Amongst Poe's literary obsessions (which included hypnosis, superstition, and moral ambiguity), his preoccupation with being buried alive might be the most fascinating.

The narrator of "The Premature Burial" is equally entranced by the concept, but his fear has a discernible source: He often falls into a catatonic state that he fears will be mistaken for death and leave him in the predicament of being stuck in the ground way too early. Our narrator lives to tell his story, but not before confronting his debilitating phobia in a surprisingly subdued twist.

In this predecessor to the modern-day, psychologically twisted reality show, My Strange Obsession, Poe tackles what happens when we face our worse fears, and wonders if we can become better from our efforts.