To Fear or Not to Fear

Fear and Halloween are likely to be intertwined forever. After all, a holiday that celebrates “the more hideous aspects of death and beyond” must evoke images of fear in some minds. Aside from the fear and fear associated with vacationing, observing people’s behavior on Halloween can often show an interesting dichotomy in dealing with fear. The same concept applies when most people are given the opportunity to voluntarily watch something they know should scare them, such as a horror movie. Correct observation can often make it clear that it is not quite as easy to understand as most people would like to assume.

Anxiety is a negative emotional response. This has been said to each of us since we were children. Recognizing fear and fear as negative factors is also deeply rooted in the basic human psyche, where people instinctively associate fear with a variety of undesirable personality traits. Avoiding fear, or at least taking control of yourself to the point where fear and fear are not readily apparent to casual observers, can sometimes have side effects when considering a person’s mental health. This is especially true when the unwillingness to show fear has become a fear in and of itself that is both psychologically dangerous and ironic.

However, this doesn’t seem to match very well with what people want to be afraid of. While a random person from the street is unlikely to admit the tendency willingly, most psychologists believe that people want to be afraid. Ghost stories by the campfire, horror films with a lot of tension and fear as well as roller coasters with excessively risky loops are considered factors. Any of the above can be used to scare people, and according to some mental health experts, it is the fact that things like the above scare us that cause us to visit them so often. However, it is not so much fear itself that the brain and body enjoy, but the hormonal response to this fear.

Most psychologists and doctors believe that the body and mind enjoy the sensations caused by the various chemicals that the body produces in an excited state. The most commonly known of these substances would be adrenaline, but there are other hormones and biochemicals that come into play. The easiest way to get the body to increase the flow of these substances is to feel fear, which would explain why people are sometimes too eager to put themselves in situations where they can be afraid. The adrenaline rush caused by fear and risk taking can also explain people’s enjoyment of extreme sports, even if they’re not the only factor. The fact that things like horror movies and roller coasters are controlled environments to a certain extent also makes it easier for people to get into them. The feeling of control over the situation that triggers fear is often enough to prevent survival instinct from overcoming the desire for fear.

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