Art and violence

Yesterday I read this article by super famous film critic, Roger Ebert, about news coverage, not movies, being the reason why some people go berserk and stuff. And it got me thinking.

Could art influence people in such a way that they start shooting each other? Do we absorb the violence we see in movies and video games? Do we try to apply what we see in the real world?


It really is fascinating to see that some people believe that we can’t really discern what’s real from what’s not, that we don’t understand that the general convention of art is that it’s not true. As close as art and the real life are, we know art only mimics real life. And it does show for a reason. To transmit a message.

Now that’s the closest to being true anyone who feels that violence in art instigates to violence will ever be. Art, in all its forms, has the ability to transmit a message to an audience. The better the art, the more receptive the audience. But most people are just missing the point.

As long as you UNDERSTAND and ACKNOWLEDGE that any fictional universe (in a movie, a video game, a book, etc.) is inherently DIFFERENT than the real world, everything’s fine.

When you can’t tell the difference anymore, that’s when you’ve got a problem.

Simply put, some people have issues. And I strongly believe that those people see what they want to see. It’s one hell of a coping mechanism… they blame something (or someone) else for their own choices. Not that a guy who walks into a school and starts shooting people is completely capable of understanding what his own choices mean. Or the effect they have on others.

It’s also one of the oldest and most persistent of illusions. That we are not responsible for our actions.

But the truth is, people kill other people. Not ideas, ideals, subliminal messages, or video games. And, once again, I have to agree with Roger Ebert. News coverage depict our world. It’s not made belief what we’re seeing on our TV screens. Now, that’s real; it happened.

The convention no longer exists.

What we see on TV, what we are told is news, that’s what influences people. And it’s not a call to action, like most people would say about violent movies. I don’t think a news anchor ever said, “some guy killed 20 people in a shopping mall today. You should do the same.”

A good analogy might be that of martial arts training. You acquire a certain set of skills that make you quite dangerous. If you get good at it, you can easily kill a man. You could use those skills to do a lot of harm. More so, the way you acquire those skills is equally fascinating.

You learn to fight by fighting.

But it doesn’t make you into a violent person. On the contrary. The best fighters, the ones who could do some serious harm, are the ones who are incredibly calm in real life.

Because there’s this convention. The gym it’s not the same as real life. They’re two distinct worlds. You don’t use the skills you acquired in the ring, just because you understand that different principles apply. You understand social rules, laws, and you even have a general understanding of what human rights mean.

If you’re mentally stable, you understand those rules and conventions anyhow. No matter what type of movies you watch. No matter how many times you’ve read Lolita, you still not a pedophile. Maybe because you genuinely like people, or maybe because you’re afraid of what might happen if you do break those rules and start shooting people with a machine gun.

It doesn’t really matter, as long as you obey the rules.

Now, that’s another interesting thing. Because a lot of people think that if a video game, where you can kill people, doesn’t punish you for doing so, or even rewards you, then it means that that video game is telling people that it’s okay to kill, that they won’t get punished.

Try reading the last sentence out loud.

Basically, anyone who thinks that is saying that people are stupid animals. Or worse, actually. If we can’t understand the difference between the real world and a video game, we’re just wasting our time on this planet, actually. But most of us don’t mix the two up. We never do.

Most of us understand how this world works.

So we’re really talking about mentally unstable people. The ones who don’t understand the most basic of concepts.

Those who intend to do harm will do so regardless of what movies they watch, or video games they play. They do so because they want to.

In the end, we’re the only ones responsible for our actions. Whether we like to admit it or not, we always have a choice. We can see as much as we want, we can understand as little as we like. We’re always as free as we want. The only thing that keeps this world from breaking apart is that some think about the consequences. Or care about them. Or are just afraid of them.

49 comments on “Art and violence

  1. Another great post. Makes me think of the story of Arjuna and Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita…

  2. You have some good points, and we are indeed responsible for our own actions, but media violence does affect us. I'm a grad student in journalism/communications, and violence in media is one of the most widely studied areas of communication research. The correlation between smoking and lung cancer is just under 0.4; the correlation between watching media violence and aggressive behavior is 0.3, stronger than calcium intake and bone density, secondhand smoke and cancer, lead exposure and decreased IQ scores in children, homework and academic achievement. There are several major communication theories that explain how consumption of violent media affects us – social cognitive theory and cultivation theory are two of them.

