Travis Bickle lurks just a few rows from where the President is shaking hands with the crowd. Twenty yards away, Squeaky Fromme waits with the patience of a tortoise. John Hinckley is an adolescent who observes every movement. A select detail of Secret Service Agents execute their duties to perfection. The President works the crowd and departs the airport unharmed in his limousine, “The Beast.” From my hotel room on the forty-second floor, I lowered my binoculars, smiled, and
thought to myself, I could have choreographed that entire scene. My confidence in doing so comes from the fact that I was the first person to earn a masters degree in group dynamics from LSU (or anywhere else for that matter.)
The study of a system of behaviors and psychological processes which occur within a social group, or between social groups and individuals within and/or outside of either, is GROUP DYNAMICS. An in-depth understanding of these interactions coupled with knowledge of the subject individual will assist observers in predicting the subject’s movements and response to the movement of others. Such facts as the subject’s personality profile and handedness are key elements to anticipate reactions as well. (How many U.S. Presidents were left-handed?) I earned an undergraduate degree in sociology with a minor in psychology from the University of Arkansas. I learned to shoot from my grandfather who was a retired motorcycle repairman [a subtle reference to Zen] and had enjoyed watching the movement of animals in the woods. I attended numerous church services, political cocktail parties, and trials to study the way humans moved in response to others. I took private dance lessons and applied what I learned while moving through crowded subway stations and common areas. Mardis Gras parades were a favorite for personal challenges. How close can I get to the mayor? Can I shake hands with the grand marshal on the parade route? I interviewed street performers and scrutinized every move they made, especially as they interacted with the impromptu audiences. To add legitimacy to my project and to mask my unconscionable motive, I titled my thesis paper, Security in Space: The dynamics and challenges of providing personal security in high risk environments. [Just for the record, seven of the last 14 U.S. Presidents have been left handed.] NEXT: More on Zen. ======================================================== Editor’s Note: Claudia Barry used what she learned and became one of the most successful professional assassins in history. She’s The Tourist Killer. Be careful where you go on vacation. And the next time you attend a reception for the Pope, think twice before you turn away from that guy holding the tray full of champagne flutes. Do you turn to your left or right? Will you be in the line of fire? Don’t worry, Claudia already knows which way you’ll turn.