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Been watching true crime to relax? Psychologist says it's a wake-up call to check yourself

By JUSTINE PUNZALAN Published Jun 21, 2023 11:42 pm

Most of us, if not all, have been ending hard days at work by binge-watching Dahmer, The Watcher, and all other true crime series there is online. But if you find the fear and adrenaline rush from watching these shows rather relaxing, you might want to rethink how you spend your downtime.

Psychologist and American Psychological Association president Thema Bryant-Davis said that this could be a sign that you need counseling.

Davis delved into this during her guesting on The Mel Robbins Podcast last May 25 where she talked about her new book, Homecoming: Overcoming Fear and Trauma to Reclaim You True, Authentic Self.

In an excerpt of the interview Robinsons later shared on TikTok, Davis can be seen explaining why binge-watching true crime as a way to relax could actually be a sign of one's psychological and spiritual impairment.

The psychologist said, "If your idea of relaxing before you go to sleep is to watch three episodes of Law and Order, [then] I would encourage you to think about 'why is trauma relaxing to me?'"

"That's what it is. I mean it's harm, crime, violation, attacks and that's what is going to soothe me into my bedtime."

Robbins then asked Davis the common reason people would tell her about finding the habit relaxing, and the psychologist said that many of us find it "normal and familiar."

She elaborated, "Some of us grew up in high-stress [situations], so people mistake peace for boring. And it's like, to come home to yourself you have to lean into the discomfort because it's gonna feel unfamiliar."

@melrobbins If your idea of “relaxing” before bed is watching a few episodes of Law & Order (or any other #truecrime show), listen up. This was just ONE of the many incredible mic drop moments 🎤 and knowledge bombs 💣 that @Dr Thema Bryant drops on the #melrobbinspodcast. Listen now!! 👉 “6 Signs You’re Disconnected From Your Power and How to Get It Back: Life-Changing Advice From the Remarkable Dr. Thema Bryant” 🔗 in bio #melrobbins #podcast #trauma #traumatok #healing #bingewatching ♬ original sound - Mel Robbins

In the comments section of Robbins' post, many expressed how they consider the psychologist's revelation as an "eye-opener," including one who looked back on the traumatic experience she encountered when she was a child.

The user wrote, "This trauma thing is so true. My mom was murdered 29 years ago. I was only 5 months old. And now I'm obsessed with true crime and all things macabre,"

"Ok this is really an eye-opener. I used to love true crime and now that I'm healing for over a year, it isn't even interesting to me," one user added.

Another one said, "She's soooo good. It's like 500 light bulbs go off in my head. I have a major addiction to crime podcasts and shows. I call them 'cozy.'

How do you heal your trauma?

In the rest of the podcast episode, Davis explained that in order to break out of the mentality of being comfortable with discomfort, people must choose to "come home" to themselves.

She said the change would start by first accepting the fact that you are worthy of a better life then by determining people who would support you and "want you to come home to yourself."

If you find none in your existing circle, Davis recommends making new friends. "Sometimes it's brand-new people. You sign up for a cooking class, or you join a book club, or you join a political organization or your yoga people," she said.

For those who find themselves stuck in a toxic work environment or relationship, the psychologist suggests "creating a morning ritual so that you show up [every day] with your cup already full."

You can do this by, first and foremost, "waking up before you get up."

"That means set your alarm not at that the time you need to jump up and get to the shower 'cause that would make you frantic. So I'm going to a toxic place already feeling anxious," she continued. "Wake up a little early and think, 'What are some of the practices that would nourish me?' For some people that would be listening to music. And every season of your life, come up with a theme song so that theme song would get you in the right mindset."

Other things you can do as part of your morning routine are "doing some stretching, exercise, go outside for a walk, meditation and prayer, reading something inspirational that could make your mantra for the day."

Davis recommends having a morning ritual because she wants to "introduce you to your part that's not an employee" or a lover.

"You are more than your label. So if you center your goals on your boss, you will be your boss' worker. And there is a 'you' beyond your boss," she concluded.