Academic journal article Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health

Abortion Survivors at Columbine

Academic journal article Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health

Abortion Survivors at Columbine

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT: This paper is a comprehensive analysis of the two adolescent perpetrators of the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School. Using psychoanalytic, family systems, and prenatal psychology resources, the author explores various theories advanced to explain their behavior and offers the new observation that the boys match the clinical profile of abortion survivors. In concluding, he predicts the increasing appearance of more and ever younger killers in a culture which features the multigenerational transmission of the threat of being aborted and suggests that this insight may help us understand other examples of antisocial behavior and pathological syndromes.


Abortion survivors are persons who were born after having prenatally experienced either a direct attempt to physically abort them, or who have survived after having lived in an unwelcoming and ambivalent prenatal environment in which the possibility of their being aborted had been consciously or unconsciously considered by their parent(s) or others. Evidence will be presented in this essay showing that the thinking, feeling and behavior of the Columbine killers represent an extreme example of the complex of symptoms of abortion survivors seen in clinical practice.

To begin my presentation, I shall describe in detail the killers' behavior during and prior to the massacre, and outline various theories that have been advanced as to its possible cause, none of which so far have touched on abortion dynamics. Following this I shall review evidence from the field of prenatal psychology that has documented that the unborn are sentient beings possessing the capacities of mentation, communication and response to trauma, and review some of the unconscious defense mechanisms used to cope with the threat of being aborted. I shall then summarize the symptoms of abortion survivors, show these symptoms in the school killers, and deal with the question of what is required to satisfy the burden of proof that the Columbine killers were indeed abortion survivors.


On Tuesday, April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, two senior high school students, Eric Davis Harris, 18, and Dylan Bennett Klebold, 17, wearing ski masks, walked into the school cafeteria at lunch time and began firing automatic weapons and tossing shrapnel filled explosives about. They killed twelve of their classmates, wounded twenty-four others, killed one of their male teachers, and then committed suicide.

The massacre lasted about six hours, and involved the killers' making threatening and derisive comments and questions to the victims. A student recalls one of them saying, "Look, there's that little nigger," before shooting the student, a popular black athlete, three times in the head, then laughingly saying, "Hey, I always wondered what nigger's brains looked like." A young female student was asked if she believed in God, and when she answered in the affirmative, she was shot. One girl told how, as she was begging for her life, she was told by one of the gunmen, as he laughingly put a gun to her head, that he was doing this because people had been "mean to him last year." Several students reported the killers as being excited and laughing triumphantly as they went about their killing. Nicholas Schumann, 19, who heard the shooting and voices from the library below, said "They were, like, orgasmic." To one student, hiding beneath a desk, they said, "Peekaboo," and then shot him.


Fellow students have described Harris and Klebold as "not present," and difficult to get to know. They were members of a group that school jocks called "The Trench Coat Mafia," which consisted of about a dozen students known for their unusual dress in black leather coats and high black steel-toed leather boots, a Gothic look popularized by rock singer Marilyn Manson and reminiscent of the garb of Nazi stormtroopers. …

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