What Happened Yesterday?

(What it Might Have Been Like for Victims)

by David Blakeslee

I got up. I got dressed. I hugged my children. I called a friend. I went to work. I packed my bag for a prolonged business trip. I went to lunch. I then went to the doctor’s office for a final check on my health and then, to get my teeth cleaned.

I was traveling for my work to a place where it might be hard to get medical attention. I sat down in the waiting room. I found a magazine, Sports Illustrated, to read. I flipped the pages and I looked around the room. I saw some friends from other parts of the company, smiling and talking to each other. Every few minutes a person left the room and every few minutes a new person came in the room. It was a strange feeling, not knowing all of them, but being bound by similar work and a similar mission.

I glanced down at my magazine, the Raiders continue to lose and look terrible. The Phillies are behind in the World Series, I know better, they already lost.. Pop…Pop Pop…Pop…Pop. Scream, crash. Pop…Pop…Pop, Pop, Pop. I know the sound. I am on the ground. I look in the direction of the Pop sound, a man with two guns commands the attention of the room. He is dressed like me. He looks like me. I look to others dressed like me, some are groaning, some wailing, some are whimpering, curled up in the corner as he approaches. Pop…Pop…Pop. I am panicked now. While his attention is turned I jump and run farther from him and push a small table down as a barrier. I realize that most of my co-workers have huddled in the far corner with me. Some are escaping through another door and down a hallway. Pop…Pop…Pop…Scream. Whimper. Moan. I know I am alone. I know this uniform he is wearing says I should trust him…I lunge…Pop. Pop Pop Pop.

This is what it may have been like for many of the victims yesterday at Ft. Hood.

Many words will be written about the events of yesterday and the overwhelming majority will be about the middle-aged man who knew where to find a group of trusting colleagues and then systematically betrayed them and murdered them. Many “explanations” or hypotheses will be written. Here is one: a narcissist, narcissistically wounded, acts out his wound in the most terrifying and humiliating way on people completely unprepared to defend themselves and trained to trust him. And he enjoys it. For a brief few minutes his subjective feelings of being small and a “victim” are extinguished in a gratifying hail of bullets and moans and death. It goes just the way he planned and he enjoys it.

Narcissism is rampant in this culture.

It is time to make it’s victims real, three dimensional. To narrate their motivations, their lives, to interview their friends and family and to hear what obstacles they overcame and how much they loved their country. They are small, unimportant people in this culture of celebrity. But they are deeply loved, deeply loved. And right now, everyone they loved is feeling destroyed.

Utterly destroyed.

That is what narcissism can do.

(I spent the early years of my career at a small Air Force base as the base psychologist. It was humbling to see how hard everyone worked and how devoted to the mission they were. I learned there how many different kinds of people were better than me, stronger than me and kinder than me. For a medical officer to betray his troops is the worst kind of evil).

–David Blakeslee, Psy.D. is a psychologist in West Linn, Oregon.