Scientists did a fascinating study where they recorded 19 screams, plus screams from movies and youtube.
They played these screams to volunteers while imaging their brains. They also recorded the brain during a normal conversation. What they learnt was that the brain reacted very differently to both the sounds. Normal conversation is processed in a part of the brain that interprets tone, age, gender of the speaker. It take a while to process.
Screams on the other hand were immediately processed in the amygdala. This is the place where the brain processes fear! So no time is wasted and an instant fear response is created while hearing a scream. This was obviously invaluable for early human beings. The humble scream was probably a big tool that helped us survive for thousands of years.
The secret of a good scream is the rate of change in its Loudness. This is known as the roughness of a scream. Conversation lies in the 4 to 5 hz range while screams extend all the way to 150 hz.
Hence you will notice the air raid alarms, fire alarms, ambulance alarms all have this ascending and descending pattern. It’s artificially created roughness. This is designed to create fear in the person listening to the scream.
In today’s world screaming has been given a bad reputation. It is not alright to scream. In fact we are rarely in a life or death situation where we would need to scream. When was the last time you screamed? Heck, do you even know how to scream? It’s not easy!
The closest we get to a good scream these days is a stifled grunt in the gym, or curse as we bang our toe to the bed.
In truth there aren’t any tigers after us, that we need to raise the alarms and scream for help or as a warning to others. Our battles now are less life or death, but way more constant. Like a steady drip of stress.
Very often we have no release from these pent up emotions and feelings. There is no way to let it out. Society has taught us to bottle the emotions away. Never let them spill and always keep a lid on it. Our expressions of fear have changed to more socially acceptable ones.
Remember the British expression, a stiff upper lip. We have created a society of repressed people. Infact, this repression is what allows so many thousands of humans to live together in big cities. Manners and social etiquette are designed to keep communities closed knit.
Every now and then we need to let our animal side loose. Every now and then we have to connect with our inner caveman. This inner animal knows how to deal with fear and anxiety. It howls and screams and vents.
This is called the primal scream. Some therapists have used it as a tool, called scream therapy. You need a professional to guide you through a scream therapy session. It’s a structured program.
However exploring your primal scream can be very cathartic as well. It is very relaxing. A feeling of freedom. A feeling of venting and letting all the fear out. A way clear your mind and let your inner animal loose.
We of course cannot do this in polite society, we don’t want to scare the neighbours, literally. Doing this at home will have the police knocking on the door. Standing on the road and screaming will probably get you arrested.
So there are two techniques that I do and suggest you follow as well. The first is to scream into a pillow. The second is to scream inside your car when you are alone and parked. Finding a soundproof room like this studio we are recording in is close to impossible.
The idea is we need a safe space where we can scream without causing fear in others.
Do this whenever you feel trapped, frustrated, hurt, scared or just too civilized.
Your simple habit is to understand what you are feeling, find yourself a safe space and scream! Shout! Roar! Bark! Do anything that feels natural to you. There are no rules!
It will be hard due to years of societal programming. But the relief is almost instantaneous.