Psychology. Why are we so fascinated by the news?

Soap opera intrigues about the disappearance of Delphine Jubilar, numerous documentaries on the case of Gregory Wilman, the wild success of the series, which the magazine Society dedicated in the summer of 2020 to Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès: it’s undeniable, the French are addicted to news and have been for centuries.

Indeed, since the nineteenthas well as century and the spread of information channels, news reporting has a special place in information processing, although this genre is often despised by intellectuals such as the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who called news reports “useless things” and “distractions” that would obscure vital information to the population and by part of the population. At least at the front.

The news belongs to our dark side

Yes, because the news brings us back to our basic instincts and to our own dark side of the perversions, sadism and voyeurism that we’ve all buried and don’t assume.

If we look at the bright side of the mirror, we tend to think that interest in the news is part of our humanity and our compassion for the victims of these horrific crimes.

But for many, it awakens the worst instincts and the worst behavior: in 1996, when the Belgian recidivist murderer Marc Dutroux was arrested, the outrage was such that he was forced to wear a bulletproof vest, fearing that someone hid in the crowd, please. eliminate the criminal.

The killer acts here as the embodiment of evil and reminds us that each of us is a criminal who sleeps, according to the psychoanalyst Jacques-Alain Miller, who is quoted by our colleagues from Psychology “The immoral is part of our being. […] We dream of transgressing, fulfilling our forbidden desires. The charm of the great criminal finds meaning in the fact that he realizes the fantasy that is present in us. We are all reckless killers.”

The more heinous the murder, the more it fascinates us.

Sometimes the heinousness of murder is admired as the human mind wonders about human nature and why a man or woman commits such atrocities.

Why, in 2012, did Canadian Luca Rocco Magnotta, nicknamed the “Flayer of Montreal,” murder a Chinese student in cold blood before dismembering him and eating several of his organs?

The mystery surrounding some of these horrific crimes is both disgusting, terrifying and of great fascination.

The sight of the news today can be described as a horror movie that in itself will give you the kind of shivers that only the sight of a knife can.

News release exposing social tensions

Sometimes news reports reveal hidden social tensions, as evidenced by the 1972 murder of a humble teenager in Bruet-en-Artois (Pas-de-Calais).

This heinous act was taken advantage of by the militants and some extreme left-wing press, which saw in this crime the heinous act of a noble bourgeois, in this case the notary Henri Pascal. In the end, during the investigation, all suspicions were removed from him.

According to sociologist Lucie Jouvet-Legrand, lecturer in socioanthropology at the Franche-Comté University of Burgundy, news can also serve as social cement. Le Figaro “We prolong the relationship with the protagonist who crossed the red line, we agree with the pain that loved ones should feel … It’s a bit like the weather, there is a consensus. The tension is centered on a man or woman, often ordinary, but becoming the personification of evil, who should be despised and cursed.

Child murders touch the sacred

The murders of children are obviously especially followed by the media and the general public, because here we are touching the most sacred being of our society, defenseless and pure in nature. The child represents a world without vices, without violence and a future.

The closeness that all mothers knew with Christina Villemin, an ordinary woman, made all the more unbearable the accusations brought against her subsequently not only by the investigators, but also by the writer Margarita Duras, who disregarded any presumption of innocence in favor of an intimate relationship. condemnation, another perverse news effect.

On the other hand, unsolved cases are of most interest to the public, because as long as questions and crimes remain unanswered and without a culprit, the story continues…

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