What drives killers like the Ottawa or Paris attackers?
Zehaf-Bibeau, the Islamist convert who recently killed a Canadian military reservist on duty in Ottawa, Canada, represents a type of attacker rarely discussed—a person so obsessed with an overvalued idea that it defines their identity and leads them to commit violence without regard for the consequences. Although it appears that the assailants in Paris had more ties with terrorist organizations, the individuals still fit the description of people acting on overvalued ideas. This emerging, and likely growing phenomenon is explored in the article "Lone Wolf Killers: A Perspective on Overvalued Ideas".
Author Matthew H. Logan, PhD, a 28-year veteran officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), as well as an RCMP Criminal Investigative Psychologist (ret.), Ontario, Canada, explains that these killers do not always work alone, stating that "in the future I believe we will see more 'packs' of these wolves as they unite on common beliefs and themes."
"The violence we witnessed in Paris just days ago shook the world," says Violence and Gender Editor-in-Chief Mary Ellen O'Toole, PhD, Forensic Behavioral Consultant and Senior FBI Profiler/Criminal Investigative Analyst (ret.). "It was coldblooded, purposeful, and seemingly without remorse, driven by a unique self-righteous ideation of the killers. Dr. Matt Logan explains the 'motivating mindset' of young male offenders, sometimes loners and sometimes part of a group, whose 'overvalued ideas' combined with their own psychopathology is what motivates them to engage in this type of terror. 'Overvalued ideas do not constitute mental illness,' according to Dr. Logan, which makes this senseless, savage violence seem even more chilling and despicable."