The Blog

The Psychology of Halloween: 3 Reasons We Crave the Scare

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.


Do you love scaring and being scared? Do you cherish the memories of Halloweens past? Do you collect decorations and costumes all year, waiting for the chance to trick or be tricked? You're not alone. Many of us can't resist a good fright. There are three main reasons we crave the scare.

The first reason has to do with power. For many of us grown children, we feel powerless in an adult world with adult rules. So we wish to control the outcome of something or someone. The very idea of "tricking" has the implicit idea of getting one over on another and therefore being triumphant. Ahhh, what great satisfaction we feel when the other doesn't suspect it. We drum up clever plans to "get" the other and we can't wait with anticipation. Our hearts race, we sweat, and blood rushes to our faces in anticipation. The same happens to the person on the other side of the trick.


Another reason Halloween season gets us so excited: We love to expect the unexpected. That's why we return to the same haunted house year after year. We still jump and scream, loving every minute of it. We crave the adrenalin and excitement that goes along with being scared and in scaring. Horror movies and hide-and-seek have a similar sensorial experience. For the more extreme thrill junkies, it takes bungee jumping, rollercoasters or skiing to do the trick. They all provide "the rush" indicative of both physical and psychological symptoms.


A third reason some people crave the scare is because it's an opportunity to match the experience of what they really feel inside -- like a ghost, witch, or Frankenstein. In other words, Halloween is an opportunity to align ourselves from the inside out with our own psychological feelings -- if only for a night.

Ultimately, Halloween (and other scary experiences) make us feel completely alive in a split second -- like a wake up call. So have fun and let loose. Happy Halloween whatever you are.