What a rush!

Tennis anyone?

Adrenaline junkies, thrill-seekers, nuts. These are just some of the words applied to those who partake in activities which raise the adrenaline level out of fear. Your run-of-the-mill adrenaline junkie is exploiting the body’s natural reflexes.


This morning’s arachnophobes, thanatophobes and other fearful people are crippled by the adrenaline-producing fear. Thrill-seekers are not immune to fear, even if their behavior may appear to belie the fact. The difference is phobes become petrified, literally and physically, by the rush of chemicals. Thrill-seekers get a euphoria, not from the palpable fear itself, but in the survival of the event. Huh?

Chemistry & Biology

Adrenaline. You have heard it before. What is it? Adrenaline is a hormone and neurotransmitter. Part of the body’s natural fight or flight instinct, the adrenal glands pump out adrenaline (also called epinephrine).

Adrenaline makes the heart beat faster and pump harder. It dilates bronchioles, so your body can draw in more oxygen. It constricts blood vessels, causing less blood to flow to the brain and increasing the brain’s dopamine production, for better motor response.

Every body does it.

(Attention: Still the Grammar Nazi. Every body is not the same as  Everybody.)  The human brain signals the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline to give the body a physical and mental edge during both critical and exhilarating events. This is survival instinct.

Not everybody does it.

Circle back, Bob, I think we lost the skier.

Just some of the activities on the to-do (every day) list for the adrenaline junkie are:

  • Sky diving
  • Bungee jumping
  • Motocross/ BMX
  • Surfing
  • Rock climbing
  • Skate/snowboarding

Most of these activities, save the first two, can be done in a more relaxed atmosphere than the adrenaline junkie prefers. In their rawest forms, these activities are considered extreme sports.

Come here, Cuddles.

Other adrenaline-producing hobbies your average junkie would find fun are the sources for the average phobias.

  • Proximity to or taunting dangerous or venomous animals (big cats, bears, snakes)
  • Aerial activities (para-sailing, rappelling, stunt flying)
  • Speed related activities (boat or car racing, one-on-one sport racing)
  • Increased difficulty sports (black diamond skiing)

So, why do people like to scare themselves?

Art imitates life.

Some days it is the other way ’round, but for the average moviegoer, art is imitating life. We are seeking those images and accounts which we would like for ourselves, but cannot due to life’s circumstances. Yes, even in the case of horror films.

Horror and action films are an adrenaline-almost-junkie’s bread and butter. For the thrill-seeker who may not have the courage to overcome all the rational thought telling the desire This can kill you., cinema becomes the vicarious vehicle.

I want to watch.

Attire provided by your team.

Another near-junkie is a fan, as in truly short for fanatic. This die-hard is at every game, airing, event…holds season tickets every year, gets a team logo tattoo where everyone can see it, has a team logo credit card, decorates with official merchandise, gets frequent flyer miles for attending away games/events, prefers to be seen in official team wear, plans life events on team schedules, has a vanity plate inside a team holder, buys team-branded food and names children after better players.

It is all about the high.

The fear produces the chemicals which make the body acutely aware of surrounding, physically able to respond faster and awakens the senses. It is not really difficult to understand why people can get caught up into dangerous activities, or even watching dangerous activities, as a form of entertainment.

Admit it.

Nearly everyone can identify a time in their life where they engaged in behavior which was dangerous, either to themselves or others. Some of the mixed emotions about this behavior is the admission it was fun, enjoyable or exciting…or all three. Even when faced with the knowledge it is far more mature not to (like, enjoy, desire) doing these things, we still have the inner voice saying, You know that is so fun.

What thrill-seeking behavior have you engaged? Was it a fear activity? Was it just the idea of being caught? Are you a fanatic? Where is your adrenaline limit?

© Red Dwyer 2012
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  1. Great post, Red! Ties in great with “I ain’t escared”!
    My big adrenaline rush was heli-surfing… on a surf board, being pulled by a helicopter (2-seater, mini job, at Lake Havasu one Spring Break)…

    I think that everyone should try at least one, terribly scary and adrenaline pumping adventure in their lives, just in case they might just really love it! ‘Ya never know until you try it, and just being scared isn’t an excuse – if you never try, you might just miss out on a life-changing event!

    • That sounds like fun! I love helicopters. I rode on the runner of one for about 200 miles. Felt fabulous. Now, I just have to talk my daughter into talking her grandmother into babysitting my grandson so we can do sky-diving lessons!

  2. bear

     /  January 10, 2012

    I have raced stock cars for years, everything from sprint cars to the super truck series. I have a pilots licence with aerobatics rating. I can go on about my hobbies, but there is nothing like the thrill of speed. I have been injured many times, but it doesn’t deter my need to push it as hard as I can. I have spent my life on the edge as they say, and if asked to quit I don’t think that I would be able to. To me, it is a way of life. I know the risks and am more than willing to take them. My question is do I have a death wish?

    • I doubt it very seriously. If you did, you would not have made it this far. Odds are, had you not been overtly keeping safety in the forefront of your mind (or at least in the passenger seat) you would have long since fallen prey to someone else’s failure to operate safely. To me, the interesting question is are you in search of something with a higher adrenaline level?

  3. I’m a total coward! LoL!!!

    i avoid danger and confrontation after having my mind bent out of shape, but still manage to live a contented life! 🙂

    Adrenaline IS a rush, but now I have health problems it is likely to see the end of me and i want to live a long and contented life! 🙂

    Love and hugs!


    • Not everyone needs the adrenaline rush. But even when you get an accidental one, the feeling of survival afterward is still a rush 😉 {HUGZ} Red.

  4. I’ve had the shit scared out of me often enough. I prefer not scaring myself on purpose.

    Not paralysis, not thrill seeking, but pushing through fear because you have no choice. What does a young GI who is afraid of heights do when posted to the top of the water tower, the highest point on the Tan San Nhut AFB, where you look down on the choppers flying below you do? He climbs each steel ladder, one rung at a time, shaking, until he gets to the top, puts his M-16 down along with the rest of the crap he carried on his back, puts the field glasses he was issued to his eyes and does his job. Later, when his job is done, he climbs down the same way he climbed up, fear in reverse. Beer never tasted so good as it did later in the club.

    Adrenaline puts your body into overdrive, waking you from a sound sleep, getting you out of your top bunk and flat on the floor in a split second, waiting as the mortar rounds walk closer and closer, praying they’ll stop short until they do. Then you get scared.

    Your body remembers for next time so it knows what to do. Sometimes it embarrasses you like the hot summer night when one moment you were sitting quietly on the front porch and the next thing you knew you were curled into a ball hugging the wood of the porch floor. Damn those fireworks.

    Next time I want to scare myself I’ll go for a ride on the roller coaster.


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