What Really Inspired 'Dark Knight Rises' Shooting Suspect James Holmes? (ANALYSIS)

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Ever since James Holmes allegedly opened fire on an Aurora, Colo., theater, many have speculated that The Dark Knight Rises, the third installment of Christopher Nolan's acclaimed trilogy, influenced the 24-year-old former graduate student to turn lethal.

But new evidence suggests that Holmes — who wore red-dyed hair and told authorities he was Batman arch nemesis, The Joker — may have been inspired by a darker, more twisted cinematic take on the famed Batman comic-book tale.

The Suffocator of Sins writer-director Dave "Diggity" Aragon has claimed Holmes — who has been charged with 24 counts of first-degree murder in the July 20 mass shooting — called him a week before the Colorado tragedy and drilled him with detailed questions about his film, which portrays Batman as a heavily-armed vigilante.

“He kept pressing if I could give him more information on the story,” Aragon told KNX 1070 radio in Los Angeles, noting that Holmes claimed to have watched the movie's trailer more than 100 times.

“He wanted to know how many people Batman kills. He wanted to know if it was selective killing. Does he make a list of people he wants to kill, or is it a mass body count?”

Could the film have sparked Holmes' alleged shooting spree that killed 12 and injured 58?

It's certainly not a simple cause and effect, but Holmes' interest in Suffocator of Sins reveals the unstable state of his mind.

"Holmes' behavior, including his extreme obsession with the new 'dark, twisted' rendition of the Batman story, is similar to people suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, going through an acute psychotic breakdown," Dr. Mark Levy, a forensic psychiatrist in Mill Valley, Calif., who has not examined Holmes and cannot ethically make a diagnosis of him, told Celebuzz.

"[While] most psychotic individuals are less dangerous than the general population, acutely psychotic paranoid individuals...can be substantially more dangerous," continued Levy.

Why was Holmes such a threat? Because "he lost touch with reality during the days and weeks that led up to the Aurora shooting tragedy," reasoned Levy.

"Holmes is extremely intelligent, but his ability to interpret reality accurately was rapidly sliding downhill," Levy explained. "Imagine what it must have felt like for a super-intelligent young individual who has won accolades for his brain power and whose self-esteem no doubt was largely based upon his intellect, to be in a deteriorating state where he could no longer rely upon his perceptions of reality."

As a result, Holmes may have been trying to "impose order" on his "growing sense of internal chaos and fragmentation," said Levy.

In fact, such a deteriorating mental state was noted by Holmes' psychiatrist just one month prior to the massacre, according to Reuters. Dr. Lynne Fenton warned a threat assessment team at the University of Colorado, Denver, in early June because she was alarmed by Holmes'  behavior.

But "the committee believed — wrongly, in my opinion — that it had no authority to report him to the police once he abruptly dropped out as a student," said Levy. "[But] they had a duty under the law to do so, as did the psychiatrist, although her duty is mitigated by having reported his potential threat to a university committee charged with seriously evaluating such concerns."

Still, there remains no real sign as to why Holmes became fanatical about Batman in particular. But an answer should come to light as his trial gets underway.

"Whether he was projecting his own internal aggression onto those around him and thereby felt inaccurately threatened," explained Levy, "or whether he lost his own identity so completely into that of the Joker or other fictional villainous characters and then simply acted out according to his belief that he had become the fictional character, no one can say without talking at considerable length with Holmes and learning about his thinking."

So until psychiatrists sit down with the suspected shooter, Levy said, it is nearly impossible to completely comprehend "what went on in [Holmes'] mind during the days and weeks leading up the shooting."

Holmes, who may face the death penalty, is next due in court on September 27.

What do you think caused James Holmes to commit the Dark Knight massacre?  State your case in comment.

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  • Miss H
    Miss H

    I think he lost touch with reality!