Why do people like to get scared? What will happen to Halloween in 2020?
People get scared watching horror movies, seeing a spider on the ceiling, or having a nightmare. None of these experiences seem particularly enjoyable, but there are many people seeking the thrill of a scare.
The part of the brain responsible for registering fear is the amygdala. The amygdala is a bundle of neurons in the shape of two almonds located deep in the temporal lobe. When someone gets scared, their amygdala is activated and other brain regions, such as the hypothalamus, are activated as well. Once the hypothalamus is triggered, it releases hormones like adrenaline which is responsible for the “fight or flight” response. The body is flooded with adrenaline and heart rate increases, lungs take in more air, oxygen levels in the body rapidly increase, pupils enlarge, eyesight is enhanced, the digestive and urinary systems slow down, and concentration increases. These physiological effects that people experience with the release of hormones is the reason why some people like being scared. These hormones can result in a “pleasure-filled, opioid-like sense of euphoria.”
Another reason that someone may enjoy getting scared is self-satisfaction. People who enjoy and are able to endure anxiety and fear often experience satisfaction. The feeling of satisfaction results from a sense of accomplishment when someone is able to overcome a fear-inducing situation.
Halloween is one of the most celebrated holidays in the United States. Horror nights and Fright nights will be missed this year, courtesy of COVID-19. We all look forward to next year, when we can visit amusement parks, hayrides, and haunted houses to get a scare.