Over the years, I have written many articles explaining the phobias that horror movies use to scare us. In fact, one of the main ways that horror movies scare us is through the exploitation of our fears. One regular reader recently asked me how horror movies cause phobias. She had just read me article (linked below) that points out some of the phobias that have been caused by horror movies and she wanted to understand more.
Popular Phobias Connected to Horror Cinema
We should first take a look at some phobias that have been stated to have been caused by horror movies to have a basic understanding of this article. Many people are afraid to take showers after they saw the infamous shower scene in, Psycho. Other people have gained an irrational fear of clowns after seeing the horror movie, It. When we discuss phobias caused by horror movies, we have to point out the number of people that are afraid to swim in the ocean due to, Jaws.
Drawing You In
All three of the previously mentioned horror movies are considered as classics in the horror genre. Remember that the goal of any movie is to draw you in so that you feel a connection with the characters, and the events that are transpiring before us. Any movie that will draw in an audience successfully will be remembered for a long time.
Heightened Sense of Tension
Successful horror movies will cause a heightened sense of tension in the audience. Psychologists have pointed to the fact that people are very susceptible to gaining quirks, aversions, and even phobias when in a heightened state of tension. Strides were made in this research during, and after Vietnam as soldiers came back from the war with shellshock.
All horror movies require viewers to temporarily suspend logic in their brains. There are some movies that are made in such realistic terms that the suspension of logic continues long after the audience has gone home.
In the case of Psycho, people realized that serial killers were real, as were psychotic people like Norman Bates. Their fears followed them into the shower the next morning, and planted the seeds for a long-term phobia. Interesting that my Mother can add her name to the ranks of people that claim a phobia that was caused by horror movies. Her phobia about taking a shower has caused her to take baths for life, and to never watch another horror movie.
In the case of It, many horror movie fans pointed to the case of John Wayne Gacy. I real world serial killer who dressed as a clown. The connection became terrifying for many viewers, and caused them to distrust the clowns that are there for their amusement.
While the shark in Jaws was an amplified example of a great white shark, people could relate to shark attacks as they have been an ever present danger to those that swim in the ocean. The real world stories that were spackled in the movie caused people to remember the dangers, and their forming phobias have followed them to the beaches. Perhaps this is the most famous of the phobias caused by horror movies.
It will be interesting to see what kinds of phobias caused by horror movies that we might be discussing in the future. What movie will come out in the next decade that will cause an example of phobias caused by horror movies? Only time will tell.