Abbildungen der Seite

With regard to the clinical effects themselves, they can be divided into two groups: One including the so-called juvenile delinquent whose behavior is directly affected by the actions suggested. No doubt some of these children are already disturbed, but some are living in circumstances which make them susceptible to additional pressure in the form of unhealthy excitement and the glorification of antisocial behavior in individuals. Another group includes those who become frightened by the aggressive and threatening forces depicted, and a specific neurotic reaction may develop, rather than a delinquent type of behavior. In both instances, of course, sick children are the result.

Specific case histories as examples can be briefly cited:

1. A 14-year-old boy becomes sexually excited witnessing a suggestive, amorous adventure in a movie and on his way home is impelled to peep in a house to find some woman in a state of undress.

2. An adolescent boy not very bright mentally seeks to establish prestige for himself through attempts to emulate the tough guys he sees in movies and television and acts in a cruel and aggressive manner to neighboring boys somewhat younger than himself.

3. A neurotic young woman traces her illness to being frightened in a movie seeing a horror type of picture. Repeated nightmares persist.

4. An 11-year-old boy engages in sexual attempts with his 3-year-old cousin. He states he would become sexually stimulated watching certain programs.

5. A group of young boys become engaged in a game of stealing from stores without being caught, using techniques witnessed in various crime shows.

It can be argued that these represent a small group, that children become involved in sexual crimes, thievery, etc., when there is no direct association with pictorial representations. That to censor too much is an infringement upon freedom, and it is the responsibility of the parent to not permit children to view what is called adult entertainment. Some of these arguments are specious and miss the point that these invitations to "learning" are readily available and cannot be always directly under parental control, and that the community has a responsibility to itself to police and censor and control these forces just as it does in the area of physical control of violence and overt sexua! and criminal acts contrary to the general welfare. It is true also that adequate safeguards of emotional health and climate on a community level are just as necessary as the physical safeguards ordinarily accepted as vital in the area of public-health control, such as in communicable diseases.

Other clinicians spoke of the differential effects in terms of the reaction of an emotionally normal child to violence in the movies and the reaction of an emotionally disturbed child to this kind of presentation.

Thomas H. Smith, chief medical officer, United States penitentiary, Terre Haute, Ind., made the most succinct distinction of this concept:

Most of the movies frequently shown in their public theater, although not of wiformly high class have been censored and probably will have no deleterious effect upon the normal individual. This would not hold true for a sociopathic or emotionally unstable type of individual. Perhaps more rigid censorship might be indicated; however, the movies mast Le unusual or provide a thrill to compete with television.

Dr. Otto Billig, associate professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, represented that group of psychiatrists who feel that crime presentations affect only emotionally disturbed and insecure youngsters. He did feel that the "trigger effect" of motion pictures discussed previously was in operation in some cases:

My clinical experience has led me to believe that television programs, movies, comics, etc., have a very limited influence on the child or juvenile. We have performed rather exhaustive psychiatric and psychological studies on juvenile delinquents. Most youngsters do not seem at all influenced by such outside factors. The well-adjusted personality can resist them without difficulties. Yet there are occasional cases triggered into some delinquent act who possibly receive specific ideas on how to carry out a crime. But only the emotionally distur: ed and insecure individual appears susceptible to outside forces. Other


outside pressures have probably greater significance such as recognition by neighborhood gangs, inadequate or lack of group activities.

Dr. J. C. Ferris, senior surgeon, United States Public Health Service, Federal correctional institution in Texarkana, Tex., also directed. his remarks to the catalytic effect that the type of movie under discussion may have in making a child commit a delinquent act that he might not have had he not seen the movie. He wrote:

The use of television, movies, and certain literature for portraying crime, violence, sadism, etc., certainly are media of expression that cannot but have a regressing and ill effect on the immature and formative minds of youthful individuals.

Certainly the youthful offenders of today are less tractable, more aggressive and inclined toward assault and other more frequent vicious types of crimes than was the rule a number of years ago.

The extended use and more easy accessibility to crime programs on television, in movies and literature for youthful individuals has most certainly served in a considerable number of cases as a catalyst that activates subsequent antisocial activities.

Dr. Louis H. Cohen, of New Haven, Conn., while minimizing the effect of the mass media in the developmental processes of delinquency causation, nevertheless did feel that the type of subject matter under discussion may have a differential effect on various emotionally disturbed youngsters. He wrote:


Anyone who deals with a social problem has come to recognize that there is never a single cause for a problem, but rather that there are many causes. best, one particular factor might Le found to be one of the causes but how much weight it deserves is almost impossible to measure. Hence, I must say that movies and television in my opinion indicate ways to a certain predisposed or suggestable youngsters in which antisocial behavior can be carried out.

