There is no supernatural element here, nor need for one to explain this, nor evidence that a supernatural element would have prevented this.

Again… Our overcrowded prison system is not full of athiests. Shouldn’t it be? Why not? Where is all the “evil” coming from? The answers I have heard are all a bit too contrived, and convenient.


Prisons are filled with people who do evil. Prisons are not filled with atheists simply because you don’t need to be an atheist to do evil. Evil doesn’t come from atheism, it comes from being human. Humans are created in the image of a moral law-giving God (Gen. 1:27), and we know good and evil innately (Rom. 2:15). We’re all made with a free will that can choose evil (Gen. 3).

Evil is universally recognizable. What person, atheist or not, will deny this murder spree was just plain evil, without putting it in “quotes”? Evil is an objective reality that is the absence of good (another objective reality). We all live as if moral good and evil are objective reality, atheist or not.

Nature obviously can’t explain the existence of evil. If the moral law that says the unprovoked slaughter of innocent children is wrong was conceived by people, we ought to find an abundance of people who think that such a thing is morally good, and that’s unheard of. Such a crime would be viewed as a crime regardless of who did it, where, or when it was done. The obvious alternative then is super (outside of) natural. God’s transcendent moral law is what we are all made to regard.

I’m not sure where you would find “societies that are not subject to the same ills”… Less crime, perhaps, but no one lives in a sinless country where the same type of tragedy couldn’t happen. Sin is the common denominator. I can’t prove the Biblical God as the source of objective morality—no more than the atheist can show evolution or something else as a source—it must be accepted on faith. But when God-given morality is accepted, it makes perfect sense of good and evil, whereas the alternatives don’t.

David, changing the topic to avoid the issue 

I am totally 100% cool with anything anyone believes that does no harm.

What I am not cool with is getting battered with bible verses, or an acceptance of a “truth” without evidence, a hijacking of a culture based upon cult of personality. I also have no interest in changing the beliefs of others. Keep it away from me, and especially from my child.

Find your path and follow it, preferably respectfully. I am on my path.


Well, there’s the dismissal I was anticipating. If I quote no scripture save a few references, yet you feel “battered with Bible verses”, it may just be that you feel a bit threatened by the truth projected. Just a theory. 😉

Truly I mean no disrespect and certainly no harm, but I’m willing to sign off here to avoid giving that impression. Just know that we’re kidding ourselves if we say we have no hopes of changing anyone else’s view about good and evil and what is true (in fact your posts do the same).


Mike, we all have a threshold for annoyance, ad-infinitum twisted repetitive arguments. You are confusing it with feeling threatened. We not in the flock get bombarded with this every day… on the internet, at work, from family. I am sure you just feel great when you hear about Scientology, or Mormons, or whatever that comes around you that you don’t believe in.

I don’t care what people see or view. I prefer to gather with like minds and to observe those who think differently. If I want a bible verse, I will find a bible and read it. But, actually reading it got me where I am today, with the help of some of that good ole repetitive annoyance I wrote about above.

You keep doing you, Mike… but you either do not know where the threshold is, or don’t care. Can’t swing at someone and follow with “just kidding”… so, I think you did mean to disrespect.

So, congrats. I am amazingly hard to insult these days… but you persevered.


Thankfully, man is not the sum of his ideas. The call to love and respect people God created doesn’t apply to the ideas they may come by, which whenever presented are always open for scrutiny, challenge, and reasoned debate, and they will stand or fall by the same.

Non ad hominem. David I love and respect.

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§ 3 Responses to Psychopathy or Sin: What Caused the Sandy Hook Shooting?

  • johnedoe says:

    i just decided not to comment,…as ironically, i’m commenting,……..

  • regularfellow says:

    In response to your statement: “If sin is a sickness, it’s self-inflicted.” –

    Studies have shown that a psychopath’s brain is physically different than the brain of a sane person. Are you suggesting that a sane person can self-inflict their own brain in such a way that causes a reduction in connectivity between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the part of the brain responsible for empathy and guilt? Precisely how would you account for that kind of self-infliction?

    • Studies have shown that there is “specific brain abnormality associated with criminal psychopathy” but nothing conclusive about whether this connectivity difference is absolutely the cause or the result of psychotic behavior. Considering that synaptic pathways in the brain can be established and strengthened through habitual behavior, it’s entirely possible that repeated behavior can cause such changes in the brain. The strengthening of one pathway can account for a diminished pathway elsewhere. Sin brought corruptive effects into the world, and I think this allows for the fact that we choose to sin in ordinary ways which can form sinful habits, and also that our brains may be at times born deficient and more inclined toward certain compulsive behavior which can make someone more prone to psychosis. In either case, the root problem is Genesis 3.

      I appreciate the comment, and have a great week!

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