Horror Film Therapy
The Psychological Benefits of Scary Movies
A tough sell... I know.
They might make you squirm, cringe, nervous, anxious, and... well, scared, but these films provide some unapparent benefits to your psyche, which will inherently affect the rest of your life, day to day, minute to minute. Everyone in this world has fears, it is one of the most unifying qualities we share as humans. Unfortunately for the world, some people never face their fears; facing fears allows a person to grow in unimaginable ways, with unpredictable, but always rewarding results.
“I don’t necessarily look at this stuff in the way like someone would eat a cupcake, it’s not that kind of enjoyment; it’s definitely a reminder of our mortality and to be a good person and to know bad things happen and that life while you still have it is worth pursuing to the fullest” said Horror film journalist and Why Horror? documentary maker, Tal Zimmerman.
Horror movies are an opportunity to face fears, and instead of letting fear remain a hindrance on your journey, the ability to face those fears will serve to help you with other risky decisions. Complementarily, for more experienced horror fans, these films are a healthy escape from the mundane stressors of our daily lives, reminding us how unimportant most of our "challenges” in life really are.
Renowned American horror writer Stephen King wrote and published a short essay entitled “Why We Crave Horror Movies”. The first sentence reads, “I think we’re all mentally ill; those of us outside the asylums only hide it a little better...". He explains this by referring to funny habits like picking your nose in public, talking to yourself outside of stressful situations, or "squinching their faces into horrible grimaces when they believe no one is looking”. To understand how a normal person could possibly enjoy the horror film genre without being any more insane than their non-horror fan neighbor, you must first understand that Jack the Ripper was just as much human as those who hide their insanity.
Stephen King also believes that “anti-civilization emotions don’t go away, and they demand periodic exercise. We have such ‘sick’ jokes [that] may surprise a laugh or a grin out of us even as we recoil, a possibility that confirms the thesis: if we share brotherhood of man, then we also share an insanity of man”; these repressions are mentally unhealthy, even manifesting physically, eventually. How could we not all be a little insane when we live in a world that does not cater to our unique individualities and sympathies? We have more fears in common than interests with most people.
Horror films present the opportunity to practice keeping your cool in stressful situations and to find peace in chaos. Depression seems less scary, because even loneliness beats living through the horrors of films. Next, is learning that being alone or isolated does not mean you need to feel lonely: you must be your own best friend and grow. You must treat yourself like a child that needs your exemplary care and protection. Scare the little things out of your life and go watch a horror movie before you go to sleep tonight. Or start during daylight, we won’t judge; horror movies don’t judge. Go be your best, most fearless self and face your fears today.