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Some fears too frightening for certain students


Reported by Sean Hitrec

People walking into The Party Bazaar, a costume shop that has a Halloween section with its own side entrance. Photo: Sean Hitrec

Scary movies are too frightening for him, but potential hallucinogenic-drug-induced near-death experiences are just fine for Basel Hussein, a first-year psychology student at Langara.

“I went up to the sky and then God punched me in the face. So he punched me down to hell and then I just had hell for 20 minutes.” Hussein said of his first salvia experience. “In the trip, I just completely forgot about life. I almost thought I was dead. I thought I was in hell. Then when I woke up. I didn’t believe it.”

“For the next hour I didn’t speak a word and I was just looking at my hands.”

Basel Hussein recreating his reaction to his salvia induced hallucination. Photo: Sean Hitrec

For some people, experiencing a bad trip of God punching them in the face would be too terrifying to accept, and screaming to a scary scene in The Conjuring would be fun.

The difference between types of fear

According to Sheila Woody, a psychology professor at UBC, fear is for survival, and there is no line that separates it from being fabricated and being in actual danger.

“At the brain level, fear is all the same… The fear response is a fight-or-flight response and it basically prepares the body for serious action,” Woody said. “And so if you are in a situation that requires action, like you are hiking and you see a bear and her cubs then that’s very, very functional. It’s healthy fear because you’re in an objectively dangerous situation.”

The fright of falling

By contrast, many people love Halloween and the fear of ghosts ghouls and monsters.

“Some people find the sensation of scary movies or roller coasters, they find that to be appealing. They really enjoy the energizing feeling of that,” Woody said. “…You have your increases in adrenaline and increased heart rate and other kinds of physiological responses.”

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