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 The Divided Mind: Eric Harris

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PostSubject: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeFri Jul 12, 2013 8:44 am

I guess you can call this a companion piece to the piece I did on Dylan, which can also be found in this subforum. This piece was a lot harder to get just right, with three early drafts and attempts landing in the trashcan, but I am quite pleased with the way it turned out in the end. I hope this, too, will have some value.


The Divided Mind: Eric Harris

Eric Harris had already seen a lifetime of places before he ever set foot in Littleton, Colorado. It is unlikely that he remembered his place of birth, Wichita in Kansas, with any amount of detail. When he was two years old, the Harris family moved to Beavercreek in Ohio. It was there that Eric first began to attend school. Little is known about these early years. Eric himself never mentioned Wichita or Beavercreek in any of the writings we can access at this point in time. It is likely that both places were distant specks of memory for him: random childhood moments in places he had barely any recollection of. He never visibly attached himself to these two places the way he would to the other two he lived in before his arrival in Colorado.

In 1989, the Harris family moved to Michigan. It is this place, Oscoda, that Eric mentions more than once during his later stay in Littleton. Instead of living on-base, the Harrises chose to live off-base in a rural area where deer would often graze in the flower gardens. The family home was surrounded by woodland and positioned in the direct vicinity of Cedar Lake. By all accounts, it was a beautiful area to live and grow up in. There were few neighbours, but enough kids his age for Eric to play with. In Oscoda, the Harrises stood out because both parents always attended every school conference. They were involved in their children’s lives. Eric’s fifth-grade teacher from that time states that she could sense which students would grow up to chase trouble, but that Eric “was not one of them”.

It is my belief that a small part of Eric never truly left Oscoda behind. His writings, as done for classes in both freshman and sophomore year at Columbine, detail his stay in Oscoda and the subsequent loss of his friends. Eric’s writing is on the verge of a different kind of homesickness: he yearns for those years of his childhood he may never experience again. Perhaps it was the ease with which life in Oscoda formed itself that he missed so dearly later on in life. He spent most of his days in Michigan roaming the woods with his friends, building (snow)fortresses or riding around on bikes, and immersed himself in that ‘wild’ state of being completely. It is perhaps too early in his life to state that his later fascination with guns, explosives, and battle already found an outlet in the games he played with kids back in Michigan.

Many young boys at the age of Oscoda-based Eric have some type of fascination for battle and will engage in mock fights quite a bit. It is a near-heroic state of being for many: part-emulation of whichever characters are made available to them through media outlets and part-invincibility brought on only by the immortality of childhood itself. It is in their battlefields where they can be anyone they wish: the hero, the centrepiece of whatever story, the team vanquishing evil, even the nameless ‘bad guy’. More often than not, though, the ‘bad guy’ does not have a face or a physical presence in the actual play. Instead, the ‘bad guy’ is an archetype that encompasses all early childhood worries. It is the bogeyman, the monster beneath the bed, the shadows in the closet, and all those other nightmarish figures children want to empower themselves against.

For Eric, the mock fights he had with childhood friends in Michigan were still innocent. None of these archetypical battles showed the level of hatred and the desire to truly hurt another the way the actual battle later on in Littleton did. Oscoda-based Eric had his whole life ahead of him and was on top of his self-designed world. Even in the description of the basement tapes, Eric still speaks of Michigan with equal amounts of warmth and sadness. It is here where he expresses one of his very few spoken regrets: he wishes he could have seen ‘old friends’ from Michigan one last time. Oscoda empowered a little boy and made him feel like he could do anything, be anyone, and be loved for whoever he chose to be and what he chose to do.

He did not have enough power to stop his family from moving yet again. This time, the Harris family moved from Oscoda to Plattsburgh in New York. It is of this time in Eric’s earlier years that we know most. Friends from Plattsburgh would later on describe him as ‘just a regular kid’ and said that he was ‘a nice, smart guy’. At this point in time, however, Eric was so timid that he sometimes struggled to communicate with his peers. A former teammate from baseball has stated that “Eric was the shyest out of everybody” and “he was kind of the total opposite from his older brother”. His former coach went on to state that Eric “was afraid to strike out on the field and let his teammates down”. It struck the coach as “him really wanting to fit in”. As a kid from the base, his friends were a diverse bunch and included several minorities he would later spew hatred against.

