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Recently i stumbled upon a movie disc and on it was a movie called "American guinea pigs". It wasn't a typical funny horror story, it was a ultra realistic documentary style movie. There was a woman laying on a table (tied to it) and she was surrounded by masked group who injected something into her. Then her skin was removed from her neck and her calves were cut of in pieces. I was shocked and i felt my heart pumping and i was about to faint. i stopped the movie and just waited for this rush to pass. But i couldn't close the movie until i knew it is a movie not a real life event (if you have seen it you will know why, it is very real). So i played it again and dragged it manually to the end.

Then the carnage was followed by them chopping her arms and gutting her. I couldn't take anymore so i skipped to the end. Just like all the movies this had a clip from the sequel too. It was a new born baby and a little boy on the table this time, i was too traumatized to remember but the text below meant that this would be the sequel.

This was hard for me and my mind burst into a sea of emotions and it kept reminding me the equally disturbing real life events i unfortunately witnessed in my life. I had no other idea but to write them all down on a book.Now whenever i feel i'm loosing my edge with my still very young practice i read that book and somehow it immediately bring me back to mindfulness.


This was meant to be entertaining to some audience and someone knowingly gave her baby to be presented as the next pray to this. I know the world isn't alice's wonderland but i am left with some questions and i hope you can help me....

1:- How do we understand this kind of sick entertainment in a Buddhist perspective (why do people enjoy this kind of things)?

2:- How to deal with this kind of emotional trauma?

  • More commonplace examples of traumatic events might be: serious car accident (been in 2) mugging (1) being yelled at (...) losing your own cool at someone (...). The answers below could equally apply after being sensitized by such things in anyone's life. – user2341 Apr 14 '17 at 12:41
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Simply keeping precepts especially

Nacca-gita-vadita-visukkadassana... veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from dancing, 
singing, music, going to see entertainments... 

attha-sila

To understand trauma and Buddhas medicine: The Healing Power of the Precepts

And as some other anwerer have pointed out: The first step in traumata curing is to avoid contact with the object that causes things coming up.

(Note: this answer has not been given with the agreement to be means of trade or the purpose of/for trade and/or keep people trapped and bound. How you handle it lies in your sphere, but does not excuse the deed here either.)

  • Yes Bhante, But to us regular people it can be a bit hard to escape all the time with our distracting live. But i will try harder. Thank you. – Theravada Jan 17 '16 at 19:21
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Know that they are only actors and don't watch it if it's going to traumatize you. Don't watch any movies unless you like distraction.

  • I did not knew about the movie, If you can see a trailer or something from that movie. I am a movie buff and i have seen all sorts of stuff but this was far too realistic. i still doubt it was real or not. Thanks @uilium – Theravada Jan 16 '16 at 21:57
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    This is also a good point I overlooked myself. Since you are still new in your practice, you would do well for yourself to be mindful of the things you consume, be it through the ear, eyes, etc. – Ryan Jan 16 '16 at 22:08
  • @Theravada like a snuff flick? – Lowbrow Jan 17 '16 at 14:29
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    I can't watch TV or the characters and events would really have a party while I'm practicing. – Lowbrow Jan 17 '16 at 14:34
  • @Uilium , Pardon me bro. What's a Snuff flick? i don't know. – Theravada Jan 17 '16 at 19:19
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How do we understand this kind of sick entertainment in a Buddhist perspective (why do people enjoy this kind of things)?

I don't enjoy that kind of thing (i.e. "horror movies"), so I don't ever watch them and don't have to think about them.

It might be a bit like asking, "how do we understand drug addiction?" and one answer is that most people aren't in an environment where they need to understand that: because they don't expose themselves to it.

For a slightly similar reason to avoiding horror movies (i.e. in order to avoid their emotional contagion) I would prefer to read news articles, than listen to newscasters narrate news stories on television.

I'm not sure that Buddhism has explanation for people enjoying this kind of thing. A partial conventional explanation might be that some people become habituated or tolerant. Someone who enjoyed it to begin with, and who then watched horror movies for another 20 years, might grow to tolerate (or enjoy) more horror (or simulated horror) than someone else with less experience of the genre: like someone who's been alcoholic for 20 years might tolerate a larger dose of alcohol than a 'normal' person could.

