This week from HHP: The science of fright

Anthony Komaroff, MD

Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter

Crisp autumn weather, flickering jack-o-lanterns, costumed children trick-or-treating—and a good fright or two—make for a great Halloween.

What is it about getting scared by a haunted house, a roller coaster, or a bungee jump that some people find exhilarating and others find downright frightening? It could be how you are wired, writes Dr. Robert Shmerling in a post on why we love to scare ourselves silly on MSN Health and Fitness.

People who enjoy being scared have what researchers call Type T personalities, explains Dr. Shmerling, who is an editor at Harvard Health Publishing and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Imaging studies show that thrill seekers’ brains “light up” in different ways than those of people who don’t go looking for thrills, and the output of neurotransmitters also differs. For a detailed description, read Dr. Shmerling’s post, the latest installment in his Quirky Body series.

On a related note, in the current issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, Dr. Michael Miller explores how popular video games that serve up menacing zombies, invading aliens, or other violent scenarios affect children and how parents can protect their children from potential harm.

Whether or not you are a Type T, have a fun and safe Halloween. From Harvard, I wish you good health.

Anthony L. Komaroff, M.D.
Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Publishing


  1. Nick Jones

    This is quite interesting. I think I definitely have that personality type and really enjoy being scared! Thanks Dr. Komaroff!

  2. Tony

    I read Dr. Komaroff’s and found it very interesting but some how, using myself as an example I just cannot see why someone can have joy in being scared. I took note of the type of personality the he says like being scared (Type T). I would like to see some more scientific conclusions. However I found I did enjoy reading his article.


    This is a very good article.
    Health is all faces are important to consider.
    Good health is the result of a good life.

    [URL removed by moderator]

Commenting has been closed for this post.