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APA: 'Cynical Shyness' May Characterize School Shooters

Analysis of recent incidents identifies extreme shyness associated with anger and hostility

MONDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescents responsible for shootings in schools may have a form of social isolation called cynical shyness, which increases their anger and hostility towards their peers, according to research presented this week at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco.

Bernardo Carducci, Ph.D., and Kristin Terry Nethery, B.A., of the Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, Ind., performed a content analysis of newspaper accounts of seven white males and one Native American male who committed at least one fatal school shooting during the past 10 years.

The researchers found that all eight subjects desired social connections but experienced rejection, which resulted in social isolation, alienation, angry outbursts and violent threats. They also found that six subjects showed a tendency to dehumanize other people and that three subjects showed an exaggerated sense of entitlement and lack of empathy.

"Although the results do provide some initial support for the conceptualization of the cynically shy as it might relate to those individuals perpetrating deadly high school shootings, future research should attempt to investigate more directly those shy individuals whose experiences with shyness are a source of anger and hostility and how the strategies they developed to deal with their shyness and such highly negative emotional reactions might differ from the strategies used by more traditionally shy individuals to deal with their shyness," the authors write.

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