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Why Do People Kill?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
January 07, 2013

We need to resolve the violence in our society. I'm offering a few ideas regarding the issues we need to research and address.

Why? Why are these horrible killings happening?

I don't pretend to know the answers, but I do have some ideas that I want to share with you. I believe there are many issues that we need to attend to as a society.

There is much talk about the need for more mental health facilities, but just as important is why so many people are mentally ill.

People who know how to love and value themselves also love and value others, and would never deliberately do harm to others. People capable of empathy could not do what Adam Lanza did. The question is: What created such a degree of internal disconnection from his own feelings and empathic ability, and what created the level of self-loathing that resulted in Adam Lanza killing 20 children and six adults? What creates such a deep inability to regulate feelings? Why did Adam Lanza never learn to manage his feelings in a way that didn't hurt others?

Let's start from the beginning to see how this might occur.

Pre-Birth and Birth

Did Nancy Lanza, Adam's mother, take good physical care of herself when she was pregnant with Adam? Did she smoke, eat sugar and other processed foods that created an imbalance in her gut?

According to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride in "Gut and Psychology Syndrome," babies have a sterile gut until coming through the birth canal –- where they receive their first dose of hopefully beneficial gut flora. However, if the mother is unhealthy, then her floral is likely out of balance, with the unhealthy flora outnumbering the beneficial flora. Or, if a baby is born via C-section, then he or she receives no gut flora during birth.

The second dose of gut flora occurs with breast-feeding the baby. If the baby is not breast-fed, then he receives no gut flora. Even if he is nursed, if the mother is out of balance, then the flora the baby receives is not in balance.

According to Dr. Campbell-McBride and the many other researchers she cites in her book, unhealthy gut flora are responsible for much mental illness, including bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, autism and many learning disabilities. Could this have been part of the problem?


Parental love and connection is vital for a baby to develop the ability to regulate his feelings and to value himself.

Babies need help in learning to regulate their feelings, and when they don't receive this help in infancy, they may never learn to regulate.

"Caregivers who can't feel with the baby, because of their own difficulties in noticing and regulating their own feelings, tend to perpetuate this regulatory problem, passing it on to their own baby. Such a baby can't learn to monitor his own states and adjust them effectively, if mum or dad doesn't do this for him in the first place. He may be left without any clear sense of how to keep on an even keel. He may even grow up to believe he really shouldn't have feelings since his parents didn't seem to notice or be interested in them."

~ Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain, pp.23-24,  by Sue Gerhardt

Once a child thoroughly suppresses his feelings, he losses touch with his humanity –- with his connection with himself, others and a spiritual source of love. When he can no longer feel the pain he causes others because he can't feel his own pain, he stops caring about others. He is left with a huge inner emptiness that he cannot manage.

Sue Gerhardt goes on to say that the orbitofrontal cortex is responsible for social development and the ability to empathize.

"[ It's not ] a matter of waiting patiently for your baby to develop an orbitofrontal cortex as a matter of course. There is nothing automatic about it. Instead, the kind of brain that each baby develops is the brain that comes out of his or her particular experiences with people." P. 38.

"A baby can't develop an orbitofrontal cortex on his or her own. It depends on the relationships with other people that are available." P. 39.

Were Nancy Lanza and Adam's father loving with Adam, helping him to develop his social skills and ability to empathize, or were they too busy working to be there for their son? Were they emotionally disconnected from themselves and therefore unable to connect with their son? These are important questions to explore.

The fact that Nancy lived in a mansion and received almost $300,000 yearly in alimony and child support possibly indicates that these people were hard workers – spending a lot of time earning money. Did Adam suffer a loss of attention as a result of that?

"Friends say that Nancy Lanza, a former financial trader, had not been working in recent years. The terms of the settlement could explain why: She received $289,800 in alimony in 2012, which was to increase each year to reach $298,000 in 2015.

Adam was described by friends as "intelligent, mild-mannered and socially awkward. He also had an aversion to human contact…"

Awkward with an aversion to human contact – red flags that his early parenting was possibly neglectful or even abusive.


How long are we going to feed our children sugar and processes foods? Are we going to continue to allow the food industry to brainwash us into believing that processed foods are healthy? I read that Adam Lanza was an "organic vegan," but we don't know when he started doing this. Is it possible he was already nutritionally deficient when he became an organic vegan?

"Lack of basic nutrition creates generation of criminals; prison system society"

"A new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows that children who experience malnutrition exhibit strikingly increased behavioral disorders and aggressive behavior as they grow older. The study looked at children between the ages of eight and 17 years, and found some rather shocking statistics about their behaviors. Children who suffered certain nutritional deficiencies demonstrated a shocking 41% increase in aggression at age eight. At age 17, they demonstrated a 51% increase in violent and antisocial behaviors. And the only difference is their diet. It's all about the foods they were eating and the nutrients they were missing."


The school environment, rather than fostering caring, cooperation, empathy, deep self-worth and creativity, can be a torturing experience for children who are different. If they don't fit the mold, they often feel rejected by both teacher and peers. Bullying, of course, is a huge issue, and is involved in creating mental health problems –- especially problems in mood regulation -- as explained in this article: Being Bullied Changes Your Kids' Genetics:

"A recent study suggests that bullying by peers changes the structure surrounding a gene involved in regulating mood, making victims more vulnerable to mental health problems as they age. Researcher Isabelle Ouellet-Morin says, 'Many people think that our genes are immutable; however this study suggests that environment, even the social environment, can affect their functioning. This is particularly the case for victimization experiences in childhood, which change not only our stress response but also the functioning of genes involved in mood regulation.'"

It may not be mere chance that many of these violent murders occur at schools. We need to look into and understand what is happening in our schools that can result in such tragedy.

Movies and Video Games

What happens when violence becomes 'normal' due to movies and video games?

"Connecticut school massacre: Adam Lanza 'spent hours playing Call Of Duty’"

"The Connecticut school massacre gunman Adam Lanza spent hours playing violent video games such as Call Of Duty in a windowless bunker, according to an interview with a plumber who worked at the family home."

Is this relevant? Did it contribute to this latest tragedy? Again, this is very important to address.


Did drugs play a part in this? Often, young people are given drugs rather than truly being helped to heal, and some of the drugs have an increased tendency toward violence as a side effect.

The headline at states: "Increase in School Shootings Linked to Antidepressant Prescription Drugs"

Another article at states:

"Fact: At least fourteen recent school shootings were committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in 109 wounded and 58 killed (in other school shootings, information about their drug use was never made public—neither confirming or refuting if they were under the influence of prescribed drugs.)"

The headline at states: "The Antipsychotic Prescribed To Adam Lanza Has A Troubled History All Its Own"

Obviously, the causes of this tragedy are multi-faceted, including the availability of automatic weapons. But deliberately using guns to kill 26 people is far more complex than the availability of guns. I recently heard that Germany has just as many guns as we have, yet they have hardly any violence. Why is this?

We need to address all of these issues –- parenting, nutrition, school, violent movies and video games, drugs and the availability of guns - to fully understand why this happened. I sincerely pray that each of these areas is given the attention they deserve so that our society can start to engage in the changes we need to make.

To quote my daughter, Sheryl Paul, in a recent article of hers, Broken Heart:

"I can only send out a prayer for a world that needs attention on many levels: May our paradigms of parenting, education, nutrition, and our isolating living situations be revolutionized from the ground up. May we learn how to attend lovingly to our babies and children so that they grow into healthy, purposeful, whole adults. May we find peace. Dear God, please help us help our wounded world. Please show us the way".


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