Why do we like to feel frightened

Halloween - where does the horror end?

Like every year, Halloween is just around the corner. Why do we like to be scared and why is fear rather unpleasant for us? Prof. Voderholzer from the Schön Klinik Roseneck speaks about the "lust for fear", the "thrill", and from when the fear is referred to as an anxiety disorder.

What is the difference between having fun being scary and being scared?

There are biological and psychological reasons why we can have fun in being scary. On the one hand, systems in the brain are stimulated that release dopamine and adrenaline, some of which are happiness hormones. This creates the so-called "lust for fear", the "thrill", which can bring us feelings of pleasure and relaxation despite negative emotions such as fear or horror. On the other hand, we also feel safe in the situation in "scary situations", such as on Halloween, in the ghost train or when watching horror films. We know that nothing can happen to us. Because of this, we can enjoy the shower. How much we enjoy horror differs from person to person and according to age. Young people in particular feel great joy in the "scary kick".

How does fear arise?

Fear per se is not a pathological fear, but a vital reaction that has protected us from dangers in our evolution and has optimally prepared us for fight and flight in critical situations. Most dangers such as lions, tigers and snakes are no longer part of our reality today.

Where does the fun end?

Children in particular, unlike adolescents, are often not yet able to properly assess situations. This is why it is important not to overdo things. With adolescents, it's often about testing each other out and swapping roles. The children or adolescents get a higher status than the adults as horror ghosts. On Halloween the children are allowed to scare the adults. In this way, the children take on the role of the powerful who are not afraid themselves. The horror is perceived playfully.

If the fear is "real" - when do you speak of an anxiety disorder?

One speaks of anxiety disorders when fear occurs again and again in situations that do not involve any danger and that hinder us in everyday life. You avoid many situations because of fear. For example, people avoid parties, no longer go to school or even no longer go out of the house. However, the line between healthy and sick is fluid. Anxiety disorders are usually very treatable today. The best scientifically proven and also most effective in the long term is behavior therapy, in which those affected learn to cope with their fear and to give up their avoidance behavior. Experiences of being able to cope with fear yourself are associated with very positive feelings and thus also improve the mood.

Can days like Halloween, when fear and horror are in the foreground, trigger an anxiety disorder further?

I don't think Halloween or any other scary fun has a negative impact on those with anxiety disorders. Triggers for anxiety disorders are more likely to be experiences of loss, stressful situations or other negative events. However, you should make sure that the fun on Halloween does not get out of control. Children in particular often find it difficult to distinguish between fun and serious danger. Therefore it is important not to exceed the level of "scary fun". So children, teenagers and adults can enjoy Halloween.