Diferences: Psychological Horror and Horror

by Lawson
(Texas)

Question: I have a great idea for a horror novel but I am confused on the genre categorization. Is there a difference between a Psychological Horror story and a Horror story? Is a Psychological Horror story the same as a Psychological Thriller?


Answer: A typical horror story emphasizes external conflict, with a monster or paranormal entity as the antagonist attacking a normal world full of nice, normal people.

A psychological horror focuses on the main character's inner conflict and the fear comes from an attack on the ego. For instance, the main character may start to doubt his own grip on reality or start to question whether he or the world around him has gone mad. Suspicion, paranoia, and self-doubt on the part of the main character are common.

A psychological thriller may combine the psychological horror with a more typical thriller plot. For instance, a spy story in which the spy thinks he may be going mad or losing his grip on who are his friends and who are his enemies. Or you might have a murder mystery in which the evidence and suspects are so strange that the detective is forced to question his own sanity or what is real.

However, these categories are not rigid and you may see many stories in the gray area between them.

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