The Effects Of Comic Books On Societal Behavior

1257 words - 5 pages

Almost everyone has read a comic book. For years it has been thought by many that comic books cause good children to become not so good children. This way of thinking was confirmed by Doctor Fredric Wertham in 1954 when he testified in the United States Senate on the topic of comic books being the cause of juvenile delinquency. For all of the following sixty years Dr. Wertham’s point of view was taken as fact. In 2010 though his original notes were made available to the public and have many interesting inaccuracies as Doctor Carol Tilley discovered when she was going through Dr. Wertham’s notes. In the many years following Dr. Wertham’s testimony, other opinions of how comic books affect people have come to light: one of the prominent opinions is that comic books may actually be beneficial. (3 SV: SV)
On April 21, 1954 Dr. Wertham testified before a Subcommittee of the United States Senate. The topic of this hearing was that comic books were believed to be a leading cause of juvenile delinquency (Senate Subcomittee). On this day Dr. Wertham presented to the Subcommittee his studies proving comic books as a major cause of juvenile delinquency. This study included information from thousands of children that Dr. Wertham had treated from the local hospital. According to Dr. Wertham these kids were all suffering the poor affects of comic books. One of the most striking incidents that Dr. Wertham reported was the case of a 7-year old boy named Edward. Dr. Wertham tells of this boy experiencing nightmares about the comic book character the Blue Beetle. According to Dr. Wertham, Edward was having nightmares about the character because he turned into a beetle in the comics and this had frightened the young boy. Dr. Wertham gave many more examples of children having nightmares, becoming violent, being directed towards a gay lifestyle, and leading lives of crime all because of comic books. Many of the children he treated even gave similar statements about what they thought of comic books. What Dr. Wertham was trying to get across to the Subcommittee was that all of these bad things could have been avoided were it not for comic books. He showed that little boys like Edward would only be scared or mentally damaged by reading this “Kafka for kiddies”(Itzkoff).
In the year 2010 the United States Senate released Dr. Wertham’s original notes to the public. Doctor Carol Tiley is among the first to review Dr. Wertham’s notes; Dr. Tiley found that Dr. Wertham fabricated a large portion of his research. (1 SV; SV) According to Dr. Tiley’s research, Dr. Wertham exaggerated many of his statistics. Perhaps the largest of these is the number of children he claimed to have treated. Though Dr. Wertham testified that he had treated thousands of children suffering from the effects of comic books, his notes suggest that number was merely in the hundreds. Certainly not a small amount but severely less than originally stated. Another one of Dr. Wertham’s fabrications was...

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