I'm scared of Learning

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You're walking quietly through your neighborhood. You have just gotten off of the train after classes and you decided to walk instead of taking the bus because it is nice out. Your sports bag is pretty heavy, so you switch it over to your left shoulder and continue to make your way down your block. You approach a wooded fence, that appears to be slightly cracked. There is a large piece of the fence protruding from the sidewalk where the rest of the fence is grounded. This piece is blocking your path.Out of curiosity, and because you just don't have anything better to do you look to see what's behind the fence.... & there it is. A vicious sixty-five pound pit bull. Your eyes meet and.... Okay the moral of the story is that you would be scared!!! At least I would be scared because these are things you fear right? You fear being chased by a dog and being hit by a car because those are scary things to think about....right? So how on earth could somebody fear LEARNING? Believe it. Sophophobia.

Sophophobia is most easily defined as "a fear of learning." What causes this fear? Researchers believe that the phobia is triggered by a traumatizing experience. Even though your fear may not be 100% logical, you have subjectively attached learning to this fear.
According to Fear Of Stuff, Sophophobia may be caused by the following reasons: 

"In some cases an individual could have a fear of learning based on the fact that their parents need finished school. They may feel it dishonors their parents to become educated beyond their mother and father.

Other cases of this fear could be a fear of winding up disillusioned by life because you, "Know too much." It is not unheard of for an individual to see an educated person with a lack of purpose because all the education they've acquired has not translated into life satisfaction. The one who develops this fear may conclude that too much learning equals a lack of purpose."

Personally speaking, I can connect to the second explanation. When I was in elementary school and Junior High School, I was in the "Astral" or accelerated level class. In elementary school all of the other classes hated us because we were "smart." We had to stick with people within out own because no one outside of our class wanted to hang out with us. We were "nerds." In junior high school this idea resonated. In junior high school, being "smart" was not cool. All of the cool kids" were in mainstream classes. I managed to escape the torture and graduate as valedictorian while keeping a solid reputation but my first year of junior high school was unpleasant. People had the same mentality. No one wanted to be "smart" because they would be teased and made fun of. I think this can be directly related to the fear of learning because people go throughout life wanting to do one thing, that is: fit in. Looking back, I realized that I began feeling this way towards someone in high school. High school changed the ball game for me. I was no longer valedictorian, and I was in a school of five-thousand students so it was hard to be the "best." I began feeling as though the valedictorian of my high school had no substance. I felt as though because he was so smart, he had no personality and all he ever did was study. This did not make me fear learning, but I believe that reasons for fearing learning can stem from situations like this. I got to know the valedictorian more my senior year and I found that he was the exact opposite: a well-rounded person who took part in several activities. Many young people fear learning because they feel as though they will be considered outcasts. Some may also fear that being smart will consume their lives.

One side effect of Sophophobia includes extreme anxiety. Anxiety and it's effect on the brain is a topic of interest for many researchers. 

According to PsychCentral, there are two types of anxiety: anxious apprehension, which includes verbal contemplation and worrying and anxious arousal, which includes intense fear and panic. These types of anxiety can be attributed to Sophophobia because if a child fears learning, they may verbally express their concern to their parents by saying they don't want to go to school (anxious apprehension). In regards to anxious arousal, you may see children who fear being left in a classroom setting without their parents or you may see children who panic when they are called upon to read in front of the class or answer questions.

Researchers at the University of Illinois conducted a study on the brain's response to anxiety. The study concluded that anxious apprehension and anxious arousal trigger two different areas of the brain (left and right, respectively)

"To test whether neural activation patterns supported the hypothesis that these two categories of anxiety are distinct, the researchers selected 42 subjects from a pool of 1,099 undergraduate college students, using psychological tests to categorize them as "high anxious apprehension," "high anxious arousal," or neither.

The anxious apprehension group showed increased activity in a region of the left inferior frontal lobe that is associated with speech production. The anxious arousal group had more activity in a region of the right-heipshere inferior temporal lobe that is believed to be involved in tracking and responding to information signaling danger."

Researchers conducting the study also noted that often times doctors do not differentiate between the different types of anxiety their patients are experiencing. This could affect someone who suffers from Sophophobia because the doctor may not necessarily be targeting the root of the problem. 

These findings can parallel the idea behind sophophobia. The anxious arousal group experienced heightened activity in their right temporal lobe involved in tracking and responding to information signaling danger. For our purposes, because sophophobia causes anxiety and there was heightened activity in the right lobe, there is a chance that this heightened activity relates to the fear of learning because the right temporal lobe signals danger. 

To conclude, there is no definite reason as to why people fear learning. The findings however suggest that there is a chance that sophophobia goes beyond social factors and is actually chemical rooted in the brain.

Before you question what someone fears, think about outside factors have caused them to feel that!

Any thoughts?

1 Comment

I definitely think the idea that fears or chronic anxiety are linked to chemicals in teh brain, and may be predispositioned of our personalities. In my psych class we studied nature vs. nurture and the effects it has. We looked at an example in monkeys, where monkeys with timid mothers tend to be more anxious and timid and monkeys with outgoing and adventurous mothers tend to be more outgoing as well. When a monkey born of a timid mother was raised by the adventurous mother, it seemed that the monkey grew up to be more outgoing. But when taken away from it's mother, the anxiousness returned. So our fears and anxieties may be more rooted in our genetics than we know!

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