Seung-Hui Cho murdered 32 innocent people, leaving 25 wounded, in Virginia
Tech massacre. Who was Cho and what made this terrible rampage happen? He
demonstrated extreme shyness in childhood, and he seemed to have stored devastating
anger in adolescence. His unique personality and a new environment
as an immigrant conjointly contributed to the dreadful killings.
Cho showed psychological traits of both social phobia and anti-social personality
disorder. He had history of receiving therapy because of his unusual
behaviors and thoughts. Social anxiety aggravated his inability in public speaking,
which in turn collected peers’mocking. Humiliation and fear deepened his
anxiety, and he was well aware of its causes clearly as other social phobics do.
On the other hand, his mischievous behaviors on campus may explain a possible
diagnosis of anti-social personality disorder. His aggression that was eventually
realized in fact was previously organized and carefully planned, which is
distinctive from those with anti-social personality disorder. In addition to his
individual troubles, he experienced serious social isolation at school and even
in his family.
Pastoral theology points to both his individual problems and his social environments.
Theological reflections of his case swing in ambivalence between two
poles: his life as a victim and his killing of innocent people as a criminal. He
had once been abused and now he abused other people’s rights as well as his
own freedom of conscience. Therefore, pastoral theologians and counselors must
understand the need of individual redemption and social reformation for a
Christian healing through this incident.