At the end of 2014 a pediatrician emailed an interesting question — Why do some child survivors like to watch scary films?
On Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 9:44 AM, Dr. Mike wrote:
I would appreciate your brief insights on why it is that many kids who have experienced adverse events like to watch horror movies? I am trying to wrap my mind around this.
Great question. I have wondered the same thing, even about adults. Here are some thoughts:
It appears to me that horror movies consistently try to create a feeling of total abandonment – the more isolated and hopeless and painful and unfair, the better the horror movie, it seems.
If so, that would allow the trauma survivor of any age to:
— experience relative relief: ‘I had it bad, but not nearly so bad as that guy has it.
— pretend that suffering is, well…..pretend. ‘It’s just a movie. It’s just acting. It’s not real!!’
— temporarily identify with the overwhelmingly destructive force (validates any remaining Stockholm syndrome).
— view others going through overwhelming pain, despair and abandonment, and laugh with anxious relief while they can briefly view those feelings from outside, in someone else. (Peter Fonagy articulates this dynamic in a U.K. lecture where he explains the psychology of attachment failure. He illustrates the lecture with the case of an adult client who had been convicted of a cruel murder.)
Thanks for a really good question!