Horror Films Positively Impact Mental Health, Science Says

Horror Films Positively Impact Mental Health, Science Says
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Horror movies are unique in the fact that they allow us to escape into another world, where we can channel our fears and anxiety in a productive, cathartic way. Whether you decide to watch your latest French horror film or the latest “Saw” movie, there’s usually something to do with your stress. Through horror movies, we can let out our most personal fears, but at the same time, they help us feel safe.

All of this is to say that horror movies can be great for people who are dealing with anxiety or other forms of mental distress. This is because the act of watching a horror movie allows you to escape into another world. You don’t have to deal with your problems here; rather, you can immerse yourself in a horrifying narrative fueled by fear while also being safe in the sense that you don’t have to face your problem while watching.

Horror also helps its fans to cope with actual issues. Scrivner, one of the lead authors of a related study, found that horror fans were more psychologically resilient during the pandemic with movies like Contagion serving as practice simulations for the real thing.

“Horror fans score very high in a trait called morbid curiosity, which can be defined as an interest in learning about threatening situations. Interestingly, anxiety and morbid curiosity seem to stem from similar psychological roots — a central aspect to both anxiety and morbid curiosity is an increased interest in gathering information about threats, even if it may be unpleasant to gather that information,” Scrivner explained.

But horror movies are different. They create fear, but they also create a sense of control by offering escape routes. Even though what’s happening on-screen may be horrific, the viewer is able to suspend disbelief and re-engage with their normal consciousness. This allows them to mentally practice skills like distancing themselves from the stimulus and shielding themselves from fear’s impact.


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Anna Daniels

Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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