What happened between Oscoda and Plattsburgh to change the forest-dwelling independent fighter into the timid boy who barely communicated with his peers? It is my belief that the move itself is what ate away at Eric. He was taken from a place he loved dearly and thrown into an entirely different group of people again. Gone were his friends he could rely on: he would have to make new ones in a group of children who’d already had the time to establish most of their friendships before Eric ever came along. He had to adjust, quite rapidly, to a new bunch of kids with different ideas and ways of play.

Yet, Plattsburgh posed few actual lasting problems. Eric seems to have been well-liked by virtually everyone who knew him there. He was described as “sweet” and adjusted to the existing groups of friends with relative ease. He did his best to not stand out from the crowd in a way that would make his peers dislike him. His initial shyness did not stop him from making friends of his own, nor did it stop him from ‘dating’ a Jewish girl his age. Eric was given the time to adjust to life in Plattsburgh. I don’t believe that he would have minded staying there at all. After his move to Littleton, Eric even goes as far as to let a friend from Plattsburgh know that “it is no fun here”.

That phrase would later become the key defining moment of Eric’s move from Plattsburgh to Littleton. His older brother, Kevin, enrolled as a freshman in Columbine right after the move. He was quickly accepted into the community at school, especially because he involved himself in playing football at the same time. For Eric, however, the move meant that he would have to make new friends yet again. He was placed in Ken Caryl Middle School somewhere after the move in the fall of 1993.

It was at Ken Caryl where he would first meet Dylan Klebold. Dylan, often described as ‘painfully shy’, had lived in Littleton all his life. Yet, he was just as much on the fringes of school life as Eric was. Some people have said that Eric recognised a part of himself in Dylan. I am inclined to agree with them. It is uncertain when the boys actually met for the first time, or how they initially bonded. I think that their initial connection was formed over mutual interests: both were smart, computer-savvy kids. Both were described as ‘shy’ in the early years of their lives: Eric eventually grew out of it; Dylan did not.

It is hard to tell where the first cracks in Eric’s armour of ‘nice, polite guy’ began to show. He displayed a certain quirky sense of humour that eventually turned into a more biting, scathing way of handling everyday life in Littleton. Ken Caryl seems to have posed relatively little difficulties as far as adjusting to life in Colorado was concerned. We certainly don’t know enough from those days in order to pinpoint a moment where Eric’s later anger already showed itself. But then came Columbine, and with Columbine slowly came the conviction that not a single amount of peer pressure was going to have him change who he was.

Columbine has frequently been referred to as a school of cliques. The picture painted of Columbine in the media following the massacre is somewhat worrying: the athletes, being the biggest and ‘toughest’ group in school, frequently ‘got away’ with behaviour that would otherwise not have been tolerated. Bullying was at an all-time high in Columbine. The need to conform to a specific way of being was much higher in this school than it had been in Eric’s past schools. You’d either fit in, or be on the outskirts of the group forever. Eric did not appreciate it in the slighest.

As early as 1996, Eric began to slowly push back against the constraints of Columbine and the expectations his peers placed on him. He took a fellow freshman to the homecoming dance, but she later on remembered him as “nervous and quiet”. Eric was said to have liked this girl a lot. There was nothing odd about the way he acted, until she broke things off with him a few days after the dance and Eric staged his own suicide in response. It is not easy to tell what drove him to this extremity. My best guess, at this point in time, is that she passed judgment on a part of his character and rejected him outright for being who he was. She was not the only one who met a different side of the coin where Eric was concerned. Eric did not take kindly to rejection. He did not take kindly to what he perceived as ignorance. If he felt people wronged him, for whatever reason, he shut them out of his life seemingly forever.

Eric grew more outspoken and confident in his sophomore year at Columbine. Yet, he still kept to the fringes of the social circles. He watched everybody. He observed those around him – and found them lacking. Eric often showed flashes of his actual intellect in classes. One classmate stated that she just “remembered him as the kid in the corner with his hand up all the time”. He was a B-plus student who seemingly loved to learn and educate himself further. Eric, unlike Dylan, did not downplay his intellect anywhere. He did not become an underachiever, even when that might have been the more socially acceptable way of handling his position in class. Eric’s wit and his writing style were, perhaps, his saving grace in Columbine.

Yet, Eric was wholly desillusioned with the system at the same time. He watched in anger as some of the more popular cliques in Columbine claimed all right and privilege. He believed that administrators and teachers simply turned a blind eye to these occurrences. (It is an opinion that is largely supported by some of the articles on Columbine’s school culture that have come out since the massacre.) Eric, too, turned on some people he had previously considered to be acquaintances or friends. He seemingly turned on people for minor things (an argument about a girl, or a discussion about the pranks he pulled) and shut people out the moment he knew they did not see eye to eye with him. It has been said that you should either ‘get with his program or walk away’.

