Matt C. Abbott
Catholic psychiatrist comments on UCSB killer; A rebuttal to 'Emily's Abortion Video'; 'The Pill Kills'
By Matt C. Abbott
May 30, 2014

    O MY GOD, relying on Thy almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace, and Life Everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.

    – The Act of Hope prayer

I asked Aaron Kheriaty, MD, associate clinical professor of psychiatry and director of program in medical ethics at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine – and author of The Catholic Guide to Depression – to comment on Elliot Rodger, the young man who recently killed six people on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara before taking his own life.

Dr. Kheriaty wrote (slightly edited):
    My first thought when reading about Rodger's written and recorded remarks prior to the rampage is that his explanation of his own mental state provides little insight into what actually drove him into these evil acts. What comes to mind is Hannah Arendt's characterization of Eichmann's psychology – 'the banality of evil.' Trying to peer into the soul of an individual who does something like this one finds a kind of radical emptiness, a sort of nihilistic absurdity that defies logic.

    (I'm reminded of the renewal of Baptismal promises in the Catholic liturgy: 'Do you reject Satan, and all his empty show?' Evil may superficially appear intriguing, mysterious, or even glamorous, but in the last analysis, it is always banal and empty.)

    With that said, what are we to make of his claims of sexual frustration? While we cannot take everything Rodgers said at face value, we may gain some glimpses of insight by listening to what he had to say in his manifesto. He claimed his first major traumatic event came when he learned at seven that his parents were divorcing. The second major emotionally traumatic event came at the age of 11 when he was first exposed to Internet pornography. By his own admission, this vulnerable and disturbed individual's sexual and social development was harmed by the breakdown of his family and by pornography consumption during his formative years.

    As reported by CNN, Rogers wrote about his first exposure to porn, 'When I looked at the [pornographic] pictures, I was shocked beyond words.... the sight filled me with strong and overwhelming emotions... I was traumatized. My childhood was fading away. Ominous fear swept over me. ... Indeed, a whole new world had opened up before me, and I had no idea how to prevail in it. I still wanted to live as a child.' Two years later he was at an Internet cafe and saw an older teen watching porn. He also wrote about that experience: 'The sight was shocking, traumatizing, and arousing. All of these feelings mixed together took a great toll on me. I walked home and cried by myself for a bit. I felt too guilty about what I saw to talk to my parents about it.'

    He internalized the idea that not having sex means that one is a loser, or worthless, or somehow inferior to one's peers who have girlfriends that have sex with them. In our culture, one can see how a vulnerable and disturbed individual might come to believe this notion so intensely that it drives him to extremes of jealousy, bitterness, and hatred. The message is out there, certainly, that masculinity equates to getting women in bed. He described, for example, his initial hatred for his father after his parents' divorce; however, he somehow regained respect for his father when dad quickly found a new girlfriend. As quoted on the CNN story, he wrote: 'Males who can easily find female mates garner more respect from their fellow men, even children. How ironic is it that my father, one of those men who could easily find a girlfriend, has a son who would struggle all his life to find a girlfriend.'

    Rodger was a young man with intense loneliness, longings and pain. He did not seem to have anyone in his life that he could share this with or confide in, so he turned to Internet chat rooms that hosted conversations by other sexually-frustrated peers his own age, where his anger and hatred was only fueled further.

    Research on healthy development in young people suggests that young people spending time only and exclusively with peers and those their own age is generally unhealthy. Children and teenagers need contact and influence from older generations – parents, coaches, grandparents, uncles and aunts, teachers, and so on. Anything we can do as a society to encourage intergenerational mentoring, or fostering communities or activities that provide space for this, will help at-risk youth who may not have engaged parents or others at home that they can turn to.

Monica Migliorino Miller, director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society and author of Abandoned: The Untold Story of the Abortion Wars, has posted a rebuttal to Emily Letts' YouTube video glorifying her own abortion. Click here to watch the rebuttal.

Bravo, Monica!

From American Life League:
    Washington, DC – 'It is with profound sadness that we must, once again, present the true facts about the dangers of contraception,' said Judie Brown, president of American Life League. 'It is a travesty that the national media allows Planned Parenthood and others to deceive women and cause their deaths.'

    Brown's comments came as American Life League revealed that its 2014 'The Pill Kills' event will be the largest it has ever run. This year's event, featuring educational protests and prayer vigils, is scheduled to take place around the country on Saturday, June 7.

    Cosponsored by 51 organizations in 20 states, the protests and prayer vigils will take place at Planned Parenthood facilities and other venues that dispense contraceptives....

    For more information about The Pill Kills campaign, visit
© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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