I have read Dr. Langman's book with great interest. What he does is take 10 cases -- those with the greatest media coverage -- and attempt to classify the school rampage shooters using categories of psychological dysfunction. To this end he develops three major types: psychopathic, psychotic, and traumatized shooters. To begin with, Dr. Langman begins with one major, seemingly reasonable, assumption: school rampage shooters are psychologically troubled. Well, yes. This is hardly news breaking information. However, as Dr. Langman notes, there is no straight line from psychopathology, psychosis, or psychological traumatization to school shootings, which are extremely rare occurrences. Therefore, Dr. Langman has the same problem as all psychological profilers: false positives. There are hundreds of thousands of American adolescents that fit into Dr. Langman's categories who are not violent in the least way. Therefore, the explanatory power of his paradigm is nil.
As with all typologies, there are border problems. Dr. Langman's typology leaks. His problem is Dylan Klebold. Dylan, an obviously depressed teenager who has problems related to his sexuality and religious/ethnic identities fits none of those categories. Therefore, Dr. Langman defines him as borderline psychotic with the schizotypal label. A person with less investment in identifying school shooters as psychotic or severely abused might identify Dylan Klebold as a teenager dealing with normal problems of self-esteem, sexuality, identity, and social location. Dylan was shy, not sure how to deal with the female gender, felt unattractive, had a Jewish background he tried to hide, was not well regarded by his peers, was not terribly athletic in a hypermasculine environment, and was a member of an outcast adolescent subculture. However, he was bright, self-aware, articulate, had a small group of friends, and an intact, supportive family.
The 800 pound gorilla in the room for all psychological profilers, including Dr. Langman, is why school rampage shootings emerged as a social phenomenon in the early 1980s, rising to a peak in 1998-1999, and tapering off in the United States after 2005, with the last rampage shooting in October, 2007, by Asa Coon, in Cleveland, Ohio. To this, Dr. Langman's research does not speak, nor can it, because he fails to deal with context. Even if there were some explanatory power in his paradigm, he does not explain why certain psychopaths, psychotics, and traumatized youths chose school rampage shootings as an expression of their "existential rage" (his term) during this period of American history, while such acts were nonexistent or isolated incidences in previous eras.
Dr. Langman's book demonstrates the problems of psychological profiling. First, it is reductionistic by assuming that school rampage shootings can be attributed to a single cause. In this, he shares the same flaw as Dave Cullen in his book, "Columbine." Second, school rampage shootings are complex phenomena that are caused by a confluence of factors, only one of which is the psychological makeup of the shooter. Dr. Langman's work has nothing to say about why school rampage shootings are more prevalent in the American South and West than in the Northeast or why they are almost always located in rural and suburban schools rather than urban ones. It is surprising that a psychologist would give short shrift to motivation. In his examples, Klebold and Harris had very specific motivations: to get back at jocks for the humiliation they received at their hands, to strike back at a social system that relegated them to the bottom strata, to show evangelical students who were the "gods," to assert a hypermasculine identity, to become an inspiration to other "oppressed" students, and to become famous. However, Andrew Wurst and Kip Kinkel could not articulate why they engaged in their rampage shootings. How do these important psychological phenomena fit into Dr. Langman's typology? The problem with Dr. Langman's work is that it is essentializes personality disorders, attributing causality to them, rather than examining the relationships between individuals and their environments.