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September 27, 2017

Why Do We Stare at Gore

Why do we stare at gore, destruction and death? Millions of people recently experienced death and grand destruction as a result of hurricanes. Why do people find themselves getting lost in the stories, pictures and fear of these disasters and others, e.g., car accidents and horror films?

 

It is an effort to master an old wound or perception. Let me explain.

 

A child spends his or her first 2 to 3 years not knowing that anything exists beyond what s/he can see. Therefore, all of the world is like magic! The child’s parent appears and disappears out of a room. If the child awakens in the crib and cries, the parent magically appears to lift the child from the crib. If, however, the parent does not quickly appear, the child feels abandoned and in his or her fear of abandonment, they instinctually know they will die. This fear of dying or not being able to survive I will call fear of destruction.

 

A child also sees the world from an egocentric perspective, i.e., s/he is the source or cause of all that is happening. So, when parents or providers falter and behave in an angry or frustrated way, a child must perceive his- or herself as the bad to keep the overseer as good. In other words, children see themselves as the sinners among saints. This way they are in a good safe world and as long as they control their behavior they will be ok. If, however, children see themselves as the saint among sinners, they are trapped in a haunted house with no one there to save them. They sense this. So defensively they turn the situation inside out to make themselves the bad so their world remains good. This is why movies of hauntings are so successful!

 

As a result of the fear of destruction and the need to be good enough to be kept, children learn to then read and meet the expectations of those around them in order to stay safe and alive. By staying externally focused they hide their fears of being destroyed and of being the bad. They grow wanting to feel free of the fear of being the cause of destructive or of the bad behavior in others and self. They want to master this fear of being the destroyer and of being destroyed.

 

The “instinctive” need to look at an accident or destruction or gore is an effort to feel in control of and to feel okay with the destructive fears. Thoughts that it is not them or how could they survive it or a secret identification with the rage that causes the destruction are some of the pieces that can go into the spontaneous need to look at gore.

 

Aggression in cultures has fed off of this fear for centuries. For example, gladiators were a way to watch the destruction and be in control or to participate in the destruction and master the control. As a culture, the abuse of children is increasing and so, the fear of being destroyed is becoming more real in our adults. The more violent the child’s life the more violence is endured in their mastery efforts, and so, the greater the gore they will observe. Also, this culture uses this fear to get people attached to news. A people in fear become a following people. – just like childhood. People want to be free of fear and live in happiness. That is pretty basic. So they are driven by that need to master their fear of destruction.

 

Recent research tries to say it is evolution that causes the need to look. I feel there are significant confounds in the research and clearly the discussions overlook some critical aspects of life. This need to look at gore has increased in its intensity which is counter to the idea of evolution. I think it is time we look at the root causes of the need. People want to master their fear of being destroyed so they may feel greater happiness and freedom.

 

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"Two Eagles" Smith

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