Dunblane 'copycat' theory divides experts

Experts were divided yesterday over claims that the Tasmanian massacre may have been triggered by global TV and radio coverage of the Dunblane shootings in March.

Dr Guy Cumberbatch, senior lecturer in applied psychology at Aston University, described as "uninformed and disgraceful" the suggestion by the FBI's chief psychiatrist, Dr Park Deitz, that Martin Bryant's murder spree was a copycat killing.

"To state that TV coverage of Dunblane is behind what happened in Tasmania is absolute nonsense. This man is simply speculating on what was going on in the mind of Martin Bryant. He doesn't know.

"There is no place for this kind of psychiatry," said Dr Cumberbatch, an expert on violence and the media.

However, Dr Deitz's remarks, were supported by Dr Harry Jacobs, executive officer for the Society of Clinical Psychiatrists. He said: "People are very suggestible. This kind of TV coverage puts shooting in everybody's mind, in your mind, in my mind. If one is a bit paranoid the idea is implanted."

He said he would like to see less "instant sensationalism" in the reporting of such events and a more sober approach.

Dr Deitz put forward his controversial theory in the United States, suggesting that Bryant may even have been consciously trying to beat the number of victims killed by Thomas Hamilton in Dunblane.

In a parallel argument, critics in the US also claim that the cult movie Natural Born Killers has triggered a number of copycat murders.

Dr Deitz said: "Presumably what happened was this man was sitting in Australia watching the emotional television pictures from Dunblane and more than the mourning parents he saw people vowing to change policy and ban dangerous weapons."

"He probably thought to himself, 'I am as powerful as he is. The world needs to know my suffering and feel my rage'."

Consultant clinical psychologist Susan Hope-Borland said she believed there could be a link between TV coverage and later killings. "If something is brought to someone's attention then it becomes more salient in their mind - it increases their range of options."

However, Dr Cumberbatch said that while the link between TV coverage and later killings was theoretically possible, there was simply no evidence of the "clusters" of massacres which such a connection would cause.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?