David Mandel
Chief Executive Officer, OHEL Children's Home and Family Services

Stephen Paddock Gives Mental Illness A Bad Name

Mental Illness is a disease.

So is Diabetes and Cancer.

If Stephen Paddock had Diabetes would he be labeled a Diabetic mass murderer?

Absent a cogent well-fitting narrative for Paddock’s motive an undiagnosed or latent mental illness may become de rigueur. And for the tens of millions suffering from mental illness this could be an unintentional denigration of an entire such class. The majority of people with mental illness seek help most especially with the lessening of stigma today. Not one such person wants Paddock to be known as suffering from their same illness.

Let’s not classify him as obsessive compulsive for his meticulous surgical planning, a sociopath for his profound lack of empathy indifference to life or a narcissistic personality disorder for believing he was godlike.

Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, Chief of the Las Vegas Police Department has the grim task of identifying the ‘why’. An important part of working with victims of abuse and violence is to determine the why. A victim of sexual abuse wants to know why a predator chose to hurt him. Was it the predators sickness or did the child do anything wrong. So too the victim of domestic violence. Was it her husband’s uncontrolled rage or was she somehow at fault.

Similarly in our work at OHEL with victims of trauma. Each such victim searches for a reason. Why me, why my family? Why do bad things happen to good people? Getting to the why will not remove the anguish of the enormity of the loss of lives and its sheer brutality for inflicting pain on hundreds of families, a city and a country but it may help to blunt the emotional pain and reconcile a void.

Let’s label Paddock for what he is, evil. Paddock is a diabolically evil person. The 58 people Paddock killed were executed. Each may have been a random person to him, but one by one with weeks of planning, firing with multiple automatic precision weapons from a perch timed to kill, these men and women, 20-68 years old, were executed.

Have you read each of their profiles? Everyday people reveling in life.
Each person the opposite of their murderer.

What would our reaction be were we to hear that an ISIS fighter summarily executed 58 people. Would we search for clues of mental illness? A family history of violence? Our revulsion would overwhelm any curiosity to know more about such an evil sub human. Could it be that growing up Paddock suffered greatly from a neglectful absent father whom he learned was a most wanted criminal? Was he angry? Worse, was he jealous of his father? He could do one better?

Mass murderers seek fame. They want to be remembered for their heinous acts. Who can be the cause of the most chaos? What is the ultimate punishment for a fame seeking narcissist? Ignore him! Label him a coward. Make him invisible.

In the closing scene of Harrison Ford’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, we see the ark placed in a cavernous storage facility the size of a small island. The building so large and the ark so infinitesimally small by comparison the purposeful imagery is to convey it is locked away never to be found again.

So too should the memory of Stephen Paddock a coward seeking fame be locked away, erased and forgotten from this earth. This could be Paddock’s greatest punishment of all. The Las Vegas Sheriff has a file on him. The media and all others should no longer mention his name. Stephen Paddock appeared from oblivion and should return to oblivion.

May God avenge his soul and may all the victims and survivors and their families be comforted in their emotional loss and physical pain.

About the Author
David Mandel is CEO of Ohel Children's Home and Family Services. For more than 50 years, Ohel has provided a safe haven for those suffering in the community. Ohel cares for more than 17,000 individuals in the New York metropolitan area and across all communities offering a broad range of mental health services including outpatient counseling, trauma, anxiety, eldercare, respite and housing.