I'm really squeamish.
When I was five years old, I'd get freaked out every time I saw a movie with people getting shot (goddamn those 90s action flicks!). All the blood blooming on people's shirts just sent me into hysterics. My dad decided to lighten the blow by telling me all that red stuff was just ketchup. I promptly proceeded to hysterically scream, "IT'S JUST KETCHUP IT'S JUST KETCHUP WAAAAAAH"
I haven't improved much since, but I've discovered something new this week. When one of the surgeons I worked with asked me if I wanted to watch an operation, I said sure! I was a little nervous about all the blood, and the surgeon kept warning me that if I needed to step out, it was totally fine. Apparently even tough men have been known go weak in the knees when they see the blood involved in heart surgery.
But I was totally fine! There really was a lot of blood, but somehow seeing a bunch of surgeons and nurses fixing someone's insides didn't freak me out. In fact, I thought it was kind of cool! So why do violent movies still freak me out?
I figured it out. I'm not scared of blood, I'm scared of the intent. A surgery is about helping people, so I wasn't bothered. On the scale of movie and book violence, I am most okay with machine gun violence or something along those lines that has to do with war or protecting yourself. I absolutely cannot be in the same room as a torture scene (I loved the first few episodes of Scandal and then I got to a torture scene and I was like nope! Not watching this anymore!). The difference is that in one case, you're using violence because you want to defend someone or protect something. In the other, you want to cause as much pain and suffering as possible.
So that's why I can't watch Game of Thrones. Reading torture scenes is bad enough. I often skim them or try really hard not to imagine the gory details. I can sometimes appreciate that the scene exists, because I see how it's necessary for the plot/character development/grittiness, but I can do without the nightmares, thank you very much.
Despite being squeamish, I have read and enjoyed plenty of books with a lot of blood and guts. I think I'll continue to pass on those watching those torture scenes though...