    While most certainly not everyone who watches violent media commits crimes – as with most other behaviors, there are a myriad of factors at work – there are very real effects from these media.

    Let me know if you want more info – I'm happy to provide it.

    • Well put, myinnermissmelly — I so agree.

    • beccakinla says:

      I agree with myinnermissmelly's points and would like to add another:

      The line between art/escape/media and reality has become ambiguous in our day and age. "Reality" TV (as well, frankly, as contemporary, biased media coverage) blurs the line between entertainment and objective reality. Video games are not just viewed–the player interacts with the format to the point of immersion.

      There's even a theory (by the late professor Alan Paskow) that the characters portrayed in art and media achieve as sort of semi-real state in that people identify with and interact with them. I remember being a lonely child feeling almost as if characters like Anne of Green Gables and Elizabeth Bennet were my friends. I wanted to grow up and be Indiana Jones.

      If you see someone who's a know-it-all, you might call them a "Cliff Clavin" (after the character on Cheers).

      One of the best evidences of this is that when you read a book, sometimes the character does something, and you think, "X would NEVER have done that!" or "Of COURSE X is going to do this next!" because the portrayal of the character was so clear to you that you felt you knew and understood them.

      Yes, you have to be mentally unbalanced to kill people or the like. But–as myinnermissmelly says–that doesn't mean more subtle evils don't penetrate our lives. And, frankly, a lot of people are mentally ill, or never really developed emotional health beyond 10 year olds.

  3. Tiffani says:

    I think you make an excellent point in regards to art and violence. Beyond the developmental stage of about 10 years, the human brain begins very critically divide all reality from fiction. Even during the teenage years, the maturity that is being wrestled with is about making choices, not about separating the unreal from the tangible. Humans don't see a screen filled with violence, as in a Tarantino movie, and begin to believe that there is a command in it to kill. Violence in art is not the issue. Violence, real everyday violence, is the issue. This is often caused by fear or greed.

  4. Aisukori says:

    Very true, this is what people fail to realize, a sane person would never ever think that video games or violent art encourage violence in the real world hence why people shouldn't blame games, guns, art, media..etc. It depends on the person, their sanity, the choices they make as you stated.

  5. I agree with you that ultimately we are responsible for discerning reality from fantasy and that we are responsible for our actions (unless we are mentally incapable).

    Yet consider these to points that I keep thinking about from my training as a sociologist:

    1. increased exposure to violence (real or made-up) desensitizes many people to the actual consequences of violence. In video games, people can destroy other "people" then reset the game and start over–the consequences are not real. Death in movies is not like death in real life, but most people don't know that. So, if certain people are desensitized to violence because they have been raised with it AND they don't have a realistic appreciation for the consequences, aren't we as a society setting ourselves up for trouble?

    2. Even if there are people hell-bent on hurting others for whatever reason, why do we make it so easy for them to hurt so many people so efficiently? I don't believe playing a first-person shooter video game or reading a violent novel directly prompts a person to go on a killing rampage. People are much too complex to draw a simple cause-effect relationship like that. But we have to eliminate the potential for such devastation with the kinds of weapons so easily available to people under the guise of "the right to bear arms."

  6. Royal Lance says:

    I just wrote about the whole "blame it on games" thing on my my own blog this morning. It's the same thing over and over. Good job in calling the BS.

  7. williamjepma says:

    Man, this is spot on. It's so frustrating to hear people blame books, movies, or video games for the violence in the world, when, in reality, it's the people doing it. We all have free will, and if we think something is telling us to go and play with a gun, then they have issues. Let's stop finding something to blame, and instead concentrate on helping those who struggle with these issues.

  8. There's a lot of insight here. Not everyone is prepared to identify mental illness as a problem to be addressed rather than one to sweep under the rug. I perceive as well that you maybe restrained yourself in terms of expressing your frustrations with what happened in Newtown last Friday; you took a classy, controlled approach to a messy, divisive issue. Maybe that's the right first step.

