Getting lost is a special experience; usually you are not lost. On ordinary days when you are oriented (not lost), a hidden process is happening in the background: you are constantly checking yourmental maps针对您的环境,并找到他们一致良好。这个恒定的背景过程创建平均日常性,世俗,朴素的正感觉。你知道你在哪里。

Then things start looking weird. Conflicts between the mental map and the environment start setting off alarm bells. Very gradually, you realize you are lost. You deny it for as long as you can, perhaps acting stupidly and getting yourself more lost. Then it hits you.

Laurence Gonzales (深生存)描述了参与荒野迷路的心理过程,由消防队员和休闲旅行者肯基利普的经验说明:


Killip看似irrational behavior [not making a fire, not using garbage bags for a tent, falling down a steep slope and severely injuring himself] makes sense when viewed from the brain’s point of view. The fact of not having a mental map, of trying to create one in an environment where the sensory input made no sense, is interpreted as an emergency and triggers a physical (i.e., emotional) response. In the emergency of being no place, Killip’s action makes sense to the organism, even though it seems illogical. The organism needed him to hurry up and try to get some place quickly, a place that matched his mental map, a place that would provide access to the essentials of survival. This impulse explains Syrotuck’s observation that people panic when they become lost.It gives a working definition of being lost: the inability to make the mental map match the environment.

[p. 149-150, emphasis mine.]

Lost and not-lost are not discrete states. The process of getting lost (and getting found again) looks something like this:

The Lostness Curve (Uncanny Mountain)

我们可以说,lostness和方向(或平均日常性)是制图情感 - 与精神地图的对应(或不匹配),以地理环境的情感状态。这也是正确的说,他们是“认知情感” - 相关信息觅食积极和消极情绪,如好奇,无聊,洞察力,混乱和幽默等,如在Inside Jokes。To be lost is to be motivated to make a map. To be oriented is to not be motivated toward map-making.

To be extremely lost, in the wilderness, is terrifying. Being mildly lost is much more tolerable. When we visit a new place, there is pleasure in filling out a cursory mental map with rich details. Episodes of disorientation and anxiety become rarer, fading into the feeling of being at home.

跑起来摩卢肯斯在洛杉矶外的圣加布里埃尔山的第一次,独自一人,我愉快的心情突然变得怪异。我有一个非常良好的心理地图(我是火道路上行驶,并确切地知道我在哪里)。当时我被捕食者观看?我知道有在该地区的山狮,但我也知道,山狮的攻击是罕见的,山狮是昼伏夜出。最后,我意识到那是什么:我那圆润提供了一个很宽的视弯 - 一个完全无人居住区。有除风完全沉默。这个城市,其中有到现在一直不断地在看,被完全闭塞。我独自一人。

I would qualify this experience as “mild lostness” – separation from the objects that make up my sense of the normal and safe, without losing my geographic mental map. I felt relief when I got through the spooky section and could see the city again. But the spookiness did not dissuade me from running the route many times afterward. I looked forward to the lonely, empty section the next time, but its spookiness gradually faded. I got used to it, and made it part of my (mental) territory.

Lostness is only aversive at its extremes. In less extreme cases, it can be ambivalent, even exciting. Children play disorientation-reorientation games for fun – hide and seek, blindfold games, spinning around until everything looks different. An account of lostness that assumed it was上ly消极情绪会失去了一些东西。

Further, it is possible to practice navigating not only a geographical area, but theemotion of lostnessitself. Laurence Gonzales notes that when he himself got seriously lost in the wilderness, he’d had a great deal of experience in wilderness backpacking, but no experience at actually being lost. Being lost is dangerous, but mild forms of lostness might prepare us感情上处理严重lostness。更重要的是,轻度lostness表示新领地的存在 - 的信息诱人的来源,以及危险的潜在来源。


All this is prelude to the really interesting mental state: theuncanny。这是怪诞,妖气,creepiness的情感。它与“恐怖谷”相关 - 被指控的东西,看起来几乎是怪诞,但并不完全,人性化。

The uncanny is not simply fear. Well-understood dangers do not generally produce spooky or eerie feelings. However frightening they may be, they are not uncanny. Think of human attackers, large animal predators, a car swerving into you, diving off of a high place – frightening, but not creepy.

