Horror as Therapy: The Science Behind its Healing Effects on Trauma Survivors

Horror as Therapy: The Science Behind its Healing Effects on Trauma Survivors

Horror as Therapy: The Science Behind its Healing Effects on Trauma Survivors


For many people, horror movies or scary situations are not something they would voluntarily seek out. However, for some trauma survivors, horror can actually provide a therapeutic way to confront and overcome their fears. In this article, we will explore the science behind using horror as a tool for healing trauma.

The Science Behind It All

Research has shown that exposure therapy, which involves gradually exposing individuals to fear-inducing stimuli, is an effective treatment for certain types of anxiety disorders. In a similar vein, horror can provide a controlled environment for trauma survivors to confront their fears head-on. When watching a horror movie, our brains go through a cycle of physiological responses, including an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. These responses activate the "fight or flight" response, which is designed to help us survive in dangerous situations. However, in the controlled setting of a horror movie, we know deep down that we are not actually in danger, which allows us to experience these physiological responses without being overwhelmed by them. This controlled exposure to fear can help trauma survivors reframe their experiences and gain a sense of control over their fears. By watching horror movies, they can learn to tolerate the physiological responses associated with fear and anxiety, and gain a sense of mastery over their emotions.

The Benefits of Horror Therapy

One of the main benefits of using horror as therapy is that it can be done in a safe and controlled environment. This is particularly important for trauma survivors who may have difficulty feeling safe in everyday situations. Horror allows them to confront their fears without putting themselves in actual danger, which can be a vital step in the healing process. In addition, horror therapy can provide a sense of empowerment. By watching characters in horror movies overcome their fears, trauma survivors can feel inspired to do the same in their own lives. Horror movies can provide a cathartic release for trauma survivors, allowing them to face their fears and emerge stronger as a result.


Horror as therapy may not be for everyone, but for trauma survivors in particular, it can provide a powerful tool for healing. By confronting their fears in a controlled environment, trauma survivors can gain a sense of control over their emotions and emerge stronger as a result. If you or someone you know has experienced trauma, it may be worth exploring the therapeutic benefits of horror.

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