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Author Topic: Where in our brain does the attraction to horror come from?  (Read 15983 times)

Offline ConfusedHermit

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I've never been a fan of the horror genre, but it's been a major genre that a lot of people have shown interest in for a very long time.

To each his own and all that, but I'm more interested in where this interest comes from in the brain. Humans are unique for a lot of different things, such as some people being able to enjoy a hot pepper despite it's defense mechanism trying to hurt us. Or less common things such as being turned on by pain or forced discomfort.

This whole idea of turning something nature typically associates with 'bad, don't do that' or 'bad, run away' into something like 'I think I'm going to go put my mind in a state of panic tonight' by indulging in horror media (movies, games, etc.) is just fascinating to me. You KNOW you're the most well-survived species when you can get enjoyment out of what a rabbit in the woods is constantly on the alert for its life about :{D~

Of course, before civilization, WE were in the rabbit's position more so than ever. So I wonder at what point fear and paranoia became something the brain could enjoy...
« Last Edit: 08/09/2012 12:03:46 by ConfusedHermit »


 

Offline grizelda

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Any emotional response is sought by the audience, so it is easier to provoke this with violence and gore than subtlety. And zombies work cheap.
 

Offline ConfusedHermit

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Actually, the subtle horror genre interests me more than the slasher bloody gore stuff. Culture surrounding gore is likely desensitized to where it doesn't bother them, but subtlety is more relatable and effective, I think. We'll probably never know the feeling of a zombie outbreak, but we all understand the feeling of being paranoid because strange sounds are happening, or being alone in the dark or when there's a thick fog. Generally when we have no idea what the hell is going on.

I understand an emotional response is the point of any media of any genre; I'm just interested where in the brain does the attraction to that kind of 'on alert and uncomfortable' comes from. Maybe also what it says about the brains of the people on either side; people who enjoy fear and people who don't.
 

Offline grizelda

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During hard times, people flock to shows about millionaires cavorting. So maybe when things are cushy and comfortable they like to be scared out of their skin, just to exercise the neurotransmitters.
 

Offline ConfusedHermit

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I wonder how often that's the reason, though. I have a pretty average living, but I don't feel the desire to put my mind in a state of discomfort just because it would be different.

So I wonder how 'that part' of the brain in people like myself is different from a brain that actively seeks out media that will haunt them; whether they be wealthy or struggling. 

When you used the word 'flock,' it reminded me of something else. Movies are a group experience, so I wonder if most of the appeal is experiencing something together rather than just enjoying fear. Or maybe it's a competitive instinct, and we're cheating a bit by having something scary, but also having the comfort of being in a group. People can claim to not have been 'as scared' as others or at all that way.


ANOTHER thing to think about is video games. In a single-player subtle horror game, you are alone and much less able to defend yourself than your environment. The fact that there's a market for solo, interactive horror is an interesting thing about the brain. But again with the word 'flock,' I often only see horror games played if it happens to be a popular 'thing' at the time. 

Maybe the best example of what I'm talking about in general is a person who reads scary books (without knowing the author or how popular they are). That's a very solo experience, and your personality and inner reading voice can make the experience even more personally unsettling. Or, so I hear :{D~
« Last Edit: 09/09/2012 16:21:27 by ConfusedHermit »
 

Offline grizelda

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Well, my "nuclear vision " theory would be that the audience identifies with the bad guys. When they (we) get punished, they (we) are forgiven and can then be re-borne in the womb from which they (we) were so rudely forced.
« Last Edit: 10/09/2012 03:09:55 by grizelda »
 

Offline ConfusedHermit

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Interesting theory! I wonder how many people who read scary books have a lot of feelings of guilt in their personal lives. I'm not sure how conscious their decisions to do that are, though. Humans are mostly selfish, so I doubt the thought 'I'm such a bad person, I'm going to read a scary book where 'the bad entity' haunts a person like a big jerk and gets justly killed in the end' would happen on anything but a subconscious level :{o~

I'm also curious if people like me (who don't go out of their way to indulge in the genre) are just less aware of or have a lower standard for what warrants the feeling of guilt. Or if they're just too selfish to even let guilt register at all.

Makes you wonder how the brain's attention to guilt is doing in the gene pool. Seems to be dwindling these days. Assuming your theory is correct, I hope scary book lovers can still find good stuff to read!

Thanks for the posts, grizelda. I guess we're the only ones interested in this question so far :{D~
 

Offline neilep

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I've never been a fan of the horror genre, but it's been a major genre that a lot of people have shown interest in for a very long time.

To each his own and all that, but I'm more interested in where this interest comes from in the brain. Humans are unique for a lot of different things, such as some people being able to enjoy a hot pepper despite it's defense mechanism trying to hurt us. Or less common things such as being turned on by pain or forced discomfort.

