Saturday, November 16, 2019

Lingering Effects of Watching Scary Movies

What lingering effects does watching a scary movie have on us
after the fact? How does it affect our brains?

The mind can’t tell the difference between the real and the imagined. That’s why mantras and guided imagery can help us heal.

When we are exposed to real or imagined tragedy, three things happen:
·      There is an increase of stress hormone that kills the brain cells where memories are recorded (the hippocampus). That’s why after something stressful or tragic, we can feel confused.
·      The amygdala (the part of the brain that processes emotion, including fear) goes into alert mode, looking for threats, listening for sounds everywhere.
·      The front part of the brain (prefrontal cortex) that’s supposed to regulate emotions shuts down somewhat and doesn’t work as well as it did before.
So, with the memory section of our brains under functioning and the part that regulations emotions under functioning, you can see why our emotions go wild at a time like this.

Why do some people feel creeped out long after we've watched a scary movie?

When someone watches or experiences something scary, the part of the brain that processes emotions (fear, feeling creeped-out) runs rampant. The front part of the brain doesn’t regulate the emotions so they go wild.

Why does it seem like sounds are magnified and you see things?
more clearly after watching a scary movie?

The emotional part of the brain has taken over and the other parts of the brain don’t regulate like they should so sounds become more intense along with the heightened emotions.

Why do scary movies give some people nightmares?

Dreams are a way we process what’s happened in our lives. After a traumatic event, or scary movie, I recommend keeping a notebook by the bed so you can record your nightmare before you forget it. I have found that children and adults are able to be free of the nightmares if they write a happy ending to their dream. When you wake up from a bad dream, spend a few minutes writing a happy or a silly ending. (Remember the mind can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined.)

Are some people more prone to being scared during and after a scary movie? Why is that?

I don’t know that there is scientific evidence for this—or even any way to measure it. I have found in my practice that those who are more sensitive to other’s feelings and emotions are more readily drawn in to the action in a horror or scary movie. They experience the drama with greater intensity than others do, so they are more frightened.