Newsflash! Stephen King is Scary!

Just read a so-called “news” article, HORROR TALES TRIGGER TRAUMA, from the Bay of Plenty Times out of New Zealand. You can read the article here.

I have to quote the opening line of Michele McPherson’s article. “Books by American novelist Stephen King are leaving some Western Bay children and teenagers traumatised, fearing death and in need of intensive therapy.”


A child psychologist (someone I might refer to as a “quack” in this particular instance), Augustina Driessen, has reportedly treated “at least” five young people, aged 12 to 18 who “had become withdrawn, anxious and fearful they were going to die after reading King’s horror stories.”


The qua– er, psychologist believes the books were obtained at home. The article quotes her as saying, “Their parents were not aware that they were such a bad influence on them.”

I love the next line… “Some young people became withdrawn, didn’t do their homework or were refusing to attend school.” No kidding? My 14-year-old gets like that too. And he plays XBox. Damn that Stephen King! He must be sending secret messages through video games too!

The article goes on…”Mrs Driessen said parents needed to watch what their children were reading and where possible read books with them and talk about them or read the books themselves first. ‘I believe there needs to be parental guidance to help these kids and to look at what they’re reading.'” What a great psychologist. If I approached my 17-year-old and said, “Honey, I’m concerned about that Stephanie Meyer book you’re reading. You may want to die afterward…can we read it together?”

Actually, I may want to die afterward. Sparkly vampires will do that to you, you know.


The article goes on to get some colour commentary from a local bookseller and a Library Children and Teenage Services worker.

The bookseller comes out with some nuggets all her own. “‘[The Stephen King books] are definitely for older teens, no doubt about it.'” Oh, so, like say, a 17 or 18-year-old? But they’re living in fear now!

She continues, “They are quite scary books…The Shining is absolutely petrifying. It’s about a ghost in a hotel.” Yeah, and Casper was a ghost in a house! Patrick Swayze was a ghost in Whoopi Goldberg…now, that’s freaking scary.


Seriously though, let’s look at this. Nowhere in the article does it mention which books they were reading. So is this the entire Stephen King bibliography we’re covering here? Or certain books?

Also, the child psych says parents need to watch what they’re kids are reading. Well, duh. Of course they do. They also need to watch what television shows and movies their kids are watching. And what websites they’re hitting. And what games they’re playing. And what kids they’re hanging out with. And whether they’re smoking, doing drugs or having sex. And talking to them about all of it. That’s what parenting’s all about.

Any medical practioner worth their salary is never going to take such a ridiculous stand as to look at, not one, but at least five teenage lives and boil down their fears, or refusal to do homework and attend school, to a Stephen King novel. Hell, if he wrote that story–an author that destroys his fans–he’d have to do some serious work to make it believeable. With all of the influences young adults have now, I’m just glad to hear these kids are reading.

Pop psychology is so easy these days. Take one thing out of context, ignore all other elements, and point a finger. Has anyone taken a look at the home life of these kids? Apparently the parents have no clue what their kids are reading…what else do they not know what the kids are doing?

To me? Five kids in the same area? All claiming they’re scared of dying? All refusing to go to school or do homework? All seeing the same psychologist? I’d say the answer is either that the psychologist is leading them so she can get her name on the map, or the kids worked together to create a fun hoax to drive their parents batshit.

And for the record? CARRIE came out in 1974. I was 12. ‘SALEM’S LOT came out in 1975, and THE SHINING which, for the record, really is a petrifying book, came out in 1977 when I was 15. It scared the crap out of me. And you know what? That’s why I picked up the freaking book for in the first place. Stephen King. Horror. Want to be scared.

So, seriously. A bunch of teens read Stephen King and get scared. Who knew?

I’m more worried about the intelligence level of these kids than anything.

scared stupid


3 thoughts on “Newsflash! Stephen King is Scary!

  1. Can’t get anything right can you…Augustina Driessen is a Psychotherapist. Not that you actually stopped to ask her her opinion or gave her the chance to answer any of the total rubbish you have printed. I say to you, actually take the time to read what she is saying. I also say to you (because you do not live in New Zealand and do not know the culture) is to try to use a large portion of that small brain of yours and see she is trying to help people. Unlike you she actually cares.
    As far as worry goes, try looking at your own kids who’s idea of fun it is, is to play Xbox rather than play outside or do something worthwhile for others.

