Watching Footage of Mass Shootings Might Be Giving Us PTSD Symptoms
Jan. 13, 2016
President Obama isn’t the only one shedding tears and choking up about the 30,000 Americans killed by gun violence every year.
The unrelenting scroll of news coverage of the mass shootings in San Bernardino, Charleston, North Carolina and Colorado Springs might be taking a psychological toll on all of us.
Mindy Mechanic, a psychology professor at California State, Fullerton, said she and her colleagues sometimes refer to a phenomenon they call “trauma by television” to describe how 24-hour news and social media reports on gun violence affect us. “People are traumatized indirectly or vicariously by repeated exposure to traumatic content, especially on TV where it is very visual and graphic,” Mechanic told MTV News. “There’s a different impact when we see the same images over and over.”
Mechanic, who studies the impact of disasters and family violence, said she’s heard anecdotes of people who now nervously scan the room for exits when entering movie theaters due to a hypervigilance about potential threats. “The world we live in is very different from the one I grew up in,” she said.