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Watching horror movies

Category: Actions


Involuntary and voluntary

Introduction and description

What is a horror movie?  For my nephew Alex and I cuddling together on the floor of my brother's sitting room and hiding every so often under the duvet, it was Jurassic Park.

A film that is 'horrible' may actually have no effect on the insensitive, but on children and sensitive adults, it can have very serious effects.

When I first started to research this area, it was because I had seen the odd entry on Internet blogs that implied that horror movies had given some people out-of-body experiences.  This area was thus worth looking at because fear, terror and shock do indeed produce out of body experiences.


But closer examination actually only served to show that out-of-body has become a sort of meaningless word in blogs, similar to 'wicked' implying - quite good or rather good.  As in "that ice cream sundae gave me an OOB", when it didn't.

I was all ready to abandon the activity, when I came across a host of papers in Pubmed which described cases of people severely traumatised by horror films.  In effect the film had resulted in psychological trauma and that trauma resulted in nightmares, dissociation, and occasionally full blown experiences caused by the onset of serious mental disorders.  One or two instances of manic depression were triggered by the terror of horror movies.

A small child watching the late evening news is watching a horror movie.

The ease with which DVDs can be purchased and played at home means that it is left to parents and guardians to decide who watches a film.  The ratings are actually meaningless.  Alicia [14] and I [62], watching King Kong, were so frightened we left the room.  Her brother Lawrence [13] and their Mum [39] seemed wholly unaffected.  I cried at the end, because the ending was so sad. King Kong is for 12 years and upwards.

A great deal of psychotherapist's time is spent, quite rightly, helping people deal with the effects of psychological traumas such as physical abuse, rape, verbal abuse, neglect, cruelty and so on.  But few people seem to give much thought for the traumas and buried memories of experiences imposed via film, TV and other media such as the Internet.  They are all 'horror movies' in their way.

I have stopped watching TV.  The only films I deliberately choose to watch are classified as U.  Perhaps this approach is needed for children of all ages too.  There are enough things to traumatise children and adults like me in this world, without adding to them via the media. 

How it works

One of the main mechanisms is Overwhelming fear and terror, unrelieved by any abatement in the fear.  Long term the effects are caused by Psychological trauma.


I found no cases where watching a horror movie caused a direct experience at the time.  One of my [male] friends had an out of body experience after watching Nightmare on Elm street and going back to his empty apartment.

Otherwise the observations that follow are mostly of nightmares and delayed effects from the trauma.


Related observations