Nikolas Cruz: 'Troubled' or narcissist?

I'm confused.  When did concern about the mental health of cold-blooded murderers override time-honored concepts like good and evil, crime and punishment, free will, personal responsibility, and equal justice under the law in the criminal justice system?

Nikolas Cruz, admitted murderer of 17 people at a Florida high school on Valentine's Day, joins a parade of recent violent criminals whom mental health experts, defense attorneys, and credulous judges collectively categorize as "troubled," "struggling," or beset by "issues."

Immediate survivors of their carnage, jurists, and the larger society are then asked to somehow empathize with the wrongdoers because their lives are blessedly free of the "troubles," "struggles," and "issues" that drive these less fortunate to murder.  That "but for the grace of God" trope comes to mind.

Mr. Cruz is universally described as "troubled."  He terrorized neighbors, fought with family and classmates, and posted violent images on Facebook.

The defense is gathering information about his mental health history.

A member of Mr. Cruz's legal team described him as "deeply disturbed, emotionally broken."  No word about how 17 victims' survivors feel.

I'm not a psychiatrist, but several decades practicing law have taught me a thing or two about human nature. I offer an alternate, non-peer-reviewed, admittedly déclassé opinion about Mr. Cruz's motives and behaviors.

In my opinion, Nikolas Cruz is a world class narcissist.

His world was his alone.  He lived by threat, coercion, and violence.  His unfortunate fellow citizens were all subservient to his will.  Do as he wished, and coexist.  Resist, and suffer his wrath.

Thomas Stephen Szasz (4/15/1920-9/8/2012) was a respected Hungarian-American academic, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, and social critic of the moral and scientific foundations of psychiatry.  His books, The Myth of Mental Illness (1961) and The Manufacture of Madness (1970), set out the arguments most associated with him.

Szasz warned that the concept of disease is fast replacing the concept of personal responsibility.  "We often attribute bad behavior to disease (to excuse the agent); ... and insist bad behavior called mental illness is a 'no fault' act of nature."

Mr. Cruz, like many of his generation, has thus been favored with ready-made excuses for antisocial behavior.  He grew up without a father.  His mother recently died.  He has a right to be angry.  Fine, except this vindication fails to account for the many children who suffer similar losses and don't commit murder.

Mr. Cruz's neighbors bore his trespasses, fearing that if they complained, he would make their lives worse.  School administrators, hands tied by red tape, bureaucracy, and cowardice, were powerless to act.

Mr. Szasz augured that "We prefer a meaningless collective guilt to a meaningful individual responsibility."

Apparently, no adult in Mr. Cruz's life ever had the guts to say, "No!  Enough!"  Or dare draw a line in the sand.

Nikolas Cruz wasn't "troubled."  To the contrary, intimidation and violence were his drug, and destructive euphoria his high.

Occam's Razor demands that Mr. Cruz be found guilty of intentional murder and punished accordingly.  To seek to palliate the evil he has done is to perpetrate another evil.

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