Repeated exposure to graphic images influences health


Repeated exposure to violent images leads to an increase in physical and psychological ailments. In a nationally representative same of US adults, researchers found that repeated viewing of images of 9/11 and the Iraq War led to physical and mental illness.

Graphic images have consequences

The effect of “lingering trauma” has long been questioned and this new study sheds light on the effects of natural disasters, mass shootings and terrorist attacks. Graphic images may have lasting consequences for the mind and body according to study author Roxane Cohen Silver, UCI professor of psychology & social behavior, medicine and public health.

There is no benefit to repeated exposure

“I would not advocate restricting nor censoring war images for the psychological well-being of the public,” Silver explained. “Instead I think it’s important for people to be aware that there is no psychological benefit to repeated exposure to graphic images of horror.”

PTSD-like symptoms

People in the study who reported watching more than four hours a day of 9/11 and Iraq War-related television coverage when the event happened reported both acute and post-traumatic stress symptoms over time. They also reported physician-diagnosed physical health ailments two to three years later. Participants were asked to assess their health before 9/11, in the weeks after and a follow up occurred three years later.

Beware of saturation through social media

“The results suggest that exposure to graphic media images may be an important mechanism through which the impact of collective trauma is dispersed widely,” Silver said. “Our findings are both relevant and timely as vivid images reach larger audiences than ever before through YouTube , social media and smartphones.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, UCI


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