I often wonder what people's fascination with fear is. What is it that makes people go on roller-coaster's, enter the haunted-house ride at the seasonal fair/fare and read or watch ghost or horror stories. Is it the adrenaline rush? The fact that it is almost guaranteed to raise the human's heart rate and make it beat a mile a minute... at least for a while, or that it will leave those little ripples of jumpiness that keeps the adrenaline coursing through your veins. Are humans addicted to this sensation?
As far as I know, and correct me if I am wrong, humans are the only species that really goes out of its way to scare itself. Most animals are naturally twitchy, but they have to be to survive. Their senses are finely tuned to the slightest scent or sound of a predator. Human-kind however, has lived a long time in relative absence of such things. I say relative, as I am not about to remove all credibility for war or those living in places less safe than the generic UK.
Naturally, the thing that has got me thinking about this, is the annual appearance of The Return Of The Screw on BBC. I was made to study this book either in College or University, I forget which. It is a ghost-story written by Henry James and has always managed to give me the wiggins. My problem with these types of stories is that I have to see them through to the end of my mind runs away with its own imagination and that somehow always ends up worse. Perhaps that is part of the hook of ghost stories, or thrill rides. Once on them, you have to stick there to the end or you never know.
Those of you that know me well, will know that it is generally not a good idea for me to see a ghost story or anything vaguely trigery. Least of all this time of year. For those of you that do not know me, I will explain briefly.
As a part of my depression and social anxiety, I have occasional psychosis. That is, I see things that others do not. Things which are not there... mostly, people, reapers (yep, cloaked, dark... no scvive though) and things I have come to describe as ghosts and monsters. Of course, there are always at least two schools of thought with such things: Those of you that will accept I have occasions of psychosis or hallucinations (they are diagnosed as dissociative hallucinations - do not ask me what that means though, as I have no idea) and those that believe they really are ghosts, daemons and monsters. There is of course the third type that thinks I only mention such things for attention... but we won't rant about those right now. Suffice to say I am on medicine that for the most part removes a lot of the psychosis and I am much more able to go through day to day life without 'seeing things'.
Seeing a ghost story, however, is barely conducive to avoiding triggery subjects. I get triggered by such things as they make me skittish and more wary of what is around me. My 'hallucinations' take place when I am at my most tired, stressed or anxious and are fixated around people that have been somehow distorted, stolen or taken over. As though the line between life and death becomes blurred and I see what goes between.
So, if humans are addicted to adrenalin, and to the rush of such tales and stories. If it is such a good thing to be scared - when does that become bad? When is it that adrenalin, that thing which is designed as a fight or flight mechanism is really truly telling you to run.
and how can my system mix the two up over things that to others do not exist - and I know this, as I have asked people in the past.
There were a few times in November and December when I would have quite happily have fled from the bus or the train, if doing so was not so frankly dangerous, both being moving vehicles and it by that point being dark out, because to my mind, the people on them were dangerous and evil. They brought terror to me. Not just the general thrill that is got from a roller coaster, actual sheer terror that had my heart racing, hands shaking, body inches from a panic attack and tears in my eyes.
Not that anyone ever asked if I was okay.
It does make me wonder where that line is though. Who defines where the thrill and where the terror lies and how individual are those lines? Does everyone react in the same way to the same things - has anyone ever tested it, on a roller-coaster for example, or with a (decent) scary film?
I also wonder what your thoughts and experiences are: Are you a believer in ghosts? A staunch, all sightings are hallucinogenic of one form or another? A believer in God and the mysterious 'as it should be-ness' of his work?
Do you thrill seek? Do you hunt out those movies, games, rides? Do you run from them, preferring to watch something else and remain in some level of relative safety? Have you ever shifted from one to the other? Have you ever regretted it? Or are you addicted to it?