It’s not often that a multiple murderer gives you a guided online tour of his home, so anyone interested in the psychology of homicidal loners should check out George Sodini’s Youtube clips before someone demands that they be taken down. Sodini killed three women in a planned attack at a Pittsburgh gym in 2009, injuring nine others and killing himself. Afterwards a profile emerged of a healthy and relatively prosperous man, with no strong political or religious convictions who worked as a systems analyst for a law firm and lived alone.
He had given hints on his blog of his deadly intentions, but no intervention ever took place. Perhaps there was nobody reading his site. In it, the 48-year old Sodini wrote of his loneliness and sexual frustration, having not had sex for 18 years and not spent a full night with a girlfriend for 26 years.
His life might have been simpler if he’d been willing to settle for a woman of his own age, but he instead became a disciple of the seduction ‘guru’ R. Don Steele (RDS) whose books and seminars claim to teach men over 35 how to attract women aged 18-34. As part of the groundwork for one of these courses, Sodini filmed these two clips: one telling of how he concealed his unhappiness and another showing his home environment.
What’s striking about the home tour is how antiseptic his house seems. The walls have no decoration at all. There is little sign that he had any hobbies or interests apart from mention of some music MP3s. I can’t see any books apart from the self-help seduction manuals he displays on the coffee table. There’s nothing threatening to be seen, just a glaring emptiness.
I wonder whether there are a lot of men out there like him. There can’t be many things more embarrassing than to be a heterosexual man who just can’t seem to attract women. The feeling of failure must be crushing, and yet for Sodini, much of the problem stemmed from his circumstances. He was a non-lawyer in a legal firm; in a technical specialty that required a problem-solving mind with little scope for interpersonal development. The majority of people in his line of work would have been male, whilst the women he saw at work would probably have ignored him, as he was in a support function rather than a lawyer. There is mention in his writings of a terrible family background – especially a bullying older brother. I wonder whether he was mildly autistic. For all the clear signs of frustration, there’s little sign of human empathy. But that could be a result of decades of being ignored. It’s hard to know what’s cause and effect here.
Our police and security services are often on the lookout for the impressionable young muslim male and the angry white male with fanatical religious, racial or political opinions, but I can’t help thinking we should also watch out for those who are lonely through little fault of their own. In decades past, families were larger and more people belonged to churches and political associations (or even trade unions). As much as anything else, these provided safe settings for the sexes to mingle. As these have declined in significance, the danger grows of there being more and more lonely individuals who can’t reach out without seeming desperate and ensuring their own rejection, as clearly happened to Sodini. In the end, they may decide to die famously than be ignored for the rest of their solitary lives.