I’ve got a very interesting thing to discuss with you today. What is the very very first sensation you feel when you when you think or hear of scary movies like Annabelle Creation? Maybe it is the dread of dolls or the panic you’d experience in the movie theatre. In the case of an anxiety sufferer, it is different and the perceived dread or apprehension is not like what normal people feel.
I am not a big fan of scary movies but I like to experience the thrill once in a while when a good Hollywood movie hits the theatre. This time my mind fell into some thoughts and I found out an interesting thing about fear, anxiety, and panic that many people know but we are not always aware of it.
What I learned about anxiety and panic by watching Annabelle Creation?
I don’t want to discuss the movie. It is about how we fall into the trap of fearful imageries and thereafter we start fearing different things.
How is fear a Trickster?
As you know, humans feel fear (as they have always felt) when there is a physical threat to their life. That is a primitive instinct when pre historic humans encountered a predator, they panicked and either ran away or fought with the predator to save their life. That is the classic example of the fight or flight response that is genetically programmed into our brains. But when you are in theatres watching a scary movie like Annabelle Creation what is the threat that makes you panic? Is there any danger to your life while watching the movie?
Fast fact: Humans are not just scared by life-threatening situations. They are also frightened by man-made but fake and imaginary threatening and fearful situations!
Panic disorder and agoraphobia is no different. The real fears you feel in panic attacks and generalized anxiety is also imaginary and fake. No doubt they are very real but the causes of the fear you suspect cannot be explained scientifically. For example, when a panic-prone person says he is going to have a heart attack, that thing cannot be proved. When he is checked by doctors it is found that his heart perfectly healthy. This proves that his fear is imagined which is sustained by the false belief of heart attack. Dr. David Carbonell has discussed how scary movie industry uses this fear factor in Panic Attacks Workbook: A Guided Program for Beating the Panic Trick. The root cause of fear is the imagined danger like the way we put ourselves in the actual movie situations while watching scary movies like Annabelle Creation in theatres!
Like you’ve never seen ghosts or demons in real life, you’ve never had a heart attack in real life, because they are imaginary- like a fantasy.
Even after knowing that such fears are imaginary the intensity of the fear does not reduce to a greater extent. That is why practicing to face fears, anxiety and panic is necessary which is the part of behavioral treatments. It is called exposure therapy and that is only given by experienced therapists.
Now a quick question for you…
Like you think scary movies are based on imaginary things, what facts will you mention to prove that fear, panic, and anxiety are also based on imaginary fears?