Remember the blog about The Chemistry of Love and Lust? That’s when we acknowledged that there is a true blend of hormones that trigger physical reactions within your body called love and there’s nothing more thrilling for a writer than to find those precise words to trigger that same sensation within their pages.
With all of this talk about words, lust, and hormones can the same be said for fear? Is there a chemical response to feeling fear or even hate?
The answer is Yes! Fear has its own chemistry and anyone can fall victim to it at any given moment. All it takes is a little release of adrenaline and your anxiety is off running in the direction of your imagination.
Remember, Pet Cemetery by Stephan King? By the end of the book, I was so afraid of the dark. I almost peed in my bed because I too scared to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Why? Other than he’s an awesome writer and can scare the crap out of most people. Well, Yes and also because 90% of his scary scenes were at night. My mind had been trained to fear the night.
To go further back in time, do you recall those frightening images of Freddie Krueger and the Nightmare on Elm Street movies? I have a life-size Freddie in my basement that I take out once a year for my infamous Halloween party. My young ones know nothing of the movies, but every time they set off his motion sensor, the eerie nursery rhythm plays, “One…Two, Freddie’s coming for you. Three…Four you better shut your door. Five… Six, grab a crucifix. Seven…Eight, gotta stay up late. Nine…Ten, never sleep again.” And then they run like the wind screaming, “Mom, shut it off!”
A new generation of Freddie Fans…
So how is fear created? Well, it is similar to lust and love. It does involve your hormones. The main difference is fear has to be learned first and then the body’s chemistry triggers a responds accordingly, hence my children running like the wind from the basement screaming my name. In this case, my kids identified with the scary music, and it probably helped that Freddie was in the dark and they couldn’t see him before they set-off the motion detector. All of those factors triggered a “flight or fight” response.
Other ways we respond to fear are rapid heartbeats, cold sweats, lost of appetites and occasionally a foul metallic taste in our mouths. These are all due to the pituitary glands producing and releasing large amounts of the adrenocorticotropic hormone and the chain reaction initiates its own sequence of events for each person.
So what’s first in trigging fear and even rage? The brain.
I did not realize this at first, but it all makes perfect sense. Ask any politician. It’s the manipulation and exploitation of emotions. The trick behind it is strengthening the emotion they want most.
So if you to want to trigger fear, it must be introduced, defined, and then repeated over and over again. After it is learned, subtle hints can trigger your chemical response to fear.
This is just a quick note to all my writers, as they develop their next villain or horror plot, which will leave us all afraid to sleep at night.
What triggers your fear?
Leave your comments below.