September 17, 2009
Having done lots of research on murder and criminal psychology, my belief is that if someone is going to take another human being’s life, reading fictional accounts of murder is not going to push them over the edge. Having said that, we do live in a world where we’re increasingly exposed to violence and graphic crime-scene depictions.
Take the many successful (and entertaining) shows on TV: CSI, Bones, Law & Order…and then, of course, there’s Dexter. But have we really been de-sensitised?
A few years ago, after lots of meticulous research into horrific and violent crimes, I honestly believed I was de-sensitised, almost in a similar way to a cop. I’d imagined some horrible situations and written about them in detail. I was tough!
Or so I thought, until I met Victoria Police’s profiler, who gave me a list of law-enforcement text books to help with my research. I ordered them online and was so excited when they arrived; and the timing couldn’t have been better because I was packing for a week-long writing retreat. I threw the books in my luggage and headed down to the beach.
The first thing I did when I arrived was to unpack the books and start flipping through one…and then I saw it. The first page the book opened to was a photo from a crime-scene in which a woman had been raped then murdered. The killer had tied her down and posed her in a disturbingly revealing way. Next photo: a dead woman with both of her breasts cut off. Next photo: a decomposing body. Next photo…I think you get the picture.