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Why are ghosts "scary"?


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#1 TWTP

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Posted 08 May 2007 - 03:29 AM

I was just reading some ghost stories at Shadowlands and started to feel a little freaked out in spite of myself. I began to analyze this emotion, and I'm not sure I can fathom the reason for reacting to some of the stories the way I did. Why exactly do ghosts provoke fear in the majority of human beings? Is it an instinctive reaction or a learned/cultural one? Why must we necessarily be afraid of disembodied apparitions, doors closing by themselves, etc.? What accounts for that deep-down uneasiness at the thought of a ghost? Why are hackles raised?
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#2 wayne2241

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Posted 08 May 2007 - 06:26 AM

We as humans have a tendency to fear the unkown or outside of our range of everyday experiences. It is the body's natural "fight or flight" response. However it is possible to gain some control of this response and control it as opposed to it controlling you.

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#3 Mark London

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Posted 08 May 2007 - 06:40 AM

Hi

I agree with Wayne, if its something out of the ordinary our defence mechanism kicks in. Also I think as we grow up we seem to be brainwashed into thinking that all spirits all evil and can hurt us and send us to all damnation.

I guess its the all too familar saying "There is nothing to fear, but fear itself"

:ghost:

#4 cheercoach05

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Posted 08 May 2007 - 08:15 AM

I know what you mean about just reading something, and it starts to spook you. To me, that's the fun of it all when you're reading something creepy or see a GOOD scary movie. But...when something happens to you for real, that can be a little different feeling. It's not so fun anymore! I recently put a post up about my house going bump in the night, and an incident where it sounded like somebody was trying to come in my kitchen door. That scared the living crap out of me because I was standing right next to the door. My husband said, "If you're so into this kind of stuff, why are you scared of it?" It's true! I'm obsessed with reading about the supernatural, and one little doorknob rattles and scares me out of my skin! I think it's just the fact that I couldn't SEE it coming. There was nothing visible to my eyes to make that noise, and that is a little unsettling. I had to get myself back under control and walk back over to that door and figure it out. I definitely agree with Mark London that I think we are just brought up to think that spirits are evil and ghosts are scary and will hurt you. When you're finally confronted with one, it's about mind over matter. Convincing yourself that "just because I can't see it, it's obviously there, and it WILL NOT hurt me." That's hard to do! It's hard to stay calm when something is happening around you that you can not see, and can not control. I think most people like to be in control of their surroundings. :P
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#5 TWTP

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Posted 08 May 2007 - 09:06 PM

True, Wayne.

I guess as we're so used to - and so involved in - the everyday mundane world and how it works, it can be pretty unsettling when something happens which seems to defy the physical laws we take so for granted.

Thanks for your replies. I was hoping that didn't come off as too stupid a question. :)
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#6 Redhead

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Posted 08 May 2007 - 09:51 PM

Well, I always say that the only stupid question is the one you don't ask. How will we learn or understand anything if we don't ask? I thought it was a good question, and one that merits discussion.
I don't think I've thought about it too much before this topic. I'm not sure I've ever been scared by reading something, even something that is related as true. (talking paranormal stuff here) I think that anything that triggers our imagination towards dark things can cause fear. And the more we dwell on something that frightens us, the more afraid of it we can become.
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#7 Grim Undertakings

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Posted 09 May 2007 - 01:16 AM

I agree that it's probably just that general sense of the unknown. I've never seen a ghost yet myself but I think when I do (hopefully) I'll just freeze in a state of wonderment. I can't see myself running, because the few times something unexplained has happened to me, my reaction was, "Huh?...Did that just happen?!" :Spaz:

Edited by Grim Undertakings, 09 May 2007 - 01:17 AM.


#8 rayzrwyre

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 07:39 AM

Here's something to ponder along the lines of this thread. I have noticed with my generation, horror movies have become more increasingly gory and shocking. Why? Because we have, over the last two decades, desensatized ourselves to what used to be shocking. The Omen, Amityville Horror, Rosemary's Baby and the Exorcist were movies that really scared people, to include myself, back in the day. By present standards, they dont quite have the same effect.

I do not dispute the fight or flight therory, but as we become more acceptable to a higher tolerance of fright, could this not also affect our feelings of fear when we encountered the unexplained? I feel less afraid now when I experience an unknown phenomenom because I replace the urge to run with the desire to sate my curiousity. I think that some of this is a direct result of being desensatize by the movies and shows I have watched, as well as a better understanding of what is out there and what it can or can not do to me. Some of it also stems from overcoming the "flight need" to avoid losing my life. I still maintain a slight amount of reservation, but my need to observe, comprehend and analyze an event keeps me from running!

Now trying to understand the mysteries of the IRS and how it works........that is scary!
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#9 BellaRose

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 11:10 PM

In a word...
HOLLYWOOD!!! :)

#10 Bluemooncat

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 02:06 PM

Ghosts really only scare me if they do something unexpected. I've seen a few things and have had a sort of "weirded out" feeling, but then my brain kicks in and starts feeding me all the usual "logical" explinations.
For instance we were in my favorite haunted location the other day and I happened to glance up and see what I swore was the blonde top of a little kids head passing by.
Okay that sounds weird, He/she walked by some railing and all that was visible was the top of their head.
I was like, "wow" I saw a ghost and then by brain stared feeding me stuff about catching things out of the corner of you eye (I saw it straight on), it was just something else that you matrixed (The was not actually anything over there that ws pale nd roundish), blah blah blah.
I hate my conditioning. LOL
Okay I'm off subject a bit.
What I eally wanted to say was that it's not really ghosts that scare the juice outta me, but UFO's.
Ghosts, for the most part, are at least human.
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#11 Grim Undertakings

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 11:59 PM

I agree. I'd rather see a ghost any night in my room instead of an extra-terrestrial! :)

#12 2mcgrath

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Posted 15 May 2007 - 03:11 PM

i agree that its the fact because its unknown.i think thats what makes them most scary

#13 NightNGaleX3x

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Posted 15 May 2007 - 05:57 PM

We as humans have a tendency to fear the unkown or outside of our range of everyday experiences.


I believe this is mainly this reason. I mean, science is the number one subject in the world. Philosophy before that. Religion is often a cause of war. Why? Because humans want order, dominance, and knowledge. For some reason we're obsessed with those things. We get afraid when something happens that is beyond our logical capacity to which we have accomodated. I completely believe that a lot of skeptics don't believe in ghosts because they don't want to out of fear of being less knowing than they thought, not being as dominant, and having their subjective view of life disordered. When a lot of people think of ghosts, they get that sense that there is more to life and themselves than they know, and it's talking to them face to face. That's pretty scary. Amoebas don't look like your dead aunt Sally and don't say "hi" from the "other" side. That's why so many people fall back to such science.

Edited by NightNGaleX3x, 15 May 2007 - 05:59 PM.


#14 kats_god

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Posted 16 May 2007 - 06:24 AM

I think it has to do with the fact that it use to be a living person and now its not...basicly in the back of our minds, its a dead person walking around. And its also something of the unknown. Most people are scared of the unknown.

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#15 erato

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 05:51 AM

I agree with bellarose.. for me the fear (as a child) was associated with movies and books but at home the discussions about spirits and ancestor-guides was and is a natural thing.. hmm..
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