“There are some people who are more codependent in terms of mindset that think, ‘Oh, this poor soul. I can fix him. I can be important in his life,'” she said.

Another possibility is that those writing to Cruz may be desensitized to violence through their own lives, Ludwig said.

“They’re attracted to the danger. They like somebody who is dangerous. They grew up in violence. They’re desensitized to it and, in some cases, it’s vicariously thrilling.”