What is Fear?

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Have you ever been home alone, sitting in your room when you hear something go bump in the night?  You may start sweating, and shaking. Your mind starts to race, your heart starts beating faster and you start to tense up thinking about all the possible things that may happen.  But what exactly are all these feelings that are coming over you? Most people will explain these emotions as fear.  Something that everyone will experience. What causes fear? In her article on "How Fear Works", Julia Layton explains exactly what fear is.  There are five main parts of your brain that are responsible for your fear response.  Included in these are the Thalamus, Sensory Cortex, Hippocampus, Amygdala and the most important which is the hypothalamus which is the part of the brain that activated your fight-or-flight response.  

You may not realize that this is happening but your brain responds to fear in two different ways. Normally, when you hear something in the night your response is to sit up and and grab the first weapon you can find without making noise, but what is your brain thinking when this happens. Taking the "low road" is what will cause you to grab that weapon and prepare yourself for the worst. Taking the "high road" is the other way your brain will respond to fear.  When you take the high road you will sit and think about all the things that could possibly happen, and then you will calm down. 

People fear different things.  The list below is taken from a 2005 study conducted by the Gallup Poll on the top 10 fears in America
  1. "Terrorist attacks
  2. Spiders
  3. Death
  4. Failure
  5. War
  6. Heights
  7. Crime/Violence
  8. Being alone
  9. The future
  10. Nuclear war " (Julia Layton, How Stuff Works)
Is there a "cure" to fear?  Sure. Scientists have studied that there is a hormone that you can take called NMDA, which will eliminate fear.  But an easier and cheaper way is therapy.  Without fear though, people would be living life way too dangerously.  People wouldn't be afraid to do crazy things.   

So now my question is, what do you fear the most? 




1 Comment

Fear is such an interesting topic. What is it and why do we feel it? Sometimes we even fear the most petty things. For me, that would be spiders. Or any kind of bug to be honest. What is the worst thing a bug could possibly do to me? My fear of bugs is totally irrational, yet I can't help it! To go off of your topic of fear, I looked into phobias, which are extreme or irrational fears or aversions to certain objects or situations. My main question would be how do you distinguish between a fear and a phobia? According to About.com, phobias have symptoms of dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, a sense of unreality, and a fear of death. The major types of phobias are environmental, animal, medical, or situational. I guess the way to distinguish them would be to ask yourself, "Is this fear getting in the way of my normal functioning?" If the answer is yes, it is probably a phobia.

Check out this website. It gives tips on how to overcome phobias.

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