The subjective experience of being flooded with shame renders a person disorganized and helpless. There may be a distressing awareness of the frailty of one’s self esteem, whereby others have the power to suddenly and massively alter one’s self experience for the worse. The American psychoanalyst, Heinz Kohut, labeled such experiences “narcissistic injuries.” Emotionally speaking, one is brought to one’s knees by a humiliating experience, painfully flooded with shame.
A frequently employed coping mechanism is to convert shame into rage, to dominate and seek revenge against the person perceived to have provoked the shame. Kohut considered this “narcissistic rage,” where revenge is a desperate attempt to undo the overwhelming humiliation one feels by “turning the tables” and making them experience this excruciatingly painful emotional state. In the act of converting shame into rage the person works overtime to reinstate a feeling of control and dominance in the face of emotional danger through attacking others and provoking feelings of shame in them.
Rodger’s My Twisted Life is littered with these shame-rage cycles. While strutting down the red carpet (which he smugly admits was, in reality, a black carpet), wearing his “extravagant Hugo Boss shirt” at the premiere of a television show he and his parents had VIP passes to, Rodger angrily recollects: “As we were lining up for our walk on the black carpet, some dumb bitch of a security guard had the audacity to question ‘who the hell are these people.’ This made me so enraged that I almost said, ‘we are people who are more important than you, you ugly cunt.’”
The final, intolerable blow to Rodger’s pride and locus of his eventual urge to seek horrific revenge occurred at a party before his 22nd birthday, where he was determined to lose his virginity. Instead, Rodger felt snubbed by the female partygoers (perhaps because of the characteristic smug, haughty, sinister look he sports in his videos), and his anger mounted. Rodgers remembers a few attractive girls laughing at him as he “tried to act arrogant and cocky.” Fueled by narcissistic rage and alcohol, he tried unsuccessfully to push them off a ten-foot ledge. Some young men intervened and pushed him off the ledge instead.
Although his first instinct was to flee the scene, he returned to look for his Gucci sunglasses, and tried to fight off some partygoers who wanted to insult him further. Rodger was severely beaten, but later claimed, "the worst part of this whole ordeal was not getting beaten up, oh no. It was the fact that no one showed any concern … not one girl, showed an ounce of concern for me. They didn't care. No one cared about me. I was all alone."
His shame and humiliation crescendo and Rodger turns the tables in his mind to seek murderous revenge. “The highly unjust experience of being beaten and humiliated in front of everyone in Isla Vista, and their subsequent lack of concern for my well-being, was the last and final straw. I actually gave them all one last chance to accept me, to give me a reason not to hate them, and they devastatingly blew it back in my face. I gave the world too many chances. It was time for Retribution.”