Dr. Phil Blames Video Games for Virginia Tech Massacre

April 17, 2007 -
In the wake of yesterday's horrific shootings at Virginia Tech, gadfly attorney Jack Thompson was not the only one who was quick to place blame on violent video games.

Noted T.V. shrink Dr. Phil McGraw appeared on CNN's Larry King Live last night to discuss the rampage. During the course of the program, the following exchange took place:
LARRY KING: Why, though - OK, you want to kill someone, you're crazed, you're a little nuts, girlfriend drops you, why do you kill innocent people?... Dr. McGraw, are they treatable?

DR. PHIL: Well, Larry, every situation is different...  The question really is can we spot them. And the problem is we are programming these people as a society. You cannot tell me - common sense tells you that if these kids are playing video games, where they're on a mass killing spree in a video game, it's glamorized on the big screen, it's become part of the fiber of our society. You take that and mix it with a psychopath, a sociopath or someone suffering from mental illness and add in a dose of rage, the suggestibility is too high.

And we're going to have to start dealing with that. We're going to have to start addressing those issues and recognizing that the mass murders of tomorrow are the children of today that are being programmed with this massive violence overdose.

Full transcript here.

Comments

Why is the font bolder now??

@jdmdsp911

If that is really his writing than he was really messed up.

I just read the one act play the kid wrote that The Smoking Gun got a hold of. This person was disturbed, there is no doubt about that.

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0417071vtech1.html

[...] A comment left by Robert included another article on a similar subject, you can find it here. Thanks for the link. [...]

dabomb Says:
Why is everyone here putting Dr Phil down? He has a point, vidio games are and have been invloved with the decline of our culture for a long time. Wakeup gamers.

Because he's using the coffins of 32 victims as a soapbox for his behavioral theories. Taking psychological advice from hack talk shows host has more to do with the decline of our culture than "vidio games."

Why is everyone screaming?

Dammit Ken, How dare you bring logical thinking into this!!!!(j/k)

You'll never hear statisitics like that come from the mouths of the likes of Dr. Phil McQuack and Hack Thompson.

Hmmm...let's see if I can get this straight...

According to government statistics found here:
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/cvict.htm

Violent crime has steadily decreased since 1994, reaching an all time low in 2005. What year was Doom released? Oh...December of 1993.

So...if the era of "violent video games" stems from 1993 - Present, why is violent crime declining and why did it reach an all time low in 2005?

The mass murderers of tomorrow are the kids of today who don't have a safe place like violent video games to vent their anger and frustration.

Dammit!!!

A longggg time ago, a wife was on his show who was pissed at the fact that his husband was playing halo 2 with her 2 year old kid. (rofl...it's wrong..try atleast 13, buddy.)

Dr. Phil said that games couldn't cause all out violence, but could lead to increased agression in kids...he also stated that there was no link between murders and games in studies..

But now..

Turncoat F***!!!!! 0.o

They do it for the money not art?

A publisher might, a dev might, but the individual people are not. The grind ain't worth the money unless you really love making games. The only reason I want to go near game design is the fact that I enjoy making games. Unless I make it for 10 or 15 years in the industry and land a higher up job I'll never make half of what my parents make.
Not to say that I'm going to be living from pay-check to pay-check, but I won't be rolling in the dough. So please your gonna have to come up with something besides "Its only for hte money".

[...] Re: Deadliest school shooting in US history Haha, ladies and gentlemen, a new 'popular' idiot has arisen __________________ She chose to walk alone, though others wondered why Refused to look before her, kept eyes cast upwards towards the sky. LastFM DA [...]

I'm a reporter at the New York Daily News writing on violent video games and kids, and would love to interview parents for their take on whether it can be harmful for kids to play these games...it's tied in with our coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre. Would love to hear from you. My number at the paper is 212-210-2245. thanks much!

@ Dabomb

Hi, nice to see a new face around here. First, I want to agree with your initial statement: Dr. Phil's interview really isn't bad. He makes a valid point about the potentially deadly combination of violent media, unstable personality, and rage.

But he leaves out what you so astutely refer to: the easy access to firearms for the criminally inclined. That adds the capability of one disturbed individual's vendetta against "the rich" or "decadance," to become mass-murder.

But in blaming "Liberal Culture" is where we differ - I could just as easily say the simple fact that 50's era conservatives' unwillingness to change created this liberal movement you seemingly detest.

Instead of going round the Liberal/Conservative perspective debate, which gets us nowhere, why don't we look at the evidence in this case? So far, I've seen nothing from any investigator that even mentions video games. The people who did mention them, specifically an activist lawyer and a pseudo-psychologist, are doing so purely for their own gains, and should be taken with that in mind. I personally detest those who exploit the mass-murder of students for their own gains, and that explains the hateful reaction Dr. Phil gets here and elsewhere.

