The Emotion of Fear

Fear is described by many researchers such as Watson, Plutchik and Ekman as one of a handful of prime emotions. As such, it has a great impact on the way we live our lives. Fear is the deciding influence on whether we accomplish what we set out.

Fearing Fear

Sometimes we are too afraid to even attempt our true desires for the fear of failure. Fear is also an emotion which when allowed to build-up without treatment can lead to mental health problems such as anxieties and phobias, thus affecting our quality of life.

So, on a physical level – what exactly is fear?

When we perceive a threat, for the most part, the emotion of fear accurately helps us to identify threat and our body undergoes various altered states of physiology body to gear it up so that you are in apposition to escape or fight whatever it is that scares you. This state is optimal for the body to react as fast as it can. This is the physiology behind it.

Fear begins when we see something stressful.  This stressful stimulus can be anything from being as tiny as a spider right through to a huge tiger. The body response is the same regardless of how big or small the threat actually is.

The feeling of fear inside of us is as real even if it is artificially created within the safe confines of a cinema hall. The physical response to the threat of danger is immediate. The physical experience of fear is that our heart begins to race fast, our muscles become energetic and we begin fast paced breathing. When we experience strong fear to the extent of horror or terror, this causes the extreme response of freezing.


So, when something fearful happens to us, the fight or flight response kicks in. We become physically strong when adrenaline is pumped into our body to either allow us to “fight” by taking on the opposition or take “flight” by running away from the situation to protect ourselves.

However, in today’s terms, for the people who live in the urban areas, fear can be a stress factor rather than helping to protect us. It actually can chip away at our health, causing various illnesses to build up as a result of the continuous strain on our nerves.

When we feel fear, time is played out slowly in our minds and during those few valuable moments to size up the opponent or stimulus causing risk all our senses are heightened and we take in as much information of our surroundings as possible so that it embeds properly into our memory bank and we use this memory bank of fear items for the next time we face a similar stimulus.

Fear does not only help to protect us but also serves to cause further undue stress on our nerves when overplayed in our minds. This of course leads to ill health.

Finally, it is up to us to use the emotion of fear to its best effect.

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