Paranormal or Paranoia?

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Our culture has developed a deep fascination for the idea of paranormal existence in the past few years. There have been countless movies blowing up the box office about ghosts and demons. I didn't understand this craze because I thought that as technology and knowledge improve, these beliefs would seem juvenile. With so little evidence to support it, why do so many people believe in the paranormal?

After learning about terror management theory though, I am starting to understand. This theory states that the realization that death is inevitable sparks an underlying sense of terror. To cope with this fear, we adopt beliefs to make our lives seem meaningful and purposeful. Many times people find comfort in believing that there is some sort of life after death. This could explain the strange fascination with paranormal activity.

The latest hype has been about evil demons and ghosts, like in the Paranormal Activity movies. A lot of people are genuinely scared after watching these movies and are afraid that a demon will come in their house, bang around some pots and pans, drag them down a hallway, and then possess their body. Sounds crazy, right? But this just shows the intensity of some beliefs in the paranormal.

This makes me wonder if the fear of demons is related to the terror management theory as well. Do people fear demons because it is easier to fear than death? Is it scarier to believe that there is no afterlife than to believe that there is a paranormal existence, even if it is evil?

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I think the reason the horror film are as popular as they are, is because people enjoy getting scared. Its not everyday something terrifies us, so we allow these movies to act as a conduit for us to be scared without our lives being affected. The realization that we are all going to die I don't think effects the majority of college kids, but I definitely like the idea behind people ascribing to "afterlife" as they approach death.

People generally do not like to dwell on the thought of death, but I do know that modern adolescents live for morbid and gruesome movies. I believe many people are fascinated by imaginary dark subjects. This does not mean that they believe in them. It is a way to become frightened without facing any real danger.

After I read this article, I realized that the majority of younger audiences enjoy horror movies more than their younger counterparts. When horror flicks come out, it is almost always young teens and adults lined up to watch. The morality reasoning is one explanation for the popularity and enjoyment of horror movies, but another explanation might be that people enjoy being scared or that people are happy being unhappy. They go for the adrenaline since they may not have an interesting/exciting life. One question that I would pursue would be why horror movies are more popular with the younger end of the spectrum than the older end. Is it because older people have other worries from life and work that are adequate replacements?

I definitely agree that most people have a strong fear of death. I do believe in ghosts (whatever they might be), even though I'm a science major. It could partially be because of my cultural upbringing, but in either case, there could always be a possibility. I think it ties into why some people hold on to religious beliefs so strongly, even when there is much evidence against them. It's easier to believe that there is life after death, or that some being will make everything okay, than it is to face reality. (I'm sorry if anyone is offended.)

I am one of those people who has a strong fear of death, not dying of old age but dying before I am ready and leaving everything this world has to offer. I cannot say I belive in ghosts but when a paranormal existence is put into my head I cannot help but feel afraid, and sometimes even blaming a bump in the night on a paranormal existence. When morning rises though I know my head was just playing tricks on me. Which leads me to my next thought, why in most horror movies do the paranormal existence tend to only exist in the night? I know the dark is scary but I feel the existence should occur all throughout the day.
For some people, the paranormal existence is a way for people to believe that there is life after death, life that is on earth, not in heaven or hell. To some people that is comforting and reassuring that they are not leaving before they are ready.

I think that the terror management theory brings up a good point in regards to peoples fear of dying. As sad as it sounds, my dad is getting older, and I've asked him before if he is afraid of dying. He told me that he gets more comfortable with the idea as it approaches, and he is not as afraid of the fact as he was when he was younger. This could be an interesting explanation as to why younger people are more attracted to horror movies, because it stimulates that fear of dying into a thrilling experience. I am completely going off of my gut here, but I would imagine that movies like paranormal activity are more popular with younger crowds.

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This page contains a single entry by akerm003 published on February 5, 2012 1:53 PM.

Nature AND Nurture? New Outlook on the Timeless Debate was the previous entry in this blog.

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