'I enjoy the rush': Why a good scare can make for frightful fun
Published Thursday, October 31, 2019 4:00AM CST
Last Updated Thursday, October 31, 2019 9:49PM CST
PRINCE ALBERT -- Kyle Stubbert, a horror enthusiast who lives in Prince Albert, watches horror movies all year round and seeks to push the limits of what will jump start his fear.
“I enjoy the rush, it’s that feeling, the heart pounding, heart racing, kind of mind racing,” he said.
Haunted houses and horror films allow people the opportunity to engage with their fears in a safe environment, while still being able to activate the fight or flight response, said Margee Kerr, who devoted more than 10 years of her sociology research to the study of fear and the way people engage with horror.
“When we are in a space that we know is safe and have chosen to be in, we can incite those feelings through startle and scare, it can feel really good,” she said.
Fear is a natural survival instinct the body feels when faced with a terrifying situation. There are many physiological elements one can feel when visiting a haunted house, watching a scary movie and sharing ghost stories.
While collecting research for her latest book, Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear, Kerr composed some of her data from the fear haunted house attendees experienced at ScareHouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
When the arousal system in the body is activated, it can trigger a flow of “feel good” transmitters and hormones like endorphins, serotonin and adrenaline that influence the brain and body. For some, it is believed that the physical sensation in itself is enjoyable.
“When we are not dealing with threat or injury, it can feel good when we increase our experienced knowledge …especially the endorphins, dopamine, those are associated with that euphoric feeling.”
Fun fear is healthy and encourages people to test their limits in a safe environment, she said. The horror genre is always finding new ways to test their audiences’ boundaries and although Stubbert is used to experiencing a good scare, he is not exempt from a good spook.
“I’m not unscareable by any means, I’ve been scared many times and I still enjoy it, technology is moving forward and I think the scares will move forward with it.”