Horror Therapy

November 5th, 2020

Horror can be therapeutic. That’s the point of a recent article in Psychology Today, where Robert T. Muller Ph.D. posits that horror allows us to “vicariously experience negative emotions in a controlled environment which may be useful for managing anxiety.”

Or, as a team of researchers at Aarhus University put it in a recent study:

Fiction allows the audience to explore an imagined version of the world at very little cost. Through fiction, people can learn how to escape dangerous predators, navigate novel social situations, and practice their mind-reading and emotion regulation skills.

Similar thoughts have occurred to me while reading the stories in The Best of Cemetery Dance II, a massive collection of over 50 stories representing the best from the last quarter-century of Cemetery Dance Magazine.

I can’t promise that reading the book will make you better able to cope with a pandemic world where democracy hangs in the balance, but there’s certainly something therapeutic in turning off the news for half-an-hour and giving oneself over the safety of vicarious fears.

The Best of Cemetery Dance II features a virtual whos-who of the horror genre – from Gary A. Braunbeck to Poppy Z. Brite. It also includes “A Conversation With Stephen King” by Tony Magistrale and the republication of King’s first professional sale – a locked-door horror tale entitled “The Glass Floor.”

The book was released earlier this year in three editions (trade, slipcased, and traycased) — all of which sold out quickly at the publisher’s website. Fortunately, if you’re looking for a book to provide a story a day for the rest of this horror-story year, copies are still available at a number of online retailers like Abe Books and Books-A-Million.

And yes, I have a story in it too — a wicked little piece about killer chihuahuas (pictured below in an illustration by Jason Zerrillo). Therapeutic reading for a dog-eat-dog world.


  1. This entry was posted on Thursday, November 5th, 2020 at 8:51 am and is filed under 21st-Century Scop. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.

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