A look at how fear affects us, what actually makes it work, and how horror movies play into the science


Cooper Lake

Zander Bezotte, senior and member of Drama Club, expresses fear as something scary happens behind the camera.

Judy Silva, Food Editor

On a daily basis, everyone has to come to terms with their fears.
“When I am scared, I feel a rush of adrenaline that washes over my whole body,” said Natalie O’Neal, a senior.
Is fear psychological?
People argue that fear is a psychological phenomenon rather than something that is able to be researched through scientific investigations. Scientifically, fear is when the hypothalamus in the brain reacts by releasing a series of chemicals to the nervous system and the adrenocortical system.
According to the website EndocrineWeb, a site addressing endocrine disorders by people in the endocrine field, “The hypothalamus is the portion of the brain that maintains the body’s internal balance”. The hypothalamus stimulates bodily processes such as heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, fluid and electrolyte balance, appetite, body weight, and many more key functions. When the brain experiences fear, the heart begins to race, fast breathing and energized muscles start to occur. It creates the well known reaction of fight or flight.
When presented with danger, our body slows down functions that are not necessary for survival, and sharpens functions that may increase survival.
Fears and phobias
Fears can appear in specific ways and those individual fears are called phobias. For example, people can fear things that are not likely to occur.
“I am afraid of a tsunami occurring because it’s unavoidable and it can be unpredictable,” said Alana Zajic, a senior.
Phobias are known to be irrational and can have serious effects on someone’s daily life. A phobia is most commonly known to be caused by a traumatic event in one’s life. According to Heathline, a website that talks about health and wellness, “people with ongoing medical conditions or health concerns often have phobias”.
When a phobia has debilitating effects on a person, it is recommended to see a psychiatrist.
Repeated exposure to the event that created the trauma can help the anxiety subside. For some people, that means seeking professional help from psychologists. Some medications can also help cope with the overbearing effects of someone’s personal phobias. Other people constantly watch horror movies that cover their specific phobia. That is one of the reasons horror movies are popular in the movie franchise.
People like to be scared because they enjoy the chemicals that are released while watching. This creates the demand for producing mainstream horror movies every year.
Horror movies grant the opportunity to directors to reach into horrifying topics and scare their audience. It gives them the creative liberty to express their deepest and darkest thoughts onto the screen for people to watch.
Some themes are realistic horror, nightmarish imagery, fictional horror, and many more genres. How far can they go when it comes to the scare factor? That is a question that is constantly asked by creators of horror movies.