Anyway, who takes Dr. Phil seriously?

I knew it. As soon as this thing broke out, I knew someone was going to blame video games. Always happens...

@chickie
Of course, except in that case you'd have an insatiable bloodlust against dogs with smirks on their faces.

Why do they keep calling this the deadliest school massacre in US history? That happened in 1927 when some guy blew up a school because he didnt want to pay taxes. By their logic, taxes - not video games - would be the culprit.
http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/history/bath/index_1.html

Just becuase the kid is South Korean? What an awful stereotype!

Dr. Phil? More like Dr. Racist!

so because I played Duck Hunt when I was a kid, I'm going to go on a rampage because of my insatiable bloodlust?

So you are comparing Bundy to this? What is wrong with you? Obviously the US has the means (guns) for these crimes to be commited. That's not going to change anytime soon.

The problem with people who defend video games is that it is all they want to look at. It is not just video games it is the culture as a whole where parents are too busy (both working or single parents) to make the right decisions for their childrens' development. Without the parents spending, or allowing their childeren to spend money on violent forms of entertainment then, by economics, there would be less of it around. People don't make these things for "art" they make them for money.

Does it really seem that silly to look for signs that something is wrong with a person?

The trigger behind something doesn't matter that much, but there are almost always things that people should have noticed before such a thing happened. Games aren't really to blame, and neither the ease with which someone in the US can get hold of a gun. The real blame should fall on those around him who could have spotted that something wasn't right, if it's true that he sought help but didn't get it, then there is something that definitely needs reforming. Places where mentally unstable people can get help and care are needed, perhaps more than ever now, and yet it seems that there are fewer than ever.

I write stories about murder; does that mean I'm going to be a murderer? I watch movies involving twisted deaths; does that mean I am going to reenact them? I play violent videogames; does that mean I am going to go around on a shooting spree? It's stupid! The greatest irony that I find is that many people escape to videogames just to stop them from hurting a person. If I get really angry at a person to the point that I want to punch them, I play Resident Evil and shoot zombies in the head. That's all and I don't have the urge to hurt that person anymore.

As many have mentioned about videogames being aimed at, what about television? What about music? In order for you to play the majority of games out there, you need a gaming station. Then you need a television> Where as I can cut the middle man out and just watch a very violent movie on the television.

@Ted: The gun laws in Virginia are very poor. Anyone can get a gun there too easily. It's like that comment in Bowling for Columbine: sign up for a bank account, get a free gun.

When it comes to kids, I blame the parents. The parents should be the ones that tell their kids what is real and not. They should also be the ones to check out about what their kids are watching and playing. My brother is 12 and wanted the Scarface videogame. My mom was ready to buy it for him until I mentioned that it was based upon the movie and she didn't buy it. But, now you have these movie theater workers who allow kids to go into rated R movies and they are 10 and these people that work at videogame stores that allow a 10 year old to buy GTA. There is a reason for a rating system and people are just ignoring it.

"You cannot tell me - common sense tells you that if these kids are [continuous new coverage about violent crimes], where they’re [watching some dateline special on Columbine], it’s glamorized on the big screen, it’s become part of the fiber of our society. You take that and mix it with a psychopath, a sociopath or someone suffering from mental illness and add in a dose of rage, the suggestibility is too high."

It's amazing how the media never makes THIS argument...

Where did I say anything about censorship?

So the killer was referred for counseling- why? Because of his art! Which way do you want it? Would you have all artist subject to such review? You use an argument that goes against your argument.

VTECH JUST KICKED IN YO

I play with my dick all the time. By Dr. Phil's logic, I should want to go out in the world and play with other dude's dicks. I hardly ever do that. Dr. Phil is stupid.

That's right. And furthermore, we should take all the jobs away from the women and minorites and place government censors on art, because if someone's expression leaves a wrong impression in someone's mind, a mind that is already troubled, it's the artists fault instead of the one who goes around, murdering innocent people. Also let's not place any blame on the health care system that were hardly dilligent in their responsibility to care for these people once they have been referred. The killer at the VT massacre had indeed been referred to counseling. But of course it's art's fault for all the troubles in the world, not the people who actually pull the triggers.

Heck, let's just burn the constitution while we're at it. No more freedom of expression. No more expression. Let's not help people, let's not criticize the powers-that-be if we disagree with them. Let's censor everything that might rub a right-winged prude complainer the wrong way.

Let's all go back to Ronald Reagan's 50's. In which case, I simply recommend you watch Blue Velvet.

