Every Halloween, my husband and I have the same hallowed tradition—we make a pumpkin pie and we watch a horror movie. And every year, two things are guaranteed to happen: I will remember that I don’t actually like pumpkin pie all that much and I will spend the majority of the film hiding behind a sofa cushion, too afraid to watch what’s happening on screen.
When it comes to the pie issue, I seem to learn my lesson which is why we never serve it at Thanksgiving (trust me, there are so many better options out there). But as for the horror movies, I apparently learn nothing because even when it’s not Halloween, I frequently find myself peeking through my fingers at a scary series or spooky film. And it’s not just that I spend the entire viewing experience with sweaty palms and a thudding heartbeat; I am tormented for weeks afterwards, often finding myself too scared to walk to the bathroom at night, lest some poltergeist or serial killer be waiting for me behind the shower curtain.
In other words, I do not like scary movies. And yet, I watch them all the time. What gives? In an effort to understand my motivations, I reached out to Dr. Sanam Hafeez, NYC neuropsychologist and Director of Comprehend the Mind.
I was expecting Dr. Hafeez to tell me that my penchant for punishment had something to do with my childhood (a birthday party where my father dressed up as a clown perhaps), but as it turns out, it’s more to do with my chemical makeup than my past.