Why Does Fear Make us Feel More Alive?

3 min readMar 22, 2021


You ever feel more alive when you’re scared? That thrill of adrenaline running down your spine gives you a greater sensation to live than actually waking up in the morning…or does it?

Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash

Fear is one of the many things that make us human. I came across a video and apparently, a majority of old people don’t have nightmares… must be nice. I want to try and make this into a blog series, so I’ll focus on horror- specifically movies now. So horror as a genre is something that allows you to feel rather than think.

Horror activates other primal senses we have such as terror, horror, and disgust. Stephen King perfected this with something known as the hierarchy of scares. It simply measures the similarities of the emotions and how to fully use them effectively in whichever order deemed necessary to achieve the end result.

Terror often makes you anxious and need to know what the next move will be. Perfecting the emotion that drives terror is an art as many horror movies lack this reaction from viewers. Some good horror films that make you feel this way are the Conjuring movies, Nightmare on Elm Street as well as the Netflix tv show Haunting of Hill House. In my honest and non-expert opinion, these are great horror movies you can watch that aren't… meh.

Disgust would be the feeling that makes your gut twirl and feel on edge or maybe even have you covering your eyes. This feeling often isn’t the best but that when you know the movie is actually good. One horror movie I can’t watch in one sitting would be Texas Chainsaw Massacre (classic version). The film was well written and the images are quite disturbing. Compared to other things we fear i.e. phobias, horror movies increase your adrenaline by approx. 42%.

Photo by Enrique Guzmán Egas on Unsplash

With the way horror movies make us feel you’d think they have a formula but they don’t. It’s basic human instinct that certain reactions or events will scare us naturally. And lastly, we have horror. Horror is generally the two combined together as a manifestation. This is the focal point that fully drives in the adrenaline and submits us to what is known as fear. Prior research was done into this but most of it is common sense.

How does horror manifest?

The sole purpose of horror is to give us chills and thrills, but how does the idea manifest? Often we are given the character and then we often have to decide what they represent. From why they are the way they are to the killings and whatnot. Within the horror genre itself, there are sub-categories that give the theme more of a back story. These are often societal, psychological, and spiritual.

The societal category is quite self-explanatory. The character often never fits into the community and has their self-esteem degraded thus goes on an unnecessary killing spree with petty reasons why said people deserved to die- yawn. The spiritual aspect is often associated with evil spirits or people trying to talk to the dead because of their inability to let go of someone deceased. Then we're left with possessed dolls.

The psychological ones tend to have most people on edge because you’re literally left wondering what they will do next. This somewhat heightens our senses and makes us very anxious and often even imagine things that aren’t there in our own physical environment. It makes you doubt your senses. you could see an ant crawling on your hand and instantly have this feeling in the back of your head that there may be a possibility of dozens of ants crawling on you.


Why we willingly chose to be scared amazes me for the short thrill of adrenaline we get. For others, new fears emerge from horror movies that they were unaware of, or maybe it makes them superstitious…I’m not an expert.