Science behind the screams

Science behind the screams

There are more spook-houses in the Joplin-area this year than ever before, and business has been so good, several are opting to stay open until the weekend after Halloween.

“October, it’s just like Christmas, everybody is ready for Christmas, they get in the spirit. Halloween puts the fear in everything, the dead comes out,” Brian Renn, co-owner of Waco Schoolhouse Haunt said.

Renn and his brother Jason are in their third year as owner/managers. Their spook-house takes you through an old school in a 21-minute thrill complete with dolls, clowns and chainsaws. The Renns say they see all reactions to fear across the spectrum, including some wet-your-pants accidents.

“The anticipation of being scared, far outweighs actually being scared itself, and we have something really unique here,” Jason Renn said.

Interviews at the Waco Schoolhouse Haunt proved the fear spectrum to be true. Several people say they laugh, cry or fight.

“Different people respond differently to fear. Some people who were traumatized at a point previously will respond very differently than someone who has really never had that kind of frightening experience. And so sometimes when people get scared, they laugh because that’s what they were conditioned to do,”
Del Camp, VP of Clinical Operations at the Ozark Center said.

Camp said others get combative when they are scared, which can be scary for the spook-house staffers. The Renn brothers say they are lucky and have not had a case of that yet this year.

Dopamine in the form of an adrenaline rush is released when we are shocked or surprised, so those neurochemicals are what keep us coming back.

“Other people cry when they get scared, so the release of neurochemistry is so powerful, then your body has to interpret what that means. Your brain has to interpret what that means. And so for some people its laughter, other people it’s fear, you know, pure fear, and for other people it’s anger and self protection,” Camp said.

Ultimately, Camp agreed that it’s the safety in knowing it is not a reality.

“There’s a lot of very scary things in the world that are real, and so it’s kind of nice to go to something that you know is fake and so it still gives you that rush, but you know the whole time that it’s all in good fun,” Camp said.

**Del Camp is a Licensed Counselor**