Psychologists Explain 6 Reasons Why People Scream

Psychologists Explain 6 Reasons Why People Scream

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People express their emotions by screaming, and it is one of the most intense ways to do so. Whether they are happy, sad, or afraid, a scream is often the first reaction someone has. While everyone does it, most people don’t know why people cry out or what it means.

This outcry is sometimes a sign that something is wrong, but that isn’t always the case. While it is true in some instances, it is just as likely to occur when something positive is happening.

New studies show that there is a reason that people communicate this way, helping us understand the action a little more. Scientists have found six different types of screams and what each of them means. The types include both alarming and non-alarming cries.

Six Reasons People Scream and the Feelings Revealed

Understanding why someone screams is essential because it indicates their emotions. This signal can alert you of danger, a threat, and even excitement. These outcries are a communication tool, and you might notice that when one person screams, others begin to, as well.

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1. To Cope With a Traumatic Event

When someone has trouble coping, they might scream to release their emotions. Screaming to cope often happens in unexpected and devastating situations when someone is blindsided by bad news. Their first reaction is to let the sudden sorrow they feel out.



If a situation is traumatic enough, crying might not help enough. It will seem like the crying lasts forever, but the pain is still intense. When someone feels this way, they might turn to this reaction for relief.

No matter what the situation is, if someone has a problem with coping, they might scream. It is used as a release and can make people feel better. You might have a hard time understanding this reason if you don’t have a problem with coping yourself, but it is all too real for others.

Try to be understanding in these situations. It is impossible to feel what another person is feeling, and they are coping in the only way they know how to.



2. They Feel Like They Have Lost Control

When someone is overwhelmed with negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions, they will likely feel a  loss of control. Experiencing this usually leads to finding other things to take control of. This is especially true for anyone that desires power in all situations.

Someone that feels like they have lost control might resort to an outcry because it is one thing they can control. The person can control how loud they are, how powerful their scream is, and how it makes them feel. Plus, they can control their reaction in this way, bringing them a little comfort.

3. They Feel Threatened or Are Naturally Aggressive

If someone feels like they are being threatened, they might react by screaming. Threats dredge up intense emotions because they often target the person’s sense of well-being. In this instance, it can be a defense mechanism to scare off potential predators.

Even if they know that the threat might not happen, it can intensely upset them. This heightened reaction may occur when someone that the person loves is threatened, too.



Some people scream because they are naturally aggressive. When they get angry, their first reaction is to be loud and assert their power. It helps them feel more superior, which is something that aggressive people desire.

When someone screams because they are aggressive, it could turn physical. The person’s overwhelming aggression and need for power could cause them to start a fight. A physical altercation isn’t always what happens, but it is always a real possibility to be aware of.

4.They Mimic Learned Behavior

Sometimes, if someone grew up in an environment with frequent screaming or shouting episodes, they will mimic that behavior. Whenever conflict arises, they rely on screaming as a way to deal with the situation.

In this situation, the person likely hasn’t learned positive coping skills. They might think that screaming is a standard way to deal with issues because that is the way they were raised.



Another instance where this might occur is when it comes to fears. If someone saw their parent or other role model scream due to a fear of something, they might react that way, too. For instance, if a mother screamed every time that she saw a bug, her child might mimic that same behavior in their adult years.

5. They are Excited or Happy

When something great happens, it might entice a scream from those who are most excited. The great thing that happens could be seeing a famous person they are a fan of, hearing good news about their family or getting a promotion at work. It could even be less significant events like getting a gift they are excited about or receiving an exciting phone call.

People might also scream when they are intensely joyful. When someone feels extremely happy, their emotions build up until they feel like they need to let it all out. Seeing a friend or loved one they haven’t seen in a while is a situation that often leads to this type of happiness and joy.

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6. They Feel Useless

If someone feels like no one hears them, they might feel useless. The person might also feel useless in upsetting situations if they can’t do anything to make it better. Feeling like they don’t have a purpose can lead to even more upsetting feelings.

When someone is going through something traumatic, they often want to stay busy and help out. Even small tasks can make them feel like they are doing something to help. Unfortunately, sometimes there aren’t even those tasks to do.

Eventually, their negative feelings will come out, and sometimes that involves screaming. With all of the intense emotions, they are already feeling, feeling useless is too much to handle.

Different Types of Screams and The Feelings It Reveals

Since there are different reasons that people scream, there are bound to be different types of screams, too. The emotion conveyed in each cry is apparent based on the kind of scream that it is. Something must trigger the outcry, and the feeling evoked will depend on what the trigger is.

Screaming is one way humans communicate, and it is an attempt to let other people know how they are feeling. There are two categories of screams, and the types dividing into alarming and non-alarming screams.

Alarm Bells

The types of alarms include:

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  • anger
  • fear
  • pain

Alarm screams are a sign of potential danger or a negative situation. They can be used when people are fighting, scared, angry, or physically hurting. Alarm screams are something that humans share with most animals, whereas most non-alarm screams are unique to humans.

This type of scream was better understood long ago, whereas non-alarm cries were lesser-known. Now, more research has revealed information about non-alarm signals.



Non-Alarm Signals

The types of non-alarm communications include:

The brain responds quicker to non-alarming screams that signify positivity and joy. Joyous screams are often a way of socializing and seem to spread from one person to another. If one person is screaming, others will likely join in, too.

You will notice this situation at music concerts or sporting events. When there are fans present, and everyone is excited about the event, the screaming will be seemingly contagious. It is a great way to make social connections and strengthen bonds since it is such an emotional experience.

In the past, people thought that humans only screamed when they needed help or were afraid. It was considered a defense mechanism, but things have changed. Now, we know that non-alarming screams are more common than terrifying cries and have taken priority.

Non-alarm communications taking priority have to do with a change in the environment. Humans don’t usually have the threats that animals living in the wild have. They don’t often need to scream out of fear of looming danger.

Since humans don’t have to worry about it as much, they focus on positive screams like joy and pleasure. People focus on the excitement involved with it and the social interactions it inspires.

Joy and pleasure are both cheerful non-alarm screams, but grief is a desperate non-alarm scream. People still react more quickly and efficiently to grief than they do to the alarm screams, however.

scream
Final Thoughts on Reasons Why People Scream and the Feelings It Reveals

Screaming is unique and interesting, and luckily, research can now help explain it. Scientists now know why people raise their voices this way and what it means. Plus, they have described the feelings that screaming reveals.

The next time you hear a scream, try to decipher which type it was. Remember that your mind reacts more quickly to non-alarm screams, but alarm screams are the ones you should pay the most attention to.

Another fun thing to do is watch the crowd at the next sporting event or concert you attend. Once one person yells out, those around them likely will, too. Once you understand why people scream, you will start to notice all the little things about it.



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Sarah Barkley is a lifestyle blogger and freelance writer with a Bachelor's Degree in Literature from Baker College. She is experienced in all things related to parenting, marriage, and life as a millennial parent, but loves to learn new things. She enjoys the research that goes into a strong article, and no topic is off-limits to Sarah. When she isn't writing, she is immersed in a book or watching Gilmore Girls. Sarah loves reading classic novels but also enjoys a good thriller.

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