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Int J Offender Ther Comp Criminol. 2015 Dec;59(14):1520-35. doi: 10.1177/0306624X14544155. Epub 2014 Jul 25.

Narcissistic Symptoms in German School Shooters.

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University of Potsdam, Germany
Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.


School shooters are often described as narcissistic, but empirical evidence is scant. To provide more reliable and detailed information, we conducted an exploratory study, analyzing police investigation files on seven school shootings in Germany, looking for symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; DSM-IV) in witnesses' and offenders' reports and expert psychological evaluations. Three out of four offenders who had been treated for mental disorders prior to the offenses displayed detached symptoms of narcissism, but none was diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. Of the other three, two displayed narcissistic traits. In one case, the number of symptoms would have justified a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder. Offenders showed low and high self-esteem and a range of other mental disorders. Thus, narcissism is not a common characteristic of school shooters, but possibly more frequent than in the general population. This should be considered in developing adequate preventive and intervention measures.


narcissism; personality disorder; rampage; risk factor; school shooting

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