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December 8, 2015

Lessons Learned From Comics Produced by Medical StudentsArt of Darkness

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Humanities, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania
  • 2Department of Medicine, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania
JAMA. 2015;314(22):2345-2346. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.13652

Horror is ubiquitous in popular culture, with zombies, vampires, ghosts, and other supernatural figures saturating books, television, and films. These stories provide excitement by activating ancient fight-or-flight responses while perhaps more subtly serving as metaphors for suppressed fears and anxieties. Vampires are not merely blood-sucking villains but also symbols of sexual repression; zombies are not just shambling monsters but also reminders of the alienating effects of consumerism and fear of global contagion; ghosts not only haunt but also raise questions about existence of an afterlife and consequences of earthly actions. In this way, horror stories are a means through which artists implicitly comment on the state of human affairs at a particular moment. As Stephen King has written, “We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.”1

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