is it possible to get PTSD from CSI?

24 10 2011

photo credit Tex Texin

I am a recovering tv-aholic. My poison of choice – until recently – was the crime / science shows. The more science the better, so I was really into the CSI-type of show.

My partner and I would sit and pick apart the science – all the incorrect and improbable things that they would put into these shows. Knife wounds so defined they could be filled with rubber cement and show the outline of the knife – classic! And the episode where the crim breaks a cell-phone type battery and uses – wait for it – the acid (from a lithum ion battery) to burn through cell bars. There are web forums devoted to picking apart this sort of thing if you are interested – they are pretty amusing.

Of course, being the arm-chair experts that we are, we also like to pick apart the basic crime-fighting techniques. They pick evidence up without photographing it in place. They have high-speed chases and break into houses with guns – wait – aren’t they scientists, not cops? And then of course, every horror-movie fan’s favourite – walking into darkened rooms by themselves.

However much we love these sorts of shows – they make us feel intelligent and like we haven’t forgotten everything we learned in science class – I do wonder about the amount of gore we are exposed to.

I can’t watch anything where the victim is a child – it literally turns my stomach and I physically recoil. But likewise, are we becoming insensitised to physical trauma by the exposure we get to decapitated, rotting, murdered corpses on these sorts of shows? And in some of them, we actually get the flash-backs to how the murder was committed. The terror and trauma of the victim. The fragility of human life.

Is it possible to get post-traumatic stress disorder from the graphic representations of murders and murder victims that these shows expose us to?

I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s. Cop shows then didn’t have the advantage of the special effects. They focussed on the relationships between the characters, with a bit of sleuthing and a high speed chase thrown in for excitement. The challenge was trying to work out “who dunnit”. Think The Bill, Midsomer Murder or in Australia, Cop Shop. In America, I guess it would have been (God save us) Charlie’s Angels and CHIPS. In the current crop of shows it is perfectly obvious “who dunnit” right from word go – the slightly overly helpful but otherwise distantly connected person who appears too often. The show focuses instead on how the pseudo-science will capture them.

The other side-effect of these shows is that the crooks are getting educated. And the jurors. Apparently the crooks are learning how to hide the evidence – avoid leaving fingerprints, footprints, hairs, shell casings, etc. And jurors are expecting 100% water-tight evidence – preferably DNA evidence – to be presented at every trial.

The omni-presence of this type of entertainment has an effect on the real world around us.

I am over it – give me a comedy any day.

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4 responses

25 10 2011
cristycoates

Here Here for Comedy!!!!

5 11 2011
Mudmap

too right!

11 11 2011
giant twist comfort cs

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19 02 2012
And live, from the sequestered jury….. « Mud Map to Life in the Modern Age

[…] on legal trials, and it would seem, the jurors are often the weakest link. You may be familiar with the impact that crime shows have had upon the legal system – criminals have learned how to hide the evidence, and jurors expect water-tight cases to be […]

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