January 9th, 2016| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


“Bloodcurdling Movies and Measures of Coagulation: Fear Factor Crossover Trial,” by Banne Nemeth, Luuk J. J. Scheres, Willem M. Lijfering, and Frits R. Rosendaal—from Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

Around Christmas every year, that gravitas-laden institution called the British Medical Journal puts out a few frivolous articles, albeit carefully researched, well written, and peer reviewed. The aforementioned note by Nemeth, Scheres, Lijfering, and Rosendaal was one of BMJ’s lighter offerings last year.

[Others in the 2015 festive edition of the BMJ included “Evidence of a Christmas Spirit Network in the Brain: Functional MRI Study,” and a study to see which doctors consume the most coffee (orthopedic surgeons—with radiologists running a close second), among others.]

“Bloodcurdling” horror movies actually do “curdle” the blood, declared these enterprising researchers. Lead author Banne Nemeth confessed that it was the universal idea of fear as bloodcurdling that led to the study. “Bloodcurdling” (English) is equivalent to bloedstollend (Dutch), das Blut in den Adern erstarren lassen (German = “let the blood freeze in your veins”), and à vous glacer le sang (French = let there be a glazing of your blood”).

Blood samples were drawn from 14 young volunteers who had watched a horror film (Insidious, 2010) and, a week later, sat through a non-scary documentary (about the French wine industry: A Year in Champagne). Another 10 were put through the same test, but in reverse order, the wine movie first; the horror movie a week later. Blood samples were taken 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after each session. Those drawn after viewings of Insidious showed increased levels of the blood-clotting element, factor VIII, in 57% of the participants, but only in 14% of samples taken after the blood-thinning wine movie.

Interestingly enough, levels of other clot forming proteins in the blood (and there is a whole cascade of them) were unaffected, suggesting that though coagulation is primed by the increase of factor VIII levels when one is afraid, actual clot formation does necessarily occur.

Nemeth speculated on an evolutionary benefit that was provided by the association between fear and blood coagulation.

We think that from an evolutionary perspective it is actually a good thing to clot a bit faster if you experience fear. Fearful situations often come together with trauma or injury. So from this evolutionary perspective it would be good to prepare your body for blood loss.”

The research report added a reassuring note:

To reduce the risk of confounding by superstition, no movies were shown during a full moon or on Friday the 13th.”

Yeah, right!

Curdled blood or no, the Bible does offer some better strategies to counter fear.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?
Psalm 27:1

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.
Psalm 56:3

The LORD is for me; I will not fear;
What can man do to me?
Psalm 118:6

I sought the LORD, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
Psalm 34:4

Instead, we are to fear the Lord!

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.
Psalm 34:7

Oswald Chambers was right:

The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”

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