  9. I've written about this while writing my serial killer novel "Snake"; the Snake is influenced by horror movies, but he's very aware that they are only movies and he's killing in real life. In addition, the movies don't cause the Snake to kill, they just influence his work. Big difference.

  10. illero says:

    I agree up to a point, but this issue is not black and white, nor are the psyches of the broad spectrum of people subjected to the desensitizing forces within our society. Violent movies, violent video games, violent music lyrics, violent books, violence-depicting art works, violence on news broadcasts, etc., etc., influence us in subtle and different ways. People who have a strong moral foundation are much farther away from the violence-inducing precipice than people with shakier underpinnings or mental illnesses. Consider a simple example; the “F” word. A word with violent connotation, a word formerly shunned by respectable people, a word now so common in films, books, and everyday conversation that we have become inured to its subtly demeaning implications – and our humanity and culture have been subtly undermined. [Sex and homosexuality could also have been used as good examples of this steadily undermining impact.] I think the same thing happens with actual violence. It offers nothing constructive to society for those with healthy and moral outlooks to use their own experience, observations, and actions to debunk the theory that a steady diet of violence detaches some of us from reality. Some people are not like us, and don’t think like us. In many, or most, ways they seem “normal”, but they actually process inputs differently, and moral judgments are affected. I think that incessant exposure to immorality and violence in a relatively non-judgmental manner, over the long term, cannot help but make us a more immoral and violent culture over time. As they say, we are what we “eat”.

  11. tf141soldier says:

    Fascinating post, Cristian: I agree with you. Video games are meant as a form of entertainment, and they should not be taken so seriously that people will do horrible things inspired by that very game. They aren't a call to action, they aren't encouraging you to do anything except have a fun time. It's a shame how things like Newtown could of been partially inspired by this.

  12. Yes. You are too dumb if you cannot understand the difference between the world of Art and the REAL world.

  13. kaleshmenon says:

    That is a very good point but probably has an inherent assumption that human understanding and behavior is not range bound. According to me that is not how it works. In my opinion, the range of human understanding and state of mind/behavior is very wide.

    If some of the elements lying at the lower end of such range (read easily influenced/disturbed) get influenced by what is being bombarded on their head through entertainment sources such as movies, series, games or information source such as news on television or on the internet, the loss on account of their irresponsible action is unimaginable. Their sensitive state of mind may lead them to feel this as an easy and very much possible way out to vent their feelings.

    The lower percentage of such occurrence does not in any way enfeeble the irreplaceable damage such actions might result.

    Having said that, it is highly impossible to deprive the higher percentage of population of their source of entertainment and information on the probability that it might be subject to misuse.

    I believe the civic laws should be strong enough to deter such behavior.

  14. kaleshmenon says:

    Reblogged this on In Retrospect and commented:
    A very good insight on how Art is key to a society and how perception of art can be misunderstood and misused.

  15. Great post. Liked the analogy about martial arts. Also liked the point about the ultimate illusion- that we are not responsible for our actions, someone else is.

  16. S.C. says:

    I remember the controversy after the Columbine shooting when it came out that the killers had been dedicated Doom players. Never mind that Doom was one of the most popular PC games of all time and that pretty much every American male under the age of 20 or 25 or so had played it by 1997. Never mind that Doom is a really unrealistic looking and feeling game. The truth was that this game simply made for a nice scapegoat so that we could avoid the more complicated questions that arose from the shooting.

    Right now in the US, though, people are talking a lot more about the gun issue than anything else. It will be interesting to see how that goes. I'm not in favor of a ban on handguns (it would never have a chance in hell of passing anyway) but I can't understand what legitimate reason anyone could have, outside of the military or a SWAT team, to own a semi-automatic weapon – what is essentially an offensive weapon.

  17. Well said. It's time to stop the blaming.

  18. mcwoman says:

    When tragedy strikes, we all are looking for an easy answer to fix the problem. The trouble is, there is not easy answer. Twenty years ago when I was in college, I did a paper about violence in the media, movies, video games, and news reports. The outcome was–there was no scientific proof that such images spur on violence. However, I do believe that automatic and semi-automatic weapons should not be for sale. There should be background checks before any weapon is purchased, and that measures are in place that NO ONE who suffers from mental illness be able to purchase a weapon — not even a bee-bee gun!