This whole idea of turning something nature typically associates with 'bad, don't do that' or 'bad, run away' into something like 'I think I'm going to go put my mind in a state of panic tonight' by indulging in horror media (movies, games, etc.) is just fascinating to me. You KNOW you're the most well-survived species when you can get enjoyment out of what a rabbit in the woods is constantly on the alert for its life about :{D~

Of course, before civilization, WE were in the rabbit's position more so than ever. So I wonder at what point fear and paranoia became something the brain could enjoy...


You have in fact asked an enormous question that seeks out the nature of individuality and predisposition.

In MY opinion....you can set aside guilt. I love horror...I also love sci fi...and I am happy with ALL types of film genre and I certainly do not feel guilty about it or have an overriding feeling of guilt in my life.

Escapism !..thatís what itís all about. Horror and Sci Fi remove you completely from anything related to the real world and allow you via a safe environment to indulge an experience that in reality one would never have . We (as sentient humans) are able to intellectualize our way through the film/book/thrill ride/video game knowing that itís a construct. There are of course a few who find themselves influenced by what they see and read but for the most part, most people enjoy the thrill...gets the adrenalin rushing and the endorphins rushing !

Now just because you don't have a taste for that kind of thing does not demean your constitution in any way....I like Horror as much as I may hate cinnamon (which I do hate)...and you may love the stuff. I am sure that there must be something in your life that might provide you with an equivalent feeling. It could be something as subtle as a feeling of tranquility.

Individuality is what itís all about..

I for one don't like country and western music......but i do not find the need to question why others do..I just accept it as a matter of fact.

A rabbit in the forest is not Ďsentientí enough to distinguish between a film or real life and thus reacts with instinct to run away whereas we KNOW that certain fears have been created for entertainment purposes only.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Is it truly horror we like or the simultaneous recognition that it isn't real accompanied by a sensation of relief? Humor, which people also enjoy, is supposedly based on a similar brain response - being surprised by something unexpected or discordant  followed by comprehension/relief.
 

Offline neilep

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Is it truly horror we like or the simultaneous recognition that it isn't real accompanied by a sensation of relief? Humor, which people also enjoy, is supposedly based on a similar brain response - being surprised by something unexpected or discordant  followed by comprehension/relief.

And the source of humour is often due to someone's misfortune..............horrific !!  ;)
 

Offline ConfusedHermit

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Re: Where in our brain does the attraction to horror come from?
« Reply #10 on: 10/09/2012 23:50:33 »
It's neilep! Hello again :3

The whole 'everybody's different and that's all there is to it' I understand. I was just curious if there was something deeper about this particular interest from brain to brain. Such as if a person gets enjoyment out of skydiving. We can say 'hey that's just what they're into,' but I sometimes wonder where in their brain the desire for that kind of thrill comes from. Wanting to dig a little deeper for curiosity's sake is one of MY brain's features :{D~


@cheryl j: That's a good point. The unknown/unexpected, be it in real life or in media, is a powerful hinge in our brains that can swing for strong pleasant or unpleasant emotions. Not knowing a good joke is why we laugh so hard the first time. The constant mystery of 'what the hell is going on' in horror where almost nothing is explained is what hooks our attention to possibly find out later; even if that means sitting through the most unsettling and eerie of moments to get there.

The fact that media is media and not reality certainly does add comfort for scary stuff. I wonder if the ACTUAL best example for my question would be for someone who actively goes into the woods at night just for that same unsettling 'horror mode' feeling. But that's really pushing it. Doesn't happen enough to discuss it.

...Right? :{o~
 

Offline grizelda

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Re: Where in our brain does the attraction to horror come from?
« Reply #11 on: 11/09/2012 18:55:18 »

The fact that media is media and not reality certainly does add comfort for scary stuff. I wonder if the ACTUAL best example for my question would be for someone who actively goes into the woods at night just for that same unsettling 'horror mode' feeling. But that's really pushing it. Doesn't happen enough to discuss it.

...Right? :{o~

Sure, what could possibly go wrong?

 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: Where in our brain does the attraction to horror come from?
« Reply #12 on: 12/09/2012 01:36:27 »
I was never attracted to horror movies the seemed juvenile, and generally speaking poorly written, relying on special effects and things popping out unexpectedly instead of real suspense or complex plots. I also wondered if my reaction to real life horror would be different than others. While I've never seen a dead body or severed head, working as a clinical microbiologist I would get little jars of amputated toes before breakfast, and it is surprising how easy it is to get used to that. Blood and guts never bothered me, but what I never could get used to was witnessing pain and suffering and anxiety in real human beings.
 

Offline OLzenizin

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Re: Where in our brain does the attraction to horror come from?
« Reply #13 on: 13/09/2012 07:34:20 »
Maybe also what it says about the brains of the people on either side; people who enjoy fear and people who don't.
 

