Fear, a delicious emotion
If we love to scare ourselves with horror films or zombie attractions, it’s because we’re looking for a confirmation of our existence, according to child psychiatrist Philippe Stephan. Fear is a very strong emotion, which makes us aware that we’re alive. Increased heartbeat, cold sweats, shaking… These symptoms remind us that we’re not dead. It’s paradoxical, but fear is part of our need for security, so feeling it reassures us!
As well as feeling alive, we can satisfy some kind of unmentionable desire. We’ve all wanted to strangle an impolite salesperson or get into that car that cut us up. Experiencing fear in an unreal way helps us to expel these kinds of urges.
⚠️ However, you have to be careful as it may turn into an impulse phobia and become very incapacitating to live with on a daily basis.
>>> Discover why horror fascinates us
Being scared, a real boost
There are more and more survival attractions, events to escape a zombie attack or haunted mansions… Of course, the people who run these kinds of places are actors, but still, our brain goes into “survival instinct” mode if we have to flee 😱. That’s right, our brain produces chemical substances such as adrenaline, which give us a real boost. Our cerebral mechanisms get activated, even if the source of the fear is imaginary. That’s why these places are so popular and people love going to them.
➜ Sociology doctor Margee Kerr, who specializes in the study of fear, explains that being scared allows us to increase our self-confidence. The danger isn’t real, but since our body reacts strongly, the satisfaction we get from it is real.
The fear that brings us together
As well as psychological and neurological reasons, there’s a social factor! We all have a morbid, and share it with others because it brings us together. Fear is like laughter; it spreads from one person to another. If I shake, the other person will shake; if the other person screams, I scream, etc. Why? Another hormone, but this time it’s oxytocin that is being communicated.
🤫 This emotion also reminds us of childhood games, being scared among friends has a regressive side that is good for the mind. Because if we associate a good memory with fear, we’ll tend to do it again!
>>> Read up on why crying feels so good
And those who don’t like being scared?
I’m one of those people who are scared of being scared 😰. I’ve never watched a horror film, I have trouble with attractions like haunted houses, and I’m terribly uncomfortable when someone tells me a sordid urban legend. But why am I like that?
It’s to do with dopamine again! It’s produced during moments of pleasure: when we eat something we like, when we make love, etc. It acts as a reward and is addictive. However, we’re not all equal when it comes to producing this hormone! A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2008 explains that people who produce more dopamine enjoy the feeling of fear the most.
🤯 If we don’t like being scared, it’s because we secrete much less dopamine and don’t get pleasure out of it!
Editor’s note: a story of hormones
To sum up, it’s all about hormones. If you like being scared, it’s because you have a higher level of dopamine and lower levels of cortisol and adrenaline. In stressful situations, you experience more pleasure than stress. However, be careful that this thrill-seeking doesn’t put you in danger too often… If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to talk to a psychologist about it. 😉
🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy… It’s here and now!
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