Self Examination

Self Examination

Self Examination

Self Examination is an interactive experiment designed to reveal selected audience members’ extreme reactions to watching a horror film.

Self Examination premiered at Broadway Cinema’s Mayhem Horror Film Festival in Nottingham in 2009. Psycho-physiological signals, such as heart rate, sweat response and facial expressions, were captured and projected real-time outside the auditorium to reveal what lies within.

Patients were invited to complete a Self Examination Patient Application to take part in the experiment.

Supported by Arts Council England and Horizon Digital Economy Research Hub.

On Call Team
  • Consultant: Dr Brendan Dare
  • Staff Nurse: Tanya Myers
  • Clinical Technician: Paul Harter
  • Ward Orderly: Duncan Rowland
  • Councillor: Dr Elevans
  • Medical Imaging: Dr Longhurst
  • Wheelchair Attendant: George Tomlinson
Experiment Notes

“Thrill Laboratory’s Professor of Psychophysiology, Dr Brendan Dare was called upon to perform several public Self Examinations during the 2009 Mayhem Horror Film Festival. Dr Dare made a national appeal to patients who might be sensitive to the effects of repeated extreme horror. Those concerned were asked to contact the Laboratory immediately and take a confidential psychometric test. The most extreme cases were called for detailed examination at the festival.

“On arrival, patients were quickly prep’d for their procedure and strapped into a specially fabricated wheelchair, which featured multi-limb and torso restraints, to prevent flailing during the examination. An electromyograph was attached to monitor the patient’s expressions of fear. This was accompanied by an electrocardiogram to record heart activity and an electrodermal sensor to monitor anxiety. An infrared camera was used to observe facial manifestations of horror.

“All sensors were calibrated using standard experimental procedures. These included a balloon, used to hyperventilate and shock; smelling salts to disgust; and a head massage to delight. Data was analysed, and displayed real-time within the public spaces of Broadway Cinema, with a nurse on call at all times. Dr Dare monitored the patient’s progress and provided live medical transcripts. Nursing staff kindly provided light reading for the patient’s waiting family.

“After completing calibration, the patient was wheeled into the auditorium. Patients were made to feel as normal as possible throughout the procedure. Once the horror film commenced, a larger public audience was able to witness the live examination from outside the auditorium.”