Offline BenV

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Re: Where in our brain does the attraction to horror come from?
« Reply #14 on: 13/09/2012 11:11:43 »
The "Fight or Flight" reaction is, at least in part, led by adrenaline - Could horror (in all its many forms) simply be giving us an enjoyable adrenaline rush?
 

Offline RGyaznoff

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Re: Where in our brain does the attraction to horror come from?
« Reply #15 on: 20/09/2012 10:07:34 »
I wonder if the ACTUAL best example for my question would be for someone who actively goes into the woods at night just for that same unsettling 'horror mode' feeling. But that's really pushing it. Doesn't happen enough to discuss it.
 

Offline pavshinAN

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Re: Where in our brain does the attraction to horror come from?
« Reply #16 on: 27/09/2012 14:09:24 »
I also wondered if my reaction to real life horror would be different than others. While I've never seen a dead body or severed head, working as a clinical microbiologist I would get little jars of amputated toes before breakfast)))
 

Offline AKabanchuk

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Re: Where in our brain does the attraction to horror come from?
« Reply #17 on: 17/10/2012 12:55:08 »
Blood and guts never bothered me, but what I never could get used to was witnessing pain and suffering and anxiety in real human beings.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Where in our brain does the attraction to horror come from?
« Reply #18 on: 04/01/2013 03:48:11 »
I wonder if the ACTUAL best example for my question would be for someone who actively goes into the woods at night just for that same unsettling 'horror mode' feeling. But that's really pushing it. Doesn't happen enough to discuss it.

Foreshadowing and building scenes has been part of literature since long before everything was portrayed in vivid color (or fuzzy black and white).

When I was in college, a cemetery abutted to the college campus.  And, wouldn't you know it, I found an apartment lying on the exact opposite side of the cemetery from campus.  Tall tombstones, big trees, and all.  Actually, I found it to be a very peaceful place, and a common shortcut from campus.

There is nothing innately terrifying about trees, leaves, woods, crickets, or a door slamming.  When watching a movie, your view of the scenery is all tainted by the scenery being built by a work of fiction, and the expectation that something will happen.

Hopefully one's view of Nature's beauty isn't tainted by the same.
 

Offline Minerva

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Re: Where in our brain does the attraction to horror come from?
« Reply #19 on: 23/01/2013 17:36:46 »
As every good horror film director knows its not what you show on the screen that gets audiences emotionally excited, its the unknown.  Humans are story tellers and what we don't know we make up-so all the horror film director needs to do is make the suggestion of what's going to happen and we fill the rest in for ourselves.  Fear is nothing more than not knowing what will happen next.

I don't think there is an attraction to horror module in the brain, it is simply that certain things excite the nervous system and particularly the reward centre in the brain and there is arguably nothing more exciting than knowing you nearly died and got away with it.  Remember the brain/nervous system cannot distinguish between reality and the telly/cinema, it processes only the data it receives from your sensory receptors, so make believe will elicit the same responses from your nervous system as if it were actually happening to you.  So you will experience the rush of feel good neurotransmitters that come with cheating death.  That's the attraction and its the same one that makes people base jump/sky dive etc..



 

Offline AJloff

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Re: Where in our brain does the attraction to horror come from?
« Reply #20 on: 26/02/2013 12:21:10 »
Blood and guts never bothered me, but what I never could get used to was witnessing pain and suffering and anxiety in real human beings.
 

Offline mulaninMX

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Re: Where in our brain does the attraction to horror come from?
« Reply #21 on: 21/03/2013 08:41:45 »
Tall tombstones, big trees, and all.  Actually, I found it to be a very peaceful place, and a common shortcut from campus.
 

Offline ISaminov

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Re: Where in our brain does the attraction to horror come from?
« Reply #22 on: 25/04/2013 14:38:14 »
The "Fight or Flight" reaction is, at least in part, led by adrenaline - Could horror (in all its many forms) simply be giving us an enjoyable adrenaline rush?
 

Offline majorminor

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Re: Where in our brain does the attraction to horror come from?
« Reply #23 on: 25/04/2013 19:40:12 »

The fact that media is media and not reality certainly does add comfort for scary stuff. I wonder if the ACTUAL best example for my question would be for someone who actively goes into the woods at night just for that same unsettling 'horror mode' feeling. But that's really pushing it. Doesn't happen enough to discuss it.

...Right? :{o~

Sure, what could possibly go wrong?

SCaryyy. That man is about to eat 4 lions . runnnn
 

Offline Esevroff

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Re: Where in our brain does the attraction to horror come from?
« Reply #24 on: 16/05/2013 13:44:24 »
While I've never seen a dead body or severed head, working as a clinical microbiologist I would get little jars of amputated toes before breakfast)))
 

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Re: Where in our brain does the attraction to horror come from?
« Reply #24 on: 16/05/2013 13:44:24 »

 

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