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Psychologist Explains Why Anger With Gunmen Families Isn’t Always Fair


By Clayton Sandell

Often in the search for answers after a shooting, there are pointed questions directed at the people closest to young shooters and their families.

Not much is known about the alleged Highland Park gunman’s family. His father reportedly used to own a deli in the town and once ran for mayor but lost.? His uncle is quoted as saying his nephew was quiet, and he had no idea he might be capable of something like this.

Andrew Solomon wrote the book “Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity” and is a professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University in New York. He has spoken with the parents of several mass shooters — from Columbine, Newtown and the Aurora theater massacre.

“What is most striking to me as I talk to these parents is first their sense of incredulity that no matter how difficult or how strange or how unusual their children have been, they are blown away by the fact that their child could actually do something as extreme as this and then torn, I think, between the fact that they, like most parents, have loved their child and that they have to reconcile themselves to something so grotesque that has happened,” Solomon said. “I always think back to Sue Klebold saying to me that she loved her own children so much that you would never have wanted to imagine a life without them.”

Solomon says that public anger is often directed at the parents and relatives of mass shooters since they’re the ones who, in theory, should have seen the signs. But Solomon says someone planning a violent attack can be very good at hiding it, even from their parents.

(To read the full video transcript, please visit Newsy.)