The prototypical instance of the uncanny (from Ernst Jentsch,上the Psychology of the Uncanny, 1906) is the confusion between animate and inanimate beings: the creepy living doll, the puppet (or corpse) that gets up and talks, the person who is secretly replaced by an automaton. (This does not represent the entire extent of uncanny items; it’s just aparticularly effective one。)耶特斯说:

在所有的心理不确定性,可以成为对出现的一种奇怪的感觉的原因,有一个特别是能够开发一个相当普通,功能强大,非常一般的效果:即怀疑是否一个明显的生活是真的是有生命and, conversely, doubt as to whether a lifeless object may not in fact be animate – and more precisely, when this doubt only makes itself felt obscurely in one’s consciousness.这种情绪一直持续到这些疑问都解决了,然后平时让位给另一种感受。

[Emphasis mine.]

Why do we get creeped out in this way?伯利(2009) lists several distinct theories explaining the experience in etiological terms:

  • 骗子检测 - 离奇的感觉是反社会或坏行为者的存在的响应
  • 疾病预防 - 鬼斧神工的感觉是患病的人的外观和行为反应,以防止病原体传播
  • Mate selection – the sensation of the uncanny prevents the selection of a poor-quality mate
  • Fear of death – objects that are death-reminders are perceived as uncanny; the terror of death is so great that any thought of death must be avoided
  • 普通的恐惧 - 不可思议的是只是普通的恐惧
  • A combination of emotions – the experience of the uncanny is a complex emotion rather than a single emotion
  • Cognitive dissonance – uncanny items are simultaneously perceived to belong to multiple mutually exclusive categories

的问题lem in general with these explanations (except the combination of emotions theory, which is not really explanatory) is that they explain why the uncanny and the eerie areavoided, but not why they are找到了。如果离奇的经验,存在检测和避免的疾病,例如,为什么我们渴望和享受的体验呢?(And, if it’s so effective, why do humans throughout time care for the sick and dying, not to mention wash, dress, or otherwise intimately care for the dead?) As for cheater detection, why would we so frequently get the creeps when alone?

Back in 1906, Jentsch explained eeriness in terms ofuncertainty– especially uncertainty only barely apprehended. Parallel to lostness and orientation, the uncanny is the epistemic emotion of渐渐注意到了心理地图不适合领土。儿童尤其容易出现的恐怖(和,反过来,尤其是寻求)离奇。孩子,耶特斯说,“出了这么一点经验是简单的事情,可能是莫名的他,甚至稍微复杂的情况下,可以代表黑暗的秘密。”沉默,黑暗,和孤独放大离奇的效果,因为产生的积极经验平凡不存在普通的刺激。梦是离奇的频繁轨迹,尤其是儿童。

When I was in elementary school and would walk around the house alone at night, I used to habitually visualize a glowing skull floating just behind my head. It created a profound sense of eeriness, such that I wanted to run back to my room. Even in the moment, I knew how silly it was, and pondered the irony of risking real harm (falling on the stairs) to get away from the eeriness. I still ran.

但是,孩子们既害怕又渴望未知。孩子们玩游戏,享受设计用于扩增不可思议的(想想血腥玛丽的经验故事 - 镜应该是无生命的,但它kind ofbehaves like an animate being). Interestingly, alongside these games, they frequently engage in whatBrandon & Rice(2012) call “folk illusions” – easily reproducible proprioceptive illusions like “Floating Arms,” or “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board.” Children seem to seek out developmentally appropriate creepiness in order to master it. Together, while safe (but not too safe), they confront the eerie, master it, and grow bored. Groups of hundreds of childrenused to hunt monsters togetherright in their own neighborhoods, late at night. Whatever the uncanny is, it is sought outand overcome作为一个发展阶段。

