All in the Mind: The Realm of Psychological Horror

I truly love all incarnations of horror, but psychological horror is, certainly, the sub-category of horror that I respond to best of all. But what is it about psychological horror that gets under our skin so easily?

Jacob’s Ladder


I’ve said for years that a gloriously terrifying delight for me has been a niggling thought. Something that gets into the brain, sticks and won’t be moved—like a corn kernel lodged in the tooth, only much more deliciously uncomfortable.  Like a niggling thought, psychological horror relies on the same mechanism, using the fears and desires of characters against them.

Unlike gothic horror, which makes use of atmosphere, setting, and weather to great effect (both in how they are written and how they are used—imagine a creepy castle. Now imagine a creepy castle falling apart during a thunder storm. Much scarier), psychological horror relies on the characters’ perceptions of the setting…

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