Why is everyone here putting Dr Phil down? He has a point, vidio games are and have been invloved with the decline of our culture for a long time. Wakeup gamers.

...DID the kid play video games? I thought they couldn't even confirm if he was a student or not.

But I think what he might be TRYING to say is the society itself is going downhill, which I agree. Honestly you'd think that video games reflect society, not the other way around. Why else do they sometimes change the content of a game when it is sent to other countries?

Anyways this kind of reaction is completely expected. I hope they actually investigate all circumstances leading up to this rampage and not just write it off as him being a gamer. If we don't find the true influences behind these tragedies they are just going to keep happening.

so video games have been around for 15 years or so... or is that just how far back you can go because you are 17? Video games are just another piece of it, I said INVOLVED not TOTAL BLAME. If video games had been around in the 50's they would have been like TV and movies at the time: less violent. As our entertainment has regressed so has society- it is plain to see. Now which comes first- chicken or egg- well I say liberal culture.

@Rosemary

Not to be rude but your average parent is not qualified to give a "take" unless you are going for pure emotional opinions to use as quotes to make your story more interesting.

I work in the industry as a developer and I don't see his comments as particularly damaging. In fact I think he's right. He's not blaming games but he is suggesting that the inundation of mass violence on society mixed with an unstable suggestible personality is a recipe for a problem. He even suggests that this a combination that we're going to have to deal with and I think he's right. Saying a problem person should be watched for their exposure to violence sounds like a reasonable start to me.

-L

Hypothical #1

A loving parent (say Dr. Phil for example) who teaches his/her kid the differences between right and wrong, to be kind to your neighbors all the while letting the kid play the most violent of video games.

Hypothical #2

Irresponsible parents who let the kids do whatever they want, be rude to their peers, teachers and society in general and suffer no consequences for their actions no matter how terrible yet are not allowed to play any video games at all.

Question: Isn't it obvious by now that hypothical # 2 is the scenario where that kid is the one who is most likely to snap and go on a shooting rampage?

Yet, if we add everything together, bad parenting, anti-social behavior, loner, likes to watch violent movie or play violent video games, all the media outlet and Dr. Phil here starts pointing to video games as the most likely culprit.

@dabomb

i dont know if your joking or not but if you are not joking ive got news for you: our society has been declining much longer than 15 or so years. you wake up.

If only we had put a stop to video games, then the white chapel murders would never have happened! Or the crusades! Or WW1-2 Or Vietnam!

and no mention of Bush, the war, the senseless killing of our troops .. the fact that most of the US is a bunch of gun toting hicks that probably think 32 is a low number due to the fact they have better aim ..

[...] That being said, Jack Thompson and Dr Phil are idiots. The bodies aren’t even cold, yet these  two “experts” put the blame on violent video games. Call of the police investigation! The answer was under our noses the entire time! If you’re under 30 years of age and snap and start killing people, video games are to blame. Nevermind the fact that according to most of the reports I’ve read don’t mention video games at all. Infact, they mention that he was a disturbed individual who probably had some sort of mental condition. [...]

[/B]

[QUOTE]"You take that and mix it with a psychopath, a sociopath or someone suffering from mental illness and add in a dose of rage, the suggestibility is too high."[/QUOTE]

He says "mix it...", so it doesn't seem like he was trying to blame video games, unless when they are played by psychopaths and sociopaths.

But I would really like to ask him this hypothetical question - if reading about psychiatrist who trivializes American national tragedy by blaming video games for it can piss a person so much they decide to kill someone, would that mean psychiatry is to blame for the murder?

If you really want to get in to the odds of him being a gamer, consider how many people in the 16-25 demographic play video games. We were raised on the damn things; they're going to have a high penetration in our society. So of course there's gonna be a strong likelihood that the gunman in question played video games; it would be almost a statistical anomaly if he wasn't.

One of the major things you learn in any good stats or science class is the ability to recognize actual correlation and simple coincidence.

Perhaps "Dr." Phil should've spent more time on his math homework...

/the only person video games have ever inspired me to kill is JT

so what video game was Charlie Whitman playing? How about Starkweather? How about Albert Fish or Ed Gein?
You know Phil, knowing a bit about the history of violence with or without guns saves you from sounding like a braying jackass with an axe to grind and a finger to point when you go off on your inane ramblings.

I think the good "Doctor" (pfft, what an insult to anybody who actually graduated from med school) just mad because he never had to coordination to get high score on Tempest at the pizza parlor and people used to make fun of him for it.

Dr. Fraud, I mean Phil, strikes again.

Dr Phil is an idiot.

