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Meet the Interns: Peter Westergaard

The Recreational Fear Lab is delighted to host several research interns in the fall of 2023. In this post, lab intern Peter Westergaard tells us about himself and his interest in the lab.

Hi! My name is Peter Westergaard, and I am very excited to be an intern at the Recreational Fear Lab. I am currently in the midst of the second year of my MA degree in English.


The cool thing to write here would be that I have always been in love with the horror genre ever since I was able to read a novel or properly comprehend a film. However, that is far from the case. In fact, I used to despise horror films, as they tended to terrify me deeply and cause me multiple sleepless nights when I was young. In other words, I was quite anxious as a kid, and I have vivid memories of particularly scary sequences of various media. For instance, in an episode of the 90’s cartoon, Freakazoid, a man is slowly turning into a werewolf; it scared the living hell out of me. Likewise, I was also immensely scared by the frightening bear in the 1981 film The Fox and the Hound. However, something changed when I got older. I started to watch shows that were more overt in their scary themes like Courage the Cowardly Dog, The Addams Family, and Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids. These shows still scared me, but something in them also caught my curiosity, and afterwards my interest in horror media only grew progressively with me becoming older.


Nowadays, in my adult life, I have no issues with horror media. On the contrary, now I believe there is nothing quite like the thrills of a good horror film or novel. Additionally, the gerne has also caught my interest from an academic perspective, because it is a strange phenomenon, namely why people derive pleasure from fear. A paradox I look forward to learn more about and explore in depth at my internship at the Recreational Fear Lab.