Perhaps this ‘wall-building’ was a result of Eric’s growing feeling of being alone. Why be connected to everyone who tries to fit into a society that does not work? Why go out of your way to be friends with anyone when all they give in return are looks of confusion and perhaps even judgment? He never speaks of this loneliness with as many words as he gave to his hatred and anger. It is very clear that Eric begins both his website and his journal from a place of fueled rage. He rallies against society’s expectations, the constraints he felt were being put on him, and speaks of the human race at large with equal amounts of disdain and exasperation. His journal does show his personal, truthful thoughts most of the time. But it is also an exercise in showmanship. Eric knew exactly who his audience would be by the time he made his first entry on 4/10/98. He knew which parts of his journal should be amplified in their rage. He knew which parts would be read as most concerning. His entire journal reads as a showcase of every single dark thought that ever crossed his mind, which is then expressed in exactly the ways that has led to many believing him to be a run-of-the-mill psychopath.

It is, perhaps, no great wonder that most of the general public believes Eric to be the leader of the two boys. Eric had learned to be careful in what he could possibly get away with. He attempted to uphold an image of the unflappable liar, even going as far as to turn the blame over to Dylan for their van break-in. Eric states in his journal that he lies “to keep my own ass out of the water”. He had learned how to calculate the risk of the lies he told and was seemingly able to pull himself out of trouble when the situation called for it. He was careful to never let his mask slip. In November 1998, he shows the true depth of his awareness concerning his own actions by stating “I might need to put on one helluva mask here to fool you all some more”. It is the only time Eric is visibly concerned about possibly losing control over the front he was putting up for others.

Putting up a mask was what Eric did best. He never fully adjusted to the moving around as much as his older brother seemingly did. He was tired of always being ‘the new kid’ and always having to work extra for his friendships. Eric had suffered more than one devastating loss of people he felt connected with over the years. When the time finally came for him to settle down for a longer stretch of time, he was forced to try and settle into a community that never truly wanted him there. And he did try to make the most out of it, for what it was worth, but he could never again reclaim that carefree space he had inhabited back in Oscoda. He would never roam those woods again, or act out his imagination with like-minded peers, or be able to go back to when life was a lot less complicated.

He did try to return to that safe haven of childhood in some of his writing and interactions with other people. Those attempts are all hidden inside his subtle mentions of the sky, the stars and being the only person on Earth. For Eric, the sky was liberation: he even wishes he could fly. The stars were his fixed points in time and space and served as a reminder that the universe was still organised no matter how chaotic things got down here. They were also, perhaps, symbol for the life that awaited him after leaving this earthly plane behind. His dreams of being the only person on Earth neatly tie in with his mention of maybe wanting to leave the more tribal and primitive tribes of our planet behind in the wake of ‘civilised society’s destruction’. Eric had no real hatred of this Earth, after all, and only mentioned the human race itself as being “doomed”.

Eric wanted life to be organised. He wanted everything to be clear-cut and based off of facts. Nothing irked him more than having people blindly accept something as true without stopping to think for themselves. He did not want the human race to be sheep, but sheep were almost everywhere around him. Eric was finally given Luvox as a means with which he might be able to “stop thinking about so many things” and as a tool to help him stop his anger in time. His mind was in absolute uproar about it and filled up one entry in his journal with how he did not want his gained awareness to go away only to be replaced by mindlessly taking up his spot in society. However, Eric was found to have therapeutic levels of that very same drug in his system at the time of his death. It is my belief that the Luvox may have honed Eric’s focus on his destructive thoughts considerably. It did not take away any of his thoughts, as he had previously feared, but created a level of focus for him that he had not possessed earlier.

His mental health evaluation, filled in after the van break-in, is very telling as well. Eric lists his problems honestly for maybe one of the first times ever: anger, anxiety, authority figures, depression, disorganised thoughts, homicidal thoughts (the cross he made here is less clear), jealousy, loneliness, mood swings, obsessive thoughts, racing thoughts, stress, suspiciousness, and temper. In contrast, his parents list only three concerns: anger, depression, and suicidal thoughts. It is a testament to the mask Eric put up even around his own family. The absence of the suicidal tag in Eric’s part of the evaluation is, however, maybe most telling of all. It was the part of himself that was the greatest dichotomy: the almighty ‘Gott’ willing himself to die.