    • I stand corrected. Driessen is a child psychotherapist. My mistake.

      And no, I wouldn’t ask her opinion, because, when it comes to this, she’s an idiot. She preaches elsewhere (yes, I’ve done some reading on her) that parents need to let their children make choices. Apparently she works with new parents to build a bond with their children in the first year because, according to her, many don’t know how. Thank God she’s there to show the way, huh?

      I’m sure she believes she’s trying to help people. I really do. And I’m sure she cares. However, she’s misguided. She’s essentially saying that, despite all the death and horror our children (whether in Canada, where I’m from, the US, or even in New Zealand) see and hear on newscasts, television programs, video games, in novels and even in real life, that it boiled down to ready a fucking book by one author that suddenly opened their eyes to death and traumatized them?


      On the other hand, maybe I don’t know the culture. Maybe New Zealanders created some sort of Wizard of Oz-like Emerald City where their children are fed only lovely images of unicorns and rainbows and candy-coloured horses or something. A land where no one ever grows old, where no one dies, where no one ever gets upset.

      I seriously doubt it though.

      And as for my own kids, yes, one does like to play Xbox. He loves the violent games where he kills Nazi zombies and stuff. He’s played most of these games for the past seven years, from the time he was ten until now, at seventeen. He also loves to be outside, either on his skateboard, or playing sports with his friends. He also is a damned good carpenter and helps around the house. He’s funny, articulate and whip-smart. He’s polite and well-mannered. And he’s read Stephen King and doesn’t get pathological about his own demise.

      My daughter is twenty, watches the odd horror movie, but was more deeply affected by The Diary of Anne Frank. It troubled her so much that she–and I know this is going to shock you Emil, because it was all on her own free will–she, at the age of 11, went and purchased more books about the Holocaust and educated herself about it. In fact, she’s actually traveled to Europe and visited a concentration camp as well as the house Anne Frank hid in. Now, it doesn’t get much more horrific than genocide, yet again, my daughter doesn’t agonize over her pending death. She volunteers at soup kitchens, raises money for cancer research and for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. And, at the age of twenty, she just made the decision to purchase a purity ring, meaning she’s decided she will not have sex until she’s married.

      Neither of my kids smoke or do drugs. They think the ones that do are assholes. My son doesn’t drink. My daughter does, but not to excess.

      So, there you have it. From a lousy parent such as myself, who had an alcoholic father who left us when I was four and didn’t have much of a father figure after that. So, I didn’t know Driessen’s “rules” for bonding with my kids. Neither did my wife. But here we are, married 22 years, with great kids. So I guess I can get something right after all, huh, Emil?

      So don’t lecture me on being a good parent, Emil. You don’t get to. And Driessen? With her pop-psychology–because that’s what it is, it’s not based on science, it’s not based on proven, demonstrable tactics, it’s based on what she thinks is right–is bullshit.

      Utter, complete bullshit.

      But thanks for stopping by, Emil.

      • Thanks for your reply. well done on being one of the few that actually get children who give a damn… I don’t believe I called you a lousy parent! however you are still missing the picture and still no research on your behalf. STOP! all I ask is that you look up the statistics on NZ and maybe other places in the world about children/teenagers and look at what Driessen is trying to say, stop focusing on the little things… its a little more than what you have read. reflect and think for longer than a day.
        Hey we are here for learning, and good on your children for stepping out and making a difference. Its good to see…. this will be my last reply as basically if there is no time to think and try and relate, well, people like Driessen are trying to make a difference so stuff anyone that damns as at least someone is trying to make a difference…. as for Rules, I don’t believe Driessen mentions rules however maybe more parents should have them.
        Oh and if I don’t get to lecture on veing a parent (being one myself then you don’t get to lecture others on their “pop psychology” as you don’t have their DEGREE… and you wouldn’t know based on facts cause, well you havn’t seriously taken the time…
        can’t resist can you…have to have the last word cause you can’t help yourself….BYE!

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