    We also need to know that the young people who are succumbing to these acts of violence haven't yet achieved brain maturity (frontal cortex). That one fact is part of the reason that such crimes are so senseless.

  19. Yoshiko says:

    True enough :-)

  20. There are a great many comments here that I agree with and As serious as the topic is, I still laugh to think of Alicia Silverstone's character debating this topic in the movie "Clueless" saying that until people are more responsible and violence no long per needs to be reported on the nightly news, then there is no reason to remove it from television, movies, etc. that need it for entertainment value.

    Strangely, it goes back to that one word, responsibility. What if we were all responsible and recognized we are all a bit defunct and have certain weaknesses that if encouraged and fed, can create a destructive individual capable of great harm. No, I'm not saying we are all going to go shooting in schools, but we all have a bent that can harm. As a responsible individual I need to identify my own and steer clear of them by not watching, reading, messing around with certain things. As a responsible parent, I need to provide a strong moral foundation, help my children identify their strengths and weaknesses, feed the good and starve the bad. I am a follower of Christ, so I trust in the Jesus of the Bible and try do as He says and with my husband, lead my family to love God first and others second. As an artist (writer and actress) I need to do the same – what do I believe is the best way to enhance the good I see, repel the bad? This may sound simplistic, but what if?

  21. simonhlilly says:

    People aversed to violence will often tend to avoid it when presented in art or media. Others will relish fictional violence but wouldn't dream of committing violence. Murder mysteries are one of the most popular genres, but having a shelf of whodunnits won't turn most people into murderers ( or sleuths). Disturbed people may tend towards disturbing forms of entertainment. What is probably more significant than any other factor is a society's ability to teach and to support empathy. Without a means to practice and value empathy any society will become fragmented and self-obsessed.

  22. fransiweinstein says:

    Such a complicated issue. Great post.

  23. So true. Being able to take personal responsibility, knowing the difference between fact and fiction, and maybe a little decent parenting thrown in would make the world a better, safer place!

  24. Nelson says:

    Excellent post – couldn't have said it better myself.

    It's about time authorities and the media stop running to the "violent video games" or "violent media" scapegoat and start looking at the underlying psychological issues present in individuals who commit such heinous crimes.

  25. valid points and a good read. could relate, that our minds does give us a choice in terms of judging what is correct and what is not. hope this judgement power remains adequately distributed.

  26. sylvia says:

    It is well known that the American army uses video games to train their soldiers for the war battle in real life and it isn't a secret that these games are also used on a social level to recruit new soldiers. Doesn't this unsettle the idea or the meaning of video games as a form of entertainment?

    How do you disconnect reality from the game in a case like this?

  27. emilyannfrances says:

    I agree completely. There's too much in the media where people make an issue out of shifting the blame onto someone or something else. From my point of view these individuals want to use the issue as a starting point to get attention for themselves or what they're involved with. Politicians do this and so do some self-seeking individuals in the media and on the street.

  28. asiapasek says:

    I think you're right, video games, movies or TV are just easy escape from the problem; we like to have someone to blame. I don't belive humans' behavior can be controlled directly by any media messages (leaving alone a few cases of pure madness; some people can be controlled by a whisper of a cockroach, sure). If such influence was real, hundreds of Christian fathers would have already killed their first sons on some mountain top, I guess. Bible was not only most popular book to read for many generations (and it's full of violence, isn't it?) but it's also considered to be true by many people – every word of it! Not like movies or video games. So if Bible made no harm to society so far, and this was tested for centuries, video games won't either. Not this way. Video games might be bad for another reason, perhaps; the relations to other people may suffer, when a player gets too focused on virtual world.

  29. I beg to disagree. Very few people, if any, actually understand how this world works. Many questions regarding human activities are still covered under the veil of ignorance and are explained away with folkish anecdotes, psychological kitsch, authority of tradition (religion/state/legal bodies/courts) or are intellectualized and fictionalized in form of novels by funky literary types and other artsy dilettantes, having no empirical validity whatsoever.

