It may be beneficial for you to experience the overwhelming sense of dread as you watch Jason Voorhees pursue his next victim while donning a hockey mask in “Friday the 13th.” It might not be, too.
According to researchers, the impact of horror is largely subjective, varying slightly for each person but not always negatively.
“People typically attempt to avoid things that make them uncomfortable, which is why it’s dubbed “the paradox of terror,” according to researcher Dr. Ramnarine Boodoo, a child psychiatrist at Penn State Health’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Why then do people adore things like horrifying horror films?”
According to Boodoo, one notion is that it aids in coping. Because of their evolutionary wiring from a time when danger might be lurking just outside, humans are equipped with deeply established, unconscious processes that help them cope under stress.
According to Boodoo in a news release from the institute, seeing “The Exorcist” can trigger the sympathetic nervous system to get activated, which can result in things like an accelerated heartbeat and breathing rate. “It occasionally has the potential to induce severe nausea. Sweating. It might frequently resemble a panic attack.”
That might be advantageous because for some people, activating the fight-or-flight response without any actual threat is enjoyable, similar to riding a roller coaster.
It might even improve someone’s capacity to handle difficult events in daily life.
According to researcher Hannah Nam, a third-year medical student at Penn State College of Medicine, these encounters may also serve as a form of exposure treatment, gradually lessening fear.
You can use these strategies in real-world situations, Nam added in the press release. “I also discovered that it can be a way for some people to relieve tension.”
Some people could find it to be stress-relieving, as was the case when the pandemic was at its worst and more people were watching horror movies.
Others may find it to be simply too much.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that regular direct exposure to graphic content, particularly among young people, lowers empathy and promotes violence, according to Boodoo. Therefore, it is important to limit our exposure to this type of stimuli.
Because of their inherent traits or prior trauma exposure, many people have lower trauma thresholds. This may include those who struggle with impulse control, mental disorders, or cardiac or respiratory conditions.
Boodoo and Nam recommended being sympathetic to other moviegoers, ensuring that everyone feels at ease, and ensuring that no one needs to display their bravery. Don’t pass judgement on individuals who enjoy scary films, either.
Blayne Waterloo, a web content and design specialist for Penn State Health who broadcasts a podcast on horror films, said, “Horror allows us to exorcise our worst fears, yes.
According to the press release, “the genre does a lot to examine the human condition in a way that can make viewers feel seen just as they are. In a way that the outside world doesn’t allow us to, horror welcomes human frailties, and that is lovely.
More information on how stress affects the body can be found at the American Psychological Association.
SOURCE: A news release from Penn State Health