Final summary of Elliot Rodger’s autobiography
I label his document as an autobiography, not a memoir and not a “manifesto” as people keep wrongly calling it. The two-page epilogue, where he describes the ideal society without women (which of course seems extremely weird to most people) might be described as a very brief manifesto, but the first 135 pages are purely an autobiography. The intent is to explain how his life led him to be the way he turned out.
The key factor in understanding Elliot’s personality is that he was very high on the “neuroticism” scale. People, including “professional” psychiatrists who should have known better, seem to think that he had all sorts of other mental “illnesses” such as Asperger’s Syndrome, or later in his life schizophrenia. Elliot knew that he didn’t have schizophrenia, because he was quite introspective about why he was messed up, and that’s why he refused to take the Risperidone that was prescribed for him. I think that Elliot really wanted help, but he had too much social anxiety to ask for it properly, or maybe the people who were supposed to be helping him were just too clueless.
The Wikipedia article on Neuroticism describes it thusly:
Neuroticism is a fundamental personality trait in the study of psychology characterized by anxiety, moodiness, worry, envy, and jealousy. Individuals who score high on neuroticism are more likely than the average to experience such feelings as anxiety, anger, envy, guilt, and depressed mood. They respond more poorly to stressors, are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening, and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult. They are often self-conscious and shy, and they may have trouble controlling urges and delaying gratification. Neuroticism is a risk factor for the “internalizing” mental disorders such as phobia, depression, panic disorder, and other anxiety disorders, all of which are traditionally called neuroses.
Neuroticism is not a very trendy psychological diagnosis. Every kid is being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but kids who simply have very high Neuroticism are ignored and don’t get the help that they need. Yet anyone who bothers to read all of Elliot’s autobiography will see that the Wikipedia explanation of high Neuroticism perfectly matches what Elliot experienced.
Elliot’s second strike against him is that he was small and physically weak. Boys who have high neuroticism and are also small and physically weak wind up having bad interactions with their peers that lead to social anxiety and bullying, and that’s exactly what happened with Elliot as well.
Strangely, he didn’t talk about being bullied in elementary school. I attribute that to the fact that he attended an elementary school where all of the children came from affluent families and thus they were much better behaved than children at regular working-class schools. Elliot had friends in elementary school, but at the same time his shyness prevented him from being as popular as he wanted to be, and he was never good at making friends on his own without his mother setting “playdates” for him.
Pinecrest Middle School was worse for him than elementary school because his shyness prevented him from making friends at the new school, and his friends from elementary school apparently went to other middle schools.
For the first few days, I withdrew into a defensive shell and didn’t really talk to anyone. I did observe, however. I observed how everyone acted, who the “cool kids” were, what they were like… and it was all so intimidating. The social challenges that I faced in Fifth Grade were intensified tenfold.
Middle school was also when he became aware of girls, but he was too shy to talk to them. Middle school is also when he became aware that girls like certain other boys a lot more than they liked him.
I also observed the girls. I was still very short for my age, and most of the girls were taller than me. I hadn’t reached puberty yet, but I was starting to admire female prettiness. There was one group of pretty, popular girls, and they all seemed to like hanging out with that boy Robert Morgan. I didn’t yet desire girls sexually, but I still felt envy towards Robert for being able to attract the attention of all the popular girls. What was so special about Robert Morgan? I constantly asked myself.
A particularly bad social experience for Elliot happened at summer camp between the 6th and 7th grades.
At this camp, an incident happened that would scar me for life. The first time that I was treated badly by a girl occurred at this camp. I was innocently playing with the friends I made, and they were tickling me, something people always did because I was very ticklish. I accidently bumped into a pretty girl the same age as me, and she got very angry. She cursed at me and pushed me, embarrassing me in front of my friends. I didn’t know who this girl was… She was only at Pinecrest for summer camp… But she was very pretty, and she was taller than me. I immediately froze up and went into a state of shock. One of my friends asked me if I was ok, and I didn’t answer. I remained very quiet for the rest of the day.
I couldn’t believe what had happened. Cruel treatment from women is ten times worse than from men. It made me feel like an insignificant, unworthy little mouse. I felt so small and vulnerable. I couldn’t believe that this girl was so horrible to me, and I thought that it was because she viewed me as a loser. That was the first experience of female cruelty I endured, and it traumatized me to no end. It made me even more nervous around girls, and I would be extremely weary and cautious of them from that point on.
He describes another bad experience with girls in the 8th grade:
I became known as the “weird kid” at Pinecrest, and people started to make fun of me, but I didn’t care. I had my online games to distract me from the harsh realities of life that I was too scared to face. The only time I did care was when a group of popular Seventh Grade girls started teasing me, which hurt a lot. One of these girls was Monette Moio, a pretty blonde girl who was Ashton’s younger sister. She must have thought I was an ultimate loser. I hated her so much, and I will never forget her. I started to hate all girls because of this. I saw them as mean, cruel, and heartless creatures that took pleasure from my suffering.
