Today’s news of the terrible shooting tragedy in Colorado:

12 killed, 50 wounded at Aurora movie theater

By Ryan Parker, Kurtis A. Lee and Jordan Steffen
The Denver Post


The American public seems to prefer remaining ignorant of the impact of formational experiences during the very earliest months and years of life.  What kind, we all best ask, of early childhood experiences did the movie theater shooter REALLY HAVE?  Does anyone know?  Will anyone ask?  Suddenly, in this one particular case – do we suddenly CARE what most likely went so wrong in this shooter’s infancy and childhood?

While our society ignores the power of early experiences to shape a person for life – we at the same time put ourselves at risk – PERIOD.


In my July 15, 2012 post – +THOUSANDS OF GEESE AND THREE BOOKS

I stressed the importance of reading what Dr. Allan Schore has to say about what goes right and what goes wrong in building human beings – and why.

Affect Dysregulation and Disorders of the Self by Allan N. Schore (Apr 2003)

I just randomly opened this book to a sticky note I placed on page 297-8 some years ago as I studied Schore’s writings.  (I am going to put – …. – where most of the names of the studies are listed in this very brief example of the relevance of all of Schore’s work (“developmentally acquired sociopathy).”– if you wish to have the names of the researchers that I am currently omitting, just post your request in the comment section to this post – or FIND THE BOOK and study it!)

“The recent studies of Blair and his colleagues demonstrated that boys with psychopathic tendencies, as young as 9 years, show impairments in processing fearful and sad (but not aggressive) faces….and orbitofrontal dysfunction….  As mentioned, this prefrontal cortex is centrally involved in the individual’s appraisal of the safety or danger of interactive contexts.  Early traumatic experiences bias this system toward insecurity and aggression, and this negatively tinged perceptual bias powerfully influences the way in which a male, abused early in childhood, would see the world during moments of stress.  A growing literature demonstrates that neglected children have difficulty in recognizing emotion in faces, and that physically abused children display a response bias for angry facial expressions….

“Developmental research also reveals that “hostile attributional biases” among aggressive boys are specifically exacerbated under conditions of threat to the self.  Dodge and Somberg (1987) suggested that early experiences of physical abuse, exposure to aggressive models, and insecure attachments lead a child to develop memory structures that contain a hostile world schema and an aggressive response repertoire.  Later, when the child is presented with provocative stimuli, such as peer teasing and humiliation, these structures lead him to attend to hostile cues and to engage in aggressive behavior.  These dynamics characterize “early onset antisocial youth,” which spans 7 through 11 years [of age]….

“Multiple psychological changes are seen in adolescence, a time in the life span when the commission of violence is highest….  The brain undergoes a significant reorganization during this period.  Adolescence is second only to the neonatal period in terms of both rapid biophyschosocial growth as well as changing environmental characteristics and demands.  After a relatively long period of slowed growth during early childhood, the adolescent brain undergoes extensive repruning and a prominent developmental transformation.  It has been suggested that the reorganization of the amygdala and prefrontal limbic areas that innervate the hypothalamus and modulate emotional reactivity drive the reorganization of the adolescent brain (Spear, 2000).  Notice that these systems are the same ones involved in aggression and its regulation.

“Although adolescence can be being [sic] potentially growth enhancing for certain personalities, for others with developmentally overly pruned cortical-subcortical circuits, this stage of the life span can be emotionally overwhelming and disorganizing.  A brain that in infancy had to chronically shift into hypometabolic  survival modes had little energy available for growth, and a repruning of already developmentally thinned-down cortical-subcortical connections exposes earlier forming regulatory deficits.  This would be particularly so for type D personalities (identified on the Adult Attachment Interview as “unresolved/disorganized”) who show inefficient capacities for regulating rage states.  Excessive pruning is thought to be a primary mechanism in other “neurodevelopmental” disorders, where large reductions in frontal connectivity are associated with emergence of circuit pathology that mediates dysfunctional symptoms….

“In other words, early structural defects of aggression regulation circuits would become even more apparent during this stressful transitional period.  In support of this principle, neurological damage of the orbitofrontal cortex in the first year-and-a-half results, in adolescence, in a syndrome that resembles psychopathy…., and infants who experience perinatal complications show orbitofrontal dysfunction in adolescence….  Psychiatrid diagnoses of sociopathy are also first made at this time.  The “frontal lobe maturational lag” ofjuvenile delinquents…thus reflects…a “long-term sequelae of prefrontal cortex damage acquired in early childhood”…that results in “a failure to ever develop specific cognitive and behavioral competencies,” and what Bechara and colleagues (2001) term “a developmentally hypo-functioning ventromedial cortex” )p.388).  A “developmentally hypo-functioning ventromedial cortex” thus underlies a “developmentally acquired sociopathy.”  [bold type, underlining and italics is mine for emphasis here]



While a reader might need to quickly do online searches to clarify the meaning of some of the technical words in this quote above, the gist is very very clear and understandable.

Again, the best thing we can do as society members would be to READ Dr. Allan Schore’s books!  In them the mysteries are solved about how things like this Colorado shooting CAN and DO happen.  The kind of changes to development Schore describes LAST FOR A LIFETIME!

And they CAN be prevented with adequate and appropriate early infant-child care!


News at 2:47 pm

Aurora mass shooting suspect applied to UA graduate program in 2011


Please click here to read or to Leave a Comment »



  1. This morning I was blessed with the arrival of my 2nd grandson! It could trouble me that I am at the same time celebrating the birth of this precious new human being and considering very clearly how fortunate he is — while I write a post about butcher and mayhem.

    Our society LETS parents RUIN children by how they treat them including what they expose them to. For all who might hate this Colorado shooter (and yes, hating his actions matters but not the human he is) I would ask, “What are you doing to STOP ALL INFANT AND CHILD ABUSE?

    My precious grandson – if he had been born into a ‘wrong’ universe – even carried to term by a mother who could not keep him healthy in the womb – this precious little boy could easily have been RUINED for life.

    Human beings are extremely fragile when they are little people. As an entire civilization, culture, society — we have to commit ourselves to preserving the health and well-being of EVERY NEW HUMAN BEING. All infants and children deserve to receive what they need to grow up healthy in all ways – just as my grandsons will.

    We ALL have to take what happened at this Colorado movie theater both to heart — and take it PERSONALLY. What can we each do to make the world a better place for EVERYONE?

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