Strange–Why Do Scary Movies and Ghost Stories Make Us Feel…Better?
Honestly, I'm still a bit baffled. When you ask people what their top fears happen to be, you can usually bet that death is near the top--at least for many.
After all, it's the great "unknown." And as you've probably noticed ;), many of the scary movies and ghost stories we love to hear, watch, and/or tell have death nestled right there in the midst of all of the paranormal goings on in a random graveyard or wherever...
And now that we've officially entered "spooky season," there's a good chance that some of those Halloween parties you may attend will include a good horror flick or two.
I'm cool with scary movies now. However, when I was younger and even more sensitive-hearted than I am now, I worried that some of those images would sear themselves into my sub-conscious forever and I'd be scarred irreparably.
(For the record, a few of them did for awhile. One should take great care to make sure the watcher is mature enough to see these films. I seem okay...I think.)
So, considering the idea that watching scary movies or sharing ghost stories may actually help relieve anxiety may seem counter-intuitive or just flat out crazy. I mean, horror movies are for adrenaline junkies who are so internally strong that not even existential panic situations portrayed so vividly can't break their unshakable cores, right?
Despite the fact that I felt this way when I was younger, as I've gotten a bit older, I've discovered the opposite to be true.
It all started when I became a dedicated fan of The Walking Dead. Yeah sure, before I was psychologically numbed out to all of the zombies everywhere, it was a bit disturbing.
But I noticed after a few weeks that after watching an episode I would often feel a lift in my mood. I felt more energy and more mentally alert. (Possible because I was enjoying a bit of the adrenaline hit that can accompany these types of shows.)
However, what's strange is that generally I felt a bit better and had a more positive outlook about the everyday stressors that you and I face on a daily basis--long term. I've come to the non-scientific conclusion that it made me grateful for our everyday world.
Part of it was realizing that whenever I walked outside, the chance that I would be confronted by a hungry zombie mob was generally a small one. Maybe just putting things into perspective.
And also realizing that, personal heartbreaks, pandemics, and tragedies aside, everyday life on earth for most of us in America is pretty good and we have so, so much for which to be grateful.
One writer for Vice, Abby Moss, penned her thoughts about how watching horror movies helped her with her anxiety. Check it out here.
As aforementioned, this is clearly not a scientific study just a personal experience. For those who have experienced deep trauma or need therapy, please...please seek out the help of a trusted medical professional.
But just to play it safe, if you're looking for some scary movies that aren't *quite* so scary, this will be helpful:
13 Spooky-But-Not Scary Halloween Movies
And then of course, there are some ghost stories a bit "closer to home."