What is recreational fear, those little voluntary fears that soothe fears?

Far from the dream world, horror movies and series are a hit on streaming platforms. This “recreational fear”, which can also be experienced, for example, during strong sensations, can help to find the courage to face everyday life.

If we tend to chase the fear of everyday life, we don’t mind a little shivering in front of the television. This appeal is reflected in the audience of streaming platforms. On Netflix, the horror series “Stranger Things” exceeds one billion viewing hours.

A way to improve everyday life

Without going so far as to talk about therapy, scaring yourself on your couch watching the latest episode of “American Horror Story” or reading Stephen King will help you overcome fears. This is the “recreational fear” described in the book The day I tamed my fearby psychologist Amélia Lobbé, published by Le Courrier du livre.

For the specialist, known on Instagram as @Amélia_psychologue, a conscious search is made for recreational anxiety. She combines fear and pleasure. She distinguishes two types of recreational anxiety. Those who have had experiences live and the one we feel through the fictions.

In the first case, there is a risk of an accident, however small. A parachute jump, surfing, bungee jumping… so many exciting sports that can be dangerous. You don’t risk anything for a book. It’s easier to watch “Stranger Things” than to sign up for a sensational sport.

According to the psychologist, anxious people “generally have a lot of imagination and are used to expecting the worst”. These activities make it possible to materialize their fears, as well as solutions to get out of these situations.

“The goal is not just to scare each other for free, says Amelia Lobbe, having extraordinary experiences in the context of recreational anxiety makes it possible to acquire skills that are transferred in other situations”. It can help launch a project, ask for a raise, speak in front of an audience, etc. So many daily activities, but it takes courage.

An addictive feeling?

The secret fear of hormones. Adrenaline increases the heart rate, causing physical reactions such as sweating or dilated pupils. The stress hormone cortisol causes muscles to tense. “Even on the couch, the body is ready for action in real life”, explains Amelia Lobbé. We find the same effects with a television work or a book.

When a person feels safe, the brain secretes endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. “It induces a state of excitement and pleasure, all without danger. I think that’s what makes people addicted”explains the specialist.

However, be careful not to make the experience sour. “If the heart beats too fast, if you feel too stressed, the result will backfire. Scaring yourself is not therapy in itself”recalls Amélia Lobbé underlining the benefits of this approach with a health professional. “Faced with a phobia, there are different stages before confronting yourself, you have to expose yourself to your fears, first mentally and then physically. Eventually you get used to it. This is how you overcome your fears”the psychologist concludes.

(ETX Daily Up)

Leave a Comment