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Inside the Mind of the Lone Mass Murderer

Corine de Ruiter

What are the motives and the psychological make-up of lone wolf terrorists such as Anders Breivik and Kars Tates (Queensday attack 2009)?

How can we understand the ‘lone terrorist’? Terrorist violence is often defined by its political motive and research on terrorism has been largely informed by political science, sociology, social psychology and security science. These disciplines do not offer much guidance in understanding the ‘lone terrorist’. Knowledge of and experience with psychopathology and its relationship to violent behavior is crucial in understanding, and perhaps preventing, mass murder and spree killings. In this presentation, the recent cases of Anders Behring Breivik, Karst Tates (who performed the Queensday attack in April 2009) and Tristan van der Vlis (Alphen aan de Rijn shopping mall attack) will be compared in terms of their motives and their psychological make-up. 

Corine de Ruiter is Professor of Forensic Psychology at Maastricht University. She also has a private practice and provides psychology services and professional training to social, health, and criminal justice agencies tasked with the assessment, management or treatment of individuals who present a risk to themselves or others. She is a licensed clinical psychologist  in The Netherlands and regularly serves as an expert witness to the court in criminal cases.

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Corine de Ruiter

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