Whole psychological theories have been based on what shows up in our horror films. I could go on and on about them, but as I only have an A level in Psychology, I’m sure I would be ill-informed.
But one theory that I do agree with is that fear of monsters – of zombies, vampires, demons, whatever – is simply a way of dealing with our awareness of our own capability to be monsters.
Human beings are amazing, I’d never argue against that point. Halfway between ape and angel, we’ve created some amazing works of art, we have made beautiful music, we have struggled and striven and climbed towards success. We are intelligent, creative and opportunistic, and all those capabilities can help us do wonderful things.
Exactly those same traits can turn us into monsters.
I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but humans aren’t inherently good. The plus side is we aren’t inherently evil, either, but if the world at large teaches us anything it’s that, under pressure, evil is easier than good.
Oh sure, you’ll be telling yourself right now ‘but all those people who murder and rape and torture are different to me! I’D never do that!” It’s time to be honest with yourself. The human capacity for self-preservation – including the preservation of the idea of self as morally correct – is unimaginably strong. It’s why you get people who beat their partners and children and thing of themselves as morally justified. Very few people are evil, mad or wrong in their own self-reference. Even Hitler believed himself to be in the right.
So, if you are brutally honest with yourself you should be aware you are capable of the worst atrocities under the right circumstances. Cannibalism. Murder. Torture. The question is, what to do about that knowledge?
In yourself: You need to watch yourself, like a hawk, every day. Be aware of self-justification over your behaviour, even in the little things. Even today, when it ‘doesn’t matter’. You may find yourself telling yourself that stealing that persons food, or mocking that persons outfit doesn’t matter, but it does. Each time you do that you are telling yourself they matter less than you as an individual.
In others: Post apocalypse you need to be wary of everyone else. Ever. Even your friends. You can’t trust anyone any more.
Me and Tavia talk about a similar issue when we discuss and review Crossed. Check it out.