are afraid 5 reasons We enjoy Being scared

Critically thinking around gaining satisfied from fear and suspense.

post October 19, 2018 | the review by Ekua Hagan

A couple of years ago, I gave a quick talk ~ above the Psychology of fear & Suspense in Film, which to be an enjoyable task that married mine passions because that psychology and also film. Provided our technique up come Halloween, I believed it can be interesting to keep going a write-up based ~ above that talk and try to aid get us both right into the soul of Halloween (pun intended) and also to critically think around why us willingly put ourselves with fear and also suspense, and also why we take together pleasure native it.

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Think that it: a pounding heartbeat… hefty breathing... A cold sweat... Butterflies in your stomach…These don’t sound like particularly nice experiences, but we endure them, when we feeling fear. But why carry out so many civilization like to be fear — in various other words, to feel fear?

To better understand the question, it’s vital to very first consider what is supposed by fear. Fear refers come an feel or feeling induced by viewed danger or risk of danger, which yields a physiological change that, subsequently, evokes a behavioral an answer (e.g. Fight, flight, or freeze). Again, nothing around this summary implies funny or pleasure, but it does lead us towards a number of possible explanations because that this noticeable contradiction:

1. The safety and security Net

Consistent through the summary above, when we obtain scared, our body will go into fight, flight, or frozen mode; but, also though we space cognitively lazy (as mentioned plenty of times transparent this blog), our brains are good at what they do — so, if we room in a setup where we gain a “safe” fright (e.g. Watching a fear film, visiting a haunted house, or play a scary video game) our brains will conveniently evaluate the situation and also tell united state that we’re free from risk. Our bodies calm and also many of united state subsequently enjoy the experience. Thus, plenty of of us space actually search "controlled" fear and also suspense, because we know we are safe.

2. The Flood

When we obtain scared, we suffer a sirloin of adrenaline and a relax of endorphins and also dopamine. The biochemical sirloin can an outcome in a pleasure-filled, opioid-like sense of euphoria. Coupled through this, as soon as we room reminded of our safety (i.e., the safety net), the endure of are afraid subsides, and we room left through a gratifying sense of relief and subsequent well-being.

3. Self-Satisfaction

Some world enjoy "pushing the envelope," seek thrills, and also seeing how much are afraid can be tolerated. If they are able come endure the barrage of anxiety, suspense, and fear, a great sense that self-satisfaction is regularly experienced. I’ll never ever forget being scared the end of my mind city hall The Shining as soon as I to be 12 year old, but likewise being rather proud that myself for surviving the totality of the film without transforming my head away!

4. Closeness v Others

A common piece of dating advice because that young males years earlier was to take it their date to a scary movie. The tip was based upon the idea that once their day got frightened, they would certainly curl in for "protection"; thus, reinforcing a bond in between the two (this is the G-Rated variation of the rationale). Despite the advice is definitely dated, there is some reality to that — using to both human being on the date. Given that gift frightened publication a biochemical overwhelming that have the right to yield a pleasurable outcome, we frequently misattribute this arousal (i.e. The pleasurable outcomes that fear) come the individual v whom we’re spending that time; that is, the two people on the date like every other an ext now due to the fact that of the pleasurable feeling experienced during their time together at the cinema — no necessarily due to the fact that of every other’s company, but due to the fact that of the outcomes that fear.

5. Curiosity

Many world are curious around the "dark side." The fear of the unknown is just one of the many natural and instinctive fears that we have — and also it is likewise one the the oldest curiosities. However, another notion i’ve mentioned many times in past short articles it that world like their worlds to make feeling —they choose things wrapped up in nice, neat little packages. Our world is simpler to connect with as soon as things make feeling to us; and so, part may pick to engage additional with "the unknown" in order to much better make feeling of the situation.

Another method of looking at this perspective on the "curiosity of the dark side" is through factor to consider of thanatos. Though I’ve never been a large fan the Freud’s "theories," it would certainly be unfair come dismiss his perspective on the death drive (and contrary to an important thinking) together a possible explanation because that why so numerous like to be scared.

According come Freud, people engage in possibly self-destructive acts since of one intrinsic fatality instinct — a preoccupation with death, if girlfriend will. The course, there is small evidence to support this claim and substantially an ext to suggest that people strive because that self-preservation; however, this doesn’t explain, explicitly, why countless individuals communicate in such self-destructive actions — though various other bodies that research suggest that countless self-destructive behaviors are conducted because of biases towards (immediate) satisfied (e.g., drug-taking) or cost-benefit analyses of hazard (e.g. 5 percent possibility of dying versus 95 percent opportunity of spring cool). Ns think the latter suggest is specifically interesting given the emphasis on pleasure and also our discussion of the flood, and on risk and also our discussion of the safety net.

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This Halloween season, if you clock a scary movie, visit a haunted house, or even play a scary video clip game, think about what you’re feeling and what’s happening to your body at the moment. Perform you feel better after? perform you feel pleasure? are you relieved that it’s over? space you satisfied with yourself or, maybe, you feel closer to the human being with that you knowledgeable it? Reflect top top the experience and think about it critically — think about why you might like acquiring scared!


Christopher Dwyer, Ph.D., is a lecturer at the technological University the the Shannon in Athlone, Ireland.