How horror movies can help people overcome real-world trauma
Films that terrify you today may improve your fear responses tomorrow—and could provide relief from anxiety and stress.
When I was seven, my mother died of a drug overdose. In the years that followed, I struggled with excessive fear and anxiety surrounding death. I convinced myself that one day I would die young, too; I avoided many of the things my friends did, like learning to ride a bike, because they seemed too risky.
Then, in junior high school, I found salvation at the local video store.
A group of friends and I rented Return to Horror High, a low-budget 1987 slasher film, and for just under two hours, I watched through splayed fingers as a monster tormented and killed people while I screamed from the safety of my living room. Afterward, I felt two things: pride at having