For the past fifteen years my colleagues and I have conducted research on adolescents and adults who commit mass murder (see our research at www.forensis.org and @ForensisInc). We define mass murder as the intentional killing of 3 or more individuals, excluding the perpetrator, during one event; and have studied cases in both the U.S. and overseas, wherein this criminal phenomenon has its roots in the ancient behaviors called amok.
A common experience in our threat assessment work is to determine that an employee who has raised concerns about violence is ultimately evaluated as posing a very low or no risk to others or self, but remains a challenging and delicate management issue for employers.
“The company has refused to address my appeals and is hiding behind lies of eliminating my job due to a reorganization. This is patently false and I will show that the CEO himself is behind this conspiracy to silence me and trample on the rights of suffering employees. SOMEONE MUST CHAMPION THEIR CAUSE. LET IT BE ME! When the time is right I will reveal all the names of those behind this criminal conduct. Heads will roll in high places!!!”
Collaborating with us on our feature this quarter is Bram van der Meer, a new colleague in The Netherlands. Bram recently co-founded his own consulting service, Black Swan Forensics, after a 6 year career as a clinician in a forensic mental health facility, followed by an 11-year career as a threat assessment professional and profiler with the Netherlands National Police.
On December 14th 56 year-old Clay Duke – disgruntled, broke, and troubled – held the members of a Panama City, Florida school board at gunpoint while pronouncing his grievances, eventually firing at them but missing. When the school security guard fired on Duke, hitting him, he fired back and then killed himself.
One of the more valuable presentations this August at the annual meeting of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals (ATAP) was offered by Dr. Mario Scalora of the University of Nebraska and Detective Bill Zimmerman of the United States Capitol Police. For several years they have been conducting research on threats to members of the US Congress.
When U.S. Army Major and psychiatrist Malik Hasan committed a mass murder at Ft. Hood, Texas, in November, 2009, it was the culmination of a pathway to violence that began several years earlier. It was not impulsive nor reactive. It was planned and purposeful, and may serve as a harbinger of future acts of workplace violence which are motivated by religious and political extremism.
Who hasn’t encountered the troubled and troubling employee who seems to be saying, “I need your help, but I don’t trust you, and you may even be part of the problem!”
Recognizing the Paranoid Employee. The hallmark of the paranoid individual is a pervasive suspiciousness, mistrust, and great sensitivity to any negative feedback. Perceived slights are exaggerated as signs of the malevolent intentions of others.