Science of Fear

Oct 302003
Authors: Jesse McLain

Fear invokes a fascination that isn’t limited to Halloween.

Drawn to movie theatres and car crashes, fear can is alluring some

on a daily basis.

“I think there is a brush with death, morbid fascination in all

of us,” said Dr. Steve Ross, a clinical psychologist for the CSU

Counseling Center. “It’s the reason why people slow down at

accident sites. It’s not necessarily the accident that is slowing

the traffic down.”

From a psychological standpoint there may be much more behind

being scared than simply a desire for the unexpected.

Ross said the desire for feeling scared, and the rush of

adrenaline that accompanies it, may be so increasingly desirable

because of society’s inability to deal properly with death and


“As a society we don’t deal effectively with death and dying,”

Ross said. “Halloween exhibits a way for us to deal with some of

those morbid fascinations, stuff that isn’t really talked


This fascination with fear has recently become more

recognizable, even in the T.V. programs people watch, Ross


“It’s the reason why we have more reality TV shows, people

jumping out of airplanes,” Ross said. “Some people are more

adrenaline junkies. It’s about the existential awareness that we’re

all going to die.”

However for Adam Ping, a 21-year-old Aurora resident, his

fascination with horror flicks isn’t anything more than a


“I act in independent horror movies, such as ‘The Crying

Child,'” Ping said. “Everybody needs to be scared. They need the

thrill of fear.”

Ping, who has been watching scary movies since he was 12, can’t

put a finger on the source of his horror interest.

“They just appeal to me,” Ping said.

Although not necessarily representative of anything substantial,

most doctors seem to agree there are certain personalities that are

more prone to extreme sensations than others.

“There does seem to be some personalities more prone to

sensations than others,” said Carol Seger, an assistant professor

in the CSU psychology department.




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