Letters

The terror of television Made worse by family stress

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.308.6930.714 (Published 12 March 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:714
  1. F Forbes,
  2. I McClure
  1. Department of Child and Family Psychiatry, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh EH9 1LL
  2. Fleming Nuffield Unit, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 3AE
  3. Stracathro Hospital, Brechin, Angus DD9 7QA
  4. Department of Health Care of the Elderly, Medical School, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH.

    EDITOR, - D Simons and W R Silveira describe post-traumatic stress disorder in two 10 year old boys, which was apparently precipitated by the programme Ghostwatch shown on television on Hallowe'en (31 October) 1992.1 We have treated an 11 year old boy who was referred with a 12 month history of sleep difficulties, nightmares, fear of the dark and of sleeping alone, fear of ghosts, intrusive thoughts, and panic attacks; the onset of these symptoms had been sudden, occurring immediately after he had watched Ghostwatch. He had become phobic about going upstairs to his bedroom (he said that the house reminded him of the haunted house in the television programme) and had begun to stay overnight in an aunt's flat. He had had no symptoms before watching the television programme, although his mother described him as having a slightly anxious personality. His older sister, however, had a history of encopresis and enuresis and emotional disorder, which had been diagnosed after a lengthy and acrimonious parental separation several years previously.

    The boy responded to congnitive and behavioural strategies addressing his anxieties and behaviour, including gradual reintroduction to his bedroom, and …

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