In her book The Biology of Violence, Neuroscientist Debra Niehof, after twenty years of studying whether genes or the environment make people violent, explains that both biological and environmental factors are influences and that particular types of stimulation – such as films, News coverage, or other sorts of media, are not going to provoke violence in every consumer. It’s the individual person that is the catalyst.
Yet we have a tendency to focus on these casual links formed between the criminal and what “influenced them” rather than considering other factors that may have been at play in their lives, factors that we may have also been exposed to in our lives. Violent video-games, horror movies, heavy metal music, gothic culture, and online communities have all been labelled as bad influences in the past when violent crimes have been committed, but are these links really justified?
In 2011 Dr Kathryn Seifert wrote for Psychology Today that in her Thirty years of experience and research as a psychologist working with high-risk youth and their families she had identified numerous factors that determine whether a person is at risk for developing violent tendencies, including biological traits, family bonding, intelligence and education, child development, peer relationships, individual characteristics, cultural shaping and resiliency. She wrote
When the accumulation of negative factors (such as maltreatment, chaotic neighborhoods, or psychological problems) and the absence of positive factors (such as opportunities to be successful, adults who provide encouragement, or a resilient temperament) reach a threshold, that’s when violence is more likely to erupt as a means of coping with life’s problems.
When two Twelve-year-old girls attempt to murder a friend because they allege they believe in ‘Slenderman’ and wanted to become his Proxy’s (human servants under hiscontrol) why are people asking if we should ban or close horror related websites rather than asking how young girls can get to the position in which a belief leads them to try and kill another child?
For some it is enough to resort to headline reactions that are “Just Asking Questions” while forging unsupported casual links between criminal and inspiration, but really it’s the underlying factors that need to be explored, and it is these that are may be revealed as the investigation unfolds.
It’s easy to blame myths and to suggest that myths are dangerous and delusional, but in reality myths reflect us humans and our cultures, while Horror genres explore our most basic fears. It isn’t the myth that is dangerous, it isn’t horror that is dangerous, it is the humanity that they explore that is dangerous. You, me, everyone around us… in the right bad conditions we can all do horrendous things. It’s this, I suspect, that people find difficult to accept.
We must blame them and cause a fuss
Before somebody thinks of blaming us!