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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Lott

Exploring the Dark Side: The Fascination and Risks of True Murder Documentaries

Updated: May 2



In recent years, true crime documentaries have surged in popularity, offering audiences a gripping glimpse into the darkest realms of human behaviour. Among these, murder documentaries stand out for their chilling narratives and compelling storytelling. But why are so many people drawn to such distressing and gruesome content? What drives our fascination with tales of violence and tragedy?



One possible explanation lies in our primal instinct to understand and mitigate potential threats in our environments. As social beings, we're wired to assess risks and protect ourselves from harm. True murder documentaries provide a unique opportunity to explore the depths of human depravity, offering insights into the motives and methods of killers. By dissecting these cases, viewers may feel better equipped to recognize danger signals and safeguard themselves and their loved ones.


Moreover, murder documentaries can offer a safe space to process our fears and anxieties. In a controlled environment, viewers can confront their deepest fears without facing immediate danger. By witnessing the resolution of these crimes on screen, we reassure ourselves that justice prevails in the end, and can help restore our faith in a fair and orderly world. The enacting of the ancient narrative of good triumphing over evil offers a sense of closure and security in a deeply uncertain world.



The enacting of the ancient narrative of good triumphing over evil offers a sense of closure and security in a deeply uncertain world.

However, there are significant risks associated with the consumption of true murder documentaries.


One concern is the potential for sensationalizing violence and exploiting the suffering of victims and their families. Filmmakers must tread carefully to avoid glorifying or romanticizing the crimes, instead focusing on the human stories behind the tragedies. Failure to do so can perpetuate a culture of voyeurism and desensitization, where viewers become numb to the horrors depicted on screen.


Furthermore, excessive exposure to violent content can blur the lines between reality and fiction, distorting our perception of the world. Research has shown that prolonged exposure to graphic violence can desensitize individuals, making them less empathetic and more prone to aggressive behaviour. It can also give us an exaggerated sense of how common violent crime is, and of the likelihood of becoming a victim. This can manifest in psychological distress, including resulting in , among other things, stress, nightmares, paranoia, and extreme anxiety.


Research has shown that prolonged exposure to graphic violence can desensitize individuals, making them less empathetic and more prone to aggressive behaviour.


There are red flags you can look out for if you're concerned that you or someone you care about has been excessively watching these shows:


  • You find yourself dwelling on the programmes or a particular case and compulsively digging for more information or updates.

  • You find yourself becoming fearful of going out or doing things alone, or of being home alone; You may become fearful of doing things alone at home where you can't hear intruders or make an easy escape, such as taking a shower, or you may find yourself repeatedly checking that doors and windows are locked.

  • You may have increased signs of anxiety, such as rapid heart rate, racing thoughts, nausea and muscle tension.



Using murder documentaries as a form of relaxation or entertainment may also be a red flag indicating underlying psychological distress. For some individuals, the thrill of watching these programmes may serve as a distraction from unresolved trauma or anxiety. Many trauma survivors can feel more comfortable when in a state of sympathetic agitation, mistaking peace and calm for boredom. However, relying on such content to escape reality can be counterproductive, exacerbating existing mental health issues rather than addressing them. If this sounds familiar to you, it may be appropriate to have trauma therapy


For some individuals, the thrill of watching these programmes may serve as a distraction from unresolved trauma or anxiety

While true murder documentaries may offer a fascinating glimpse into the human psyche, they also pose significant risks to our mental well-being. It's essential for viewers to approach these programmes with caution, mindful of the potential impact on their mental health and attitudes towards violence. By fostering a critical understanding of these issues, we can ensure a more responsible and ethical approach to true crime storytelling.

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