Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Note on Fear aka. Why I like to scare the shit out of myself.

I am the first person to admit that I'm a huge fan of horror movies.  I mean since I was about 11ish, I've loved the feeling of anxiety you can get when you hear the creepy music and know something is going to happen.

Strange, I know, considering I avoid anxiety pretty much any other time.

But horror movies allow you a certain kind of release.  For me, honestly, it puts things into perspective.  I mean, no matter what's going on in my life, at least I don't have a maniac wearing a hockey mask chasing me in the woods.

See?  Perspective.

I don't know why in the context of horror movies, that people actually enjoy being afraid.  I mean I totally understand the adrenaline rush and the high you get after practically soiling yourself.  

And yet the funny thing is that in real life, fear is, ya know....terrifying.

I mean we can all fear an individual person, but 99% of the time, it's not some crazed lunatic with super strength and a machete. 

The things that we mostly fear are a lot more subtle.  For me heights, spiders, public speaking and failure will all give me the cold sweats and what feels like a mini-heart attack.  For others it's crowded places and snakes.  Not necessarily things that most people would consider terror inducing but ll of our fears are unique to us and partly what make us the people we are. 

Thinking about fear all came to mind when I watched a movie called Dread. This is a badly acted horror film that focuses on a bunch of college students that are doing a film project on fear.  They interview a bunch of volunteer students and ask them to describe their worst fears.  Now of course one of the kids doing the film is bat shit crazy and starts kidnapping people and forcing them to live their fears some of which are truly horrifying and pretty much succeed in breaking these people psychologically.

It made me think about confronting fears.  Why is it so hard for us to do?  I mean fear of specific things are actually a little easier to deal with.  I'm terrified of spiders yet am forced to kill them myself if they wander into my apartment.  But confronting the more intangible fears is much more difficult.

I know that rationally, spiders won't hurt me.  They're small and creepy, but a tiny green little house spider isn't going to hurt me.  I know this logically so it's easier to address by stomping on it using a large boot.  Overkill?  Maybe.  But it's my phobia so I deal any way I can.

Fear of failure is a little different and much more difficult to address because it's associated with deeper emotional issues.  I'm afraid to let people down, I'm afraid of my parents being ashamed of me, I'm afraid of a bunch of different things but it all boils down to ideas of inadequacy.  Things much scarier than a little spider.

But I think confronting our fears is necessary in life because without that, how will we ever grow?  Sometimes it's as simple as watching a scary movie, or killing that little spider in the bathroom.  Other times, not so easy but double rewarding.



Spider Image from Hyperbole and a Half if you haven't checked out her comics, do so right now.


  1. How do you feel about Haunted Houses at Halloween? I know nothing in there is really going to get me, but the thought of having to go through one gives me a panic attack.

    1. I'm typically OK with them although I get all worked up and will scream like a little girl. But they don't make me panic. But then I'm the one who will watch scary movies home alone and turn all the lights off to make it creepier. Thankfully I have my fierce furbaby to protect me.

    2. Oh my god I'm going to have a panic attack just picturing you doing that :-p

    3. Apparently I'm a sucker for punishment.

  2. You are far braver than I am Ash! The anxiety caused by horror - or even just plain ol' suspenseful - movies is intolerable for me. I am getting better than I used to be, but I honestly used to have physical pain just from watching the movies. I still have to close my eyes and tune out sometimes in order to be able to get through the worst parts, but I'm learning.

    But you're absolutely right confronting our fears is so so hard.

    1. I deal pretty well with artificial fear and enjoy the adrenaline rush of being startled. So I'm all about tense movies. But yeah, I'm utter crap at confronting my own true fears.

  3. I love haunted houses and scary movies and creepy books! However, I have become kind of a baby about watching anything too scary at night alone, LOL. If I do I tend to watch something happy after!

    I've had to overcome some of the more real fears like spiders and noises when alone at night..those are just part and parcel of flying solo!

    1. I live alone in a really old building so knocks and groans at night are part of the territory. So is killing your own creepy crawlies.

      I totally get wanting to watch something happy afterwards. I watched something a few weeks ago and afterwards had all the lights on and was watching cartoons.

    2. I used to love love love scary movies and now I can't watch them unless someone is sleeping over. I find that I'm a big chicken now since I live alone.

    3. Usually if I've seen the movie before I'm fine. Sometimes I'll watch something for the first time and have to turn some lights on. Funny considering I'm a huge wimp about other things.

  4. I have an unnatural fear of deer. Other than that, bring on the scare-fest! I love a good haunted house or scary movie. Oh Halloween. How I love thee!

    Also I hate spiders too. And so does Brian. So when we find one, we're screwed!