    Certainly, it is a wonderful dream and the ultimate goal of science one day to explain the mysteries surrounding everyday social life, individual agency (what is consciousness, "subjective experience" and how it relates to and interacts with the "real world"?) and the whole complex interplay and organization between single cultures, personal genetic makeup and the progress of evolutionary forces. These are incredibly complicated issues, whose surface our venerated chaps from the scientific camp have so far managed only barely to touch upon. Actually, there is no plausible and verifiable, evidence-based theory (with high-predictive power) even about such relatively simple matters as to, for example, what influences the fluctuation in the financial markets or how to fix the state economy or, for that matter, how to root out violence, corruption and other things perceived as social ills and evils (racism, homophoby, prostitution, various forms of injustice etc.)

    At an individual level, we may ask even further, why a certain Romanian guy has not killed anyone yet? Hasn't he played violent video games or watched far too many irrational movies? Perhaps. I don't know. But, my guess is simple – because he has better things to do. Like writing a blog, cook up a story or promoting himself as a megastar in the virtual world of internet.

    The demystification and clarification of these questions, that by and large currently fall under the scope of the impotent social sciences and the bankrupt humanities are slowly but surely being explored in the bridge and hard sciences (physics, biology, chemistry, informatics, evolutionary psychology, cognitive and neurosciences). The potential solutions are an ongoing project still in its early stages.

    As of today, most of us, including myself, are scientific illiterates. We rely on guesswork(common sense) to cope with reality. We depend on intuitive psychology ("our granny wisdom"), our genetically prescribed/inherited cognitive habits and biographically predetermined behavioral patterns, which to an extent (insofar as we have adapted effectively to our environment) allow us to entertain an illusion of control, free will and responsibility and gives us a sense of inner comfort of relative stability over against the chaos of nature and natural forces in the world outside our head. And yet, more often than not when confronted with "reality" (say, an incurable illness or the recent shooting massacre), we cannot explain in terms of scientific precision and theory, what the hell is really going on and why…?

    We are programmed to be more mytho-poetic, than scientific in our outlook to life. More irrational and illogical than reasonable and sound. Is it not that we love clouds and mountains, birds and flowers more than atoms and molecules, laboratories and test tubes? We prefer stories over crude facts. Your blog, and dare I say, you yourself, is a fabulous testimony to that. Cheers!

  30. I'm gonna be corny & quote something from the movie Scream. "Movies don't create psychos, movies only make psychos more creative."
    Although some may see it as a cheesy 90s gorefest..that quote rings true.
    I cannot stand when people blame movies or videogames for senseless acts of violence. As a horror writer, this offends me deeply. We as artists are not responsible for the actions of sick people. We did not cause them to be mentally our work should not suffer because of it. Everyone should watch "Bowling for Columbine" by Michael Moore. His documentary deals with this very subject.

  31. FINALLY! I can comment on your posts again; for some reason, I haven't been able to do so until now. It's not just on your blog, but on others too. I agree with everything think you said.

  32. casprom says:

    Hum… If you read a post that I put on my blog called "Game Addictions" you can read a whole study made some years ago with a very large number of students who were put together on a room and to them it was given a console to play. To some it was given a violent type of game and to other a type more peaceful. Then it was given a chance to help each other (all of the students in a different game) or to kill each other for no matter. Guess what happened…

    And it's not all of it. The study speaks on advantages and disadvantages, also the reason why we feel rewarded when we get through our goals on gaming. when they spoke about games, they refered it as "images" which we can use as an icon to show any type of art.

  33. I think for the vast majority of people, violent video games or movie would never lead to real violence. It's stress relief and as you said, people know the difference between real and fantasy. However that vast majority has never been what we need to worry about. After all, it only takes one person to commit atrocities. Is that a reason to ban violent video games? No, but we should be as cautious with giving blanket declarations of innocence as we are with giving blanket condemnations.

  34. Some good points.

    A load of the coverage, on violent fiction and video games, ignores how difficult it is to immerse ourselves in these fictional worlds – how often the illusion falls apart because the hero's journey feels so artificial, or the themes across the story are too broadly drawn, or whatever else.

  35. denshispeaks says:

    Everytime I visit your blog, I never regret… this is an amazing post! Keep up.

