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Looking at pics of the dead

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
As a history major I often have to do this as part of my research. The fact is that a big part of history is death. I have however met people who find this to be wrong no matter what the reason. What's your take on this?
post #2 of 27
Do you mean like battle scenes and crime scene photos? Autopsy photos? Or just portraits of people who are now dead?
post #3 of 27
The question is unclear to me also.

post #4 of 27
I don't quite understand either. Sounds like something from that Nicole Kidman movie - The Others....
post #5 of 27
I think people who look at pictures of people who are dead in crime scene photos, autopsy pictures or anything like that just to get their jollies are a bit demented. If it is for educational purposes or research, I don't see the harm in it. I always wonder how the family of the person in the photo must feel knowing the picture up for entertainment.

I don't know if that is what you are after but thats my take on it.
post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
I'm talking about battle scene photos, pictures of the dead in concentration camps, and yes even autopsy photos. I should also point out here that autopsies are a matter of public record for a people in my field and in other fields can use them in research.
post #7 of 27
I voted that it's ok for research. It doesn't bother me much at all. While I don't agree with the weird freaky folks that I get a tickle out of it, by that I mean serial killers, or people that are actually turned on in some way by it. But I don't think that should keep the pics from being released, I think those folks need help!
post #8 of 27
Originally Posted by squirtle
I voted that it's ok for research. It doesn't bother me much at all. While I don't agree with the weird freaky folks that I get a tickle out of it, by that I mean serial killers, or people that are actually turned on in some way by it. But I don't think that should keep the pics from being released, I think those folks need help!
Pretty much my point of view. I think photos of concentration camp victims, Nanking, Hiroshima, etc., really should be shown to make people aware of the horrors of genocide and war.
post #9 of 27
this is rather tricky.

i think it is okay to show autopsy photos as long as it is for research, or the like. I admit, I do look at them, but that is because I have had a long standing interest in the criminal/forensic anthropology field. I have several books on the subject.

I watched Autopsy a while ago when they did the actual autopsy on a man who had died from something to do with alcohol, i forget what, but anyways, as I was watching it, I was thinking to myself, wait a minute, how could that man have given his permission to have him cut up on television (i know it was HBO, but still, its tv) and that is something I don't like the idea of.

But there is something that I believe should happen - young people who are freely having sex without protection, using drugs, whatever causes them to destruct their lives, should watch an autopsy of a person that died in the manner that is causing their trouble - I recall they did that on one talk show and it upset some girls. Just a thought.

As for concentration camps and genocide, well, I think they should be shown because it is basically proof that they happened - there are still some non believers out there (how they don't believe, I dont know, but its disgusting). I went to the Holocaust museum in DC last year and I couldn't believe what they did to the peopl - it was sooo disgusting, but until then, I had no idea of the magnitude of what Hitler and his people did. The thing that still touches me now is the shoes. I have goosebumps right now, thinking about it.
post #10 of 27
For educational purposes I fully support the availability of these photos.

For tasteless humor or $H!T$ and giggles...absolutely not.

One is respectful, one is not.

I support respect and responsiblity.

post #11 of 27
I don't know anything about the shoes..... I am afraid to ask I never really thought about it before this question came up, but pictures are so important and serve so many purposes.
As far as autopsies go, I used to watch those shows on discovery and on HBO. I thought they were very interesting. I especially likes watching the crime scene investigation shows, it is amazing the technology they have available to help solve crimes.
As far as peoples bodies being used for public autopsys (tv, etc) I don't think that I would have a problem with it personally. I really don't care what happens to me after I am gone physically. I think that using that as an educatonal tool for people who are engaging in high rish activity is an excellent idea. I think it works. I remember seeing something on Montel where they used actual livers to teach adults about the effects of smoking, and they were moved by it.
post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 
For me, the first two choices apply. I do use the photos for research, but sometimes I just like to look at them because it interests me. Not to "get my jollys" but just because death isn't something that scares me, and I'm interested in how people die.
post #13 of 27
I used to work in a photo lab, and often times we had to print up pictures of dead people, because the Police Dept sent their stuff in to our lab to be printed. It was the worst part of the job for me. I just don't have the stomach for it. I've seen things, I don't even want to remember seeing. However, I think that for people who are in the fields of work where that sort of thing has to be viewed that it's a MUST for them. Me, personally, I don't want to see that sort of thing. I can still see some of those autopsy and crime scene photo's in my head and it gives me nightmares.

Strangley enough, one of the most haunting photo shoots I had to print up, was of a dead baby, all dressed up for her funeral. They weren't from a crime scene, just someone's personal photo's, but those pictures still haunt me.
post #14 of 27
i voted ok 4 research
post #15 of 27
Hmmm, I'm not sure any of those options really work for me. Like Kellye, I am really interested in forensics, forensic psychology and trying to understand something beyond comprehension (serial killers, mainly). So I have a lot of true crime books, many of which include crime scene photos. I guess you could call it "research" but not on an official level. Just personal research. I have seen a book that someone I knew had that was just death scene pics, and I found that pretty disturbing personally. There wasn't much content besides the pictures.
post #16 of 27
This is kind of tricky subject. Obviously there are professions that require access to these kind of pictures, in that case yes I there should be access. And I have read turn crime books as well that show pictures of the crimes for my own edification (however it was not the pictures that I bought the books for and honestly there are some that I still can't bring myself to look at more than once) I will say this though, if you stand around long enough in the true crime section of the book store sooner you'll find some idiot fliping through the photographic crime books and giggling...those people make me sick.

