It’s Halloween! If you were any normal person my age, you will probably be counting down the hours until trick-or-treating. But, seeing how I’m the self-appointed “Scrooge of Halloween”, I’m not.
In fact I already expressed my reasons why I don’t like Halloween last year.
Seeing how it’s Halloween time again, I felt like it was time to delve into something deeper – Why DO people like being scared?
This isn’t just a question for Halloween, but a question in general. People love traumatising themselves watching scary movies, reading horror stories and picturing something horrible standing behind them….
Gotcha there! But that’s the thing. People love this. Now I’m not saying I don’t do this. When I went to Singapore two years ago, I marathoned through volumes of True Singapore Ghost Stories. Some of them were scary, some weren’t.
So why do people do this? In Doctor Who, people always anticipate the scary episodes. Every horror movie is hugely hyped. I think you get the point now. I have several theories as to why this mentality is so popular.
Get ready to be scared in real life
First of all, I think that being scared by fiction is preparation for getting scared in reality. Watching The Empty Child, Doctor Who’s scariest episode on telly, is not going to be as scary as being in a dark forest, with no lights and creepy sounds.
Genuine fear is very rare and traumatising for some and fiction is never going to be as scary. People enjoy watching scary movies because they can be assured that those creatures and ghosts do not exist and can therefore not be as afraid of real life.
In the natural world, cats and other creatures respond to fear by making themselves bigger and making noises. This is shown in humans as when humans get scared, the hairs on the back of their head stand up, they start sweating and get more defensive. It’s just a natural occurrence in all animals, which could explain people’s obsession with fear.
It is fun to be scared!
Another reason is that it’s fun. You get scared by the Weeping Angels (I know the examples are all Doctor Who references but I don’t watch horror movies), and after the episode you discuss how awesome the whole thing is. The memory of being scared is just an after thought. After a whole week of hard work, people deserve to have their heart pumping and have excitement thrown at them.
So that’s why I believe people like being scared and one reason why Halloween is such a big deal.
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