Add Laughter to your "Boo!"

October 27, 2023

I shut my eyes and plug my ears at scary movies. And I can’t bear those amusement park rides where your stomach drops before the rest of your body. I don’t understand the thrill of terrorizing yourself. Halloween is here with it's ghoulish figures on lawns, pre-recorded screams coming from bushes, and $40 bags of candy. Once again like time-lapse Pillsbury rolls, my fear has risen. I did a quick search to see if my unease with all things Halloween is legit – and as the kids say, it’s a thing! And it has a name: Samhainophobia.

I’m not sure Samhainophobia paints the whole picture for me. This is a fear specific to Halloween. But I don’t like anything that terrifies me. I already live in a state of low grade anxiety. On good days it’s quiet, but on others it can feel like a tireless monster whispering in my ear, desperate to pull me off my game. J’refuse to feed this insatiable beast!

This is why affiliative laughter  - the kind that makes you feel good - is so important to me. Shared laughter distracts the monster. The more I laugh, the less I hear him. This phenomenon is not unique to me. Stephen Colbert famously said, "You can't laugh and be afraid at the same time," which sounds to me like something a neuroscientist would say. Colbert is not a doctor, but he did experience a life-altering tragedy at a young age. I bet he did his share of quieting the fear monster with laughter too.

Fortunately for me and the Samhainophobics, we get the scary holiday out of the way first! It’s just smooth sailing from here ‘till 2024! Well, maybe not, but hopefully we’re not stricken by  other holiday phobias like Christougenniatikophobia, Santophobia and Fayophobia, fear of Christmas, Santa and Elves respectively. There are seven others just related to Christmas! I didn’t check for Hanukah, but fear of lit candles and melted chocolate has to be in there. I can find no fear of Kwanzaa, which makes it especially attractive.

Learning about all these holiday-related phobias has confirmed my belief that you just never know what fears are plaguing someone. Keeping Mr. Colbert’s assertion in mind, instead of scaring people, why don’t we focus on making people laugh instead? Watch “Scary Movie,” not “Scream.” I know the Sam Hain’s of the world will appreciate it.