Shannon Clark of Halifax was seven years old when she imagined her bed shaking after secretly watching her. Exorcist – horror Movie About demonic possession of a young girl.
Twenty-nine years later, though unable to sleep that night, Exorcist It is one of Clark’s favorite movies.
“I’m obsessed with horror movies…I love fear,” Clark told Global News. “There has never been a horror movie that I didn’t like…I think I kind of liked the jolt it gave.”
Canadians across the country will celebrate Halloween on Monday in their own way, with some dressed up in spooky costumes, others wearing trick-or-treating, or, like Clark, watching horror movies at home.
But some will avoid it completely, preferring not to be afraid at all. An academic studied horror movies to learn why some people enjoy fear while others don’t.
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There is a fundamental psychological divide between people who feel fear as pleasure and those who don’t, says Elliot Bisset, an independent scientist who wrote his doctoral thesis on fear in horror films and haunted houses at the University of California, Berkeley.
“It’s just the way people are divided,” Bessett said.
Some people like Clark can watch a documentary about a murder case as a way to unwind before bed. While this may sound strange, Bessette said such performances can bring a sense of catharsis to some.
“This is certainly not a new idea. Even Aristotle said that the point of experiencing a tragedy is to vent pity and fear. Well, horror films may offer venting of fear, disgust, and other feelings.”
Sociologist and author Margie Kerr, who teaches at the University of Pittsburgh, Wrote earlier in the conversation – An independent source of news and opinions from the academic and research community – that feeling fear in a safe environment can be beneficial, but not everyone sees the appeal in it.
“There are important differences between individuals — for example, in genetic expressions, environment, personal history — that help explain why some hate excitement and others like thrills and goosebumps,” Kerr said.
She explained that horror films can allow people to “address the big existential fears” in humans, such as “why bad things happen for no reason, through the precautionary framework of entertainment.”
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Choosing to do fearful activities, such as visiting a haunted house, can also help people build greater self-knowledge and resilience because it’s an opportunity for some to react to feelings of fear, according to Kerr.
“It’s an opportunity to deal with fear on your own terms, in environments where you can safely push your boundaries,” Kerr said.
Bessette also echoed that sentiment, adding that witnessing horror or engaging in a fun frightening activity can be both uplifting and exciting. While others may not experience it, just the idea of having it with a family member or best friend can be beneficial and encouraging for them.
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“My dad doesn’t like horror or rollercoaster rides but he did it with me… to spend time with his son. That was the price he paid for a good result,” said Bessette, “Likewise, people can experience a number of good outcomes, whether it is the experience of overcoming Fear or enjoyment of a great work of art.
Kerr also said that doing exciting things with other people can make them more fun and “help create rewarding social bonds.”
“Emotions can be contagious,” she said, “so when you see your friend screaming and laughing, you might feel compelled to do the same.”
Halloween offers the possibility to have such experiences in a safe environment and can be more than just having fun.
Horror films and haunted houses can provide people with an opportunity to reflect on feelings of fear, learn how they deal with those feelings, and ultimately, build resilience, Bessette says.
“It can help us learn more about ourselves,” he said.
– With files from The Associated Press
and copies of 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.