Psychologist: Behavior at movie theaters may change after Colorado shooting

5:10 AM, Jul 21, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- Movie theaters are normally known as a peaceful place.

A spot to clear your mind of the world's problems.

"You don't want to think about that sort of stuff. You want to get into a story," said moviegoer Chad Barron.

But on Friday, shootings in Colorado are on the minds of many people walking in to see a flick.

Gallery: Tweets, pictures and real time social media from Dark Knight shooting scene *warning, VERY GRAPHIC content*

Some say it's only natural for them to think about "could this happen to me?"

"Find the emergency exits when you don't usually do that.  Look at them and wonder what it would be like?  What would happen?  What would I do?" Barron explained.

South Tampa clinical psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Merin expects fear will keep some people from going to the movies.

He anticipates those who do go may look over their shoulders for suspicious people or behavior.

"I think it immediately instills a lot of fear and anxiety," Merin said.

He tells 10 News that anxiety creates a couple of mental hurdles to clear.

The idea that things are out of our control and that something unpredictable may happen, especially in a dark place like a theater.

Pictures: PHOTO GALLERY from the shooting scene

"Now you have a sense of you can't escape.  And that's very important for sense of calmness and how we feel about our world," Merin explained.

While Tampa Police plan to increase patrols at local theaters, just as a precaution, some movie fans hope that doesn't become a permanent fixture.

They're concerned that would be a constant reminder of possible danger.

"If you've got security guards or police officers standing at every door to a movie theater, I may feel like that's not a place I want to be at," said moviegoer Mark Stutzman.

Merin says if you are apprehensive about going to the movies, there's few things to keep in mind that may help.

He says to consider how isolated this incident is, along with how often people go to the movies without being hurt.

Merin explains there's a certain amount of risk anytime you leave the house, but you have to overcome that thought process.

More Dark Knight movie shooting coverage:

Pictures: PHOTO GALLERY from the shooting scene

Gallery: Tweets, real time social media from Dark Knight shooting scene *warning, VERY GRAPHIC content*

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