Dunblane 'copycat' theory divides experts
Wednesday 01 May 1996
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.
- 1 Toddler throws a tantrum at the White House – in front of Barack Obama
- 2 Irish people are travelling home from all over the world so they can vote to legalise gay marriage
- 3 Picture of couple posing with beached dolphin 'that later died' causes outrage
- 4 16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
- 5 Witch doctor arrested after forcing newborn baby to walk in Indian village
Toddler throws a tantrum at the White House – in front of Barack Obama
Maryland mother found pushing her dead child on a swing in a playground
Picture of couple posing with beached dolphin 'that later died' causes outrage
16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
Nicola Sturgeon did want David Cameron to win the general election, report concludes
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...