Last week I watched a movie where two boys in their early teens found a dead body smashed inside a car on a wrecking lot. They both screamed. Why? I thought teenage boys would have tried to be all manly and shrugged the shock off, or maybe even think it was weird. But, the author of the program chose for them to scream.
I asked one of my knowledgeable friends who happens to have a degree in psychology why people, especially women, scream when something startles them. She said that she was a screamer, and her hubby always ran to her side to protect her from whatever it was that brought forth the scream. She told me it was an automatic reflex.
I started thinking about how I would have reacted if, like her, I’d touched a spider web in the dark. I don’t think I would have screamed. I don’t think I’ve ever screamed when something startled me. I started asking people how they reacted and found that more people screamed than not. They said it was just a natural response.
I looked up the definition: Reasons for shouting vary, and it may be done deliberately or simply as a reaction. The core motive, in essentially all situations, is communication. These outbursts convey alarm, surprise, displeasure or outrage, or perhaps to gain the attention of another person or an animal. When frightened, human beings tend to yelp, or cry out. This is both to convey fear and to call attention to themselves, increasing the possibility of receiving assistance from others. This action also serves as a possible defense tactic, as shouting may frighten off an assailant or cause them to falter, allowing a chance to escape.
One of the reasons I wanted to research this topic is for writing. Since we are supposed to be showing instead of telling, it would be a good way of showing someone is startled or frightened. I guess I must be boring because I know I gasp, but doubt anyone would hear me unless they were standing next to me. How do you react when you are caught off guard, startled or frightened?