  36. A friend of mine, who has some professionally diagnosed conditions that fall under that umbrella of 'mental illness' and has been closely following this tragic situation offered up an interesting opinion of what happened: she believes that if anyone should be held responsible, it should be the mother for not actually understanding the way her son viewed and experienced reality. Perhaps had she done so, she would have never given that young man access to or experience with firearms. That doesn't mean he wouldn't have lashed out and hurt someone, or himself, but it might've made a considerable difference as to what actually transpired.

    I can't vouch for that, since I haven't been following the news as closely, but I think it brings up a point — we need to stop blaming inanimate objects like guns and video games and start understanding what some of the people who are involved in these tragic situations go through *before* the fact. Posturing and pointing fingers every which way doesn't bring back those innocent lives. Tougher gun laws aren't going to stop criminals who don't obey laws, or stop someone who doesn't care about the consequences of their actions because they they don't care if they live to see punishment for an offense. You can take every videogame console in the world and smash them to bits today and the world isn't going to look like an episode of My Little Pony tomorrow.

    More laws isn't the solution when we don't fund enforcement of them. We don't pay our teachers and police enough to make a decent living but we'll give millions of dollars to exploitative narcissicts with little to no morals, glorified karoke singers, and athletes to run and throw a ball around a field for our entertainment. We elect and tolerate politicans who on a normal day act like five year olds in a pissing match over a sandbox toy until the exact moment a tragedy happens, then they stop mugging for the cameras and start actually taking matters seriously. People who need help enter a system that is underfunded and understaffed because we can figure out how to put a robot on Mars but we can't seem to grasp that healthcare shouldn't be a for profit initiative, a bonus or a perk related to a job.

    Want someone to blame? Look in a mirror. It's all of us. As a society we failed those kids, and sadly, we'll probably fail a few more.

  37. m6munich says:

    I do like your well written article. The martial art example reveals the philosophical question behind the art topic (as well as some hints to the answer). Are we ultimately responsible for our deeds? Answer – yes we are. "We" translates in "you and me" as individual and our cultural entity (family, society, nation). While it may be an influencing factor, it is not wise, simply to shift the blame to art, to the media, to computer games, to weapons, to the not (yet) developed cortex. Violence was alway there. and it always needed the effort of the individual and culture (moral, ethic, religion, law) to restrain it.

    The psychoanalytic C.G.Jung said under the impression of the second world war: We need more understanding of human nature, because the only real danger that exists is man himself. He is the great danger, and we are pitifully unaware of it. We know nothing of man, far too little. His psyche should be studied, because we are the origin of all coming evil.

    Simpler said, We've all got both light and dark inside us. The Shadow, as C.G. Jung defined it, is in us. "Omne bonum a Deo, omne malum ab homine, i.e., “All good from God, all evil from man.” said the great (religious) philosopher Augustine of Hippo (Augustinus).The free will, as Augustus sees it, differentiates man from animals.

    Having said said, we not only deny the existence of the evil by shifting the blame to something impersonal but indeed intoxicate ourselves by shallow entertainment, consumerism, graphic violence, "sex, drugs and rock en roll" and psycho-pharmaca.

    Some turn from violence to science. While I largely agree that most social sciences and the bankrupt humanities are not helpful, the belief of hard sciences (physics, biology, chemistry, informatics, evolutionary psychology, cognitive and neurosciences) is mechanistic and naive. The potential solutions those might create, will be a world I do not want to live in.

    Now is art to blame? What is art today, most of the stuff today might not even be art. 1979 Francis Ford Coppola's haunting, hallucinatory Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now was graphic and violent, but visionary. It has been said, that Coppola made art out violence by aesthetic means, thus legitimating it. Goethe wrote 1774 a book, "Die Leiden des jungen Werther", about a unfilled love in which the main character commits suicide. Followers dressed in this fashion, and committed suicide in the double digits. The imitations of the Werther figure in real life, which were in suicide attempts and suicides, started a discussion about media effects, which runs up today. Since the 1970s, the psychology deals with the phenomenon of "media-mediated imitation". Think also of the Danish caricatures, which resulted in many deaths – the problem is global now.

