The Colorado Shooting Leaves Us Wondering: What Makes a Person Violent?

The tragic mass shooting that occurred in Aurora, Colorado just after midnight on Friday, July 20th, left at least 12 people dead, 59 people wounded, and millions of people stunned as to what could possibly drive a person to commit such a violent act.

With no motive, we are left to wonder why James Holmes, a 24-year-old former neuroscience student, chose to walk into a crowded movie theater and open fire on a crowd of innocent people. Beneath the sensationalistic news coverage and the heartfelt condolences from across the country, lies an important question: What makes a human being become violent?

In light of this recent tragedy, we wanted to share an interview series with violence expert Dr. James Gilligan, who speaks to both the nature of violence and how to prevent violence from recurring.

Read more from Dr. James Gilligan here

Watch Dr. Donald Meichenbaum discuss The Nature of Violence

Read Dr. Lisa Firestone’s article on The Inner Voices Behind Violent Behavior



National Crime Prevention Center

National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center


Stop Bullying Now Campaign

Eyes on Bullying

Boys Town Hotline – 1-800-448-3000 (24/7)

Covenant House Nineline – 1-800-999-9999 (24/7)

National Center for Victims of Crimes 1-800-394-2255

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE


About the Author

Carolyn Joyce Carolyn Joyce joined PsychAlive in 2009, after receiving her M.A. in journalism from the University of Southern California. Her interest in psychology led her to pursue writing in the field of mental health education and awareness. Carolyn's training in multimedia reporting has helped support and expand PsychAlive's efforts to provide free articles, videos, podcasts, and Webinars to the public. She now works as an editor for PsychAlive and a communications specialist at The Glendon Association, the non-profit mental health research organization that produced PsychAlive.

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