Ashton Moio is a somewhat successful young actor. His sister Monette has not had as successful an acting career, but a search of Google shows that she is indeed a very pretty blonde girl. She seems to have taken down her twitter feed, perhaps in shame that her cruel treatment of Elliot in the 8th grade contributed to Elliot becoming a mass murderer.
For 9th grade, he attended a boys Caholic high school, Crespi. He had asked his parents to send him there because of his bad experiences with and fear of girls, but this didn’t turn out to be a very good school for him.
My life at Crespi got even worse. Alfred and Brice apparently told everyone how weird I was at Pinecrest, and people in my own grade started to tease me. They found out that I didn’t like being called a skateboarder, and it was true. Because I failed to become good at skateboarding, I developed a hatred for the sport, and whenever someone called me a skateboarder, it reminded me of my failure and I got very angry. The whole school started calling me it just to anger me, along with other insulting names. They teased me because I was scared of girls, calling me names like “faggot”. People also liked to steal my belongings and run away in an attempt to get me to chase after them. And I did chase after them in a furious rage, but I was so little and weak that they thought it was comical. I hated everyone at that school so much.
It got to a point where I had to wait in a quiet corner for the hallways to clear before I could walk to class. I also took long routes around the school to avoid bullies. My parents began to consider not letting me continue there after Ninth Grade.
After the 9th grade, his parents sent him to a public high school, Taft. This was much worse for Elliot than Crespi.
The first week of Taft was living hell. I was bullied several times, even though I didn’t know anyone there. After being so used to wearing a polo shirt with khaki pants as a school uniform at private schools, I continued to dress like that even after leaving Crespi. I didn’t give any thought to how nerdy I looked. I was too withdrawn, like a turtle tucked into his shell. I was still in the process of going through puberty at the time, so I still looked and sounded like a ten-year-old. Such a persona attracted zero attention from girls, of course, but it did attract bullies like moths to a flame.
I was completely and utterly alone. No one knew me or extended a hand to help me. I was an innocent, scared little boy trapped in a jungle full of malicious predators, and I was shown no mercy. Some boys randomly pushed me against the lockers as they walked past me in the hall. One boy who was tall and had blonde hair called me a “loser”, right in front of his girlfriends. Yes, he had girls with him. Pretty girls. And they didn’t seem to mind that he was such an evil bastard. In fact, I bet they liked him for it. This is how girls are, and I was starting to realize it. This was what truly opened my eyes to how brutal the world is. The most meanest and depraved of men come out on top, and women flock to these men. Their evil acts are rewarded by women; while the good, decent men are laughed at. It is sick, twisted, and wrong in every way. I hated the girls even more than the bullies because of this. The sheer cruelty of the world around me was so intense that I will never recover from the mental scars. Any experience I ever had before never traumatized me as much as this.
I couldn’t do it anymore. On the morning before the second week of Taft started, I broke down and cried in front of my mother, begging her not to make me go to that horrible place. I was so scared that I felt physically sick. I continued crying in the car on the way there, and my mother gave in. Instead of taking me to school, we went to the café at Gelson’s in Calabasas where we had a big talk. I tried to explain how much I was suffering there. She just could not take me to school after that. When we were finished with Gelsons’s, she drove me to my father’s house and told him about what happened. They agreed to take me out of Taft.
I didn’t go to school for a month while my parents decided what to do with me. I took advantage of the time to rest and recover at home, playing my online games. The pain and suffering I had to endure at Taft was all over, but the scars would remain. I tried to forget about it as much as I could. I took a deep breath and relaxed.
After his bad week at Taft, his parents sent him to “Independence Continuation High School.” This appears to be a public high school for children who for some reason or other can’t handle regular high school. Apparently the children who went there was so weird or had so many other issues that Elliot no longer stood out as a target for bullies, because he didn’t write about any more bullying. But neither did he have any friends there at all, and the schoolwork was not academically challenging, so he spent most of his time playing World of Warcraft.
Elliot doesn’t give much of an explanation of why his parents made this schooling decision. My guess is that they may have received a psychiatric diagnosis that Elliot had Asperger’s Syndrome (which I do not agree with at all), and they sort of gave up on him as being academic material. His father had also suffered heavy economic losses from his investment in the documentary movie Oh My God so perhaps he cheapened out and sent him to free public high school rather than find a private school that might have been a better fit for him. Nevertheless, his parents seem to have absolutely no aspirations at all for Elliot to have any sort of academic success, because they allow him to attend the continuation school, and then take just a single class at a community college. It’s not clear to me if this is because they just don’t care about education, or because they view Elliot has having Asperger’s Syndrome and therefore is not capable of succeeding academically. Elliot himself views school strictly as a social (or anti-social) experience and not as a place where one learns things and prepares for a career.