Dr. Phillip Q. Roche, of Philadelphia, sent to the subcommittee a short paper wherein the present subject was discussed and reported upon in his summarization. The crystallization of ideas was made up by members of the forensic committee of the Group for Advancement of Phychiatry. The pertinent paragraph in this report reads as follows:

There appears to be an agreement among observers of children that only the child already emotionally disturbed may utilize the mass media in an unadaptive manner. An excessive preoccupation with the content of crime and violence and a symptomatic reactive response to such content are tokens of such preexisting internal disturbance of the child. Such disturbance may be manifest in delinquent behaviour but the causal nexus between the stimulus of the movie or comic book and the delinquent act is more apparent than real. A secondary element invariably enters in the situation; the movie or comic book is drawn directly by context into the rationalization and attempts to account for the child's illness or antisocial behavior. Thus, there is the invariable logic that makes mass media the scapegoat and displaces responsibility from the parents.



Russell O. Settle, Medical Director, Public Health Service, and chief medical officer of the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kans., wrote:

Present-day theories of personality development all emphasize the great importance of the early years of life. Delinquent behavior is acknowledged to be symptomatic of emotional conflicts which result from the failure of parental relationships and the home situation generally to satisfy the emotional needs

necessary for maturation and good citizenship. Young children who are thus emotionally starved may be ripe subjects for subtle suggestiveness of the crime movie. In the absence of adequate parental figures and stable home life, they may readily come to identify with the heroic criminal figure depicted in movies, television, and comic books if the exposure is at the right time and of sufficient duration.

Dr. Sara G. Geiger, director of the Milwaukee County Guidance Clinic, wrote:

In view of the personality of the child who becomes a delinquent, there is no doubt but that the portrayal of the behavior of pathological and immoral individuals has a well-defined influence on the child or youth who has had no constructive parent, person, or ideal with whom to identify. In his confusion, disorganization, rebellion or hostility, this child sees this behavior as decisive, adult, and defiant to restraint or control which he has never understood. His immature personality development permits acceptance of this behavior and his identification with the individuals portrayed. Through similar Lehavior, the delinquent can express hostility and achieve a feeling of free individuality which he could not achieve with a more healthy identification.

Crime, violence, sadism, and illicit sex in mass media have deep meaning pouring an unfavorable influence on a small proportion of our youth. This portrayal of unacceptable behavior serves as a pattern for behavior for some disturbed personalities and lowers the standards of others whose disturbances are not so great that it brings them into contact with law-enforcement agencies.

Dr. A. W. Byrnes, Chief of the Physical, Medicine, and Rehabilitation Section of the Veterans' Administration in Danville, Ill., expressed his opinion on the relationship between the portrayal of criminalistic activities in the mass media and their effects on emotionally disturbed children after the vicarious release sought by the child has worn off:

Some of these people normally would not be law violators. The portrayal in the above-mentioned manner of the different emotional reactions which accompany these various activities prompts them to identify with the perpetrator of the crime. Soon, however, this no longer serves to satisfy their emotional needs. They often will then try, themselves, to commit the various illegal activities they have seen portrayed. Unfortunately, they discover too late that society is not amused and is not accepted of their exploits. There are many people in psychiatry or related fields who are making efforts to treat or retrain some of the youthful offenders. In spite of these efforts on too many occasions because of the pressure of society they easily return to their former unlawful behavior. It would be naive to feel that the complete restriction of the influences emanating from the portrayal of these criminalistic activities would abolish crime; however, there are a certain group of people that I have briefly tried to describe whom I know would tend to le more law-abiding, to narrow the case, if they were not stimulated by these various means.

Dr. Sam I. Stein, director of the psychiatric department of the family court of Cook County, gave this capsule dissertation on the relationship between delinquency and crime, violence, brutality, and illicit sex as presented in the mass media. He wrote:

After nearly 15 years of full-time service at the Cook County juvenile court, wherein I have personally examined by scientific, psychiatric methods approximately 12,000 delinquent children, I am convinced that the main cause of juvenile delinquency is a relative degree of emotional immaturity and neuroticism which will be found in the individual offender. To the extent that emotional immaturity (neuroticism) exists in a child, to that extent will it be motivated by neuromechanisms therefore unconsciously to seek for emotionally maturing effects which is sought from the realm of human, mainly parental, attention. Depending upon certain peculiarities in the psychological pattern of supplying parental love or attention giving by certain parents which yet results in inmaturity in the offspring, respectively some emotionally immature children will seek in turn greater degrees of emotional dependency attention through contrary, reactive, embarrassing, or provocative types of behavior. Very often

this negative behavior, which unwittingly is emotionally directed toward and intended to provoke a greater element of attention supply from the parents, takes the form of an impulsive act against the community (or is an act which the parents advised against). In addition, there is no doubt that the emotionally immature child, during his attention seeking, is highly suggestible. The type of child described here who becomes the delinquent is quickly drawn by his own emotional dependency urges to look for unusual or morbid, violent or sensational ways of exercising his or her negativism by reactive type of attention seeking. Ostensibly, a large source area for deviant ideas to this type of attention seeking or to this group of potential delinquents is the violent, asocial, amoral, and unethical themes which are found in some books, magazines, comics, movies, radio and television presentations. Actually the examples of undesirable conduct contained in such themes are in themselves reflective most often of the emotional (neurotic) taint which obtain so universally in the human. Removal of these hyperstimulatory morbid themes from the experience of the child will not cure or resolve the basic cause of delinquency, but it should reduce the delinquency-type tendency from developing in some emotionally deprived children or perhaps decrease the incidence of severe or serious delinquent acts. Even for these relatively limited psychiatric reasons and also since such regressional themes contribute no positive educational advantages to the child, they should be removed from the child's experience.

