Scared to Death…Literally. The Emotion of Fear
Scientists have been studying fear for quite some time and it is a fact that you can be “scared to death”. NPR has reported on the phenomenon of Voodoo Death as doctors refer to it.
Dr. Martin Samuels interviewed with NPR and this is some of what he said:
Well, it’s a strong emotional reaction of any kind [that can cause Voodoo death]. It can be positive, as you said in the lead, or negative. And when this happens suddenly, there is a pulse of autonomic activity, we call it, which means automatic activity of the brain, which releases chemicals, natural chemicals related to adrenaline, which I’m sure everybody has heard about. And that chemical is mainly good, but there’s a small, small risk that it can do harm to the various organs, including your heart.
The interviewer goes onto ask Dr. Samuel, “And you say it doesn’t have to be a scary experience”. Dr. Samuels response, “No, just a sudden,usually unexpected powerful emotional experience. A scary experience would be one example of it, but a powerful positive emotion can do it as well. I have an example of a guy who hit a hole in one, he played golf his whole life and hit a ball over a rise and didn’t see where it went. He and his partner went over and looked down on the green, and the ball was in the hole. And he said wow, I hit a hole in one, I can die now, and he did.”
Extreme you say? Maybe, but science has confirmed that it does happen. This just might make you think twice next time you decide to pull a prank on someone. If you’d like to listen to the entire Podcast click here.