A combination of childhood experiences, popular culture and Adobe Photoshop, are the recipe to a perfect monster.Children, in particular, are victims of fear, especially when it comes to darkness and monsters. A combination of these two often results in sleepless nights and intangible lifelong fear

Hvovi Bhagwagar is a Mumbai based clinical psychologist with over 15 years of experience in dealing with various kinds of disorders, including anxiety, clinical depression and borderline personality illnesses. She believes that “negative experiences can definitely play a strong role in inculcating fears in a child’s mind.” She further says that children, who are afraid of sleeping in the dark and fear intangible ideas like ghosts and monsters, usually have a history of physical abuse. These same children further grow up into adults with traumatic childhood experiences and turn into the red-eyed-coffee-chugging monsters that suffer from insomnia, or have night fears and have fears of being attacked by some unknown entity.

But what manifests the idea of an ugly creature? Popular culture like stories about Dracula, Frankenstein, among others, have been popularised as figures to be scared of, and eventually, being used as tools to instil fear and form discipline. “Fear of monsters, horror and gore could be evolutionary and linked to our flight or fight response which tells us to flee “danger”. However the human brain can’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s imagined and thus monster like entities activate the threat system and our immediate instinctive reaction (without much thought) is to run,” believes Bhagwagar.

First Appeared in The National Geographic Magazine on 18th July, 2018