Huberman on Mass Shootings: Lessons from ‘American Psycho’

Drawing parallels from the 2000 film “American Psycho,” starring Christian Bale, Huberman dives into the psyche of the 80s yuppie culture, encapsulated in a dark, satirical comedy that illustrates these traits in a stark and often violent manner.

Christian Bale’s character in “American Psycho” embodies violent aggression, sexual aggression, and an unyielding pursuit of wealth and narcissistic interests.

His fixation spans from personal grooming to his physical fitness, painting a caricature of excess and morbid fascination with status, which at a fundamental level, mirrors aspects of today’s societal behaviors.

Notably, the character’s envy becomes evident through scenes of intense jealousy over something as trivial as a business card, culminating in acts of extreme violence.

The narrative suggests that such films are often reflections of wider cultural tendencies to impose one’s will and seek pleasure in the process.

Works like those by Brent Easton Ellis, who wrote “American Psycho,” highlight the intertwining of aggression, pleasure, and the deep-seated roots of envy that lead to destructive behavior.

Huberman juxtaposes these fictitious portrayals with real human tendencies, sparking thoughts on how individuals perceive attainment: the false belief that accumulating wealth or pleasure would lead to contentment, when in actuality, it often cultivates envy and dissatisfaction.

Envy can become a pit of despair, leading to destructive actions.

The discussion reveals that envy’s roots are complex, and while not always stemming from trauma, such experiences can contribute to its development.

When envy outweighs the generative, or positive, drive, the consequence is almost inevitably destruction.

The conversation segues into how this may relate to current societal issues like active shooters and school shootings.

Individuals consumed by envy may lash out violently, driven by the sense that others possess lives more fulfilling than their own, thus fueling a desire to destroy.

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Dr. Paul Conti

Paul Conti, M.D., is a Stanford and Harvard-trained psychiatrist currently running a clinical practice, the Pacific Premier Group.

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