- Recently, there is a surge in the popularity of true crime shows and podcasts.
- Experts, however, warn that watching crime shows impacts mental health negatively.
The Attraction Of Television Crime Shows And Podcasts
True crime is the stuff of dark fairy stories and we are all fascinated by the twisted human psychology that brings about such morbid deeds. In recent years, much to the delight of true crime fans, a steady stream of true crime-inspired fictional works and documentaries has made its way to OTT platforms.
These works have reprised serial killers and other shocking crimes from the past centuries into a media format that could be easily consumed in the safety of our homes.
For instance, take Netflix. The streaming giant has coupled crime dramas with equally thought-provoking documentaries. The drama series Dahmer–Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story was supplemented with the docuseries Conversations with a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes. Similarly, the movie The Good Nurse was released alongside the documentary Capturing the Killer Nurse—both works based on the medical serial killer Charles Cullen.
While the reproduction and reminiscence of the horrific incidents have caused outrage amongst the victim’s families, this trend has received great support from the audience. In the process, filmmakers are encouraged to produce more true crime content for profiteering global viewership.
How Does Watching True Crime Affect The Brain?
The reason why crime dramas are so popular lies in the psychological effects of watching crime shows. The human mind has been an object of endless fascination and such works provide interesting insights into “twisted” human psychology.
These cautionary tales for adults also provide the thrill-seeking pleasures of the adrenaline rush. Then, there is an inherent fascination towards the dynamics of ‘good and evil’ and comfort in redemption.
Research positively affirms that such true crime shows help one combat one’s fears of loneliness, darkness, etc. It can also be used for entertainment and relaxation from unpleasant distress, frustration, anger, etc., as well as enhance one’s psychological resilience in stressful situations.
Crime Dramas And Mental Health
Some researchers contend contrarily that crime shows affect our brain and mental health negatively. Studies reveal that people who watch such shows tend to display dangerous risk-taking behavior and experience poor mental health conditions such as:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Obsessive, even addictive, thoughts about crime
- Disturbed sleep
- Negative thought rumination about oneself and the world
Moderating How Crime Shows Affect Your Brain
True crime shows comprise a popular genre and it is natural to feel attracted to them. While experts have cautioned against the negative effects of crime stories on mental health, they have also acknowledged that viewing these works mindfully, optimally, and cautiously can be beneficial to both your mental health and ability to enjoy quality entertainment.
For example, you can start by choosing a tolerable type of crime genre carefully and avoiding binge-watching.