It’s one of our most primal instincts.
It’s hardwired into our very being.
It’s also amazingly adaptive.
We wince at the sudden sight of a hairy spider because it has long had the potential to kill us.
We suffer deep anxiety over the security of our paychecks, and the rationality of men thousands of miles away wielding weapons of unimaginable power.
But we also enjoy the frights inspired by fun.
Such as Halloween.
Psychiatry researchers at Wayne State University in Michigan have been examining why we revere fear. Especially why we’ve devoted an entire holiday to celebrate it.
A summary of their work, published in The Conversation, highlights how this may have to do with the dual-purpose nature of how much of our mind works.
“Some of the main chemicals that contribute to the ‘fight or flight’ response are also involved in other positive emotional states, such as happiness and excitement,” they write. “So, it makes sense that the high arousal state we experience during a scare may also be experienced in a more positive light.”