Have You Watched ‘Contagion’ Recently? Psychologist Explains It’s Actually Healthier Than Watching The News


Warner Bros.

Contagion is one of the most-streamed movies on Netflix and iTunes over the last few months.

Due to the pandemic, and being stuck inside, people have revisited the 2011 film in droves.

Reports indicate that Contagion has cracked Top 10 on the iTunes movie rental chart a few times this past month.

Warner Brothers, the studio behind the film, announced in March that “it was only behind the Harry Potter franchise as the most in-demand title in its catalog to view online.

In December 2019, the movie was the 270th most popular. You could say, the movie spread like a…nevermind.

People are watching Outbreak with Dustin Hoffman as well. Kinda keeping the viewing options fresh.

Watching a movie about an outbreak DURING an outbreak might seem bizarre to some, but a psychologist explained to The Insider that it’s actually very healthy.

In fact, it’s better for your health than watching the news.

“It makes us feel we’re not alone, and there’s a resolution to these stories so we can express our anxiety that way,” Dr. Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, told Insider. “Whether it’s zombie movies or ‘Contagion,’ any thriller ramps up a lot of anxiety and fear that then gets resolved by the end.”

Rutledge went on to say that “mentally coping with the coronavirus is a major challenge because it’s not a visible threat, like a tsunami or the terrorist attacks on 9/11.”

“Not seeing the danger leads to us having no sense of control of the situation,” she continues. “And on top of that, socially isolating from the threat feels unnatural to us.”

Rutledge suggested watching movies, TV shows, and especially meeting with friends over Zoom as ways to deal with what’s going on because “for the human brain, seeing eyes and expressions allow us to experience interaction as if they were face to face.”

This is similar to one of our writer, Danielle Sepulveres, finding comfort in movies with a high death count to cope with grief.

She wrote:

So basically the way that my real feelings of grief are typically caused by circumstances out of my control, choosing to watch these films and shows is my way of restoring a semblance of balance in a sometimes chaotic world.

I also checked in with grief expert Dr. M. Katherine Shear of The Center for Complicated Grief at Columbia to discuss whether this was even remotely a healthy way to be processing my emotions.

After telling me that she was fascinated by my email explaining how these movies help me, she suggested that films and shows where righteous vengeance is sought provide me with an alternative world where things can go right instead of wrong.

And that what I’m experiencing could also be connected to terror management theory and mortality salience.

“When anybody in any way confronts the concept of death or mortality, they have documented that it activates certain areas of the brain that are associated with anxiety, but a unique area that has to do with self-annihilation. In experiments where they trigger mortality salience, it’s found that it increases the desire to be part of a larger group,” she explains.

So if virus and end of day films are your way of coping, more power to you.

[via The Insider]


Chris Illuminati is a 5-time published author and recovering a**hole who writes about success, fitness, parenting, and professional wrestling. Reach out to him on Instagram & Twitter.


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