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The addiction that is fear: illogical, unhealthy and yet oh so tasty

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I have to admit that, after typing the title to this post, I’m a little bit confused; suddenly, I’m craving a nice, big, fat, juicy burger… Which, if you think about it, can also be quite scary, especially when you are 50, overweight and have a heart problem…

Ah, yes, the topic at hand: fear.

It’s pretty interesting that we humans spend most of our lives trying to find a sense of security, building solid houses in which we feel safe, building relationships so we can feel safe within our family and our community, building social relationships to carve our space in society and, yes, to feel safe in – yet how is one very popular way in which we seek entertainment? We watch scarier and scarier movies and TV shows (B-movies vs. the Saw movies, or The X-files vs. Supernatural), we love Halloween, we read and tell each other ghost stories…

In short, we’re nuts, seeking pleasure in what we flee from all our lives.

Which makes me wonder, is this the reason why we are running the earth to the ground, because we are trying to give ourselves the biggest scare of all? Who knows. But one thing is certain: man’s seeming inherent lack of logic, is always a source of great fascination – and blog posts.

So why do we do it? Why do we like to scare ourselves so?

As someone who loves a good scary story, movie or TV show, I was always curious as to why we like to scare ourselves so and just how healthy it is.

But first, let me take the time for the following disclaimer: to make this post (a lot) easier to read, I’m going to refer to any scare-inducing material, be it movies, TV shows, books, Halloween or stories told around a campfire, as just ‘scary movies’.

The effect of scary movies on our health has yet to be quantified; in some circles, it is even being flat out denied. But, knowing that man cannot be separated from his social environment, it’s certain that either a steady diet or even a one-time dose of scary movies does have an effect on us; how much has yet to be determined and probably varies according to different factors. I found an interesting article here http://nyp.org/news/hospital/1110.html about the effect of scary movies on toddlers and young children; not being able to distinguish reality from fantasy, researchers have found that toddlers and young children who are exposed to scary movies tend to act more violently than those who aren’t.

But this doesn’t make fear a bad thing; quite the contrary, fear is essential for survival. If we weren’t afraid of bears and would just stand there while they maul us… Well, you get the point.

So fear probably helped our ancestors survive; but what does it do for us? After all, being scared silly of a bear or a shark enough to run for our lives were we to face one, doesn’t come in too handy for the half of the planet that lives in urban areas.

Come to think of it, many of us don’t get to feel that primal fear our ancestors survived on (not that it’s a bad thing). Could it be that, after so many years of surviving on fear, we’re still addicted to it? If so, could it be that, in a world that is safer and safer, we like to scare ourselves as a reminder that we still need to survive?

What a tangled web…


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