By: A. Hemnani
Halloween is the national day known for fear and spooks. Children dress up in their costumes, families decorate their homes and people watch horror movies. This can create a gory and foreboding environment from where fear arises. But we somehow still look forward to Halloween. Why is that? Halloween is around the corner so if you want to understand fear so you can use it to your advantage, read on.
Fear is a natural sensation the human body releases, which allows us to imagine the worst possible outcomes out of a certain scenario. It can be described as a compass within us that allows us to navigate through life safely.
Take a moment to think about it, fear matures with us. Children fear things like the dark or that monster under their beds, and us teenagers are scared of deadlines and tests. In adulthood, fear becomes about money and death. It is clear to see how fear evolves with us. However, we manipulate fear for pleasure, some examples include Halloween, horror movies and roller coasters. How and why do we do that?
Fear originates from the amygdala inside our brains. The amygdala communicates with two parts of the brain, these then communicate with our sensory organs: eyes, ears, skin. These organs react to the change in environment and produce adrenaline and epinephrine which create a flight-or-fight response. The flight-or-flight response has been ingrained in our brains for such a long time that it is engraved in human nature.
According to Statista, in 2022 Magic Kingdom received over 17 million visitors, which proves that we enjoy the adrenaline rush rather than the prospect of feeling fear. However, this must be the perfect combination of fear and enjoyment. The directors of horror movies are so smart that they scare you enough to make you feel a sense of fulfilment. They do this by tapping into the fear of the unknown, since we fear things that we don’t know. An example that proves this is clowns, which nowadays are being antagonised in movies, even though kids used to love them before. Clowns wear masks and make up, hiding their feelings, this is what makes us fear them. Horror movies also use children and nursery rhymes to scare us since we link them to love and laughter and not blood and gore, so we get scared.
Fear can be classified into two categories, rational and irrational fear. Rational fear is tangible, it is something physically in front of you harming you. Meanwhile, irrational fear is mostly psychological and is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. We can further categorize these into good fear that pushes you beyond your potential, but bad fear holds you back from achieving what you can already do! We must acknowledge our fear and we must not let it control us!
Ask yourself: why am I scared? Acknowledge your fear and tackle it. We can't let fear control us. Jump into every situation. We must use it as a tool so that we can better understand ourselves (similarly to the Jedis in Star Wars: there is a costume idea for Halloween if you still don't have one!)
The science behind fear | Kabir Keswani | TEDxYouth@GMIS