The science behind why we love to be afraid.
Today I am writing to discuss the pleasure found in fear.
It makes no sense, after all, being afraid sucks right? IT’s a negative emotion, one of distress and agitation. Yet some of us consciously seek it out, we take pleasure in that feeling of adrenalin and fright. We read books that make our skin crawl, what movies that make us sleep with the lights turned on and watch documentaries about the worst humanity has to offer.
So why do we do this? Why do we seek out the macabre and the morbid? Why take pleasure in something that rationally we should avoid?
I think it’s important for creators of any kind, be they writers, artists, filmmakers, anything to understand the fundamentals of why we enjoy fear, to better create an enjoyable and satisfying experience for their audience.
Mathias Clasen, a horror researcher believes that it is the fact that indulging in horror allows us to experience negative emotions in a safe context. He uses the example of children’s games, such as hide and seek, where the hiding child is mimicking ‘prey’ learning what it feels like to be in this situation and how to adapt and cope. It’s almost like our brains are subconsciously training us to deal with negative situations then releasing ‘happy’ chemicals as a reward for us doing so. Like a parent rewarding a child.
It’s an interesting talk.