Berent Associates

April 19, 2007 14:44 ET

Reflections on the Virginia Tech Shooting: Dynamics Which Drive Angry Loners and School Violence

GREAT NECK, NY--(CCNMatthews - April 19, 2007) - "Many of my patients relate to the perpetrators of school shootings," says Jonathan Berent, L.C.S.W., author of "Beyond Shyness: How to Conquer Social Anxieties" (Simon & Schuster). "Countless numbers of my socially avoidant teen and young adult patients have verbalized to me that they understand why kids shoot other kids. There is a definite profile of adolescents who have acted out with school violence in the last decade. These individuals were not socially well adjusted with quality peer relationships. In addition, they were at the lower end of the social 'pecking order' and were often picked on by others, developing internal rage over time and eventually exploding."

Angry loners, such as the Virginia Tech gunman, Cho Seung Hui, experience rage as they are isolated by their social anxiety. Hui was described as "shy" by his peers and reports seem to confirm that he may have suffered from selective mutism. Angry loners such as Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial criminal and psychopath, was referred to as "very shy" as a child by his parents. Theodore Kaczynski, the "Unibomber," would run up to his room and hide as a child when he heard visitors drive their car into his parents' driveway. In both of these cases, characteristics of social anxiety and social avoidance evolved into serious psychiatric conditions.

Most individuals with anger and rage resulting from social anxiety implode, meaning their anger is internalized and repressed. This recycled energy turns into a myriad of problems as the anger drives depression, anxiety, obsessiveness, and a multitude of stress-related disorders. People develop anger when they avoid situations they don't want to be avoiding, or know they shouldn't be avoiding.

There are very few treatment resources available for social anxiety which is the 3rd most prevalent mental health problem. Social anxiety is a "disease" of resistance. Most sufferers do not seek help.

For free diagnostic material and information, visit

Since 1978, Jonathan Berent, L.C.S.W., A.C.S.W., has pioneered psychotherapy for social anxiety. He and his staff have worked with thousands of individuals of all ages.


Contact Information

  • Jonathan Berent