Why Are We Morbidly Curious?

published on July 18, 2020

Hey Vsauce Michael here in 1924 psychologist carnie Landis drew lines on people's faces and then photographed them in various scenarios to study facial expressions but he didn't use actors and he didn't tell the participants to pretend to feel emotions

Instead he subjected them to actual he had them do things like smell ammonia look at pornographic images and even reach their hand into buckets of wet slimy frogs his most intense directive involved ordering them to take a knife

And while being photographed cut off the head of a living rat seriously most initially refused to cut the head off but eventually two-thirds agreed to do as they were told including a thirteen-year-old boy

Referred to the psychology department by a doctor for high blood pressure thought to be caused by emotional instability many believe his inclusion in Landis's experiment was an accident if replicated today Landis might be

Arrested but what is psychologically arresting about these images is that the unease and disgust and fear they show is real it's disturbing but fascinating we are paradoxically drawn towards some pretty repulsive things car accidents

Car chases the possibility of a crash or a fight or a natural disaster I mean not one that hurts anyone of course but one that's exciting celebrity scandal drama disfiguration true crime war and gore the McCobb like the kang li a trumpet

Used during hem alayan buddhist rituals that's made out of a human leg bone we often feel guilty for being interested in these type things after all they are unpleasant but yet we can't look away why well there is

No single reason there are many of them but they can be Nold into a mnemonic we like disturbing things because we like to scream they give us strength catharsis reality exploration acceptance and meaning

Watching someone eat gross tasting jelly beans or a ghost pepper or a spoonful of cinnamon or suffer in more extreme ways is a kind of strange thing to like to do but it's part of what keeps us alive we are curious even if the outcome could be

Bad we often find uncertainty more unpleasant than unpleasant certainty at least if we look we know there's a neurological basis for exploring in the face of danger we become more attentive and alert when we are frightened which

Makes sense neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine are released when we are scared physically and mentally preparing us to take on a threat or successfully escape from it dopamine is famously part of the brain's

Reward system dopamine is released in response to pleasurable things like sex and food but that doesn't mean that our brains find disturbing things pleasurable it's more interesting than that when dopamine systems are inhibited

In laboratory animals they will cease to seek out food and literally starve to death because they no longer find food fun no if food is placed in their mouths they will consume it and express signs of

Satisfaction evidence like this suggests that the brain contains systems that motivate seeking approaching and curiosity for their own sake this has implications in the study of compulsive behavior just because you want to do

Something doesn't mean you like it the rush of chemicals into our brains and bodies when we are scared help us when the threats are real but if the threats aren't real or if we are safely distant from them and merely spectating the same

Chemicals still appear making us more attentive more curious and making it more difficult to look away in the early 1900's Eugen Luigi ion published incredible images of corpses he cut into stackable slices the images are

Amazingly low calm but yet utterly fascinating and a wonderful reminder of what we are literally made of we often feel like we need an excuse like Halloween or anatomy homework in order to look at things like that without

Coming across as a total weirdo I mean come on if you look too interested in the McCobb it might look like you are into approve of or enjoy the gruesome funny enough that guilt may very well fuel our desire to look in the first

Place sometimes pressure to not do something can actually make people more likely to do that thing it's called the boomerang effect there are many different ways for things to boomerang one is the Streisand effect when trying

To suppress something unintentionally makes it more widely distributed in 2003 Barbra Streisand sued to suppress a photo published online as part of a California coastline preservation project one of the photos the one she

Was trying to get rid of showed her house within a month of the lawsuit going public nearly half a mil people had flooded the website and downloaded the picture before the suit only six people had downloaded the image

Two of which were her lawyers in a similar fashion social pressures and taboos against viewing disturbing things can make them more interesting rarer and so a more valuable commodity and also free in that deliberately viewing them

Can demonstrate to ourselves and others that we are free and can do what we want disturbing things can also make us feel stronger because their repulsiveness is a challenge blend sparks at Purdue University has studied the way

