Society Today: Immunity to Violence

dhuna01.jpgMany of us truly believe we are more civilized then what we call “The Old Days”. We cite that we no longer use torture devices like they did in the Dark Ages or have the Coliseum or publicly execute people and this part is true. People sometimes will ask how people could stand to watch these disgusting displays and applaud and enjoy it.  Well, our society really is no different. Let me explain.

Our society delves into this a completely different way then what they did then.  They watch it on television, in movies, online and on the news every day.  We see rape, murder, unadultered sex, sexual exploitation, war crimes, etc. and it’s all at a touch of a button.  How many of you have watched an action-packed movie and not thought twice about in the violence in it.  What about the new state of the art video games on your gaming consul or PC?  Do you think twice about the sex on day time television? No, you don’

I remember as a teenager watching Robocop for the first time.  I was pretty innocent and naive back then I admit but there was a scene that literally made me vomit.  When the thugs cut off Robocops arm when he was a human it not only made me violently ill but would make me shudder every time I thought of it for days after.  Recently, I watched that movie for a second time.  The scene did not even phase me now.  This is a good example of what I am talking about.

People in the past saw violence, rape and torture so much they became immune.  In other words, they lost their ability to be shocked.  It was “normal” to watch it in public.  Just like it is now.  Our society today has become so unnaffected by the violence in the news, in the movies, on PCs and games that it no longer phases us.  In fact, most people don’t even pay attention to the constant barrage of killings and shootings on tv.  School shootings and other mass shootings have become so common that people pay attention for a day or two and move on to the next excitement.  Yes, many view it as exciting.  How did we as human beings stop caring about others?

We as human beings are social beings.  It only makes sense that seeing another of our species hurt would affect us right? You cannot interact with someone who is no longer alive or functional.  So, what causes us to stop caring? From very early on in our development we learned to adjust, to adapt to our surroundings, to survive.  Becoming desensitized to what is going around us is simply the mind’s way of surviving and protecting itself from being hurt.mobviolence.jpg

According to Wikipedia seen here:

“In psychology, desensitization is defined as the diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative, aversive or positive stimulus after repeated exposure to it. It also occurs when an emotional response is repeatedly evoked in situations in which the action tendency that is associated with the emotion proves irrelevant or unnecessary.”

According to an article in Psychology Today, seen here:

“A study by the Indiana University School of Medicine examined young men and violent media exposure. There were visible alterations in MRI brain scans after only one week of playing a violent video game. In particular, there was a significant decrease in the activation of prefrontal portions of the brain and a greater activation of the amygdala.


A quick neuroscience lesson: The prefrontal cortex is the so called “thinking part” of the brain which deals with concentrationdecision makingself-control and inhibition while the amygdala is part of the limbic system, the so called “emotion center” that serves many emotional functions, but can be the trigger for depressionanger, aggression and impulsive behavior.”

“The Virginia Tech Research Division showed students several non-violent movies, followed by super-violent movies. Results indicated violent films can increase hostile behavior.”

According to the site seen here:

By age 15, over 50 to 70% of youth report witnessing real-life violence or being assaulted in their lifetime, with rates varying based on the types of violence measured (Cisler et al. 2012Finkelhor et al. 2013). Most youth also experience violence through media, including television, movies and video games. For instance, the average 18-year old observes approximately 6,000 acts of violence on television and in movies in one year (Browne and Hamilton-Giachritsis 2005Center for Research Excellence 2009).

Also, the human brain trains itself to protect itself from anxiety and fear if there is no reason for it.  For instance, when i saw Robocop the first time, I hadn’t been exposed to much violence. My parents were very protective and kept me from viewing too much violence.  So when I saw it, it not only shocked me but I found it revolting and objectionable and it caused me fear.  After seeing more and more of this behavior on television and at the movies, my brains trained itself to react calmly because there was nothing to fear.  This is how I became immune to violence and sex.

This is an unfortunate happening.  I miss that innocence.  It’s not that I don’t care what happens to people, because I do very much but it’s commonplace.  My brain has protected me from the anxiety it causes.  It has stopped triggering the impulse to become sick and afraid. It happens to all of us but we need our society to realize what this immunity is doing.  We need to open our eyes once again and see that it is not right.  Our media needs to present murders and violence for what it is and not treat it as just another day.

We need to teach our children that violence is wrong.  We also need to retrain our brain to be appalled by the constant show of violence on tv and shut it off.  Very simply, we are no different than those “barbarians” who watched public executions and tortures and we need to change that behavior in ourselves.

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