I haven’t written much about Elliot’s parents yet. Elliot’s mother, Li Chin, is Malaysian Chinese, and his father, Peter Rodger, is Scottish. They moved to the United States from England when he was five, and two years later they got divorced.
Peter soon remarried to Soumaya Akaaboune, an actress from a wealthy Moroccan family. The way that Elliot described her, she appeared to view Elliot as annoying baggage from Peter’s first marriage that she didn’t want to have around. In fact, the joint custody arrangement that Peter and Li had doesn’t make any sense to me. Elliot spent half his time at his father’s house, but his father was away most of the time because of his career in movies, so a great deal of time at his father’s house was spent just with Soumaya there, and Soumaya didn’t like him very much. It seems to me that he would have been much better off with his mother. Was the joint custody arrangement a spiteful divorce settlement used as leverage by Peter to avoid paying higher alimony to his ex-wife, or was it that despite Elliot’s fondness for his mother, his mother didn’t actually want him around full-time and was glad that she only had to care for him every other week?
In the later part of Elliot’s life, he’s a much less sympathetic protagonist. In response to his severe social anxiety, he develops an intense hatred for girls, especially the pretty blonde girls he is most obsessed with, and the socially successful men who get to have sex with them. He keeps dropping out of his community college classes, because every class that he’s in there’s at least one couple in which the guy is a good-looking jock type and the girl is a hot blonde, and this enrages him too much and he can’t stand attending the class because of that. He also begins plotting for his “Day of Retribution” at this time of his life. As part of the retribution he planned to kill his stepmother, Soumaya and his little half-brother Jazz. Reading about his desire to kill his little brother was sad because Jazz didn’t do anything wrong besides be born better looking, more athletic, and with less neuroticism than Elliott.
I had an argument with Soumaya while I was visiting father’s house. It started when she began to boast that my brother Jazz was recently signed by an agent to act in T.V. commercials. She said that by the time he is my age, he will be a successful actor. I talked about how Jazz was already so socially savvy for his age, and how I’ve always envied him for it. She told me he will never have any problems with girls, and will lose his virginity while he’s young. I had to sit there and listen to the bitch tell me that my little brother will grow up enjoying the life I’ve always craved for, but missed out on. It is very unfair how some boys are able to live such pleasurable lives while I never had any taste of it, and now it has been confirmed to me that my little brother will become one of them. He will become a popular kid who gets all the girls. Girls will love him. He will become one of my enemies.
Of the entire autobiography, the part about how he planned to kill his little brother was the most disturbing. Luckily, he wasn’t as successful in his “Day of Retribution” as he had planned in the autobiography.
And that’s the summary of Elliot’s life. A consistent theme in the comment thread is that Elliot must have been gay, but the people who say that are just too lazy to read the autobiography and would rather jump to conclusions that a guy who is scrawny and doesn’t have a girlfriend most be gay. In fact, it’s exactly those kind of societal attitudes that I suspect contributed to Elliot’s self-loathing and low self-esteem which led to his unfortunate Day of Retribution. (Also, living in Hell’s Kitchen, the gayest neighborhood in Manhattan, I see gay men every time I leave my apartment, and none of them remind me of Elliot in any way.)
Elliot describes in many places his sexual attraction for girls, although especially (perhaps only) for blonde girls. He describes masturbating while thinking about them, and his erections upon seeing beautiful girls with blonde hair, so no, he’s not gay. The definition of gay is that one is sexually attracted to people of the same sex, while Elliot is clearly sexually attracted to girls, the opposite sex. The reason he was unable to obtain a girlfriend is because he suffered from severe shyness and social anxiety, so he was afraid to talk to them, and his social anxiety also caused him to lack any male friends as well, and without a social network he didn’t have the opportunity to meet any girls. He also probably came off as sort of weird by the time he was college-aged. There was a vicious circle at work in which his social anxiety caused him to have no friends which means he didn’t develop social skills in high school which means he came off as weird which then made it even harder from him to make friends and served to increase his social anxiety.
It’s my feeling, after reading the autobiography, that Elliot’s life didn’t have to turn out the way it did. I don’t see any evidence that he had Asperger’s Syndrome or schizophrenia or other severe mental illness. If his parents had been more attentive when he was younger, I think they could have been able to help coax him out of shyness, and get him proper psychiatric treatment or therapy for his anxiety and neuroticism.