Or maybe they learn to control their horror, see the movie as unreal, and have enough experience to say, "It's just a movie, clever cinematography, I wonder how then produced those special effects".

How to deal with this kind of emotional trauma?

You wrote, "equally disturbing real life events I unfortunately witnessed in my life", which I haven't witnessed so I'm not an expert. If you meant it literally (I hope you didn't) it could be a question for you to ask a responsible professional e.g. your medical doctor.

My guess is that one component of post-traumatic stress is a kind of dukkha, i.e. thinking something like, "I wish that had not happened, that should not have happened, that was morally wrong, they were wrong, or I was wrong, or etc."

One of the therapies for post-traumatic stress (as it, i.e. the therapy, is taught in non-Buddhist circles in the West) consists of training the victim to remain mindful of the present. For example, perhaps you've been attacked while you were in the shower and now you have "flash-backs" when you're showering: one form of therapy encourages you to remain conscious of this shower which is happening now, which is normal and safe and under your control (I haven't had that training/therapy myself but perhaps it means to stay conscious of your five senses e.g. what you see and hear and feel now, as an antidote or alternative to getting lost in the sixth sense of mind-ideas and memories).

Perhaps the parallel between that and Buddhist meditation is clear.

Another form of suffering that can afflict a victim with PTSD might be an inability to forgive the aggressor (e.g. "I hate him because he did that to me"). To deal with this kind of trauma, Buddhism might recommend metta and/or anatta (and averena, non-hatred).

  • Thanks chris, Unfortunately yes i saw some bad stuff for real. I do not have flash backs but i try to memorize those things and every time i do i say to myself "This is why you should fear samsara". I mean there are only two possibilities, either i will end up a victim or the perpetrator. I do not like Horror movies, I just played it because it was the only movie in the store i have not watched at that moment. – Theravada Jan 17 '16 at 19:27
  • My own theory is that people who have been traumatized in some way are either trying to work through it by re-exposure, or have become dulled and cannot adequately feel normal levels or kinds of things. And there are ways to revise one's thoughts of something troubling to get past the distress. A Therapist can help. – user2341 Apr 14 '17 at 12:46
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1:- How do we understand this kind of sick entertainment in a Buddhist perspective (why do people enjoy this kind of things)?

How do we understand this? As impermanent, not ultimately satisfactory, and void of any self.

Like all experience that make up samsara, giving rise to wanting or aversion to any of it is the seed for future suffering.

As you now see, your aversion to this is bringing you mental anguish. The path the Buddha taught is the middle way; equanimously moving through any and all experience, unmoved by even the most horrific of things.

Why do people enjoy this? They are delusional. The same reason anyone enjoys anything, they mistake it as being a source of happiness, failing to see the suffering latent in their grasping, and the manner in which this twists their mind and sets the stage for future becoming and suffering.

2:- How to deal with this kind of emotional trauma?

The Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths, and the Noble Eightfold path. This is the path that leads to the cessation of suffering. Through the practice of the Noble Eightfold Path, the practitioners mind becomes balanced and equanimous; able to discern the arising and ceasing of all phenomenon as it is, rather than giving rise to states of anger or greed towards it.

When traumatic memories arise, the meditator clearly sees "this is thinking"; if these memories give rise to sadness, the meditator clearly sees "this is sadness (or feeling). And as such, knowing all things as they are, the mind remains unperturbed. This practice is outlined in the Satipatthana Sutta, Magga-vibhanga Sutta, and Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta.

You can also take refuge in the Buddha during times of distress, as illustrated in SN2.9 and SN2.10

The four protective meditations, in particular recollection of the Buddha, may also be of use to you. I hope this helps out, be well friend.

As far as journaling goes, I think this can be a helpful tool for beginning meditators. Being able to write down experiences you otherwise have trouble accepting in meditation can allow you to "hold" these issues in your hand and read them, somewhat as a middle-ground between repressing them altogether and fully accepting them as they are in your mind.

So I would say, if you find this helps, then this is ok. Just so long as you do not become attached to this, dependent upon it, and averse to dealing with these things in your meditation.

In short, you have to stop using the training wheels at some point. So its important that you push yourself as far as you're able to, within reason, and do no become complacent.

  • Thank you ryan! , What do you think about the writing on a book part? – Theravada Jan 16 '16 at 18:59
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    i edited the answer to include this as well – Ryan Jan 16 '16 at 20:38

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