There are haunted houses everywhere and even haunted fields where people flock to today. There are also scientists from the University of Pittsburg studying fear. Why are we drawn to scary movies like Polterguist or zombie films like Night of the Living Dead? Do we really want to feel discomfort or be shocked? Do you feel wonderful after you leave that haunted house? Yes, because you survived that ugly lunatic with the bloody knife in his hand without a scratch. So you smile and feel good again. Greg Siegle, PhD a Psychiatric Doctor from the University of Pittsburg, School of Medicine is studying the effects of scary things on your brain and he says your head could actually get warmer from fear.
The National Retail Federation predicts that Americans will spend $7 Billion dollars this year on Halloween dresses like Caitlyn Jenner’s or Donald Trump masks along with all kinds of other decorations and costumes. In the dark and in a uncertain situation you will experience fear and your palms will sweat and your heart rate will rise. Almost as euphoric as sex but certainly not that. Margee Kerr just wrote a book about fear called Scream. When we scream we are alerting others and trying to protect ourselves by startling our attacker. Our face becomes contorted as we scream to alert the attacker that we can be ugly too. It is all an amazing immediate response created without much advance thought.
We could even look scared while being on our couch watching The Walking Dead. Fear is a result of the disruption of our prediction systems. When something happens that isn’t supposed to happen, we get fearful. Clowns can be deceitful. Clowns are supposed to make us happy but if we detect something unpredictable with their eyes or stare or grin that all of a sudden goes from being silly to evil, our fears kick in. It is a lot of work on our brains and bodies all this fear. Halloween can be exhausting. Ghosts are scary because it brings in thoughts about our unknown mortality. We can’t control our mortality. We have no control of the dark. Anything can attack us without our knowledge.
Yet there is a part of us that wishes to discover and to challenge ourselves. Can we survive? Face it! Your life is too boring and structured. Halloween is the one day where it is ok to be unpredictable and take chances and that is a good thing. All our traditional worries go out the window on Halloween. Today we get to worry about all sorts of other challenges. A Haunted House can be so bad that the stresses of our real lives suddenly don’t appear to be so stressful. So do something good for your health, get the crap scared out of you! Happy Halloween!