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Fantasy Violence and Real Solutions to Violence

August 9, 2012

Politicians and journalists give simple solutions about gun-violence.  Too simple.  Their proposals are both stupid and dangerous. Fortunately for us, there are real experts who understand violence and we can learn from them.  Colonel David Grossman studies and discusses the historic level of violence in our society.   He says the rate of aggravated assault has increased by a factor of 7 in the last 60 years.  We’ve become more violent despite our 3 fold increase in incarceration rates and the increase in welfare programs.  Grossman attributes this increase to violent TV and video games.

I’ve had people disagree with Groomsman thesis, but they never show me their data.   I suspect they are guilty gamers.  So, before you object, please study Grossman and come back with articles from peer reviewed journals that disprove his point.  I’m eager to see the numbers.

What does Grossman say and why do I think he is right?  Modern video games show graphic scenes of violence.  They show a world where life is dangerous and violence is necessary.  Sociologists observe a jump in adolescent violence after TV and video games are introduced to each sub-culture all around the world.  Why is that?

These games display levels of injury and violence that were illegal to show in adult movies only a few years ago.  The player is rewarded with greater lethality as he becomes more proficient and accumulates “points” or “powers” at successive levels of the game.  This is not accidental.  You must become more violent to continue playing the game at successively higher levels.  The game habituates the player to increasing levels of violence.


The player is encouraged toward violence with hours of interactive rewards.  The game trains the players to be callous to suffering through hours of stimulus-response conditioning.  The game teaches the players basic marksmanship through hours of repetition and feedback.  We let children play these games when they are at a young age when fantasy and reality are not distinctly separate.  This leads to pathological play, but may not lead to multiple victim violence.


The child who becomes sociopathicly violent also has another characteristic.  They actively avoid discipline.  Sociopaths avoid submission to authority, and they avoid long term thinking about their actions.  They avoid sports like martial arts or football that may be violent in a constrained setting.



Note these things about “violent” team sports;

  • The game has rules.
  • The game stops and players are penalized or ejected if they break the rules.
  • The game stops if someone is hurt.
  • You are expected to aid anyone who is injured.
  • You are expected to lose and get back up rather than sulk away and claim the completion is unfair and that someone else deserves to lose.
  • You are expected to stay in the game even though you are not winning.

Now you can see why “violent” team sports are avoided by budding sociopaths.  Activities like scouting, 4H and band involve long term commitment and cooperation.  Being committed to a church youth-group involves submission to adult authority and to a higher power to whom you will always remain subordinate.  That makes these activities both antidotes and indicators for pathology.  Contrast these activities with school yard bullying, petty crime, animal abuse, and the isolation of children playing video games alone.  I think the contrast could not be sharper.

We could learn from past murders if we wanted to reduce the rate of multiple-victim violence.  That research has been done, but the cure requires us to turn-off the virtual world that amuses our children.  The cure demands that we become better parents and ask for help when we can not do so.

That cure is too inconvenient for many of us.  We would rather pursue the fantasy solution of outlawing guns than stop the pathological play that scars our children’s souls.

Think about the implications of that for a minute.  We would rather give up liberty than inconvenience ourselves by being a proactive parent for an additional hour a day.  That should make some of us squirm.

I’m not that smart, but I am lucky my wife got rid of the TV when our daughter was three years old.  Colonel Grossman is worth your time and effort.. if you can stand the inconvenience.


Robert the lucky
I gave you 700 words.  Please rate, share and comment.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Michael Dodson permalink
    August 11, 2012 4:51 am

    Well reasoned and well supported with facts, as should all opinion pieces. Grossman is the single ray of sunshine in a highly politicized area of social-psychology, much mores the pity. No one else writes with quite the personalized connection than he does, except, now there’s you. Good job.


    • August 11, 2012 5:32 am

      Thank you for writing, Michael. I try to give my readers facts so they become well reasoned advocates.


  2. December 30, 2012 8:39 pm

    Amen to the ridding of TV!



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