Psychologist Issues Warning To People Who Relax By Watching True Crime Before Bed

It might be about more than just entertainment.

mel robbins Dr. Thelma Bryant Gorodenkoff via Shutterstock / TikTok

If you’re anything like me, you love snuggling up under the covers and watching a good ‘murder show’ at night. But according to minister, psychologist, and host of the ‘Homecoming’ podcast, Dr. Thema Bryant, analyzing why you relax by watching true crime before you fall asleep can tell you a lot about yourself.

Dr. Thema Bryant explained the concerning why people find true crime relaxing.

In a video shared on Mel Robbins’ TikTok account, Dr. Bryant says during an interview, “If your idea of relaxing before you go to sleep is watching three episodes of Law & Order, I would encourage you to think about ‘Why is trauma relaxing to me?’”




Forced to stop and consider the question, Robbins responded by saying “Oh.” The prompted Dr. Bryant to explain further. She said, “That’s what it is. I mean—it’s harm, crime, violation, attacks. And that’s what’s going to soothe me into my bedtime."


RELATED: 6 Signs You Have Profound Emotional Trauma (And You’re Unaware Of It)

People find true crime relaxing because it is ‘normal and familiar.’

Naturally, Robbins wondered what Dr. Bryant, as a psychologist, had heard from her clients when they opened up to her. She explained that overwhelmingly, the desire to witness traumatic situations before bedtime can be attributed to a sense of normalcy or familiarity.

“Some of us grew up in high stress so people mistake peace for [boredom],” Dr. Bryant explained. "People are so used to experiencing trauma, dysfunction, and high levels of stress, that they feel like something is off when it’s quiet and peaceful. “To come home to yourself, you have to learn to lean into the discomfort,” she added.

Being drama and trauma free will feel unfamiliar at first, but as you become accustomed to it, your need to fill space with negativity like violence and killings will start to dissipate. You will eventually come to realize that real relaxation is a safe and peaceful place you can call your own.


RELATED: 5 Ways To Heal Your Childhood Trauma (So You Don't Have To Suffer Any Longer)

There are a number of reasons people gravitate toward true crime.

An affinity for true crime doesn’t always have to be attributed to a series of traumatic experiences in your life. There a many other reasons a person might gravitate toward entertainment that could be giving off bad vibes.

1. Being obsessed with true crime has become the norm (somewhat).

There is nothing strange about loving true crime stories. An interest in crime is normal and necessary in order to understand the minds and behaviors of criminals. We do it because we are fascinated, curious, it’s always in our faces, and because most of us just can’t turn away from an obvious ‘train wreck’. The problem is when you become more obsessed than interested or entertained.

RELATED: 27 Toxic Habits That Lower Your Vibration (Without Even Realizing It)


2. Because it’s better them than us.

Those humans have the ability to empathize with others, no one can deny that when something especially terrible happens, we feel sorry for the victims, but at the same time we are happy to not be in their shoes. Whether you are grateful that you don’t have a killer in your circle, were not born a murderer, or that you haven’t experienced such tragedy, there’s something to be said for watching from a safe distance.

3. We want to learn from the experiences of others.

Another reason people watch true crime is to get a sense of awareness that makes them feel prepared should they face similar circumstances. A 2010 study found the women took more interest in true crime than men because they wanted tips on what to do or not do, were interested in learning about killers’ motives, and didn’t want to be the next victim.

True crime, like anything else, is something that is best consumed in moderation. It’s perfectly okay to enjoy a good mystery here and there, but if you happen to be one of the people who are using it fill the void left by a lack of trauma in your life, perhaps it’s time to deal with the root of the problem and stop perpetuating destructive patterns.


RELATED: 3 Signs You're Not A Night Owl — You're A Victim Of 'Revenge Bedtime Procrastination'

NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington. She covers lifestyle, relationship, and human-interest stories that readers can relate to and that bring social issues to the forefront for discussion.