Renowned psychologist Dr Thelma Tenni raised concerns about the potential dangers of indulging in true crime stories. According to Dr Tenni, having an addiction or a deep fascination with violent and gruesome tales of murder and crime may be a significant red flag.
Speaking on The Mel Robbins Podcast, Dr Tenni asked viewers: “If your idea of relaxing before you go to sleep is to watch three episodes of Law and Order I would encourage you to think about ‘why is trauma relaxing to me?
“That’s what it is. Harm, crime, violation, attacks, and that’s what is going to soothe me into my bedtime.”
She explained finding comfort in true crime lies is due to its familiarity for some individuals. Growing up in high-stress environments can lead people to mistake peace for boredom.
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She said: “Some of us grew up in high-stress [situations], so people mistake peace for boring. And it’s like, to come home to yourself you have to lean into the discomfort because it’s gonna feel unfamiliar.”
To break free from the grip of true crime addiction, Dr Tenni suggested “lean into” less stimulating and potentially “boring” content. By doing so, individuals can reprogram their nervous systems and discover the value of peace. She said: “Peace may seem unfamiliar and feel boring but you are worth of it.”
Dr Tenni’s insights resonated with viewers, with many expressing gratitude for shedding light on the connection between trauma and the desire to consume stories about shocking crimes.
One viewer shared their personal journey of healing saying: “When I started to heal, those shows I was obsessed with watching (had watched them for 20+ years since childhood and knew every dated case) became not only less appealing, but disturbing to me. For me, they were definitely related.”
Another viewer opened up about their own struggles, revealing they rely on crime-related content to fall asleep due to a traumatic upbringing. They said: “At night I can’t fall asleep unless it’s on ID tv. I grow up in a very abusive household. The beatings still brings me to tears. How do I reprogram this unhealthy affliction.”
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They sought guidance on how to break free from this unhealthy pattern. Dr Tenni’s advice to embrace discomfort and explore alternative forms of entertainment may offer a path towards healing.
A third wrote: “Personally I feel seen by trauma. I feel less weird or broken. I find it easier to observe trauma in art/entertainment in a way that’s less personal or emotional and think about how it applies to my life than I can when I’m experiencing it.”
- If you need to talk to someone about anything that’s troubling you, you can access confidential support from trained volunteers. Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email [email protected] for a reply within 24 hours.
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