What an asshole....he blames video games for those killings. What about the shooting that took place in 1977 or 1979 was in in Texas when there wasn't nearly any "power of suggestibility" video games had. Or Jim Jones for euthanizing over 1000 people in Guam....He points the fingers at video games because he has no one else to point the finger too and im sure his political party backs him up on endorsements for siding with them its all politics.

@ Rosemary Black
There are a number of Psychological studies available. Interviewing parents on wether or not videogames are harmful is like interviewing parents about the threat of Great Whites after the movie Jaws.

Parents are not experts on child psychology. The vast majority have been programmed by the scare tactics shoveled by the media for increased ratings. Interviewing terrified parents will only compound the irrational fear. But hey, you already new that didn't you. The odds of getting an objective, fact based report from scared, unqualified people is laughable. Thanks for trying to include us into your propoganda hate machine.

"This is all because of the messages, planted in our minds, by that Degenatron in the 80's!" - a phrase from a radio show on GTA: SA

"I wonder what'll happen when Oprah realizes Dr. Phil is full of sh*t" - John Stewart

No one's really suprised by this. I'm sure everyone's smoked something bad one time or another and thought "man video games is the devil", most of us just don't have a way to get on TV before our heads clear and we go back to playing Katamari Damacy. It's not like this guy has a reputation for quality diagnostics. We just need to stop taking these people seriously, stop pretending they have a clue, there's simply nothing else that can be done.

I mean, I know it SEEMS like busting a cap in them is the perfect solution since I've been playing GTA this morning, but somehow, for some reason, I don't intend to act on my violent urges. It's almost as if there's some crucial difference between a place every time you're shot you're revived at the hospital moments later with no ill effects, and here.

Well, at any rate I hope everyone takes this to heart instead of buying Dr. Phil's new book "A Comprehensive List of Things That Make Psycho's Violent and How To Dispose of Them" and the follow-up later this year "So You've Sold All Your Possessions, What Now?"

So, how would the esteemed doctor (and Jack Thompson) account for Jack the Ripper, Bonnie and Clyde, Mobsters of the prohibition era, Hitler, Stalin, and hundreds of others that committed similar crimes BEFORE video games? Games are not doing this, people are doing this...sick people, but people non-the-less, and this stuff happened before video games and even television had been invented!!!

@ Wolf

I can't comment real specifically on the history of FOX news since quite honestly I know little about them and only understand that they have a generally conservative agenda. So I'm not going to argue with your interpretation of their target audience simply because I'm not informed enough to do so.

One thing I'm certain of though is that FOX is a major network and a lot of people heard that interview and would naturally be inclined to take it at face value. I'm sure you would have the radicals who would follow Jack Thompson blindly even if the news were presented fairly, but you also have people who identify more with conservative politics, but are still fair minded individuals. Both sides have blind prejudice followers, and both sides have open-minded progressive thinkers who seek genuine truth.

Labels are a little too dismissive and it's not fair to clump everyone into a group, even if they are watching a network with an obvious agenda.

I don't really want to keep clogging this thread with this since it's only semi-related, but I do stand by my point. I encourage other gamers to write to FOX news and express their disapproval of the damaging and one-sided Jack Thompson interview they aired just after the shootings took place yesterday.

@Carbonatedgravy

In my opinion...if you're watching FOX News, you are either A. Doing it for some reason totally unrelated to actual news, like...just to kill some time, or B. So one-sided Christian Republican, you'd agree with anything Jack Thompson says anyhow. Basically, in other words...yeah, I think their target audience ARE idiots. Not because I'm a liberal and oppose most of their views, but rather, because those kinds of radicals follow so blindly, that...yeah, it's like, why not try thinking for yourself and open your eyes, instead of letting your priest and your political party tell you how to think.

Don't get me wrong, though. I do respect competence, even if it's from someone with a view I don't share.

If its not music, D&D role playing, video games, movies and what ever else is considered forms of entertainment makes people go on killing sprees, whats left? How many people went on a killing spree after engaging in a game of Pong? Look back at the Postal workers! Dr Phil, did you know that delivering mail day in and day out caused a mailman to go on a killing spree? Heck, I didnt know delivering mail was a form of entertainment, but god forbid the person would have had mental issues before any of these things. Note to self, do not have any fun for fear it may cause me to go on a spree as well.

I've always known that Dr. Phil was a quack and charlatan after hearing how he "helped" some fellow 911 dispatchers a few years ago. This diarrhea that he spewed forth on Larry King last night is just further proof. I'm sure hOprah will be vomiting the same crap at some point since Dr. Quack said it.

Hummmm, I think it what caused it all, was the shooter was listening to Judas Priest Backwards, and of course KISS (Knights in Satan's Service) Thank god ole Tipper Gore saved us young kids by putting Mature Labels on the Records!

Ah the good ole days!
 
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