The rush: the high, the brain's chemical and psychological rush
Conquering or experiencing something in a pretend setting: a horror movie or haunted house is similar to a roller coaster or reality show/suspense novel, we get to experience it and eventually have power over it in a pretend setting-safe-artificial setting. We feel like we have been courageous and adventurous when really it was a safe environment and only conquering our own fears was the real thrill
Kids get peer pressure and the challenge to see horror movies, have the most horrific costume (real blood squirting out of scream is still a popular costume), especially boys in this area, ride scary roller coaster rides. To be able to say you did it. Sometimes kids relieved parents won't let them do something, watch something, or go somewhere. Some later have nightmares and blame the parents for letting them watch a movie. I had nightmares about a black and white movie where a mad scientist had a women's head alive on the table with a monster locked in a room. Was at a friend's house and my mom would never have let me watch this and later I wished I hadn't. However, during it there was nothing I wanted more than to watch it, see how it would end, enjoyed the suspense, and assured the adults I'd be fine.
Modern day we don't have as many shocking, scary, flight or fight experiences so we seek these out in movies, videogames, books, and TV. We are wired to handle these and live through them. Too much though is bad for our chemical and adrenalin levels.
The Clark Institute: Private Practice Psychotherapy
for Children, Adolescents, and Adults
Human Resource Associates
Matthew Clark, Psy.D.