COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The video of a man murdering an innocent victim has been shared thousands of times on Facebook. Even though the footage was taken down, copies are still out there.
But, what is the effect of viewing something like this on social media? Psychologist Dr. Kevin Arnold said there is a risk to watching it, called “vicarious traumatization.”
“You’ll identify with the victim as they go through it and you’ll experience many, if not all, of the same emotional reactions as if it had been you. That’s not to minimize what happened to the victim,” said Dr. Arnold. “There is a strong component of emotional reactivity that goes on when you observe something this traumatic and that emotional reactivity is the core of what constitutes a trauma reaction.”
He said watching the video could reactivate traumatic experiences for a person.
“I think it’s going to be hard for some people to watch it and then not be affected by it,” said Dr. Arnold. “They might begin re-experiencing their own traumas, even if they’ve been successfully treated for them.”
Even if a person has not been traumatized, he said there could be short term effects for certain people.
“They’ll experience emotional reactions, potentially nightmares,” said Dr. Arnold. “They’ll want to talk about it a lot. It’ll intrude into their thinking.”
He said there’s also a reason why so many people keep sharing the video.
“It’s one of those things that’s so outrageous that to just hold it and contain it is hard to do,” said Dr. Arnold. “You want to in someway have somebody that connects to that experience with you because being affected by it and not having anybody connect to you with regard to your reaction to seeing it is going to make it even harder for you to cope with what you’ve seen.”
People may also feel drawn to watching the video over and over again or read about it compulsively. Dr. Arnold suggests that you limit what you expose yourself to and stop watching the video.
“I would encourage them to begin dialoguing in real time with real people about how it’s affected them and allow themselves to sort of debrief on their emotional reaction to it,” said Dr. Arnold. “Work hard to try to make an understanding of what’s happened so that as they experience the emotional reactions they can understand the sensibility of their emotional reactions.”