It's no surprise to anyone that I am obsessed with crime, true crime, blood and murder (yikes)! But I am not alone. Ryan Murphy's new show on Netflix, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is causing quite a buzz, accruing more than 700 Million hours viewed! Apparently this is news because I have been interviewed TWICE in the last week about this phenomenon. I will post both the videos below, but also include some of the information I've gleaned from reading about this.
On September 29 I was interviewed by Emerson Lehmann of CBS58 in Milwaukee. Given that Dahmer killed many people here in Milwaukee, this was very relevant. Here is a link to that video and story.
Check out Raphael lounging to the left of me in the frame, lol!
This morning I was interviewed by Alex Livingston of The Morning Rush/Newsy, a digital news outlet headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. This interview was a little longer, and again, you can see Raphael lounging on my purple chair!
Here's the upshot of most interviews:
1. WHY ARE SO MANY PEOPLE FASCINATED WITH TRUE CRIME AND SERIAL KILLERS LIKE JEFFREY DAHMER?
Because evil fascinates us - We want to figure out what drove these people to this extreme act, and what makes them tick, because we'd never actually commit murder. Also the fascination with train wrecks, traffic accidents and natural disasters. It’s hard to look away.
Because it helps us feel prepared - From an evolutionary perspective, people are more likely to pay attention to emotionally charged information in order to avoid threats to survival, which may help explain why many are drawn toward violent content. Women, in particular, seem to love true crime, and many report that they’re getting tips about how to increase their chances of survival if they find themselves in a dangerous situation.
Because we’re trying to solve the mystery - Humans like puzzles, and true crime shows and podcasts get our brains going. Others are fascinated by the science. “By following an investigation on TV, people can play armchair detective and see if they can figure out ‘whodunit’ before law enforcement authorities catch the actual killer.
Because we like to be scared … in a controlled way.
2. EXPLAIN WHAT WATCHING "DAHMER" CAN POTENTIALLY DO TO YOUR MENTAL HEALTH?
Some studies indicate that viewing aggression activates regions of the brain responsible for regulating emotions, including aggression. Most people however, will not be triggered to kill other people.
Sometimes after watching a lot of violence, we can habituate to it, and the more we watch, the easier it is to digest (sorry for the Dahmer pun).
3. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THE PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE THE DAHMER SERIES IS DOING A DISSERVICE TO THE VICTIMS AND THEIR FAMILIES?
It's a big problem that the victims' families are often still around and not consulted. They feel exploited by shows like this that sensationalize the killer. They cannot escape the social media and the 24-hour news cycle and it can be terribly traumatizing.
4. WHAT IS THE CORRELATION BETWEEN THE RISE OF MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS TO THIS TYPE OF ENTERTAINMENT?
Often these shows demonize mental illness. It’s important for viewers to carefully critique these shows and understand what they are being fed by the media. While many serial killers may have mental illness, most people with mental illness are not serial killers or violent, for that matter.
5. AT WHAT POINT SHOULD A PERSON STOP CONSUMING TRUE CRIME RELATED CONTENT?
If watching true crime is interfering in your life, such as giving you nightmares or you're afraid to leave the house, you should probably take a break. 6. EXPLAIN WHY WE MAY ACTUALLY FEEL EMPATHY TOWARDS JEFFREY DAHMER?
Good television can trigger a variety of emotions in us, particularly when we find ourselves rooting for or having empathy for the "bad guy", i.e., Tony Soprano, Walter White, Barry. Ryan Murphy portrays Dahmer in a way that shows him feeling guilt, regret and maybe even compassion. His goal was not to torture his victims, he drugged them so that they wouldn't feel pain, and he even got baptized in jail. Compared to John Wayne Gacy, he was an alter boy.
Hope you're enjoying Psychoanalyzing The Patient! Lindsay and I are having so much fun and hope to bring you more Psychoanalyzing of other shows soon!