I’m including an except below from serial rapist Brent Brents’ journal that’s in my book, Diary of a Predator: A Memoir, because of its chilling self description.
But first, something from James Gilligan: “The living dead.”
-That’s a term for violent men from the book, Violence: Reflections On A National Epidemic, by James Gilligan, M.D., and it resonates with me because it’s similar to how Brent Brents describes himself.
Gilligan, who directed the Center for the Study of Violence at Harvard Medical School, is the former medical director of the Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane and was director of mental health for the Massachusetts prison system.
To call violent prison inmates “the living dead” is not a metaphor he invented, Gilligan says in his book; rather, it’s a summary of how the men describe themselves, that they cannot feel anything, that their souls are dead.
He goes on to write, “They have dead souls because their souls were murdered. How did it happen?”
The answer, Gilligan says, was “a degree of violence and cruelty…in childhood…so extreme and unusual that it gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘child abuse.'”
Which is exactly how Brent Brents was created–horrific and habitual child abuse. And it doesn’t excuse his actions, but it certainly helps explain them, and understanding violence takes us one step closer toward preventing it.
As for the self description written by Brent Brents, I begin the start of nearly every chapter of Diary of a Predator: A Memoir with an excerpt from one of his letters or from his journal (which is also featured in large portions throughout the rest of the book). This is at the start of chapter One, A Hunter at Work:
I could easily be Bundy i think he had the same fucked up
brain the release was never Achievable. What realy hurts me
deep is that there are a few things and people I can sincerely
care for and love and would never hurt but the rest of Gods
Green earth is fair Game. I am truly a fucked up dangerous
person and were the opportunities to present themselves I
would act. It hurts me to admit this. I am sorry for hurting
all those other people, Truly but how can i be any kind of
Good or decent if i cant stop my mind from Working Like it
does. I look back to when i was a kid and i realy think i went
crazy. Death is the only solution to this.
—From Brent’s journal