Why do some people like scaring themselves with horror stories?

by on Aug 22, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Why do some people like scaring themselves with horror stories?

The sun sets and the alleyways become hushed. Everyone is asleep, safe and tucked underneath the comfort of their blankets. Meanwhile, a person sits alone in a dark corner, imagining what it’s like to be covered in complete darkness with nothing but thoughts of pain, horror, and death. Suddenly, that person’s face brightens as he pulls open the screen of his laptop, jarringly putting into words what his dark and twisted mind had just mustered.

A writer is writing.

Why do some writers turn to darkness and spin tales that can make even the emotionally toughest of people feel uneasy? Better yet, why do people read scary stories even if they know that later on, they’d be sleeping with the lights on? So, let’s have a look at some of the interesting theories.

Exploring the Dark Side

As kids, we were always taught to side with good. We must always be on our best behavior and avoid things that can hurt others. Only through stories and our own imagination did we get a glimpse of what it’s like to be on the other side.

“There’s a long history of people being intensely curious about the ‘dark side,’ and trying to make sense of it,” said Frank Farley, a psychologist from Temple University. “Through movies, we’re able to see horror in front of our eyes, and some people are extremely fascinated by it. They’re interested in the unusual and the bizarre because they don’t understand it and it’s so different from our everyday lives.”

Dr. Farley says that some people have a need to expose themselves to feelings and emotions that are different from their usual everyday routine. While people experience a lot of negative emotions from reading or watching horror stories, people experience gratification in the end because the experience is quite unique.

To feel strong emotions with someone

Fear, hatred, repulsion, empathy, and even love – all of these feelings are all common themes of scary stores. They are there, waiting to be read and experienced by the reader. After reading a book, a common gesture that readers do (especially those belonging in a book club) is to talk about the book and enthusiastically lend it to someone else. Believe it or not, sharing strong emotions with someone through a book forms the strongest of bonds with someone. Experiencing the same level of anger on chapter 5, or fear when the main character is about to fall into the trap of a demon, can invoke strong connections with someone – emotions that can sometimes even lead to romance. Yes, there are instances where couples find each other through connecting over a book. It’s not at all surprising, because having shared interests is the first step to forming a relationship that eventually leads to intimacy. According to Dr. Kat Van Kirk, a writer for Adam & Eve and a licensed marriage therapist, “Communication is key when it comes to intimacy,” and those who are afraid to verbalize their emotions can express their feelings through their love for a book.

To prove we can survive

Can anyone really survive a zombie outbreak? Sure. There are a lot of books out there about zombie survival such as ‘The Zombie Protection Book’ by Max Brooks, and the reason why we read them is because we want to get a glimpse of what could happen during an outbreak and what we could do to survive. Only in horror stories, which may be backed by Science or not, can we read about things that will prepare us in case darkness covers the land someday.

Paul Gilbert has been a fan of fiction and horror books since his teens. Now he actively writes for several online blogs as well writing for the local newspaper. When not writing, Paul enjoys running and playing tennis.

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