Dr. Irving J. Sands, of New York, directed his remarks to the unresolved emotional tensions that result from an immature child viewing and fantasizing with this type of presentation. Dr. Sands


Children are notoriously susceptible to suggestion. They imitate their elders. They hear and see much more than we believe they do. They mimic their elders. Their nervous systems are very pliable and they are extremely receptive to all stimuli, be they good or bad. Children are particularly apt to become hero worshipers and are likely to follow the behavior patterns of those whom they regard as leaders and especially when the latter are the center of attention. Youngsters are too immature and inexperienced to properly evaluate conduct patterns and to differentiate between good and bad behavior. Hence, they fall victims to mass psychology that makes heroes out of mobsters and criminals. It is tragically true that some radio and television programs, and especially some war, crime, and illicit sex comic books portray in lurid detail, acts of violence, brutality, and sadism. The sufferings of the victims are described in revolting fashions. Rarely is the ultimate plight of the criminal adequately described and seldom is the disgrace that he brings to his family described in a manner that might be of some constructive influence. All that remains with these youngsters is a sense of unresolved emotional tension that not infrequently produces physical distress and mental illness.

Often these presentations lead to a good deal of mental conflict in these children. They have learned, or are supposed to have learned, at home and at school, that virtue eventually prevails, that there is much happiness to be found in loyalty, respect for authority, law and order, respect for parents, ministers. elders, and teachers. They have been trained to gain some understanding of the value of true sportsmanship and fair play, and in respecting the rights and privileges of others. Yet when they follow some of the programs that make virtue out of crime, they become confused and they may even develop feelings of guilt, that may become the nucleus for subsequent neurotic and even psychotic behavior.


Dr. Edward Podolsky, of New York City, directed his remarks toward not only the "trigger mechanism" effect of the type of movie under discussion, but felt that this type of film may also have a sustainir g effect on delinquent juvenile behavior. Dr. Podolsky wrote:

It has been my experience that presenting crime films, sadism, and illicit sex in an attractive and adventurous form in the mass media of the movies, televisic, radio, fiction, and the comics, has a very definite and decided effect, in quite

a few cases, of initiating and sustaining a social and criminal activity in juveniles and adolescents. The human mind in these age groups is quite impressionable and easily conditioned. By constant and repeated presentation of undesirable and criminal activity in mass media, many children and adolescents many times accept these as an attractive way of living. It is my opinion that some degree of control should be exercised over these media in an attempt to curb delinquent behavior. This will not solve the entire problem, but it will go a long way in solving it.


Leaders of the motion-picture industry continually refer to the fact that in all motion pictures, the criminal is finally brought to justice in the end of the film. In referring to this concept, Dr. Edmund Bergler, of New York City, wrote:

2. Although all movies and television plays make the concession of showing that the criminal is eventually punished, this climax has no effect on the real or potential criminals; he classifies such retribution as a bow to prevailing mores and dismisses it. The criminal (actual or potential) also believes that he, unlike his counterpart on the screen, will be too smart to be caught.


Leon A. Witkin, senior surgeon and chief medical officer of the United States Penitentiary Hospital in Lewisburg, Pa., gave some insight into the fallacious idea held by many that people are consciously aware of the motivation behind their behavior. Dr. Witkin felt that a delinquent who states he gained an idea to commit a criminal act or antisocial behavior by viewing it in the mass media, is merely using this as an excuse for his behavior. He stated that penitentiary inmates almost unanimously believed that lurid books, comics, movies, and television are major causes of crime, but as he stated, it was his feeling that this attitude is merely a mechanism for justifying their own criminal behavior.

In attempting to delineate what he feels to be the relationship between the mass media and delinquent behavior, Dr. Witkin stated:

My own feeling is that these mass media must in some way leave their mark, since I believe that all behavior is influenced in some manner by every environmental experience and that adolescents, perhaps more than adults, ape environmental experiences. This is, however, quite different from saying the criminal or other abnormal behavior witnessed is directly reproduced. I believe that it is Lot the criminality per se of the juvenile delinquent that is influenced by movies or television but merely the pattern of expression of criminality.

Dr. Gordon R. Kamman, of St. Paul, Minn., was another clinician who referred to the crime techniques learned in movies:

Many years ago I made a study on the psychiatric and social aspects of delinquency, and at that time I was definitely of the opinion that many of the crime techniques which were practiced by juvenile delinquents had been learned in the movies or from reading about crime methods in newspaper accounts. Therefore, for the past 25 years, I have been unalterably opposed to the publication, either in newspapers or in fictional media, of any information regarding the technique of crime material which is sexually stimulating and other matters which would influence the thinking of our young population.

Dr. Douglas Goldman, clinical director of the children's unit at Long View State Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio, succinctly outlined what the subcommittee feels to be the nature of the problem. He wrote:

1. Of primary importance in the development of juvenile delinquency and crime is the social pathology represented by adverse conditions of social and

« ZurückWeiter »