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Does Pathological Shyness Make for School Shooters?
Date:8/18/2007

Researchers devise screen that may be able to spot teens prone to violence

SATURDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- What motivates some teens to gun down fellow students in the hallways or grounds of their schools?

Perhaps a characteristic called "cynical shyness." This is an extreme form of shyness affecting mostly males that can lead to violent behavior such as that seen at Columbine, Colo., or, most recently, Virginia Tech, according to researchers who were to present their findings Saturday evening at the American Psychological Association's annual meeting, in San Francisco.

"Cynically shy people are shy people who are motivated toward moving to others, and then they are rejected," said Bernardo Carducci, lead author of the study and director of the Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany.

"In addition to feelings of anxiety about social situations, cynically shy people, who are a small subclass of shy people, also have feelings of anger and hostility toward others and that comes from this sense of disconnect," Carducci explained. "Shyness has more in common with extroversion than with introversion. Shy people truly want to be with others, so they make the effort, but when they are rejected or ostracized, they disconnect. Once you disconnect, it's very easy to start being angry and hate other people. It's you against them, and they become what I call a cult of one. Once you start thinking 'it's me versus them,' then it becomes easy to start hurting these people."

Eventually, the new research may help identify the likely perpetrators of such crimes before they happen, the study authors said.

"It would be great if we could better characterize people who might be likely to do something violent," said Dr. Jane Ripperger-Suhler, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and a psychi
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