Author

Avi Wershba

Date of Award

2019

First Advisor

Eden-Renee Hayes

Second Advisor

Jennifer Daniels

Abstract

This thesis explores how humans use horror movies individually and as a society to communicate stories of both individual and collective cultural trauma, and how the process of watching a horror movie can be similar to reliving trauma in a therapeutic setting. The working theory of the thesis is that horror films can be psychologically beneficial to watch, as many of the stories told in this genre are stories of healing from trauma, overcoming grief and coping with mental illness, which are things that we do not feel comfortable discussing or thinking about in most other settings. Due to the way horror movies engage our minds and bodies—evolutionarily, neurologically, psychologically and symbolically—can serve as a pseudo-therapeutic healing rituals by individuals and societies alike as a way of overcoming trauma and crises through exposure and controlled re-experience.

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