Eric didn’t know how to handle himself. He didn’t know what to do with all his thoughts and emotions, especially not because he believed there was no safe outlet in his environment for anything he felt and thought. So, instead, he created an outlet inside himself for him to shove all his thoughts and bubbling rage into. Over time, Eric amplified a part of himself that he would designate as ‘Reb’. It is in this ‘Reb’-part of him that we see the greatest rage, hatred, and obsessions. It seemed to work okay, at first. Eric was able to maintain a level of normalcy and keep ‘Reb’ in check at the same time. But ‘Reb’ quickly got the upper hand. There were simply too many frustrations and thoughts for Eric himself to control. There came a time when Eric was barely hanging by a thread trying to wrestle the wheel of control out of the hands of a part of himself he could not manage. He was hurt by his ostracisation from “so many fun things”. He was desperate to connect to anyone in the months prior to 4/20/99.

He would never again regain full control over himself. His desperation to connect only found a listening ear in his comrade-in-arms: Dylan. Dylan never abandoned Eric for anything. Throughout all of it, Dylan was the only constant in the last year of Eric’s life. But Dylan, too, was a troubled child. Dylan brought scattered ideas and lost feelings to the table the two shared. Eric had the focused mind to gather up every single one of those ideas, improve upon them, add to them, and create the final destructive plan out of them. He finally had a place to belong in, again, and he did not want to see that place slip away from him anymore. The lonely child met the lost child and so ensured that all the world would feel the remnants and repercussions of their solitude and desolation.

On what would be the final days of his life, Eric expressed his regret about not being able to go back to Michigan. He had left his heart behind in the woods of Oscoda a long time ago. It is said that a tear rolled down his cheek at the mention of ‘goodbye’ to that long-lost part of his life. Perhaps it is to Oscoda where he returned in his final moments on this Earth, too, when all the carefully crafted plans had backfired and the glorious triumph had lost most of its allure and shine. This one thing is the only lasting impression we have of the boy who once fashioned himself king of the world: when Eric Harris put the barrel of his shotgun in his mouth, he did not show much hesitation. He was positioned right next to the only boy who had willingly extended his hand to him in friendship and brotherhood. He was next to his comrade-in-arms, who’d been the only lifeline for a time in Columbine. He pulled the trigger in a way that was sure to leave him dead, and for just this once there was no more confusion in his mind. All was silent.

An investigator later stated that the quiet that reigned inside the school after the massacre was one of the most eerie feelings she had had in her entire life. “Schools aren’t supposed to be quiet,” she said. Then, she noticed all the little things that were out of place. “It’s just that feeling of heaviness in your feet and thinking: do I have to take another step?”

The final step made by the divided mind inside the school was one of certainty. There would be no coming back from this. No lasting divine pedestal for the lonely child. It was all he had left to give the world: death. That of others, and that of his own.
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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeFri Jul 12, 2013 9:34 am

I still think you did an amazing job on this. (I guess you know who I am on tumblr... lol)
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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeFri Jul 12, 2013 10:53 am

I think I prefer this one to the one on Dylan. It kind of bummed me out at the end, so that's obviously a credit to your writing.
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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeFri Jul 12, 2013 10:24 pm

Absolutely incredible post!! I really enjoyed reading this even though some parts made me a bit sad.
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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeSat Jul 13, 2013 5:55 am

Thank you all very much! (And, yes, Übermensch, I think I know who you are now that you've said this!) Smile I have heard from one or two others that they prefer this one to the one on Dylan, which surprises me because I got really frustrated about this piece and ranted to quite a few people about it. I think it ended up sounding a little more melancholic, maybe, because I couldn't shake a very strong image of Eric as a little boy while writing some of it. The feeling of 'wanting to belong' was a lot stronger than it should've been, to the point where I feared it was getting in the way of remaining objective. I'm glad to hear this piece has been an enjoyable read, though!
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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeMon Nov 11, 2013 3:46 pm

Excellent work.
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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeTue Nov 12, 2013 7:48 pm

Your writing evokes that melancholy feeling in your readers. Very interesting analysis /synthesis overall. I'd read any piece by this author!

