In Excluded, Mandel Marrel operates under two versions of fear stimuli, both rational and irrational.
First off, horror stories would be insignificant if they couldn't make us cringe, and they work based on the fear of death. In some cases, one fear stimulus derives from an environmental threat to a person's life. If they encounter a situation in which they might end up dying, there are certain rational reactions to the situation. In other words, our instincts might lead us to survival.
In the beginning of Excluded, Marrel makes a choice which ends up saving his life. This is his rational fear of death, but after he enters the infamous Douglas Residence, his paranoia takes over.
The second fear of death is irrational. This stimulus causes someone to act instinctively to a situation which is unlikely to result in death. Therefore, any action taken during this form of psychological terror ultimately puts the fearful and others at risk. For example, someone holding a gun while they are afraid but not at risk, might end up shooting an innocent bystander without justification.
The metamorphosis seen in Marrel through the novel nearly follows a true psychological response to both types of fear, although that was never the intention. A constant threat of death pushes Marrel to the brink of sanity, and soon he fears the worst from safer situations. His fear is in overdrive, which only means the worst for the other five occupants of the Douglas Residence.
There is a way to control irrational fears, and that is to break them apart and realize the threat is not real. Fear is anxiety, and anxieties prevent us from making good decision and furthermore restrict our senses and instincts. Our behaviors become sloppy and dangerous to ourselves and everyone around us.
If the fearful spends too much time trying to convince themselves the fear isn't real, then their attention is taken off of the situation, which is an open door to any lingering entities of death.
As the fear anxiety strengthens, our defenses kick in. Our ego takes control, and overtime it may become impossible to distinguish between what is real and what is simply in our minds. Put an ax in the hands of someone with high fear anxiety, and you can pretty much determine what'll happen next.
When fear takes over, we can either become sensitized to it, which is an increased response, or we can become habituated, which is a decreased response. Habituation takes place during nightmares and while watching horror movies. It would take something drastic to turn a nightmare into a night terror or make a horror movie frightening in a unique way.
In the Douglas Residence, there is not change for habituation, which puts Marrel in a permanent state of paranoia. Just as he reaches the limits of his fears, things become worse, and his limits are broken. And so on.
For Marrel, the choice is either remain overshadowed by fear, or immerse himself in it until he is the catalyst of fear itself.
Check out Excluded this Spring/Summer to see how Marrel handles the two types of fear.
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.