Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Element of Fear

Is there such a man whose heart is not touched by fear?

Fear is a word that has inspired many creative minds to conspire magnificent works of art in whatever form, depicting its reality in an attempt to capture its actuality. But the enigma surrounding fear could be as abstract and as deep as that of love or any other emotion of all human beings regardless of whatever state of mind they may intend to feel during certain given circumstances. Because of its foreboding nature and that twinge of danger associated and equated with it, fear has enticed, inspired, and even repulsed a variety of personages coming from different walks of life.

But to live without fear or to be without it completely is both an impossibility and an improbability. As with other negative and positive emotions, fear serves a particular purpose necessitated for our survival in this world. For a man to live without it is just like saying that he is not mortal to begin with.

What is fear?

Fear is a distressing emotion that alerts us of imminent danger threatening harm or worse, putting our existence at risk. It is a natural response necessitated for our survival. However, contrary to common perception, fear is diverse from anxiety. The latter is triggered by external factors. Overcoming anxiety requires specific measures that are different from the exercise of dealing with fear.

Moreover, fear is associated with behaviors related to escapism and avoidance. But in such cases, the negative stimulus is neither inescapable nor uncontrollable. Normally, when we suddenly feel afraid, it is a signal that there is something potentially dangerous and should, thus, be avoided. However, it remains pending, giving us ample time to devise strategies of escaping and avoiding it altogether. This is in direct opposition to anxiety wherein we are overwhelmed by the stimulus, which is always external, prompting us to perceive it as both beyond our means and inevitable. So, when we are burdened by anxiety, we feel helplessly trapped in a dangerous or threatening situation.

Oftentimes, fear is linked to pain. Several theories have identified fear as one of the primary emotions. It is one of our natural built-in mechanisms necessitated for survival, serving as a response to a given negative stimulus.
How do we behave when we are afraid?

People who are afraid pass through many different emotional stages. When we are gripped by fear, we could have any of these two common behavioral reactions:

1.We could become so intimidated by the stimulus that we give in to whatever demands are posed to us in order to avoid getting hurt.

2.We shift to defense mode and become aggressive to the extent of becoming deadly. The latter is categorized as instinctive reaction instead of a premeditated one since it results from an increase in our adrenaline level.

The following characteristics are typical in the visage of a person whose mind is gripped by fear:

  • The eyes widen, indicating an obvious negative anticipation for what would transpire next.

  • Dilation of the pupils would occur. It is an involuntary act to take in more light.

  • The upper lip is raised.

  • The brows are drawn together.

  • The lips are stretched horizontally.

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Maricel Modesto is a writer and editor who writes for various health and lifestyle magazines.

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