This is not to say that the experience of the uncanny is entirely outgrown. Adults are also attracted to (and repelled by) the uncanny. The uncanny is a common feature of horror entertainment (novels, movies, video games, haunted houses). A creepy atmosphere is an attraction. Not all horror movies focus on the uncanny, and not all movies that evoke the uncanny are classified as horror (Mulholland Drive,矩阵,The Truman Show,2001:太空奥德赛). A popular genre of internet folklore “told for true” is the “毛刺在矩阵”故事:一个令人毛骨悚然的,不可思议的故事something going wrong with reality没有任何恐怖的比喻,往往没有任何明显的威胁或危险。照片是这种风格的另一种形式;这些往往是制作,以相同打扮靠近对方描绘一模一样的人,却不能在一起。Coincidencescan be a vehicle for the feeling of the uncanny; a connection or hidden causality is implied, but not detectable. The mental model feels broken – often in an alluring way.



上e of the most vivid experiences of the uncanny I have had was reading Julian Jaynes’Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, as an idiot teenager so creeped out by the world that I still had to check behind the shower curtain every time I went to the bathroom.



Jaynes explains:

I am suggesting that the dead king, thus propped up on his pillow of stones, was in the hallucinations of his people still giving forth his commands, and that the red-painted parapet and its top tier of a hearth were a response to the decomposition of the body, and that, for a time at least, the very place, even the smoke from its holy fire, rising into visibility from furlongs around, was, like the gray mists of the Aegean for Achilles, a source of hallucinations and of the commands that controlled the Mesolithic world of Eynan.

The idea of an animate talking skull, on its own, was by that time no longer creepy to me. But建议正常人的大脑,几千年前,定期产生的头骨说话的错觉was enough to unsettle me. I was so creeped out that I couldn’t read any more that night, and I didn’t want to even leave the book open to that page – I had to bookmark it, close it, and set it out of sight.

But the uncanny sensation attracted me to the book as much as it repelled me. I am so familiar with it now that I can barely summon any sense of eeriness. The uncanny被穿破。正如我们说有一个学习曲线,有妖气曲线 - 一个非常类似于上面的lostness曲线。最初uncannyobject or experience ceases to produce the uncanny sensation once it is understood, just as a very有趣反对或者因为它变得熟悉的文字失去了兴趣,和一个非常滑稽joke ceases to be funny once you’ve heard it. The mental states change, because they are epistemic emotions that function to incentivize careful learning. How better to fix holes in your worldview than through focus on the interesting and the uncanny? If you are brave enough, that is.

Risk and Thrill

Jentsch says, “there are perhaps only very few affects which in themselves must always be unpleasurable under all circumstances, without exception.” That is, almost anything aversive can be enjoyed under some circumstances, and aversiveness may contribute to pleasure. This is not just a masochism sex thing; aversiveness is necessary for thedare经历为例。很多人付掌握一些形式的疼痛和身体的恐怖(纹身,穿孔)的经验。人们交运行超级马拉松。他们赌博,去跳伞。

Risk, like the uncanny, is sought out when there are适当的股权(the possibility of victory or defeat) and the perceived possibility ofmastery。In climbing a tree, you might fall, but you might get very high up, and you will probably get better at it. Learning any new method of locomotion (swimming, skiing, horseback riding, canoeing, surfing) risks harm, and also promises reward and mastery. Competing in athletic contests guarantees either win or loss: something at stake. Risk is at once frightening and desirable.

关于风险和快感的最常见的进化心理学的故事之一sex differences。While there is a lot of evidence that men (especially young men) engage in more risky behavior than women, what’s interesting to me is how much both sexes seem to want to do scary, risky stuff. Little girls were scaring themselves in the dark before “Idiots Scaring Themselves in the Dark” was a reality TV genre (genre name proposed by twitter user@thestatesucks). Girls enjoy getting thrown up in the air for cheerleading purposes, not to mention gymnastics. The sex differences in risk taking suggest that risk has been differently important to men and women in human history, but to a surprising degree we are all idiots scaring ourselves in the dark.


