I’m addicted to ‘true crime’, but I’ve informed myself and that doesn’t make me a psychopath

If you like series, movies, and especially true crime documentaries, you know that sometimes it’s impossible to stop. What happens to our heads?

Often related to curiosity, trash TV or unnecessary interest in finding out lurid details of notable events, it cannot be denied that the ‘true crime’ genre is currently in excellent health. Dolores Vazquez. Martha of the Castle Michael Peterson. Alcasser. Madeline McCann. The Ted Bundy Murders. The list is endless and promises to keep growing. The proliferation of series and documentary films about true crimes has multiplied in recent years and the public has not only received them, one after another, with open arms, but some of them have slipped into the most anticipated of the month , of the year or of the week and have caused an absolute stir in social networks.

In my case, I have to sing the ‘mea culpa’. what it started with Making A Murderer in a completely innocent way -Netflix had just landed in Spain and the documentary series on the now well-known case of Steven Avery would be ‘marathoned’ en masse- would end up becoming a kind of unexpected and somewhat macabre ‘hobby’ that has been fueled by the constant appearance in the catalogs of the different streaming platforms of new titles; a constant stream of titles about events and real crimes that make it quite difficult to get out of the spiral.

A Making A Murderer Many others would follow. The real terror behind the mysterious disappearance of a nun who narrated The Keepers; Robert Durst’s bumpy confession not knowing his microphone was open on The Jinx; the new episodes of the acclaimed The Staircase that closed, 17 years later, the case of Michael Peterson; the tricky plot that housed the death of a pizza delivery boy in A coup master, or the true story in lorraine of Lorena Bobbit, the woman victim of gender violence who cut off her husband’s penis. How to resist?

Since then I will not stop. What the hell is wrong with my head? I have to worry? Why am I irresistibly drawn to documentaries or fictions about true crimes? To find out, we talked to Álvaro Trujillo, psychologist and creator of psycho vloga YouTube channel with more than 200,000 subscribers dedicated to the dissemination of psychology in all its daily facets.


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Still from ‘The Alcàsser case’ (Netflix)

WHY DO WE ENJOY KNOWING THE DETAILS OF A DISAPPEARANCE OR MURDER?

It is one of the first questions we ask Álvaro, who kindly agrees to explain to us, from his expert status, why we feel pleasure knowing the details of events in which deaths have occurred or people have been involved in traumatic events. “This pleasure comes from the fact that the event in question provokes those intense sensations and emotions in us”, explains the creator of psycho vlog. “It’s like when we watch a horror movie. We are not amused or attracted to being afraid. [Nos atrae] that the work makes us go through a multitude of sensations in a controlled environment”.

Morbidity is what attracts us to the forbidden. The illicit. The unknown. Morbidity is awakened not by what is taught, but by what is insinuated

“Something is considered morbid when it is explicit or close to what is prohibited. But we don’t have all the information available either,” continues Álvaro. “What morbid awakens in us is a contradiction. The tension generated by the conflict between the fear of reprisals or the unknown, and the interest in what we do not know or is forbidden to us. That tension is not pleasant, but living it as if it were a show does generate pleasure.”

That attraction to the mysterious is absolutely natural and, in fact, it is the same that we can feel before any story that we consider exciting. “Knowing that something bad has happened and wanting to know its resolution. Knowing about their characters, delving into the details, gradually discovering the story, that everything fits into a revealing ending, etcetera.” After all, “although they are real cases, it is still a program […] We are far from the real situation both spatially and temporally. It’s a safe environment to witness those events.”

At the same time, in many cases we are also more attracted by events that touch us more closely, although the source is the same type of interest: the interest in the mystery. “As events are close to us, they can even affect us in some way. For example, a kidnapping perpetrated in your town. It has not happened to you, but you know people who are directly involved, so a state of much-needed alert,” Trujillo reasons. “We can also include your own moral vision. You know that what is happening is wrong and you want to find those responsible. All this generates more tension and, consequently, interest grows in knowing the details of the event to find that resolution that we were talking about when principle and thus relieve this tension.

WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT OUR PERSONALITY TO BE A LOVER OF ‘TRUE CRIME’

“The most you can say is that we are human”Alvaro sums it up. “The morbidity is something that has always been with us. It is part of that ‘dark side’ that we all have. Our ‘forbidden’ tastes and attractions. It is something that has always been present in our brain.” Then, When can we consider that the morbidity we are feeling is insane? “An insane morbidity is one that crosses the line of what is socially acceptable, understanding the latter as that which may be a threat to personal safety or that of third parties. We may like gore movies because of the disgust of blood and viscera. Another thing is that you are attracted to the same thing… without the gore cinema and without the disgust”.


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Still from ‘The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann’ (Netflix)

For us to understand, feeling that curiosity, that morbidity, does not mean that we enjoy the evil that other people are suffering or have suffered. “We can perfectly differentiate that a murder, a kidnapping or a robbery are still criminal and reportable acts,” Álvaro clarifies.

What attracts us is the reason for this illicit, forbidden and mysterious act. Completing the story behind

As the ‘youtuber’ explains, this morbidity does not mean at all that we are violent people or that we are going to be, despite the fact that we have heard on numerous occasions that being exposed to violence makes us violent. “That statement has been made hundreds of times and hundreds of times refuted. Being exposed to violence does not make us violent. It makes us less sensitive to it; that is true […] “That statement applied to violent cartoons and video games and, to date, there is no study linking viewing of these cultural products to crime perpetration or increased youth violence.”

WHAT CAN HAPPEN IF WE EXPOSE OURSELVES TOO MUCH TO ‘TRUE CRIME’

What, if any, consequences could there be from watching too many true crime documentaries? “Convalidate the Criminology degree for sure not”Alvaro jokes. “Watching true crime documentaries has the same consequence as watching any of your favorite shows too often. be a fan of Fifty Shades of Grey It doesn’t make you a dominatrix or a slave. Nor play many hours Grand Theft Auto makes you a gangster. And listening to a lot of heavy metal doesn’t make you satanic.”.

According to the psychologist, being fond of this content as an isolated event does not have a direct effect or reveal anything hidden inside us. “Violence never comes alone. It is always multi-causal. Consuming many programs of this type does not end in anything harmful to anyone.” To better understand that cases that are related to any overexposure always harbor other causal factors, Trujillo gives as an example a case that “the famous juvenile judge Emilio Calatayud has recounted in more than one of his conferences”: “A kid who went out into the street to steal a couple of cars and, when they arrested him, was delirious saying he was God. That after being exposed to marathon days of video games with nothing else to do. Although the exposition of this case alone could undo what I said above, with a less superficial analysis it could be concluded that It wasn’t just the video game exhibition. But isolation, fatigue and imbalance, which in themselves produce a possible problem of addiction”.

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