Are you a ‘thrill seeker’? That means you love fear (and reward)

Postdate: 20 June 2018

It is the feeling you have after just taking one step away from the roller coaster. You can conquer the world and your fear is completely gone. A strange kind of calm comes over you. You experience a momentary mix of accomplishment, pride and excitement. This is your reward for overcoming your fear.

No thrill without fear
It doesn't matter what kind of thrill: the adrenaline rush is there. Whether it’s jumping from a plane, or the feeling you get just before the roller coaster rumbles down. It narrows your vision; your hands get clammy and your heart beats very fast. Testosterone rises and a mixture of dopamine, endorphins and levels of other substances rapidly rise in the blood. Everything is designed to ensure survival of the next few minutes. The crazy thing is that logic tells you that nothing is really going on. You're safe, nothing happens. So why be afraid? But as soon as you fear floods your brain, you become disoriented.

Danger to survive
What is so pleasant about fear? There is an interesting theory that explains this search for danger from an evolutionary point of view. Some degree of risk-taking seems to be stored in our DNA. We look for danger to explore the limits of our capabilities. Man has been on the moon. Has ‘sailed the seven seas’ and discovered new continents. Our primitive ancestors went hunting to literally survive. Those who took more risks had better opportunities. No risk no reward, and certainly no survival. Additionally: new experiences lead us to new encounters, new people. Step out of your comfort zone….

Inherited or not?
‘Thrill seeking’ seems to be inherited for about 60%. In fact, there may be genetic deviations that make sure we constantly seek out new exciting challenges. One in 30 people has such a deviation, which leads to a reduced sensitivity to dopamine. Dopamine plays an important role in how we get a sense of reward.

Attraction park as therapy
Overcoming your fear is good for you. A short boost of adrenaline strengthens your immune system and defence mechanisms. In addition, it gives you a mental boost; you can laugh and have fun. Undergoing intense fear and emerging from it in one piece will strengthen your self-confidence. It can also lead to daring to take steps that will change your life. By challenging yourself, you become more resistant to stress.

For example, a roller coaster ride can unconsciously give you the tools to tackle difficult daily situations. However, be careful with a heart that is prone to arrhythmias. The stress, abrupt movements and sudden accelerations involved will increase your heart rate. Sometimes this can provoke arrhythmias. If you expect your heart to start racing, then don’t do this.

adrenaline     fear     pulse rate     reward     stress     thrill seeking    

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