Terrifying films affect us after watching them viewers often feels stronger satisfied that they didn't chicken out that they made it through they conquered something disturbing and were able to handle it it's almost a

Form of practice as Stephen King put it we make up Horrors to help us cope with the real ones on the more negative side following celebrity scandals or seen defeat on the faces of the rival team can make you feel pretty good

It's called schadenfreude which means harm joy getting pleasure from others misfortunes social comparison theory describes and predicts behavior like this although grades and rankings cause anxiety we nonetheless possess a drive

To seek out evaluations of ourselves in comparison to others we especially enjoy the evaluations that put us on top now causing other people to be less well off sort of makes sense under this lens if it's relative

Happiness you're concerned with trolling or harassing or griefing other people sort of works it doesn't make you happier but compared to the people you're annoying you are less annoyed so yeh viewing scenes of anger and

Vengeance and violence that don't even involve us can nonetheless cause our own anger and aggression to burn off as though they're being satisfied it's called catharsis a cleansing a purification creating images

And movies and stories that play with our emotions might be grasping at low-hanging fruit a task beneath such logical creatures as ourselves or it might be a powerful demonstration of the fact that we have control or at least a

Leash around how we feel we condemn the actions of serial killers but nonetheless often treat them like rock stars websites like Red Rum autographs and serial killers Inc sell autographs

Souvenirs trinkets and works of art made by real serial killers some call it murder velia on a spectrum of petty thrills and morose voyeurism to complete overwhelming obsession and fear our relationship with the morbid is

Complicated but it is under our control if we're aware of our actions one of the most constructive and socially important uses of the morbid is the facilitation of meaning acceptance and empathy in his book everyone loves a good train wreck

Eric G Wilson says that our attraction to the McCobb is on some level a desire to experience someone else's suffering morbid curiosity is often about the imagination imagining what it would be like to be that other person what if

That happened to me could it happen to me empathetic feelings remind us that our time is limited and that we are fragile and in doing so bring us closer together sure enough the last movie I watched

That made me want to go out and hug the very first friend I could find wasn't a happy feel-good comedy instead it was Louis rose sombre extreme love dementia viewing unpleasant things doesn't always make them less unpleasant or any less

Real but that's not always the point morbid curiosity is also about acceptance remember our brains are wired with motivations to explore unpleasant things because doing so can be preferable to ignorance

Gawking at morbidity is often about asking why there must be a reason a meaning behind all of this when tragedy strikes or Horrors are revealed we listen to experts give opinions neighbors describe the killer we look

For signs that were missed and confirmation that others feel the same way we do that people are helping while making sure justice is served kaitland OD the host of ask a mortician here on YouTube just wrote a phenomenal

Book smoke gets in your eyes and other lessons from the crematorium in the book she says accepting death doesn't mean that you won't be devastated when someone you love dies it means you will be able to focus on your grief

Unburdened by bigger existential questions like why do people die and why is this happening to me death isn't happening to you death is happening to us all that's heavy stuff but acceptance like that is one of the

Greatest things Mormon curiosity has to offer and don't worry there's a funny side to all of this or at least a funny side related to this and how morbidity helps us make sense of the world a study in Finland found that children were four

Times as likely to be scared by their usual television programs if a parent was in the room it surprised researchers but one explanation lies in the Oh mom flinched theory the idea is that to a young child almost everything is brand

New but parents are older they're wiser they know what's normal and if they are scared of what TV oh how we feel and how we feel about how we feel is to a large degree learned there's a theory about the origin of

Humor called the encryption theory of humor it suggests that one of the great rolls humor plays is in measuring who's inside and who's outside who's similar and who's socially or ideologically to different jokes test what researchers

Call unstated common knowledge the teller and listener both share so might we be morbidly curious for the same reason we enjoy telling jokes jokes assess underlying shared attitudes morbidity helps us assess shared

Underlying attitudes of an existential variety morality and justice whether it's used for empathetic or exploitative reasons morbidity and laughter may share a similar adaptive role we are morbidly curious because we like to scream but

More strangely the yuck and the yuck yuck overlap and as always thanks for watching

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