The Motivation of Martin Bryant

Date: Sat, 01 Jun 96 20:43:06 0000
From: (Julian Palmer)
Subject: Article on Martin Bryant

Hi there,
Yours is the only Port Arthur site I could find on the net. Here is an
article I wrote one week after it happened. I submitted it to various
newspapers, but it wasn't published. Maybe they found it too
controversial or opinionated or they found the whole thing disagreeable
or unsuitable. Maybe you will too, but you may find it interesting
enough to put on your site.


White Bubble
Po Box 1000
Dodges Ferry
Tasmania 7173
1240 words, Copyright, 1996 Julian Palmer

The Motivation of Martin Bryant

The day after the shooting of 35 people at Port Arthur, his picture was on the front page of every major Australian newspaper. He was a young man, with long blonde hair and blue eyes. On the newsstand every photo of him looked different; each in different sizes and color separations. One one front page his eyes looked like that of one of those cutout 19th men in Monty Python cartoons. He was looking indifferently at the camera and his head was tilted curiously to one side with empty eyes. This showed a clear sign that he was a schizoid personality type.

A person who with a schizoid personality disorder does not feel. They are usually pale and quiet people who seem a little strange to others. Their head is usually tilted to one side, so it looks like that person is continually being hung by a noose. Their life is usually traumatic and strange; a series of fantasies and failures. They usually display inappropriate emotional reactions to events. They have difficulty in forming relationships with others. They are usually reasonably intelligent. But the overwhelming factor in their life is that they do not feel; they have little capacity for pleasure. They do not experience emotion; they have no heart. A person such as this is usually acutely sensitive and vulnerable to their environment, so they are shaped very easily. They often feel a pain so great they block it off along with the rest of their life. Martin Bryant is a classic schizoid personality type; he is not "paranoid" or "schizophrenic" in the way that most other people are diagnosed as. His case is very unusual and complex. After the event, nobody knew what to make of Martin Bryant. People who knew him described him as a lovely, gentle and kind person. One said that she couldn't imagine how the Martin Bryant she knew could have killed all those people. Others said he was strange, with steely cold blue eyes.

Martin Bryant was set adrift in this culture with nothing to do and nowhere to go. He had plenty of money and big house, but he was very lonely. He once joked to someone that all he needed was a girlfriend and then his life would be complete. At the time of the shooting he had been involved with a girl for two months.There was nothing in this culture for him. There was nothing he wanted. He didn't have an occupation; who knows how he spent his days? He jumped up and down in joy at the first day of a TAFE course. He thought perhaps that would give him an opportunity to express himself in some productive occupation. He lied to people about being a carpenter. He once went to Disneyland, but came back after three days because it was raining. He travelled to London and spent a week there shopping and taking high tea. Perhaps the only thing that excited him or interested at all him were guns. Martin Bryant wasn't angry at anyone in particular. Who could he blame for his empty life? Who was responsible for shaping him the way he was? His father who beat him had recently died in mysterious circumstances and his mentor and virtual mother Miss Harvey had also died recently in car accident. He had nobody to blame for who he had become. He only expressed strange throwaway lines of "I'll kill you" to various people. He was angry at life more than anything else. He was angry at all people for how he was; a useless and nonliving creature.

And so he struck back; choosing Port Arthur as the site of his revenge. It was here that he was brought up and it was here that he believed that he became what he was.People have said that he was sometimes like a silly child and at other times like a rational adult. Seemingly split between two characters. On the one hand he was a child who had never really grown up, who froze his emotional development at a certain level of maturity. And on the other hand he was a normal, adult, rational member of society who could appear as sane as anybody. People said he was angry become a different person; capable of anything. But he never allowed himself to fully express the anger deep inside him; even when shooting those people. He shot each person in a calculated and deliberate way. His anger was frozen within him and was expressed mutely. The gun expressed it for him because he didn't know how to do it for himself. For him, shooting those people was the thrill of his life. It was pleasurable to destroy life in itself; it was fun to have the power and the expression he felt denied to him before. To him it was a huge creative expression.

By all accounts Martin Bryant was a very passive and subservient young man; following Miss Harvey around, and doing all the chores for her. He appeared to most people as a very pleasant young man, perhaps a little odd. It seems his only real interest was guns. As static objects they are cold, steely and characterless. Like Martin Bryant, they have no soul. Yet guns can be very aggressive and powerful. A gun makes a person very powerful. And power was something that he didn't have; no power over his own life or over the lives of others. He had no power in himself, no power to do or be anything in his life.

Martin Bryant is not evil. He is not a bad person. He is not a representation of societies' evil. He represents something more common and therefore perhaps more sinister. Because it is nothing so easy to define as evil. Martin Bryant has no heart; he has no soul. He is a representation of soullessness, insensitivity, repression and powerlessness. Through those characteristics Martin Bryant created pain and suffering. He created pain and suffering fromh powerlessness; from his own worthless life.It wasn't the availability of guns that allowed Martin Bryant to kill those people. A person who is obsessed with guns would find an appropriate gun, if it was legal or not. It is not the violence on television or videos that motivated Martin Bryant to kill those people. Martin Bryant was fascinted by the horror movie "Child's Play 2" because it empowered him. He is just like "Chucky"; a seemingly friendly, harmless, childish, inert and powerless character. He enjoyed the fact that a thing with these characteristics can get its own back and take revenge and express itself.

In the end, what killed those people was a human being who had no power or ability to express himself appropriately either emotionally, physically and mentally. His act had arisen from that and nothing else.

The young Australian male has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. The Australian male is stereotypically not meant to express emotion, he is not meant to have needs and he is always supposed to present a tough exterior. When Martin Bryant killed each of those people he displayed these characteristics; but he killed people, with a complete lack of sensitivity or moral intelligence as if he were performing a routine chore. It was as if he was acting out the sensibilities of those whom he killed and all the people he lived among.

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