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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeFri Nov 15, 2013 5:11 am

Thank you both! Smile (JayJay, I doubt you'd read my usual crazy non-Columbine-related messes. ;) But thank you for the compliment all the same.)
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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeSat Dec 09, 2017 7:18 pm

what you have written above, OP is why i feel so sorry for Eric. Wow, this moved me to tears. Crying or Very sad
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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeWed Dec 13, 2017 8:46 pm

Who wrote this?
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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeThu Dec 14, 2017 4:41 am

Guest wrote:
I guess you can call this a companion piece to the piece I did on Dylan, which can also be found in this subforum. This piece was a lot harder to get just right, with three early drafts and attempts landing in the trashcan, but I am quite pleased with the way it turned out in the end. I hope this, too, will have some value.


I really enjoyed reading this, good job!
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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeThu Dec 14, 2017 6:41 am

  


Last edited by Guest83142 on Wed Jul 05, 2023 1:52 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeThu Dec 14, 2017 7:25 am

he had a jewish gf,asian& co friends how is he a racist?
his journal was 100% without but for audience!
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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeThu Dec 14, 2017 9:58 am

Rebbie556 wrote:
he had a jewish gf,asian& co friends  how is he a racist?
his journal  was 100% without but for audience!


Yeah I agree, I will never, ever, ever believe he was racist. Eric's journal was a mask of what he pretended to be, his whole REB persona was a mask of who he pretended to be - out of hurt, anger and a form of mental illness. Just like Dylan was never racist. If I have been abused by other whites, blacks, Hispanics, etc., well then along with me hating all other whites, I'm going to hate blacks, Hispanics - (minorities) too and call those minorities every nasty racial slur I can think of. Doesn't mean I'm racist, it just means those minorities are the ones I've been hurt by so I'm lashing out at them.

But I seem to think with Eric, he vacillated between being racist and hating those who were racist. Because if you're a racist, you're in no way going to hate those who are racist, you're not going to be a hypocrite in any way, you're going to be racist. Look at the Alt-right movement, the Nazi's, the KKK, they don't hate racists at all, they love them, same as BLM, that racist group doesn't hate those who are racist against whites, they love those who are racist against whites.

So if Eric was a true, genuine racist, he would have never been friends with them at any time and there would have been no entries in his journal period of him being hypocritical and hating racists, but that journal entry of him hating racists is there because deep down, he doesn't want to hate/dislike blacks, Hispanics and other minorities, but those minorities are among the ones who have hurt and angered him so therefore he lashes out at them, despite him hating racists himself.
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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeThu Dec 14, 2017 10:13 am

42099_4EVA wrote:
Rebbie556 wrote:
he had a jewish gf,asian& co friends  how is he a racist?
his journal  was 100% without but for audience!


Yeah I agree, I will never, ever, ever believe he was racist. Eric's journal was a mask of what he pretended to be, his whole REB persona was a mask of who he pretended to be - out of hurt, anger and a form of mental illness.

I wholeheartedly agree with this. What Eric showed on the outside was vastly different then what he hid on the inside. He invented and used "Reb" as a shield to protect himself.

I have always thought this was very much like a split personality type thing.
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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeThu Dec 14, 2017 2:02 pm

Awesome post!
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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeThu Dec 14, 2017 4:10 pm

ShadowedGoddess wrote:
I wholeheartedly agree with this. What Eric showed on the outside was vastly different then what he hid on the inside. He invented and used "Reb" as a shield to protect himself.

I have always thought this was very much like a split personality type thing.

I don't think it was a split personality in the literal sense. It was just who he wanted to be.

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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeThu Dec 14, 2017 4:51 pm

QuestionMark wrote:
ShadowedGoddess wrote:
I wholeheartedly agree with this. What Eric showed on the outside was vastly different then what he hid on the inside. He invented and used "Reb" as a shield to protect himself.

I have always thought this was very much like a split personality type thing.

I don't think it was a split personality in the literal sense. It was just who he wanted to be.

He wanted to be a racist jerk? Why would he want that? Perhaps he created REB because he wanted REB to be a shield for all the hurt he was facing. *shrug* I don't know...
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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeThu Dec 14, 2017 6:07 pm

42099_4EVA wrote:
He wanted to be a racist jerk? Why would he want that? 

The alternative was being the "weird looking Eric kid". Being a vicious homicidal bastard gives him the power he wanted.

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PostSubject: Re: The Divided Mind: Eric Harris   The Divided Mind: Eric Harris Icon_minitimeThu Dec 14, 2017 6:16 pm

or maybe not the power but the shield he needed to hide his pain behind. He could hide his pain behind this shield that was made of rage, anger and viciousness, in order to lash out at the ones hurting him.
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