Is It Okay to Poop Your Pants When You’re Scared?


Disclaimer: Please read at own risk. This post may contain content including, but not limited to, spoiler to the movie The Conjuring, and slightly disturbing images to the faint-hearted.


Have you watched the latest horror movie The Conjuring?



I have, and here’s what I did in my seat throughout the 112 minutes:

#1 I screamed
#2 I almost pooped my pants
#3 I wanted to go home

So, where did all these come from?


Now, may I have 5 minutes to defend myself to prove that I’m not just another weakling:

1. I screamed


As a girl, I scream all the time. If you scare me from behind a door, I’ll scream. If you pat me at the shoulder in the dark, I’ll scream. If I see Justin Bieber on the street, I’ll scream.

People scream when they are in fear.


Here are the many evolutionary biology explanations for it:

#1 It acts as a form of distraction

When you’re scared, screaming helps distracting the attacker/predator/the possessed demonic mother in The Conjuring. It’s gonna stun them for a second, and they will lose their grip on your ankle – and that’s when you run for your life.


#2 It acts as a form of warning to your kin/friends

Imagine you are studying hard, alone in the dimmed Old Arts Theatre A during midnight, and suddenly you hear this most terrifying scream coming from the washroom next door… What do you do?

You run.

Not because you’re a selfish coward, but because you have recognized that scream as a sign of warning from your kin – it’s a signal for you to flee for survival.


Conclusion: Screaming when you’re scared is normal – it is a form of fear adaptation that helps you and your kind to survive.

2. I almost pooped my pants



Please excuse me for being brutally honest here: never have I failed to need the washroom every time I’m waiting for an exam in front of the REB (I get seriously nervous and scared when it comes to writing exams). Yes, you’re not alone in this.

People usually feel like pooping when they are scared/nervous/threatened/in a fight/watching a horror movie.


#1 Because the extra pounds of doodoo in your bowel are literally useless when you’re scared/nervous/threatened/in a fight/watching a horror movie

These ‘non-vital’ wastes in you can weight up to eight pounds. Why not dispose them on the way when you’re sprinting away from a hungry tiger/exam paper? A lighter body helps you run faster to survive.


#2 Because the doodoo can scare away your predator

Imagine this: you’re a cheetah, and you’re chasing down this yummy zebra through the safari. You finally catch it, but then it starts to defecate.

What do you do next? You leave the gosh-darn-zebra alone.

So here you have it: wanting to poop in your pants when you’re scared is perfectly normal because Charles Darwin said so – it is a form of adaptation to fear. It’s not exactly intuitive, but pooping your pants when you’re scared can help you survive better.


Having said that, do not take my words for granted – it’s definitely not the most desirable behaviour in a movie partner during a horror film.

3. I wanted to go home

This is simply the classical ‘flight’ in our fight-or-flight response to fear.

When you realize that there’s no way you can defeat your enemy in a fight, your best chance of surviving is: you run away as fast as you can, you escape, you go home.

For me, I grabbed a taxi right in front of Hoyt’s, and got home in 5 minutes. I felt safe after.

I shall now abruptly end my post with a picture of

Vivian Loh is an MBiotech candidate at the University of Melbourne. For some strangest reasons, she is afraid, very afraid of Justin Bieber.

12 Responses to “Is It Okay to Poop Your Pants When You’re Scared?”

  1. Liang says:

    Intriguing post Vivian. Question though, I always find that I elicit the most fear during the suspenseful build-up, but not during the scenes with the monster/spooky thing itself. Why might that be?

  2. Vivian Loh says:

    @kpenrose: Glad you enjoy the post ;D But you should totally watch the movie… it’s good!

    @Shailee: Thanks Shailee! Please look out for my third post!

    @Stephane: Thanks Steph!

    @Jeane: Thanks!

    @Rashika: Nice fact you have there! Yes, cortisol is related to our stress level/response. Our bodies are just fascinating!

    @Jono: Yes you are absolutely right! I love reading and analysing from evolutionary point of view but the biochemistry behind it is fascinating too! Thanks for reading 😀

  3. Jono says:

    I always thought the pooping of the pants was related to the fight-or-flight response activating the sympathetic nervous system and almost completely shutting down the parasympathetic nervous system pathway. Because of this, things like the muscles of our anal sphincter which aren’t that important in the fight-or-flight response get ‘shut down’… resulting in the expulsion of whatever was in our rectum. Very interesting to read about it from a different point of view; from an evolutionary point of view.

    Anyway, I remember going on an excursion once, looking at marine life. I found a sea cucumber which, when picked up, immediately ejected something into the water. It startled me, and upon asking the demonstrators about it, they informed me what was ejected was most likely its lungs! They do this for the exact reason you said, to distract/scare their predator away.

    Thanks for the post. It was a good read.

  4. Rashika says:

    Interesting post Vivian!!! Actually, fear is created and regulated in our body by the hormone cortisol, the result of which are the above responses..

  5. Jeane Angelina says:

    HAHAHAHA VIVIAN your last picture is brutal! Thank God I still haven’t watched The Conjuring because I don’t want to poop my pants 🙂 Nice and entertaining post :):)

  6. Stephanie Milne says:

    This was fantastic Viv! Loved reading it!

  7. Shailee Patel says:

    And I loved this article of yours as well!! Keep blogging Viv!! 😀

  8. kpenrose says:

    Loved reading this and laughed out loud! A great take on an embarrassing topic. Don’t know if I’ll go and see this at the movies. Might stay at home in case of accident.. 😉

  9. Vivian Loh says:

    @bcraig: Thanks for reading and the comment – I shall do better next time!

    @ccroft: Thanks! Glad you enjoy it!

    @Ashley: Thanks for reading 😀

  10. Ashley Cornell says:

    Haha, that was very amusing, and yet a lot of it made sense. Interesting angle on fight-or-flight.

  11. ccroft says:

    Haha,great take on the evolutionary adaptions of survival. The use of a horror film to explain the reason why we have those adaptions was great!!nice work!

  12. bcraig says:

    Good article. Very relatable to the average reader and amusing. The pictures were well picked. One thing though is that I felt that you didn’t answer the question of why we want to run home as well as you did the other two topics.