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instance), Augustina Driessen, has reportedly treated “at least” five young people, aged 12 to 18 who “had become withdrawn, anxious and fearful they were going to die after reading King’s horror stories.”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I love the next line… “Some young people became withdrawn, didn’t do their homework or were refusing to attend school.”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.