Chatting in Chattanooga

  • JD Harper

Happy Halloween

Updated: Oct 30, 2018

Why we like to scare ourselves this time of year

Boo! Did I scare you? Odds are I didn’t, but what about the above image? Does seeing his name arouse any scary images or emotions? It sure does for me. All kinds of creepy images and frightful feelings arise in me: I get a pit in my stomach, a chill runs down my spine, my forearm hairs stand on end, and my heart races just a bit faster at the memory of the words contained within his stories, such as, ” The Pit and the Pendulum”, The Fall of the House of Usher”, “The Murders in Rue Morgue”, “The Raven” and my favorite Poe poem, the haunting “Annabelle Lee.” Ever notice how his last name makes up 75% of the word poem?

Now for some nerdy stuff: Fear is a good thing. It’s what starts the fight or flight response for self-preservation, but often things that are not a real threat to our survival scare us: a wad of black lint on the floor from across the room looks like a tarantula, and your brain immediately perceives it as a real threat, releasing energizing neurotransmitters enabling you to “get out of there.” By the time your brain realizes it’s a harmless piece of lint, a whole cascade of things have happened, namely the release of the energizing neurotransmitters, hormones and endorphins-the “feel good” stuff. In short, we want to be scared because our brains perceive it as a “high.”

For those times when the threat isn’t real, and you’re lucky enough to be good at controlling your fear then being scared is fun, but if you’re like me, not so much. I don't like to be scared period. The only kind of adrenaline-endorphin high I like is from the situations in which I can control my fear: i.e. those planned adventures of riding that rocking roller coaster at the amusement part to the underwater deep sea adventure in the calming turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean or the gritty feel of rock under my fingertips while rock climbing. My nervous system allows me to scare easily, perhaps it's because I am often deep in my head dreaming, concocting...thinking and I miss many of the pre-alert sensations of an impending scary situation, whatever the reason, I don't like to be scared ever, and I work very hard to keep that from happening. That’s why I don’t watch horror movies nor will you see me at a haunted house or forest or maze, but I will sure the heck read a scary story, namely Poe, even at night, but I keep the lights on and a close watch over my shoulder.

Whether you choose to scare the be-jibbers out of yourself or not this year, I wish you the Happiest of Halloweens!

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