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萨拉·佩里是ribbonfarm特betway客户端约编辑和作者每个摇篮是一个坟墓。She also blogs at来自地狱的视图。
Her primary interests are in the area of ritual and social behavior. Follow her on推特


  1. Catalin Ioan

    Interesting article. One that makes you understand a little bit better the magic of the brain. Thanx

  2. This also explains why so many horror movies are ruined by revealing the scary monster.

  3. “Sometimes I fear that there’s no uncanny left for me.”

    I hope not! That would indeed be sad. More essays please :) they are consistently enjoyable.

    But I definitely understand the numbing feeling getting worn in with exposure, and an

    I think there’s some overlap between the uncanny and Paul Graham’s notion of “Surprise” in his essay “The Age of the Essay”http://www.paulgraham.com/essay.html

    He says that the interestingness of an essay is directly proportional to how much Surprise it delivers: “Interfaces, as Geoffrey James has said, should follow the principle of least astonishment. A button that looks like it will make a machine stop should make it stop, not speed up. Essays should do the opposite. Essays should aim for maximum surprise.”

    Surprises contradict what you thought you knew, hopefully in a healthy way, like a detox veg bowl. When reading an essay, Surprises might be times when the readers do a double-take, or laugh (because of cognitive dissonance?), or have a moment of relishing a memenug. This seems similar to the uncanny, which is “strangely familiar in a way that creates cognitive dissonance between a piece that attracts and a piece that repulses.”


  4. 上ce in a while, I take a 1 or 2 hours nap in the afternoon, and sometimes as I wake up from that nap, I feel lost, that is temporally and spatially lost. I do not know where I am and what year, month, day, hour it is. It is not a frightening experience, but a confusing and discomforting experience. Those do not last hours, just a few second, maybe more. I would think that most of us have experienced the same thing once in a while. What I found fascinating is that the very first thing I do when waking up is to seek to know where I am spatially and temporally. I seek for, seek to look from my ‘maps’. Once those maps are ‘found’ or reactivated, I can look at, look at where I am spatially and temporally. I seek to know what specific time it is, and where I am specifically. May 1st, 2017, 2:48 pm. Montreal, Canada. And so, the first thing I do, is to look for to look from, from my maps, only afterward can I look at specifics. Those specifics are obviously related to my maps which are also culturally bounded. Maps are learned, maps are integrated. I look from the totality of my maps, and look at some specific aspect of those maps, May 1, 2017, 2:48 pm Montreal, Canada is a specific aspect of those maps, it belongs to those same maps. Those maps are learned, they are more or less functional illusions, which have more or less value and validity in relation to contexts.
    Western civilization way of looking from and at time is not an absolute, it is a way of seeing, a theory, a way by which we try to make some sense of the world. That by which we look from (theories, maps) acts as orienting centers, without which, we feel lost. But where are we really? Without those ways of seeing, where are we? Without our more or less functional illusions, where are we?
    冲突是与我们从外观和我们看一下(视角套/冲突之间,并在单套或透视之间)是什么。我们从我们在一个持续的方式看云集看什么,当它没有出现紧张。我们担心的空隙,内部的分裂,我们看到的方式内的裂缝。因失去我们的世界由字的观点和意见,我们输了“的”定向中心;我们感到失落!有人称之为绝望的深渊。一,我已经意识到了的事情就是多少,我们坚持我们的世界由的话,我们或多或少的功能幻想。我认为,那些充当双重缓冲,某种普遍永久拒绝机制。这似乎是说实话,我们是不是,有人在什么地方,某个时候。如果我们放弃那些定向中心会发生什么,如果我们放弃我们的更多或更少的功能性幻想? What would be left? Truth, of course! But who wants it? Were we to drop all more or less functional illusions, you as a witness remains, that you are remains, awareness remains as awareness.
    没有我们或多或少功能的幻想,当re are we? Without orienting centers to functionally (albeit being illusory) inform you where, who, what, why, what remains? Truth no?