    Will the easy fix help, should we forbid art (books,paintings, movies… Goethe), forbid, internet, forbid weapons, forbid media?

    I think, No, we have to think, feel and act properly and raise our kids within a minimum ethical context. With love. We must rely on science, as well as on metaphysics, common sense and psychology to cope with reality. but even more on intuitive understanding (“our inner self”) . Free will is possible, it is possible to understand our genetic and biographical patterns of behavior, at least to an extent – it is called indiviuation. Still shooting massacre will happen. Lucky, if one can pray then, at least.

    FallenAngel (stottilien :

  38. petit4chocolatier says:

    Well said Christian. Excellent post. And I agree with almost all of it. Our minds are developed before the age of 8 on what our behaviorism may be, and how we will handle what life brings us. Many young people have unfortunate experiences and never retaliate or harm others. They grow up knowing the rules and following them happily. Mental illness has increased over the past ten years. Why? Is it hereditary? Yes, can be. It is one of the most prevalent illnesses covered on most health insurance for those that seek help and are diagnosed. Depression is one of the top ten health issues that cost health benefits within an organization the most amount of money paid out.

    So why are we seeing an increase of mental illness? I do not have that answer. Maybe it is because more people are seeking help? More people are retaliating? Maybe families kept it hush hush and now the secret begins to come out? I do know that a large majority of us can play a war video game, read a crime book, watch a horror movie, listen to music with strong words, and so much more and never would think of harming another human being, place, or object. Guns don't shoot people, people do. A lot to ponder now.

    I hope you don't mind if I reblog your link on my reblog page?

  39. lesrainbows says:

    Art prevents violence by raising awareness and allows the artist to fully express. Repression causes violence.

  40. beatniksifu says:

    Penn Jillette had a very similar argument on the Wendy Williams Show today. He was spot on. He used the violence in Shakespeare as an example. Nobody would consider blaming violence in classic literature. But they always blame violence in youth pop culture. And completely ignore how today's politics and news coverage bombards us with fear, So that people react in fear.


    I believe the best weapon to use against them is to send the message:

    "Yes, a bad thing happened. Yes, it breaks my heart. I am not afraid,of you or anything else. I refuse fear. I stand in the way of fear, using myself as a sheild to block all fear. And, I am sorry that we have failed you. How I failed you. I forgive you."

  41. Interesting myinnermissmelly: i would like to read more about it.

    People talk about watching TV and movies affecting people and they get into violent acts.

    Well there are more book lovers in this world reading all kinds of novels on all kinds of subjects.

    Please share some insight about "effects on reading and its affects on behavior"

    having said that i do agree that media creates a beast out of incidents and it does affect us.

    A very good post – Cristian Mihai – liked your points and agree with them too.

  42. I like your martial arts analogy. I believe true mastery of a skill means having control over the use of it. When mental instability is blamed for a person committing an act of violence, it does make me think that deep down humans are stupid animals. Honestly, I don't think there has to be an external driving force. It's as if the brain goes into survival mode, and blurs the line between what is real and imaginary. As if in doing so it can protect its person from what ever damaging reality is being experienced. Of course, we know the brain acts much faster than the body can react. I think that could be why people often end a killing spree with taking their own lives. I'd have to assume that once that figurative line snaps back into focus it would be too much for anyone to live with. With the exception of the sociopath… But then again, a sociopath is another beast entirely.

  43. Every time a mass murder happens people start blaming things like video games or films or music. And a new debate concerning gun control resurfaces. But the thing is the World is a dangerous place. And there isn't a lot you can do about someone having a psychotic break and going on a killing spree. Because the hard truth is, when someone is in that mental state, they are usually experiencing an inner bombardment of compulsive thoughts, and they will find a way. Whether by gun or knife or chainsaw or machete or fire or poison, a way to comply with those compulsive demands will make itself known. In both China & Japan similar instances have occured with knives being the weapon used. CNN wrote, to me, an absurd article stating that atleast in situations where a knife was used there were fewer casualties. Wouldn't our time be better spent educating people about mental health issues? Why weren't the the news stations getting some word out concerning the nature of compulsive thoughts (which occur before suicide as well)?

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