HopeHacker: I can understand what you mean about haunting photos. When we were cleaning out my Grandmother's house after she died we ran across a box of old pictures that were pictures of the people that she had loved in their coffins, including very young children. Seeing them was something, I'm not sure I'll ever recover from... They just seemed so personal.
post #17 of 27
None of the options in the poll really covered my views, either. I've had a long standing interest in forensics and am able to view crime scene and autopsy photos, with a clinical eye. Most of the true-crime books, that I read have those photos in them. I certainly have no prurient interest in them.

On the subject of televised autopsies, I am sure that those people or their next of kin consented to the use of the bodies as an educational tool.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it was common prectice, to photograph people in their coffins, as a sort of remembrance. It is interesting, from a cultural standpoint.
post #18 of 27
for research purposes it's okay...cant imagine why someone would want to look
at pics of the dead in any other circumstances
post #19 of 27
I think it's ok for research, police work or historical purposes.

This is off-topic but I just wanted to share.
The other day I was reading the newspaper when I happened to look at the obiturary section. There was a picture there of someone only a year younger than my son who looked almost identical to him, and even had the same type of smile. Then, when I read the obiturary, I found that the deceased person and my son also seemed to have several things in common. Seeing THAT particular picture totally freaked me out!!!
post #20 of 27
I havent ticked because i don't think i fall in the category as awsome or research.

I have always been interested in the history side of it such as the concentration camps, but i also have a couple of books by Professor Keith Simpson(Pathologist)and find that subject interesting. Also a friend of mine is an undertaker and that's a job that i've always wanted to do.
post #21 of 27
As a lifelong learner, historical subjects interest me. I am really not quite sure how looking at photos of the dead fits into all of that.

One thing I will say, after watching my father pass and then sitting in the room with his body for several hours until the funeral home people arrived, my views on the matter changed. It was so clear that what was left in the room wasn't my dad, that the part of him that I considered to be him was gone from that body. Perhaps that is why I don't really have an opinion on the subject, other than to think that people who want to view photographs of torture victims or whatever for a thrill are sick.
post #22 of 27
Just to put it all in context:

This quote is from the current breaking news story on

"Three chilling photographs on an Islamist Web site appear to show the beheaded body of American hostage Paul Johnson, who was kidnapped a week ago by Islamic militants connected with al Qaeda."

If you are flying to google to find this Islamist web site to gape at these photos, you are IMO, one of the people I referred to in my prior post.
post #23 of 27
It only makes me uncomfortable for very personal reasons, I guess.

I think people who get some sort of thrill from it need help.

I think all teenagers should be forced to look at concentration camp photos, photos of dead teens who drove drunk, etc, because it's a wakeup call that has worked for everyone I know. I've been to Auschwitz/ Birkenau, Dachau, Treblinka and US "relocation"/ Concentration camp, Manzanar. Did me a world of good. Made huge impressions on me. Taught me not to make the same mistakes that those before me have made and to be tolerant. Also taught me that no matter what your reason or your nationality, internment camps are wrong. Period. End of story. Even if you're a US president and you think you have a reason or a right.
post #24 of 27
Originally Posted by rosiemac
I havent ticked because i don't think i fall in the category as awsome or research.

I have always been interested in the history side of it such as the concentration camps, but i also have a couple of books by Professor Keith Simpson(Pathologist)and find that subject interesting. Also a friend of mine is an undertaker and that's a job that i've always wanted to do.
I've read some books about or by Keith Simpson, and they're fascinating. I don't remember the title, but one book written by his (female) assistant about their WWII experiences was great. I was a bit put off when my in-laws showed me photos of their parents (dead long before I met my husband) laid out before their burial, but have come to view that as no less strange than the practice of making up and dressing up a corpse for a viewing. My best friend's mother died when we were college freshmen, and I didn't recognize her at the viewing - I thought we were in the wrong room at first. I'm a real fan of true crime books, and one of the worst experiences in my life was being confronted with pictures of former high school classmates in a book about the Mafia wars over control of Atlantic City, NJ, in the eighties. I don't know - is it best for people to see the real horror of war, genocide or homicide, or the desanitized version?
post #25 of 27
I couldn't vote because there wasn't a catagory that fit my thoughts. I would say it is o.k for WHATEVER reasons you chose as an individual. Not just o.k for research, and I wouldn't say it is "awesome" either. I look at pics of the dead out of mild curiosity, nothing more, nothing less.
post #26 of 27
I think that for edification, or if you're referring also to the photographs of coffins, for general love and respect, it is completely appropriate to photograph the dead. I think to look at crime scene photos for fun might be a little twisted, but I try not to judge people, That comes to them a lot later than my meeting them.
post #27 of 27
I don't mind looking at "some" images of dead bodies, it depends on the circumstances. I don't have any interest in seeing dead soldiers, accident victims etc. I don't believe in seeing snuff movies on the news, while they haven't gone that far yet...they're getting close. I don't have any interest in seeing somebody being murdered & those poor families would be suffering enough without knowing that people around the world are watching footage of their child, husband, son being murdered.

What I don't mind watching are science shows such as Tales of the Living Dead. They have stories on disease, the body farm etc. They even had a fascinating show on decomposition, which was pretty gross but fascinating too.

I chat on a large parenting forum & a couple of the ladies there have photos of their stillborn babies in their signature. The babies don't look like they're sleeping, it is blatantly obvious they are deceased. I find those images incredibly distressing but I also realise that the parents have no other images of their babies & it probably helps having them in their signature, it makes it feel more real that they did have a child. One person actually complained to the administrators about these signatures but the administrators said that the signatures could stay. I think in this case we have to put other people's feelings before our own. I'd rather not see these photos but they offer the mothers comfort. I get to see my beautiful baby girl every day, so have no right to complain.
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